Five short-eared owl babies born


This video from Britain is called Separating Short-eared and Long-eared Owls.

Translated from Natuurmonumenten conservation organisation in the Netherlands:

Young short-eared owls born in Skrok

Monday, July 21, 2014 11:11

Unique: Five owlets were born from a nesting pair of short-eared owls in Skrok nature reserve. Unique to the Frisian area, 10km north of Sneek. It is certainly twenty years since breeding short-eared eared owls had been observed there for the last time.

Mowing postponed

Ranger Sander Veenstra: “Now that we know this, we will definitely not mow this plot in the coming weeks.” …

It’s a good short-eared owl year. This year there is a surplus of mice. And that is visible. In the nest of this couple there are mice which have not even been eaten. The parents have made a sort of a pantry. The owlets can use this as well in the coming months. In a few weeks’ time, they will fly off. A unique event for Skrok,” says ranger Sander Veenstra.

Protecting piping plovers in the Bahamas


This video says about itself:

People and Plovers by David Yarnold

8 July 2014

On a recent visit to the Bahamas, David Yarnold and other Audubon [Society in the USA] leaders saw the true power of working along the Flyways of the Americas, the core idea of the vision of a new Audubon.

From Audubon Magazine in the USA:

The View: People and Plovers

Meet some of the folks who drive our on-the-ground conservation.

By David Yarnold

Published: May-June 2014

On a recent visit to the Bahamas, we saw the true power of working along the Flyways of the Americas, the core idea of the vision of a new Audubon. The flyways along which birds migrate connect us to one another and to the birds’ world.

We saw Kerri Dikun from Audubon New York, Lindsay Addison from Audubon North Carolina, and Marianne Korosy from Audubon Florida come together in the Bahamas as part of Audubon’s international alliances team to help protect and preserve one of the world’s largest wintering grounds for piping plovers. These birds, which breed and migrate along the Atlantic Coast, were the thread that drew us all together to collaborate on the sands of the Joulter Cays. The passion and tenacity of the scientists was clear. But as I talked with them, I came to understand that something important had happened here: Their view of coastal protection grew because they were able to connect with others along the flyway. Their worldview shifted. They were moved, and they moved us. I asked them, “What do you want people to know about these birds?” This is what they had to say.

Kerri Dikun

Long Island Bird Conservation Coordinator, Audubon New York

“For those of us who work on the breeding grounds, it’s sometimes hard to let go of the belief that piping plovers are ‘our birds.’ We pour ourselves into protecting them each summer and experience their every trial and triumph firsthand. But I want people to know that after seeing them on the wintering grounds, imagining their arduous journey to get there, and meeting the dedicated people who await their return in the winter, it’s evident they’re still ‘our birds’—the ‘our’ is just bigger now.”

Lindsay Addison

Coastal Biologist, Audubon North Carolina

“I would like people to know about and be amazed by migration. Piping plovers are extremely true to their nesting and wintering sites. They return to the same sand flat every winter and nest on the same stretch of beach every summer. We’ve seen one little piping plover at the same inlet in North Carolina every winter for six years. She flies there from Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore without a map or a GPS unit. There’s a semipalmated plover that winters on a beach near where I grew up that arrives in the same week every fall from the Mackenzie River Delta, Northwest Territories, near the Alaska-Canada border. I often think shorebirds know better where they are in the world than people.“

Marianne Korosy

IBA Coordinator, Audubon Florida

“Andros Island hosts many miles of sandy mudflats where piping plovers can feed undisturbed by beach volleyball, sunbathing visitors, ATVs, low-flying hang gliders, or gulls attracted by picnic leftovers. These special places, where piping plovers and other shorebirds can feed and rest in peace, are vital to the survival of this species.”

You can see more of the work these dedicated scientists are doing online at audubon.org/bahamas2014 and learn more about Audubon’s International Alliances Program and partnership with the Bahamas National Trust.

Author Profile

David Yarnold

David Yarnold is the president and CEO of the National Audubon Society.

Soon, app for recognizing wild birds’ songs?


This video is called Some Brazilian birds and sounds.

From Queen Mary University in London, England:

Birdsongs automatically decoded by computer scientists

Scientists from Queen Mary University of London have found a successful way of identifying bird sounds from large audio collections, which could be useful for expert and amateur bird-watchers alike.

Thursday 17 July 2014

 

The analysis used recordings of individual birds and of dawn choruses to identify characteristics of bird sounds. It took advantage of large datasets of sound recordings provided by the British Library Sound Archive, and online sources such as the Dutch archive called Xeno Canto.

Publishing in the journal PeerJ, the authors describe an approach that combines feature-learning – an automatic analysis technique – and a classification algorithm, to create a system that can distinguish between which birds are present in a large dataset.

“Automatic classification of bird sounds is useful when trying to understand how many and what type of birds you might have in one location,” commented lead author Dr Dan Stowell from QMUL’s School of Electronic Engineering and Computer Science and Centre for Digital Music.

Dr Stowell was recently awarded a prestigious five-year fellowship from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) to develop computerised processes to detect multiple bird sounds in large sets of audio recordings.

Birdsong has a lot in common with human language, even though it evolved separately. For example, many songbirds go through similar stages of vocal learning as we do, as they grow up, which makes them interesting to study. From them we can understand more about how human language evolved and social organisation in animal groups,” said Dr Stowell.

He added: “The attraction of fully automatic analysis is that we can create a really large evidence base to address these big questions.”

The classification system created by the authors performed well in a public contest using a set of thousands of recordings with over 500 bird species from Brazil. The system was regarded as the best-performing audio only classifier, and placed second overall out of entries from 10 research groups in the competition.

The researchers hope to drill down into more detail for their next project.

Dr Stowell says: “I’m working on techniques that can transcribe all the bird sounds in an audio scene: not just who is talking, but when, in response to whom, and what relationships are reflected in the sound, for example who is dominating the conversation.”

Want to know more? Read the paper.

Rare great knot in England


This is a great knot video.

From Wildlife Extra:

Extremely rare bird draws a huge crowd in Norfolk

A great knot, a small wader you might normally expect to see in Australia, drew around 400 ardent birdwatchers to the Breydon Water estuary near Great Yarmouth in Norfolk this week.

The species has only been seen three times before in the UK – first in Shetland in 1989, then on Teeside in 1996 and, most recently, at Skippool in Lancashire in 2004.

Most of the latter sightings were so distant, however, that that bird was nicknamed the ‘great dot’.

Great knots breed in the tundra of Siberia and winter on the coasts of southern Asia and Australia, travelling between the two in large flocks. Somewhere on its migration, this bird strayed off course, lost its companions and ended up in East Anglia.

Like other calidrids, such as sandpipers, stints and dunlin, the great knot probes mudflats and beaches with its sensitive bill searching for mollusc prey. This specialised bill contains numerous nerve-endings known as Herbst corpuscles to enable the bird to sense the tiny movements of prey buried in the wet mud.

This particular great knot, oblivious to its legions of admirers behind rows of telescopes, enjoyed the delicacies of Norfolk coastal mud for a few days before moving on.

Extinct pigeon related to dodo, new research


This video is called Nicobar pigeon display.

From Wildlife Extra:

Liverpool pigeon found to be related to iconic dodo

After 200 years of being somewhat of an enigma, and having unknown provenance, the extinct spotted green pigeon has been found to be related to the iconic but extinct, flightless dodo.

Scientists in Australia analysed tiny DNA fragments extracted from feathers of the only remaining specimen (which is on show in the World Museum in Liverpool) and found it to be related to the nicobar pigeon of Indonesia and distantly related to the dodo of Mauritius.

Clem Fisher from the World Museum said: “We are very pleased that the extinct Spotted Green Pigeon has its correct place in the world of birds finally, after more than 230 years.”

The bird is often referred to as the ‘Liverpool Pigeon’ after the city in which the specimen is kept, but it would have come from either the Indian subcontinent, southeast Asia or Oceania.

Leading scientist Dr Tim Heupink, from Griffith University in Australia said: “This study improves our ability to identify novel (new) species from historic remains, and also those that are not novel after all. Ultimately this will help us to measure and understand the extinction of local populations and entire species.”

Golden eagles in southern Scotland


This video from Canada says about itself:

16 August 2011

Birds of prey expert John Campbell teaches his nephew to put an identifying band on a golden eagle chick. Close up and personal views of the nest, its reluctant inhabitant, and the birds’ food sources. Spectacular views of Southern Alberta. The banding is part of a program to protect the species. The band goes on fairly tightly because the birds’ legs don’t grow further in diameter as the bird grows.

From Wildlife Extra:

Golden eagles could return to southern Scotland

Improvements to habitats in the south of Scotland could lead the area to become a stronghold for golden eagles.

A study carried out by the Scottish Natural Heritage showed that the area could potentially support up to 16 pairs, almost four times the present number.

At the moment there are thought to be no more than one or two pairs in Galloway and no more than three in the Scottish Borders.

Prof Des Thompson of SNH, who led the research, told the BBC “We would now like to see on-the-ground, practical work to improve the habitat for golden eagles in the south of Scotland.

“With habitat improvements, we could see connections with the small reintroduced population in Ireland. This would help both groups of eagles and could even help bolster the population in the north of England.”

Duncan Orr-Ewing, RSPB Scotland Head of Species and Land Management, said: “These magnificent birds should be given every opportunity to recover and reoccupy lost range, and must be protected in practice from the effects of human persecution, which remains a significant threat to this species, and in particular to this perilously small and isolated population.”

The total number of golden eagles in Scotland is 440 pairs, with most of the birds found in the Highlands and Islands.

100th young osprey fledges in Loch Garten, Scotland


This video from Scotland is called RSPB Loch Garten Osprey Highlights 2013.

From Wildlife Extra:

Osprey 100 takes off from Loch Garten

The 100th osprey to fledge from Loch Garten Osprey Centre in the Scottish Highlands has taken to the air after days of vigorous flapping to strengthen her flight muscles.

Millicent, the name RSPB staff gave the fledgling, didn’t venture very far for her first flight said Richard Thaxton, RSPB Scotland Osprey Centre Manager.

“She just circled around the nest before alighting in the adjacent dead tree just a matter of metres away. It was huge relief to see both her first take off and first landing completed successfully.”

Millicent’s two siblings, Seasca and Druie are expected to follow suit in the coming days. The young ospreys will spend the next month in or around the nest area until they depart on an annual migration to wintering grounds in Africa.

Ospreys first returned to breed in Scotland 60 years ago following extinction due to egg collectors and other forms of persecution. The first pair to return nested at the nature reserve and the site has been used by ospreys ever since.

Richard said: “It was a magical moment to see Millicent airborne for the first time. It happens every year of course but this time it was particularly special, as she is the 100th chick to fledge from the nest since the birds first returned in the late 1950s.

“It is a magnificent milestone in the huge conservation success story for Scotland. It was a proud moment for all involved in the project, both past & present.”

Keen osprey watchers can keep up to date with all the action in the nest via a live webcam and regular blog updates from Osprey Centre staff.

New biosphere reserve in Argentina


This video is called Península Valdés, Argentina.

From Wildlife Extra:

A vast coastal wildlife haven in Argentina declared a Biosphere Reserve

Four million acres of wildlife-rich land in southern Argentina has been declared a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO.

Península Valdés is situated on a rugged peninsula on the Atlantic coast of Patagonia in the Chubut Province, and is teeming with wildlife.

It has the largest breeding colony of southern elephant seals in South America and supports more than 70,000 pairs of Magellanic penguins, over 10,000 South American sea lions, cormorants, gulls, terns, and nearly 4,000 southern right whales. On land the peninsula sustains over 4,000 guanacos and some of the highest densities of maras and Darwin’s rheas in Patagonia.

The new reserve includes a previously unprotected area known as Punta Ninfas, where large numbers of elephant seals, South American sea lions, imperial cormorants, terns and Magellanic penguins live.

This area is under threat from three nearby large cities and uncontrolled access by people using off-road vehicles. The new Biosphere designation draws attention to the urgent need for ensuring the protection of wildlife here.

“Península Valdés is one of the great natural wonders of Latin America with greater concentrations of wildlife than any other area on the entire coast of Patagonia,” said WCS President and CEO Cristián Samper.

“Making this incredible area region a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve is the culmination of years of hard work by many great partners.”

Snowy owl nest in Alaska on the Internet


This video says about itself:

Arctic Snowy Owl Prey Delivery by Male

9 July 2014

A pile of four owlets await their mother’s arrival on the tundra outside Barrow, Alaska. Soon after she alights, the male owl flies in to deliver a lemming, exchanges it with the female, and departs while she begins to provision the owlets.

Learn about the Owl Research Institute’s work with Snowy Owls here.

From the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in the USA:

Watch Snowy Owlets in Alaska

In the tundra around Barrow, Alaska, Snowy Owls nest in the 24-hour sunlight. Now you can watch one of these nests, featuring seven growing owlets, live on our Bird Cams. The camera is located a respectful distance from the nest, so be aware that the owlets are not always visible (they tend to hunker behind a low rise). But their parents visit regularly with meals of lemming and duck—as you can see in this video highlight. What are the owlets up to now? Check in on the Snowy Owl cam.

Got Snowy Questions? We’re holding live-chat Q&A sessions every day through Friday this week, from 4:00 to 5:00 p.m. Eastern time.

Charles Darwin’s complete Galapagos library posted online


This video says about itself:

11 November 2011

A classic example of evolution on Daphne Major Island in the Galapagos. Natural selection works on beak size variation of Darwin’s Finches.

From ars technica:

Darwin’s complete Galapagos library posted online

404 volumes kept on board the Beagle join the giant Darwin Online repository.

by Sam Machkovech – July 16 2014, 10:40pm +0200

Charles Darwin‘s massive ship library, including astounding drawings of species from far-off lands, meant he rarely had to come above-board while sailing on the Beagle in the 1830s.

Charles Darwin’s five-year journey to and from the Galapagos Islands ended in 1836. While that was over two decades before the publication of On the Origin of Species, he credited his time on board the Beagle as a formative experience for his theory of evolution. That extended trip wasn’t only spent studying local wildlife, especially during lengthy voyages at sea to and from home—Darwin also devoured a library of more than 400 volumes of text.

While many of those books were referenced in his later research, they were not preserved as a collection once the Beagle returned to England, leaving a gap in our understanding about the books and studies that kept Darwin’s mind occupied during such an historic era. Now, thanks to the painstaking efforts of a two-year Beagle project funded by the government of Singapore, that complete on-ship library has been transcribed and posted at Darwin Online, the world’s largest repository of Darwin-related texts and writings.

The library, which was stored in the same cabin as Darwin’s bed and desk during his journey, totaled out at 195,000 pages by the time researchers at the National University of Singapore assembled the full collection (and these weren’t exactly picture books, with only 5,000 corresponding illustrations). The complete list is quite astounding, made up of atlases, history books, geology studies, and even a giant supply of literature. Darwin also enjoyed a few books in French, Spanish, and German, along with a book in Latin about species and a Greek edition of the New Testament.

Historians and fans can read and perform text searches of the fully transcribed library. But if you’re pressed for time, we strongly encourage you to at least skim through the collection of gorgeous illustrations.