Bird lovers in 2013, thank you video


This video is called Science Nation – Birds, Climate Change, and Citizen Science.

A video from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in the USA which used to be on YouTube, used to say about itself:

Thank You for Inspiring a New Generation of Bird Lovers

26 dec 2013

This heartfelt footage filmed at one of our collaborative organizations in the Yucatan‘s Ria Lagartos Biosphere Reserve reminds us of how people all over the world come together every day to help birds and inspire the next generation of conservationists. Thank you for everything you do to share your passion and inspire more people to take an interest in birds.

Bird Photography in Yucatan: here.

Snowy owls, as far as Bermuda


This video from the USA is called NATURE “Magic of the Snowy Owl“.

Recently, there have been/still are northern-hawk owls much further south than usually, in Zwolle in the Netherlands, and in Germany.

This video is about a northern hawk-owl in Gristede, Germany, on 15 November 2013.

There were/are reports on a great grey owl, and on a pygmy owl, in the Netherlands in 2011, and also in December 2013. Both species also much more to the south than one might expect.

Now, across the Atlantic. From Audubon Magazine in the USA:

Notes from a Snowy Owl Invasion

The majestic birds of the far north are traveling as far south as Bermuda.

By Kenn Kaufman

Published: 12/04/2013

Long before it caught the attention of Harry Potter fans, the snowy owl already represented its own kind of magic for fans of the outdoors. This powerful white owl is emblematic of the far north, spending the summer from treeline north to the northernmost land of Canada, Scandinavia, and Siberia. Even in winter, most snowy owls in North America stay near the Arctic Circle, with only a few drifting to southern Canada and the northern United States.

At least, that’s what happens in an average year. About one winter in every four, the numbers of snowy owls moving south in early winter are noticeably increased. Then the ghostly birds are spotted in dozens of locations south of the Canadian border, creating excitement among the local birders.

We had seen a big flight just two years ago, in winter 2011-2012, with owls from coast to coast and many in the interior south to Kansas and Missouri. The following winter, 2012-2013, had seen a smaller “echo” flight develop. So we assumed that numbers would be much lower this year, in a return to “normal.”

We were wrong.

During the last week of November and first days of December 2013, it’s become apparent that something is going on with snowy owls. Even people who pay close attention to bird records were taken by surprise because it developed so rapidly.

Along the short coastline of New Hampshire, it’s not too unusual for one or two snowies to show up. This year one was found as early as November 22. But by the 30th, at least 12 were on or near the New Hampshire coast, with up to five visible from one spot. Just to the south, in Massachusetts, a few snowy owls appear every winter. This year on December 3, observers counted at least eight in the immediate Boston area, plus five visible from one spot in Salisbury, 13 visible from one vantage point in Rowley, and others at scattered sites on the coast. In Maine, compilers struggled to keep up with all the sightings of multiple birds along the coast, including several well offshore at Monhegan Island.

The birds are going south, too. Multiples are scattered around New Jersey. In Delaware, the last previous record had involved a single bird in 2005, but by the beginning of December the state had at least five, possibly seven. Two had reached Virginia. One on the Outer Banks of North Carolina provided one of very few records for that state, but then a second bird was found inland.

The numbers of snowy owls, their sudden arrival, and the southward extent of the flight all have been noteworthy. But what really stands out about this year’s invasion, so far, is the fact that it is focused so far east. There have been some good counts around the eastern Great Lakes (such as eight along the Lake Erie shoreline at Cleveland, Ohio, and four at the airport at Syracuse, New York), but the majority of the birds have been found along the Atlantic Coast–or even off the coast.

Newfoundland is the easternmost part of Canada, a very large island at the mouth of the Gulf of St. Lawrence. It’s not unusual for snowy owls to arrive there in winter. This year, three were found on November 15 in the Cape Race area, but their numbers increased rapidly. Bruce Mactavish and friends found 42 birds there on November 30, a number that Mactavish regarded as “staggering.” But the very next day, the same group of observers scoured the same area again and counted 138 snowy owls! These were all in the general vicinity of Cape Race, at the extreme southeastern tip of Newfoundland. If an owl were to fly south from there, it wouldn’t see land again until it reached Bermuda.

The island group of Bermuda lies about 600 miles off the coast of the southeastern United States and 1,200 miles south of Newfoundland. With its subtropical climate, it hardly seems like habitat for snowy owls, but there have been a couple of past records. This fall, at least two and probably three have arrived there. For multiples to have reached this isolated bit of land, we can only imagine how many of the owls must be out flying over the open waters of the Atlantic.

So–why is this happening? So far, we don’t have a complete explanation. The majority of the invading owls are heavily marked young birds, hatched this year, so evidently snowy owls had very good breeding success this year in the eastern Canadian Arctic. And evidently there isn’t enough food in the Arctic now to sustain them, so they are moving south. But are there exceptional conditions in the Arctic right now–unusual weather, unusual lack of sea ice–that would be affecting the owls’ movements? We are still working on that question.

This video is about a snowy owl, in Monroe County, New York, USA.

Snowy owls ruffling feathers at N.Y.-area airports: here.

New York decides that shooting snowy owls probably isn’t the best idea after all: here.

Cornell red-tailed hawks nest update


This video from the USA says about itself:

Cornell Red-tailed hawks ‘A Sudden Shower!’ 5:45 pm

24 Apr 2013

A sudden shower brings Big Red running and she covers the nestlings, while Ezra stays to shield Big Red and help keep the rain off the nestlings! He stays with her for the entire shower which lasted about 35 minutes. Such devotion! Big Red and Ezra are the greatest!

Camera Host:

Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

From the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in the USA now:

Cornell Hawks Visiting the Nest

Although the breeding season at the Cornell hawks nest is over for 2013, Big Red and Ezra continued to make periodic visits to the nest throughout October. Intrepid photographers are also documenting their whereabouts elsewhere around campus—check out this great image gallery courtesy of local enthusiast christinebshoals.

We also took the opportunity to make a visit to this year’s and last year’s nests to clean equipment, do a little painting, and reclaim some of the gear from the light towers (watch a fun time-lapse from the trip). A special thanks to the Cornell Facilities crew for making the trip a smooth and efficient one!

Red-tailed hawk: here.

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North American bird feeder webcams


This video from the USA is called Project FeederWatch Introduction.

From the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in the USA:

Two FeederWatch Cams Now Online

As we near the beginning of the 2013 Project FeederWatch season, we’re excited to announce the re-launch of last year’s successful FeederWatch Cam in Manitouwadge, Ontario (watch now) alongside a brand new cam focused on the feeder birds here in Sapsucker Woods (view now). Both cams give you up-close and personal views of a diversity of birds. The Ontario cam features many winter finches that are difficult to see elsewhere like Pine Grosbeaks, Common and Hoary Redpolls, and Evening Grosbeaks, while the Sapsucker Woods cam includes birds of the Eastern deciduous forest like titmice, goldfinches, and woodpeckers (not to mention the ducks and geese cruising through the background on the pond). You can explore the most common species at each cam site by clicking on the “Species Info” tab beneath the livestream.

There’s still time to sign up for Project FeederWatch as well! Check out their new website with all the details about how you can play an important role in helping scientists learn about the habits of winter birds.

American kestrels, new research


This video from the USA says about itself:

Northern New York American Kestrel Nest Box Project

Adirondack Raptors started the American Kestrel nest box project in 2002. We have been managing for the American kestrel ever since. This documentary aired on WPBS-TV on 3 January 2011.

From the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in the USA:

Growing Up Kestrel

Those who monitor American Kestrel nests know that these petite raptors are feisty and adaptable. But do the young kestrels that grow into handsome little falcons in your nest boxes ever return as adults? Or, do they strike out for parts unknown in some distant corner of the continent? The answers, from a new study in Idaho, may surprise you.

Since most kestrels breed in their first year after hatching, researchers did not have to wait long to see whether the kestrels were leaving home. Perhaps surprisingly, only 4% of the banded nestlings returned to nest in the study area, while the majority dispersed out of the study area. Of those that stayed put, females moved farther than males, about 6 miles (9.8 km) compared to the males’ 3.3 miles (5.3 km). Researchers think that although males are certainly capable of long-distance moves (one kestrel is known to have dispersed more than 1,200 miles!), they typically do not move as far because they need to defend territories. Females, on the other hand, are free to wander and choose the best available mate. Interestingly, juveniles whose parents were raised in the area were three times more likely to stay in the same area than those whose parents were immigrants. Two “local” sons even came back a few years later to nest in the very boxes from which they fledged.

How do American Kestrels compare to American people when it comes to leaving home? According to a 2008 Pew Research Center survey, the percentage of Americans who resided in the same town in which they were born was 37%, compared with just 4% of the studied kestrels remaining in their area of origin. The popular idea that most kestrels stay in the same “hometown” in which they were raised is more likely a reflection of our own human dispersal patterns—people are almost an order of magnitude more likely to stay!

Deciding whether to move or stay always involves tradeoffs. Kestrels leave their hometowns for some of the same reasons people do: to seek out new opportunities, to learn what’s out there, and to start a family. However, those that stay do so for reasons that we can also relate to: the climate is favorable, they know the area, and it’s a good place to raise kids. If you don’t yet have a kestrel nesting box available in your area, why not provide one in case this beautiful little falcon finds its way to your hometown?

Reference: Steenhof, K., and J. A. Heath. 2013. Local recruitment and natal dispersal distances of American kestrels. The Condor 115(3):584-592.

Hellbender salamanders back in New York


This video from the USA says about itself:

A nationwide group is working to save the declining Hellbender species and hopes it can rally others to do the same. Hellbenders are North America’s largest salamander, typically 11-24 inches long with flat green or brown bodies that have noticeable wrinkles on the sides. They are long-lived and spend up to 30 years under flat rocks in rivers and streams across Appalachia, parts of the Midwest and the northern tips of several southern states.

But the eastern hellbender is endangered in five states, and protected or of special concern in many others. This video shows how a team from several state, national, and university groups (including Purdue Forestry and Natural Resources) are working together with the goal of increasing the Hellbender population in Indiana. For more information, visit: http://www.helpthehellbender.org.

By Jennifer Viegas in the USA:

Loch Ness Monster-Like Reptile Returns to NY

Sorry, Ms Viegas, a hellbender is an amphibian; not a reptile.

A large, Loch Ness monster-resembling reptile has been re-introduced to streams in western New York State, the Wildlife Conservation Society today reports.

Thirty-eight of the animals, known as Eastern hellbenders, were placed under rocks in streams by Don Boyer, Bronx Zoo Curator of Herpetology, and Sarah Parker, Bronx Zoo Wild Animal Keeper.

The researchers and their colleagues raised the Eastern hellbenders from eggs collected in the Allegheny River.

Eastern hellbenders, also known as devil dogs, Allegheny alligators and snot otters, are among the world’s largest salamanders. They can grow to around 2 feet in length. (The world’s two largest salamanders, the Japanese giant salamander and the Chinese hellbender, can both grow up to six feet long).

“The hellbender is an important part of our state’s aquatic biodiversity and it’s clear that we have to take dramatic steps to ensure its continued presence in New York,” Patricia Riexinger, Director of the Division of Fish, Wildlife and Marine Resources at the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, said in a press release.

According to the NY Department of Environmental Conservation, the big salamanders have been in decline due to pollution in their aquatic habitat and damming of rivers and streams, which lowers the dissolved oxygen content and eliminates some of their habitat. Siltation of streams and rivers resulting from agricultural practices and construction work, such as bridges and roadwork, is yet another problem.

Another issue is “the unintentional or intentional and senseless killing by fishermen who accidentally catch hellbenders and erroneously fear that they are venomous.”

Let’s face it. The Eastern hellbender won’t win any beauty contests. They have flattened heads and bodies, small eyes, and slimy, wrinkly skin. They are typically a brown or reddish-brown color with a pale underbelly. Their tails feature a narrow edge that helps to propel them through water.

But the Eastern hellbender is a gentle creature that spends most of its time searching for crayfish, insects, small fish and other prey. Studies show that it doesn’t favor game fish, so there’s no real conflict with humans.

It is actually a good sign to spot one, since studies show hellbenders have a preference for clean streams and rivers. When they are around, it’s generally an indication that water quality is very good.

Indiana and other states are home to hellbenders too, as you can see in this video [top of the post].

United States great blue herons fledging


This video is called Great Blue Herons, Camera host Cornell Lab, beautiful birds,they are courting,4/9/13.

From the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in the USA:

Heron Fledging Has Begun

The first young heron took flight from the nest tree in Sapsucker Woods yesterday just after noon. The fledgling earned the nickname “Uno” from the hundreds of chatters who witnessed the flight on the new Heron Cam 3. Enter our contest to see if you can guess when the final heron will fledge–the winner will be announced on the Bird Cams Facebook page and will receive a 5″ x 7″ print featuring one of the nestling herons!

While you’re waiting for the last nestling to fledge, check out the growing nestlings on the two Osprey cams (Dunrovin and Hellgate). The nests are only about 10 miles apart from one another in western Montana, but the Dunrovin nestlings are about 3 weeks older and nearing fledging themselves. Both sets of parents are excellent fishers, provisioning the young with multiple fish a day, and this year is shaping up to be a banner year for the Ospreys.

We’ll continue to post updates on the Bird Cams Facebook page and on twitter at @birdcams. Your continued support helps us keep the cams streaming–please donate today and receive a complimentary limited edition Bird Cams notepad with photos of the hawks and herons as a thank you from the Cornell Lab. Thank you for watching!

Sincerely,

Charles Eldermire
Bird Cams Project Leader

Victoria Campbell
Bird Cams Communication Specialist

Canadian common loons threatened by pollution


This video from the Adirondacks in the USA says about itself:

Voices: Common Loon

Experience the quintessential sound of the North Woods as described by Macaulay Library Audio Curator, Greg Budney.

From BirdLife:

Pollutants Threaten Iconic Canadian Bird

Tue, Jul 9, 2013

The future looks uncertain for one of the most beloved symbols of the Canadian wilderness, according to a new report from Bird Studies Canada (BirdLife co-Partner in Canada). The Canadian Lakes Loon Survey 1981-2012 reveals troubling trends for the Common Loon. Pollution (in the form of mercury and acid precipitation) is the suspected cause.

Currently Common Loon pairs are successfully producing enough chicks to maintain a stable population. Unfortunately, Bird Studies Canada’s research shows that their reproductive success (defined as the annual number of young raised to six weeks of age) has significantly declined since 1992. And the trends indicate that even worse news may be around the corner. If the current rate of decline continues, Common Loon numbers are expected to begin decreasing within two decades.

“We are approaching the tipping point. Annual reproductive success may soon drop below the minimum level required for these birds to sustain their numbers,” says Bird Studies Canada scientist Dr. Doug Tozer, the lead author of the report. “Because 95% of the world’s Common Loons breed in our country, Canadians have a critical role to play in monitoring and conserving loon populations.”

Mercury and acid precipitation affect lake health and directly impair loon reproductive success. The burning of fossil fuels (e.g., in cars and at coal-fired power plants) causes mercury and acid emissions. From the air, these pollutants make their way into lakes. Common Loons’ high position in the food chain makes them powerful indicators of lake health and especially pollution levels.

Higher mercury levels make loons slower, and affect their behaviour. Adults with higher mercury spend less time collecting food for chicks and defending breeding territories. Chicks have compromised immune systems and are less able to avoid predators. Meanwhile on lakes with higher acidity, fish are less abundant and loons produce fewer young.

Individuals can make a difference by supporting loon and lake research and conservation, and participating in Bird Studies Canada’s Citizen Science programs. The results also support further action to reduce harmful emissions from combustion of fossil fuels.

Findings are based on three decades of research by Bird Studies Canada scientists and volunteer surveyors. Over 3000 Citizen Scientists and Bird Studies Canada members contributed their time, data, and support to make this research possible. More detailed analysis can be found in the paper Common Loon Reproductive Success in Canada, published this spring in Avian Conservation & Ecology.

Bird Studies Canada’s Canadian Lakes Loon Survey program has been tracking Common Loon reproductive success at the national level for 20 years (and for 32 years in Ontario). Bird Studies Canada advances the understanding, appreciation, and conservation of wild birds and their habitats. BSC is Canada’s national charity for bird research and conservation.

The loon (Minnesota’s state bird) is the best of all birds. Here’s why.

Last Cornell young red-tailed hawk fledges


This video from the USA says about itself:

Last Nestling Fledges from Cornell Hawks Nest!

June 13, 2013

After carefully considering the drop for the last few days, the third nestling from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology‘s Red-tailed Hawk (nicknamed “D3″) nest opened its wings and took flight at 8:07 P.M. on June 12, 2013.

The Cornell Lab writes about this video:

On June 13, the last Red-tailed Hawk nestling (nicknamed “D3″) remaining in the nest chose the last hour of evening light to take its first flight, launching purposefully into the air and disappearing from the camera’s view (watch the highlight). It took D3 a full week longer than its nestmates to take its first flight, and kept many viewers’ hearts fluttering as it flapped around the platform in the days leading up to fledging.