Scavenging migratory bird carcasses in Sonoran desert

This video from Oregon in the USA says about itself:

Kit Fox den

16 jun. 2015

ODFW remote cameras captured Kit Fox pups playing in the Malheur County desert. The May 2015 footage is from two recordings a few weeks apart. Biologists are researching these native foxes to get updated population and habitat use information. More info here.

From The Southwestern Naturalist in the USA:

Scavenging of migratory bird carcasses in the Sonoran Desert

Andrew M. Rogers, Michelle R. Gibson, Tyler Pockette, Jessica L. Alexander, and James F. Dwyer


In this study we report avian and mammalian scavengers foraging on migratory bird carcasses in the Sonoran Desert. We used remote cameras to monitor carcasses we found along a power line right-of-way (n = 25). We documented four species scavenging 10 carcasses (kit fox, Vulpes macrotis, n = 4; coyote, Canis latrans, n = 3; common raven, Corvus corax, n = 2, and greater roadrunner, Geococcyx californianus, n = 1) and recorded coyote tracks at three additional carcasses. Neither remote cameras nor tracks indicated the scavenger species of the remaining carcasses. Our data suggest migrant birds might provide an important food source for resident scavengers, particularly in desert habitats where food can be scarce. Our study also supports prior assertions that failure to account for removal of carcasses by scavengers might cause errors in estimates of mortality.

Black walnut, from North America to Texel island?

The eastern black walnut on a Texel beach, photo by Ecomare

On 30 June 2015, Ms Sytske Dijksen of Ecomare museum found a nut on the beach of De Hors, in the south of Texel island in the Netherlands.

The nut turned out to be a eastern black walnut. Probably, the Gulf Stream had brought it all the way from Florida or elsewhere in eastern North America to Texel. These nuts drift well.

There are a few eastern black walnut trees in parks in Europe, but the nuts on beaches there probably have all made long trans-Atlantic journeys.

In 1995, for the first time an eastern black walnut was found on a Dutch beach; also on Texel. Since then, it was found a few scores of times in the Netherlands. They have been found in France and England as well.

North American bird species recognized by computer

This video from the USA says about itself:

Merlin Bird Photo ID

4 June 2015

A demonstration of the new program from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology that allows birders to identify birds from photos they’ve taken.

From the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in the USA:

Introducing Merlin Bird Photo ID

We’ve been working on a new bird photo ID feature for the Merlin app, and we’re ready for you try it on our test website! Just upload a photo, click on the bird’s bill, eye, and tail, and let computer vision help you ID the bird. It currently recognizes 400 common North American bird species.

Because it’s powered by machine learning techniques, it gets “smarter” the more people use it. Help us improve the accuracy so we can add it to the Merlin app some day! Try Photo ID.

See also here.

Sagebrush birds and mammals of North America

This video from the USA says about itself:

The Sagebrush Sea – Cornell Lab Trailer

5 May 2015

This hour-long film produced by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology will air Wednesday, May 20th on PBS as part of the award-winning NATURE series. Learn more here.

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology writes about this:

Dive Into The Sagebrush Sea—Airing May 20 on PBS Nature

Mark your calendar and set your DVR—you won’t want to miss a major new documentary about the great sagebrush plains—one of the largest yet most vulnerable landscapes in North America. Capturing both the breathtaking sweep of the land and the intimate struggles of its most delicate inhabitants, this 1-hour show immerses you in a world of owls, hawks, eagles, bluebirds, pronghorn, and coyotes, all framed by the spectacular rituals of a bird you truly have to see to believe: the Greater Sage-Grouse.

Snakebite antivenom discovery in American opossums

This video from the USA says about itself:

Virginia Opossum Family

12 July 2012

A short video clip of a Virginia Opossum family in wildlife rehabilitation at Evelyn’s Wildlife Refuge, Virginia Beach, VA. The mother Opossum came into care with an eye injury and front feet injuries.

From the East County Magazine in the USA:


By Miriam Raftery

April 5, 2015 (San Diego’s East County) – Opossums aren’t typically thought of as a powerhouse in the animal kingdom. The term “playing possum” after all refers to one way opossums react to predators –by playing dead. But it turns out that opossums have a peptide that gives them a natural immunity to snakebites and other toxins – and now scientists are working to harness it to create anti-venoms.

Scientists have isolated the peptide, and in lab tests with mice exposed to venom, those opossum peptides proved effective against Western diamondback rattlers and Russell’s vipers from Pakistan. The results offer hope that a universal antivenom could be developed to counter the poisonous effects of snakebites from multiple species, National Geographic reports.

That’s big news, since worldwide, about 421,000 poisonous snake bites occur each year, and 20,000 deaths result, according to International Society on Toxicology. Human testing is next on the horizon.

Moreover, Newswise reporters, scientists found they could reproduce the peptide from E-coli bacteria, meaning it can be replicated cheaply and easily—no opossums need to be harmed in the process. Unlike standard snakebite anti-venoms, this one has thus far produced no serious side effects such as wheezing, rash or rapid heartbeat.

The anti-venom may even prove effective against other forms of toxins, since opossums also have a natural resistance to poisonous scorpions and some forms of toxic plants as well.

The results were presented in late March at the National Meeting and Exposition of the American Chemical Society in Denver.

The opossum, which resembles a large rat, is a marsupial tracing its origins back 65 million years, around the time dinosaurs went extinct. But only now have we learned a key secret to its survival against threats that kill many other animals.

So the next time you see a lowly opossum hanging by its tail from a fence or waddling across a road, remember – this ancient animal just may hold the key to saving your life if you’re ever bitten by a snake.

How do North American birds survive winter storms?

This video from North America is called How Birds Survive The Winter Season – Mini Documentary.

From eNature blog in the USA:

How Do Birds Survive Winter Storms?

Posted on Wednesday, March 04, 2015 by eNature

As our latest big storm, which everyone in the Eastern US hopes is winter’s last blast, barrels down on millions, many folks are concerned about the impact of the weather on their local birds.

It’s cold out..

So where do birds go for protection during severe weather such as blizzards, hurricanes, and tornadoes?

Many birds have an amazing ability to find refuge from storms and use a variety of ways to cope, depending on the species and the bird’s natural habitat.

Bluebirds, for example, often winter as far north as New England. They find protection against the cold and storms by communal roosting, often in a bird house. There are photographs of 13 male eastern bluebirds, all crowded into one bluebird house. This behavior shares warmth, and keeps the birds out of the wind, rain and snow.

Other cavity nesters, such as chickadees, titmice and woodpeckers, also seek out old nesting sites in dead trees or bird houses in which to roost or find protection during a storm. Nuthatches, which sometimes nest behind a loose piece of tree bark, may seek the same kind of shelter against the cold.

Flocks of Rosy finches often roost in an outcropping of rock where they can get out of the cold wind.

Bobwhite make a circle of the covey, huddled side-by-side, with head facing out. This allows them to share body heat, while being ready to escape in all directions, should they be attacked.

Ruffed grouse take a different tactic. They dive into a snow bank, and may stay there for several days until the storm passes. The Ruffed grouse has the largest range of any grouse species in North America and winter hikers have been surprised by a startled grouse bursting from the snow at their feet.

Many other birds retreat to dense, evergreen thickets where they are protected from the elements for the duration of the storm.

We hear from many of our readers takes steps to help the birds and other wildlife in their neighborhoods.

Have you done anything to help your local critters this winter?