Osprey research in the USA

This 8 June 2015 video from the USA is called Live Chat with Osprey Expert Dr. Paul Spitzer.

From the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in the USA:

In the 1960s, Ospreys were one of the species hardest hit by DDT. At the time, birding legend Roger Tory Peterson urged a young Paul Spitzer to study the connection. Working in a Connecticut salt marsh he calls his “Osprey garden,” Spitzer has spent five decades learning about the ecological needs of these delightful—and thankfully, common again—raptors. Read the full story here.


30 million birds counted

This video from the USA says about itself:

4 March 2017

White Memorial Conservation Center and Sanctuary is the perfect destination for all ages! We are home to the largest Wildlife Sanctuary in Connecticut (4,000 acres), and house one of New England‘s finest Nature Museums. Walk, bird, ski, snowshoe, attend a program, class or special event. So much happens here every weekend! Visit www.whitememorialcc.org to learn more and review our calendar. Learn more about GBBC below.

The Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) is a free, fun, and easy event that engages bird watchers of all ages in counting birds to create a real-time snapshot of bird populations.

Participants are asked to count birds for as little as 15 minutes (or as long as they wish) on one or more days of the four-day event and report their sightings online at birdcount.org. Anyone can take part in the Great Backyard Bird Count, from beginning bird watchers to experts, and you can participate from your backyard, or anywhere in the world.

Each checklist submitted during the GBBC helps researchers at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society learn more about how birds are doing, and how to protect them and the environment we share. Last year, more than 160,000 participants submitted their bird observations online, creating the largest instantaneous snapshot of global bird populations ever recorded.

The 20th annual GBBC will be held Friday, February 17, through Monday, February 20, 2017. Please visit the official website at birdcount.org for more information and be sure to check out the latest educational and promotional resources.

“This count is so fun because anyone can take part —we all learn and watch birds together—whether you are an expert, novice, or feeder watcher. I like to invite new birders to join me and share the experience. Get involved, invite your friends, and see how your favorite spot stacks up.” -Gary Langham, Chief Scientist

Bird populations are always shifting and changing. For example, 2014 GBBC data highlighted a large irruption of Snowy Owls across the northeastern, mid-Atlantic and Great Lakes areas of the United States. The data also showed the effects that warm weather patterns have had on bird movement around the country. For more on the results of the 2016 GBBC, take a look at the GBBC Summary, and be sure to check out some of the images in the 2016 GBBC Photo Contest Gallery.

On the program website participants can explore real-time maps and charts that show what others are reporting during and after the count. Be sure to check out the Explore a Region tool to get an idea of what you can expect to see in your area during the next GBBC.

From the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in the USA:

60% of World’s Bird Species Counted During Great Backyard Bird Count

The 20th annual Great Backyard Bird Count, held February 17–20, was bigger than ever with more than 214,000 bird watchers taking part from more than 120 countries. A record-breaking 177,251 checklists have been submitted, 6,090 species have been reported, and almost 30 million individual birds have been counted! Read more here.

Golden-winged, blue-winged warblers in the USA

This video from the USA says about itself:

11 June 2011

Blue winged, Golden winged Warbler and Hybrids in Connecticut. ©JimZipp.com

Note that the Blue-winged has yellowish wingbars and the Golden-winged sings a Blue-winged song. Lots of interbreeding in this area and Golden-winged Warblers are rarer every year.

From the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in the USA:

Mixed-wing Warblers: Differences Are Only Feather Deep

In 1835 John James Audubon suspected that Golden-winged Warblers and Blue-winged Warblers might be the same species. More than 180 years later, the most advanced methods of genetic analysis show Audubon was on to something.

A team led by scientists from the Cornell Lab found that, genetically speaking, Golden-winged and Blue-winged warblers are 99.97 percent alike.

Will this affect the conservation strategy for Golden-winged Warblers, one of the fastest-declining songbirds in North America? Read our Living Bird article and find out.

Rare birds in England today

This video from the USA is called American Golden Plover at Hammonasset Beach State Park, Connecticut.

From Spurn Bird Observatory in England, on Twitter today:

Juvenile American Golden Plover still about on Kilnsea wetland and Easington straight plus Jack Snipe.

Golden-winged warblers’ escape from storm

This video from the USA is about a Golden-winged Warbler singing in Connecticut.

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

Birds detect approaching storm from 900km away

Infrasound may have alerted warblers to the massive storm, prompting them to fly more than a thousand kilometres to avoid it

A group of songbirds may have avoided a devastating storm by fleeing their US breeding grounds after detecting telltale infrasound waves.

Researchers noticed the behaviour after analysing trackers attached to the birds to study their migration patterns. They believe it is the first documented case of birds making detours to avoid destructive weather systems on the basis of infrasound.

The golden-winged warblers had just returned from South America to their breeding grounds in the mountains of Tennessee in 2013 when a massive storm was edging closer. Although the birds had just completed a migration of more than 2,500km, they still had the energy to evade the danger.

The storm, which spawned more than 80 tornadoes across the US and killed 35 people, was 900km away when the birds, apparently acting independently of one another, fled south, with one bird embarking on a 1,500km flight to Cuba before making the return trip once the storm had passed.

“We looked at barometric pressure, wind speeds on the ground and at low elevations, and the precipitation, but none of these things that typically trigger birds to move had changed,” said David Andersen at the University of Minnesota.

“What we’re left with is something that allows them to detect a storm from a long distance, and the one thing that seems to be the most obvious is infrasound from tornadoes, which travels through the ground.”

The scientists had fitted trackers to 20 golden-winged warblers in 2013. Only nine returned to their breeding ground after migrating to South America. Of those nine, the researchers trapped and analysed the flight histories of five. All took evasive action to avoid the storm.

The birds started to leave their breeding grounds on 27 April 2013, when the storm was whipping up tornadoes in Oklahoma, Kansas and Texas. The next day, with the storm about 100km from their breeding site, the birds had moved a few hundred kilometres south east. When the storm moved over the study area, battering it with winds of up to 160 kilometres per hour, the warblers were on Florida’s Gulf Coast. One flew on to Cuba.

“In five to six days, they all made this big move around the storm,” Andersen said. “They all went south east in front of the storm, and then let it go by, or moved behind it. It was individual behaviour, they were several hundred kilometres away from each other most of the time.” Details are reported in the journal Current Biology.

The scientists cannot be sure that the birds picked up infrasound waves from the storm, but previous work in pigeons has suggested that birds might use infrasound to help them navigate. Infrasound waves range from about 0.5Hz to 18Hz, below the audible range of humans.

The discovery of the evasive action could be good news, said Andersen. “With climate change increasing the frequency and severity of storms, this suggests that birds may have some ability to cope that we hadn’t previously realised. These birds seemed to be capable of making really dramatic movements at short notice, even just after returning on their northwards migration,” he said.

Had the storm arrived a couple of weeks later, the birds may not have taken flight. By that time, they would have been nesting, and females especially may have been less likely to flee. “It’s hard to say what would happen. It may be more advantageous to survive than stay with a nest that is going to be destroyed anyway,” Andersen said.

“Biologists had not been looking at the use of infrasound in this way, but it certainly makes sense to me,” said Jon Hagstrum at the US Geological Survey in California, who has studied infrasound use by pigeons. “We may find that acoustics are a pretty significant way that birds in general view their environment, much like dogs use olfaction and humans use sight.”