Bats hibernating and mating, new study


This video is about bat hibernation in Endless Cave, in Washington County, Indiana, USA.

From PLOS One:

Bats Swarm Where They Hibernate: Compositional Similarity between Autumn Swarming and Winter Hibernation Assemblages at Five Underground Sites

Jaap van Schaik, René Janssen, Thijs Bosch, Anne-Jifke Haarsma, Jasja J. A. Dekker, Bart Kranstauber

Abstract

During autumn in the temperate zone of both the new and old world, bats of many species assemble at underground sites in a behaviour known as swarming. Autumn swarming behaviour is thought to primarily serve as a promiscuous mating system, but may also be related to the localization and assessment of hibernacula. Bats subsequently make use of the same underground sites during winter hibernation, however it is currently unknown if the assemblages that make use of a site are comparable across swarming and hibernation seasons.

Our purpose was to characterize the bat assemblages found at five underground sites during both the swarming and the hibernation season and compare the assemblages found during the two seasons both across sites and within species. We found that the relative abundance of individual species per site, as well as the relative proportion of a species that makes use of each site, were both significantly correlated between the swarming and hibernation seasons. These results suggest that swarming may indeed play a role in the localization of suitable hibernation sites. Additionally, these findings have important conservation implications, as this correlation can be used to improve monitoring of underground sites and predict the importance of certain sites for rare and cryptic bat species.

Bats in Wassenaar World War II bunkers: here. And here.

WWII ALMOST INVOLVED A BAT BOMB “Imagine: a quiet, tense night in the middle of wartime. A plane rips through the air above your city, rupturing the stillness. The bay doors open, and out whistles a bomb. It drops and drops. Everyone braces. But when it explodes, the city is filled not with the flash of impact, but with hundreds and hundreds of tiny, whirling bats. This ridiculous vision — in which Japanese cities were destroyed by a giant bomb full of bats that were themselves carrying tinier bombs — was called Project X-Ray, and it was but a claw’s breadth from becoming a reality.” [Atlas Obscura]

Feeding North American birds in winter


This video from Indiana in the USA says about itself:

Winter Birds’ Feeding Frenzy

5 January 2013

My pagoda sunflower seed bird feeder served as the perfect feeding station, making this feeding frenzy a birdwatchers’ delight. Watch as Bluejays, Northern Cardinals, Chickadees, House Finches, Goldfinches, Tufted Titmice, Nuthatches, and House Sparrows all dart in to feed and take a spin on the pagoda feeder, while Red-bellied and Downy Woodpeckers dine on the nearby suet. Listen as the Pileated Woodpecker comes in close to scold from a nearby tree, but stays out of camera’s view. Notice, as the days get longer, the Goldfinches are already starting to get some yellow back.

From the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in the USA:

Make Your Yard Songbird Central With These Easy Dos and Don’ts

There’s no better time than winter to diversify your feeder setup and bring some lively color to your surroundings. The right combination of feeders and foliage can turn your yard into the songbird version of Grand Central Station. We’ve got all your bases covered—feeder safety, all sorts of alternative foods, natural shelters, and more—over on our Citizen Science blog. Check out our tips.

Make a Pretty Feeder From a Pine Cone: All you need are cones, some bird seed, and a little suet. Here’s our recipe.

Best birdseed for North American birds


This video from Indiana in the USA says about itself:

Winter Birds’ Feeding Frenzy

5 January 2013

My pagoda sunflower seed bird feeder served as the perfect feeding station, making this feeding frenzy a birdwatchers’ delight. Watch as Bluejays, Northern Cardinals, Chickadees, House Finches, Goldfinches, Tufted Titmice, Nuthatches, and House Sparrows all dart in to feed and take a spin on the pagoda feeder, while Red-bellied and Downy Woodpeckers dine on the nearby suet. Listen as the Pileated Woodpecker comes in close to scold from a nearby tree, but stays out of camera’s view. Notice, as the days get longer, the Goldfinches are already starting to get some yellow back.

From eNature Blog in the USA:

What’s The Best Birdseed To Put In Your Feeder This Fall?

Posted on Wednesday, August 27, 2014 by eNature

Fall is all but in the air in many parts of the country—and it’s a time of the year when many people think about feeding birds in their backyards. We’re not sure why this happens only in autumn, because feeding birds throughout the year has many rewards. Yet, autumn is the time when bird seed sales are held, and bird feeders are promoted most widely.

Perhaps, it’s the notion that birds need more help in cold weather, and therefore, bird feeding is more popular in winter. Whatever the reason, the bird feeding season is on, and people are buying lots of bird seeds.

The kind of seeds you offer backyard birds makes a difference, because all birds don’t eat the same foods.

If there is one kind of seed that is most attractive to the greatest number of backyard birds, it would be sunflower in any form. Sunflower seeds are relished by finches, grosbeaks, cardinals, jays, and even some species of woodpeckers.

The two most popular forms of sunflower seeds for birds are the black oil sunflower seed, which is in the shell, and the hulled (medium cracked) sunflower seed, which is out of the shell. eNature’s bird expert, George Harrison, tells us that if he could feed only one kind of bird food in his backyard, it would be hulled sunflower seeds.

Other popular seeds for finches, include niger (thistle), also spelled nyjer, a tiny black seed that is offered in a tube feeder with tiny port holes. Safflower seeds are a favorite among cardinals, doves, and house finches. And the various wild bird seed mixes are eaten by sparrows, doves, juncos, and blackbirds.

So don’t miss out on having a busy backyard this fall. If you leave bird seed out, it’s almost certain to get found.

What do you do this time of year to attract or (as some of us like to say) take care of your local birds?

We always appreciate hearing your hints, suggestions and stories. Just leave your thoughts below in the comments.

And have fun with the birds this fall!

Baby owls born on American webcams


This video from North America is called Barred Owl nest and youngsters fledging.

From the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in the USA:

Our Owls Are a Hoot!

With the launch of two new owl cams—the Barn Owl cam in Texas and the Wild Birds Unlimited Barred Owl cam in Indiana—the excitement is building. Early in the morning on April 8, the first of three Barred Owl eggs hatched revealing a downy owlet (watch the highlight). A second owlet hatched out on April 9, and the third appears to have hatched today. The Barn Owls‘ first egg appeared the same day the Barred Owls began hatching, and today they added a second! They’re expected to continue to add to their clutch over the next week.

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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].

A model of the world’s largest living amphibian’s bite, the Chinese giant salamander, reveals that it feeds on prey located in front of it, but can also perform quick strikes to the side on approaching animals: here.