American crows’ big roosts during winter


This video is called The American Crow.

From eNature Blog in the USA:

What Makes Crows Gather in Large Roosts During Fall and Winter?

Posted on Monday, October 06, 2014 by eNature

Steve Bailey is a bit of an exception.

Whereas most people in Danville, Illinois, wish the crows now in their midst would find themselves another winter home, he welcomes the visitors with open arms. He’s a bird lover, of course, and proud to live in the unofficial Winter Crow Capital of North America—despite the noise, the mess, and the smell that comes with that distinction.

Danville is home to roughly 35,000 people. Its crows, however, number some 162,000 according to the recent Audubon Christmas Bird Count. There are so many crows in the 6- to 8-block area where they nightly roost that their weight sometimes snaps branches off trees.

And then there’s the endless supply of droppings and the incessant racket. No wonder some desperate residents have cut down healthy shade trees in order to force the birds to relocate. Others have tried scaring the birds away with plastic owls and sirens, even recordings of Barred Owl calls played throughout the night.

Still, the birds remain. The most obvious reason for their stubbornness is that Danville offers a perfect location for crows. It’s in a river valley surrounded by agricultural land in all directions. As for the crows’ communal tendencies, the birds know that there is strength in numbers. That is, roosting together helps them watch for predators and increases their chances of finding food.

Given these tendencies, it should come as no surprise that Danville’s is not the only large crow roost that takes shape in the United States from fall to spring. In Jasper County, Iowa, for example, thousands of crows settle down a little to the east of Newton. In Massachusetts, up to 20,000 descend on the center of Framingham every afternoon. Wichita, Kansas, has 100,000 crows spread among a few roosts. And in the 1940s and ‘50s, Stafford County, Kansas, hosted upwards of a million crows in winter, though that roost eventually disintegrated.

And perhaps the same fate will someday befall Danville’s crows. No doubt most of the town’s residents would welcome such a development. For bird lovers like Steve Bailey, though, Danville just wouldn’t be the same without its winter crows.

Good or bad, they’re certainly a spectacle!

Have you encountered a large roost of crows? There’s one not far from our eNature office— and you’ll often hear it before you see the birds. It’s always a fun visit.

Let us know what you’re seeing out there!

How to tell a crow from raven: here.

Crows and ravens look almost alike, and with ravens expanding their range of late, telling the difference is a growing challenge. Our own Dr. Kevin McGowan has studied crows for 30 years—and his advice is to use your ears. Learn to tell a caw from a croak, and these big black birds will confuse you nevermore.

What If They’re Silent? See our Crows vs. Ravens page for McGowan’s visual ID tips.

Bald eagles in the USA, where to see them


This video is called American Bald Eagle.

From Discovery News in the USA:

Endangered Species

Bald Eagle Spotting: Top Spots

Dec 27, 2013 12:43 PM ET // by Tim Wall

Forty years ago, the Endangered Species Act was signed into law by President Richard Nixon. The act’s authors sought to protect animals, plants and other wildlife from extinction caused by “economic growth and development untempered by adequate concern and conservation,” in the words of the Act.

One symbol of the United States, the bald eagle, provides an example of how a change to the economy saved an icon of North America.

DDT, or dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane, weakened eagle and other bird egg shells so much that the eggs would collapse under the mother. The chemical was introduced in the 1940s and already had decimated bird populations by the early 1960s.

NEWS: Bald Eagle Nestlings Contaminated by Chemicals

In 1972, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency banned the pesticide. The removal of DDT from the market allowed eagle eggs to regain their strength, and the raptors began a recovery.

Bald eagles soared off of the Endangered Species List in 2007. Although off the list, the birds are still protected by the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the Lacey Act, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

LIST: Animals Back From the Brink

An eagle-watching trip could be a thrilling way to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Endangered Species Act and the success of bald eagles.

From coast to coast, National Wildlife Refuges offer winter-long opportunities to observe the raptors, along with special events.

The USFWS presents a cross-country list of these eagle adventures in Maryland, Virginia, Illinois, Tennessee, Missouri, Oklahoma, Utah, California, Oregon and Washington. Here are a few highlights:

Maryland: Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge Eagle Festival March 15, 2014, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The festival is a free way to see more than 200 eagles overwintering in the refuge, the largest population on the East Coast, north of Florida.

Illinois: Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge Eagle Watch Jan. 18-19, 25-26 at  8 a.m., 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Reservations are required for this guided van trip to see eagle nests.

Missouri: Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge Open all winter. A 1.5-mile trail offers views of hundreds of eagles.

Oregon: Winter Wings Festival in Klamath Falls Feb. 13-16. Sessions on bald eagles and other raptors are featured events at this avian extravaganza.

The Endangered Species Act has prevented the extinction of 99% of the more than 2,140 species it currently protects: here.

West Nile Virus Behind Utah Bald Eagle Deaths: here.

Urban warfare drills in Chicago, USA


This video from the USA is called Urban Warfare Drill Chicago 2012 Blackhawk helicopters NATO | G8.

The US Department of Defense conducted urban warfare training drills in the Chicago suburb of Tinley Park this week, including the use of explosives to train soldiers in the raiding of homes and other structures: here.

Urban warfare exercise in Tinley Park frightens some residents: here.

American ratsnakes and climate change


This video from the USA is called 6ft Black Rat Snake.

From ScienceDaily:

Global Warming Beneficial to Ratsnakes

Jan. 8, 2013 — Speculation about how animals will respond to climate change due to global warming led University of Illinois researcher Patrick Weatherhead and his students to conduct a study of ratsnakes at three different latitudesOntario, Illinois, and Texas. His findings suggest that ratsnakes will be able to adapt to the higher temperatures by becoming more active at night.