How to watch birds in North America, videos


This video from the USA, part of a series with the other videos below here, says about itself:

Learn the most fundamental skill for identifying birds: recognizing them by size and shape. Birding experts Chris Wood and Jessie Barry show you how to compare different birds and employ your observations to make a confident ID.

Join them in the field to practice these techniques on common birds and learn how to distinguish similar species such as Hairy and Downy woodpeckers.

This video is called Inside Birding: Behavior.

This video is called Inside Birding: Habitat.

This video is called Inside Birding: Color Pattern.

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International Migratory Bird Day, 10 May


This video from Canada says about itself:

Inglewood Sanctuary celebrates International Migratory Bird Day

29 April 2013

Each spring, millions of birds return north from their wintering grounds. To honour this event, City of Calgary Parks is hosting a free family event. Enjoy guided tours, interpretative programs and refreshments while learning about migratory birds who summer in our city.

From Wildlife Promise blog in the USA:

International Migratory Bird Day is Around the Corner!

4/29/2014 // By Becca Shapiro

This May, celebrate International Migratory Bird Day! On May 10th, International Migratory Bird Day will aim to share the many ways that migratory birds matter to us and the earth.

Each season, migratory birds travel long distances between breeding and non-breeding sites. Beyond providing recreational fun for bird lovers and wildlife gardeners, birds help to vegetate areas by dispersing seeds and pollinating flowering plants, trees and shrubs. The goal of International Migratory Bird Day is to motivate people of all ages and backgrounds to simply get outside and learn about native birds and what you can do to help protect them.

Attracting Birds to Your Yard

It’s important to protect tropical forests where migratory birds overwinter, as well as the important breeding grounds in Canada’s boreal forest, but there are things that you can do closer to home to help migratory birds, whether they’re species that are just passing through or those that end their migration in your neighborhood.

When trying to attract birds to your garden at home, there are a variety of measures you can take. Consider the different things birds need to survive: food, water, cover, and a safe place to construct a nest.

Begin with water – a simple birdbath is a great place to start. Keep the birdbath about 10 feet away from dense shrub or other areas that may attract predators to keep the birds safe from harm. Also make sure to change the water every 2-3 days in the summer and use a heater in the winter.

To provide food sources to birds, install native plants to offer seeds, berries, nuts, and nectar. Think about recreating the plant ecosystem of your local area. This will also attract insects, a primary source of protein for birds. Bird feeders also provide supplemental food during times of scarcity.

Birds will build nests out of almost anything they can find. Building a brush pile in a corner of your yard can provide materials for birds to make nests. Keeping dead trees around your garden can offer cavity-dwelling places for birds to raise young. You can also put out nesting boxes, but make sure they have ventilation holes at the top and drainage holes near the bottom.

Once you’ve provided, food, water, cover, and a safe place for birds to raise their young, you’ll be ready to certify your wildlife garden in time for International Migratory Bird Day. To find International Migratory Bird Day happenings in your area, check out the IMBD Events Map. And just because it’s being celebrated on May 10 doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate birds and the outdoors every day!

Celebrate Garden for Wildlife Month by becoming a Wildlife Gardener with National Wildlife Federation. It’s free and you’ll get great wildlife gardening tips and learn how to certify your garden as an official habitat.

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American robin in the Netherlands for first time


This is an American robin video from the USA.

An American robin (Turdus migratorius) has been seen in the Netherlands today. It is a new species for that country.

See also here.

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Alligator snapping turtles, not one species but three


This video from Tennessee in the USA is called Wild SideTV-Alligator Snapping Turtles.

From Wildlife Extra:

The alligator snapping turtle is not one species but three

The threatened alligator snapping turtle is not just one species but three, scientists from Florida and the University of Vermont have discovered.

By examining museum specimens and wild turtles, the scientists uncovered deep evolutionary divisions in this ancient reptile that caused them to split into different species millions years ago.

“We found a surprising result: these really deep divisions between each river,” says Joe Roman, a conservation biologist at the University of Vermont. “Unlike common snappers, these turtles do not move from river to river; they’re isolated and have been for millions of years, through many glacial ages.”

The Suwannee alligator snapping turtle is found in Florida and Georgia, and lives only in the Suwannee River and, say the scientists, has been a distinct species for at least five million years. The Apalachicola alligator snapping turtle lives in Florida, Georgia, and Alabama — in and around the Apalachicola River — and developed as an independent species at least three million years ago. While turtles from the Apalachicola and other panhandle rivers in Florida, Georgia and Alabama are now the Apalachicola alligator snapping turtle.

The scientists have notified the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service of the discovery and that federal protection is urgently needed to protect these turtles, who face threats from water pollution and over-collection for food and the pet trade.

“This new study shows the extremely rare alligator snapping turtle is even rarer than we thought,” said Collette Adkins Giese, a Center biologist and lawyer focused on protecting reptiles and amphibians. “If we don’t act quickly to protect these dinosaurs of the turtle world, they, too, could go extinct.”

Alligator snapping turtles are the largest river turtles in North America, weighing in at up to 200 pounds and living almost a century.

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Total lunar eclipse in North America


This video from the USA is called NASA – Skywatchers’ Delight – Multiple Lunar Eclipses expected in April 2014.

From eNature Blog in the USA:

Watch The Moon Disappear Before Your Eyes—Don’t Miss Tonight’s Total Lunar Eclipse!

Posted on Monday, April 14, 2014 by eNature

There’s a total lunar eclipse happening across all of North America LATE tonight and early tomorow morning (the 15th). A total lunar eclipse occurs when the full Moon passes through the dark inner core of the Earth’s shadow, which is called the umbra.

North America hasn’t experienced a total eclipse of the Moon since 2011. But that dearth ends in the early morning hours of April 15th (or late on April 14th for the West Coast), when the full Moon passes through the umbra and all but disappears. In fact, we’re due to see three more eclipses over the next two years, a bounty of lunar eclipses that won’t occur again until 2032.

While it may be happening a little late for folks on the East Coast, you’ll find that a total eclipse is worth staying up for.

The eclipse will start to be noticeable around 1:00 AM ET when the Moon’s leading edge enters Earth’s penumbra, the outer portion of its shadow.

Initially the affect is not especially noticeable — you won’t start to see a dusky fringe along the Moon’s leading edge (known to astronomers as its “celestial east”) until the the moon intrudes about halfway across the penumbra. As the Moon glides deeper into the penumbra and approaches the umbra, the shading effect of the Earth’s shadow on the appearance of the moon becomes much more obvious.

The total eclipse begins at 3:07 AM ET when the moon is completely within the Earth’s shadow. From the Moon’s perspective, the Sun remains completely hidden for 1 hour 18 minutes. From Earth’s perspective, the lunar disk isn’t completely blacked out but instead remains dimly lit by a deep orange or red glow— but it’s easy to think the moon’s completely missing if you don’t look closely.

You can do the math and see the timing is a little more friendly for folks on the west coast.

Regardless of how late the hour, you’ll not regret staying up to catch one of nature’s best shows!

Sky and Telescope magazine provided much of the info in this entry and has LOTS more great detail about the eclipse.

‘Blood Moon’ Eclipse: Best Pictures Of Amazing Sight Above America: here.

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New North American bird migration Internet site


This video from the USA says about itself:

For thousands of years and countless generations, migratory birds have flown the same long-distance paths between their breeding and feeding grounds. Understanding the routes these birds take, called flyways, helps conservation efforts and gives scientists better knowledge of global changes, both natural and man-made. QUEST heads out to the Pacific Flyway with California biologists to track the rhythm of migration.

From Wildlife Extra:

Ninety years of valuable migration data about North American birds is now available online

Over a million records telling the tale of nearly a century of North American bird migrations have been rescued from obscurity and are being transcribed by an international network of more than 2,000 volunteers, making the records available for the first time online for use by researchers and the public.

The records, which span the years from 1880 to 1970, provide information on what areas of the country birds were spotted, and when they arrived or departed in spring and autumn. The information is of use identifying how birds’ ranges and migration patterns have changed over time.

The one-millionth transcription was that of a house wren seen in Tierra Amarilla, New Mexico, on September 11, 1904 and it joined all the other records now part of the United States Geological Survey North American Bird Phenology Program database.

Phenology is the study of the seasonal timing of natural biological phenomena, such as leafing and flowering of plants, maturation of agricultural crops, emergence of insects, and migration of birds. Many of these events are sensitive to climatic variation and change, and are simple to observe and record.

“This 90-year span of archival data provides baseline information about the first arrivals and last departures of North American migratory birds,” according to Jessica Zelt, the USGS North American Bird Phenology Program Coordinator. “When combined with contemporary data, researchers have the unique opportunity to look at changes in seasonal timing in relation to climate and climate change over a 130-year period, unprecedented in its length of time for recorded migratory data.”

The records contain many stories, from the emergence of introduced European species such as the European starling and house sparrow, to the decimation of species such as the Carolina parakeet and passenger pigeon.

This citizen science programme has welcomed participants of all backgrounds from around the world to help transcribe the data. Volunteers have come from locations as varied as Gunma in Japan, Istanbul and Brussels, although the majority reside throughout North America.

“Just last month, a participant wrote me to say she had transcribed a card by Tracy Irwin Storer, a name she recognised because he had authored her college biology textbook,” said Zelt. “One of the aspects that is so exciting about this programme is that it provides participants with a link to ornithological history.”

Original records were created by many famous ornithologists, biologists, botanists and naturalists, such as Aldo Leopold, author of A Sand County Almanac, Roger Tory Peterson, who wrote A Field Guide to the Birds, and Clarence Birdseye, the creator of the famous frozen foods.

“We feel that the world is changing and these bird records are providing us with the measuring tape to document that change,” said Sam Droege, a USGS wildlife biologist. “This is something anyone can get involved in exploring since we are making all the records open to the public.”

Anyone interested in participating in this innovative project can volunteer by registering online to transcribe these records for the database.

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First North American bluebird twins discovered


This video is called Eastern Bluebird Singing.

From the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in the USA:

First Recorded Bluebird Twins Found by NestWatch Volunteer

Last year an Eastern Bluebird laid three normal eggs and one large egg in one of NestWatcher Gerald Clark’s nest boxes. A few weeks later he had five nestlings in the box, and his finding became a scientific paper on the first recorded instance of twins in bluebirds. (The Lab’s Dr. Caren Cooper tackled just how rare an event this is in a blog post for the journal PLOS.) The finding is a direct example of how citizen scientists contribute to scientific discovery each time they participate. Try NestWatch this season!

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Great Backyard Bird Count results


This video from the USA is called 17th Annual Great Backyard Bird Count.

From the Great Backyard Bird Count site in the USA:

Top 10 Lists

GBBC By the Numbers

March 2014

It’s time to put the exclamation point at the end of another exciting, record-breaking Great Backyard Bird Count with a look at how this GBBC stacked up by the numbers. As of March 4, here are the numbers recorded for the count, February 14-17, 2014:

Number of checklists: 144,109
Species observed: 4,296
Countries participating: 135
Estimated number of participants: 142,051
Photos entered in contest: 4,491
Photos posted to gallery: 1,242

As we note some of our Top 10 lists, bear in mind that although global participation is growing, most checklists still came in from North America, explaining why the top 10 birds are from this region.

Top 10 species appearing on the most checklists:

Rank Species # Checklists

1

Northern Cardinal

61,045

2

Dark-eyed Junco

58,077

3

Mourning Dove

50,596

4

Blue Jay

45,027

5

Downy Woodpecker

42,015

6

American Goldfinch

38,348

7

American Crow

37,121

8

House Finch

36,917

9

Tufted Titmouse

36,418

10

House Sparrow

34,910

Top 10 most numerous birds reported:

Rank Species # Counted

1

Red-winged Blackbird

1,609,037

2

Snow Goose

1,280,829

3

Canada Goose

1,163,527

4

European Starling

596,450

5

Mallard

542,516

6

Ring-billed Gull

466,536

7

Dark-eyed Junco

456,627

8

American Coot

454,169

9

American Crow

371,813

10

American Goldfinch

371,039

Worldwide, India reported the highest number of bird species at 819. Indian states make up 60% of our Top 10 list of the states/provinces reporting the most species.

Top 10 states/provinces with the most species reported:

Rank Location, Country # Species

1

California, United States

448

2

Puntarenas, Costa Rica

443

3

Texas, United States

412

4

Assam, India

404

5

West Bengal, India

398

6

Tamil Nadu, India

398

7

Karnataka, India

379

8

Queensland, Australia

373

9

Uttaranchal, India

367

10

Maharashtra, India

359

Top 10 countries by number of checklists:

Rank Country # Checklists

1

United States

124,310

2

Canada

13,458

3

India

3,358

4

Australia

908

5

Mexico

546

6

Chile

356

7

Costa Rica

256

8

Puerto Rico

196

9

United Kingdom

162

10

Portugal

149

Click here to see the entire list of 135 participating countries.

Top 10 states/provinces in the U.S. and Canada by checklist totals (all totals are all-time highs for the GBBC):

Rank State/Province # Checklists

1

California

9,452

2

New York

8,450

3

Pennsylvania

7,617

4

Ontario

6,851

5

Florida

6,273

6

Texas

6,141

7

Ohio

5,798

8

Virginia

5,481

9

North Carolina

5,453

10

Michigan

4,334

Click here to see all the states and provinces of the U.S. and Canada and number of checklists submitted.

In Canada, the Great Lakes states, and the Northeast down the Atlantic Coast, the big bird story for the past few months has been a massive influx of Snowy Owls. GBBC participants logged more than 1,600 Snowy Owl reports from 34 states and provinces, even as far south and west as Kansas. The province of Ontario had the highest number of reports with 366.

Snowy Owl Reports during the GBBC: 

Rank State/Province #Checklists #Snowy Owl Reports

1

Ontario

234

366

2

Minnesota

88

150

3

New York

111

141

4

Michigan

100

139

5

Wisconsin

95

117

6

Quebec

71

116

7

Massachusetts

60

92

8

Vermont

68

85

9

Illinois

37

67

10

North Dakota

15

38

Thank you to everyone who tallied the birds to help make this the most successful Great Backyard Bird count ever.

Click here to explore more results on your own.

View the GBBC photo gallery.

Please keep counting year-round with eBird and mark your calendars for the next Great Backyard Bird Count, February 13-16, 2015.

Birds in Virginia: here.

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Golden eagle migration, new research


This video is called Real bird’s eye view! Golden Eagle in flight – Animal Camera – BBC.

From the Charleston Gazette in the USA:

February 20, 2014

Golden eagles winter range larger than thought, WVU-led study finds

By Rick Steelhammer

CHARLESTON, W.Va.

A study led by a WVU professor on the over-wintering habits of eastern golden eagles shows that the solitude-loving raptors spend the cold months over a much wider range than previously thought, stretching as far south as Alabama and as far west as Indiana and Michigan.

The study uses both tracking data supplied by golden eagles outfitted with miniature GPS units and cell phones, and motion-activated cameras at 250 sites baited with road-kill deer. The tracking component of the study began eight years ago, while the camera-equipped bait sites began capturing images of golden eagles and other wildlife species three years ago.

All eastern golden eagles are believed to nest in Canada starting in late winter or early spring, and remain north of the border until fall. But until now, little has been known about how and where the birds of prey spend their winters.

In West Virginia, the relatively few golden eagles spotted in winter were initially believed to be migrants passing through the state, possibly to more temperate climes. That theory was quickly dispelled during the first year the study made use of camera-equipped bait sites.

Golden eagles were photographed in such abundance in the eastern highlands of West Virginia and the bordering counties of Virginia that it soon became evident the area was the birds’ primary over-wintering zone.

“That’s still the area where the densest populations of eastern golden eagles are found in winter,” said Todd Katzner, a research assistant professor at WVU and the coordinator of the study through Appalachian Eagles and the Eastern Golden Eagle Working Group..

But as the number of bait sites grew and expanded over the following years, “We started to see that the winter distribution is a lot bigger than we had thought,” Katzner said. “It’s amazing! They’re on the bait from Maine to Alabama and most of the states in between. They’re in Michigan, Indiana, Ohio and Tennessee. They’re everywhere!”

With wingspans that can exceed seven feet, golden eagles are North America’s largest bird of prey, yet not much is known about the species’ range and population in the east. The eastern population of golden eagles is thought to be about one-tenth that of golden eagles found the western U.S. and Canada, where 20,000 to 30,000 members of the species make their home.

“There are some birding records in the east where golden eagle sightings have been recorded, but this is the first systematic look at their distribution and population,” Katzner said. “They’re showing up in greater numbers, and over a much larger range than expected.”

The reason the mountains of West Virginia and Virginia seem to be a winter mecca for the birds is probably due to the area’s large population of whitetail deer, which has been in a growth pattern for the past 40 years, creating an abundance of road-killed and winter-killed deer. Deer that are no longer moving are much easier for the carrion-eating golden eagles to dine on.

This winter, 30 bait sites were established in West Virginia, from Morgan County in the Eastern Panhandle to Wayne County on the Kentucky border.

“Golden eagles were seen at a majority of our sites,” said Kieran O’Malley, a state Division of Natural Resources biologist stationed in Romney who is a participant in the study.

“I had one in my back yard,” said Katzner, who lives in a rural section of Marion County. “We photographed a golden eagle there this year.”

“We’re looking at wintering populations and population density,” O’Malley said. “We have really good numbers of golden eagles wintering in West Virginia. The highest density anywhere is in the highlands of West Virginia and western Virginia, since they prefer forested uplands away from a lot of human activity.

Golden eagles tend to live solitary lives, with pairs maintaining hunting territories that can be as large as 60 square miles. Golden eagle mates stay together for several years, and in some cases, for life.

“Unlike bald eagles, goldens don’t get together in big groups,” O’Malley said. “They prefer to live in areas that are more remote than the places bald eagles live.”

Katzner said preliminary results of genetic studies comparing DNA from eastern golden eagles to those in the west indicate there are few differences between the two populations.

“Other than the fact that one group lives in the east and the other lives in the west, there doesn’t seem to be much difference between them,” he said.

Because golden eagles spend the first four or five years of their lives “in a pre-breeding phase, traveling around and trying to figure out where to stay,” there’s likely to be some crossover breeding between the two populations, Katzner said.

Current estimates of the eastern golden eagle population range between 2,000 and 5,000 individuals.

“We’ll be doing some computer modeling, but right now, I’m starting to think the population is on the high side of those estimates,” Katzner said.

One side benefit of operating the remote camera sites is being able to get an idea about how other wildlife species fare during the winter.

Last winter, cameras at bait sites in West Virginia photographed 17 bird species and 15 mammal species, according to O’Malley.

Bird species photographed dining on the deer carcasses included owls, crows, ravens, blue jays and titmice, while mammals included coyotes, foxes, bobcats, fishers, skunks, raccoons and wood rats.

O’Malley is involved with a spin-off study that evolved from the remote photos. “We started seeing spotted skunks, which have become very uncommon in the state, turning up in the photographs,” he said. By taking note of the camera site locations that recorded spotted the seldom-seen skunks, “We’ve been able to add to their range,” O’Malley said. “They’re a lot more widespread than we thought, but still not very abundant.”

Mongolia: This 13-Year-Old Girl Hunts With Golden Eagles: here.

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