Berries give woodpeckers red feathers

This video from the USA says about itself:

4 May 2014

Northern, or Yellow shafted Flicker, Colaptes auratus, preening, drinking, bathing, eating berries, showing aggression.

From Science News:

Berries may give yellow woodpeckers a red dye job

by Helen Thompson

3:34pm, October 17, 2016

To the bafflement of birders, yellow-shafted flickers (Colaptes auratus auratus) sometimes sport red or orange wing feathers.

Scientists have suggested that the birds, which inhabit eastern North America, might be products of genetic variation affecting the carotenoid pigments that produce their flight-feather colors. Alternatively, the birds might be hybrids from mixing with a subspecies that lives in the west, red-shafted flickers (Colaptes auratus cafer). Despite decades of study, no clear-cut explanation has emerged.

It turns out that diet may be to blame. Jocelyn Hudon of the Royal Alberta Museum in Canada and her colleagues tested the red flight feathers from two yellow-shafted flickers and found traces of rhodoxanthin, a deep red pigment found in plants, and a potential metabolite. This suggests that the birds’ bodies break down rhodoxanthin — a clue that the pigment enters the body through food.  Spectral and biochemical tests of feathers from museum collections also point to rhodoxanthin and suggest that the pigment may mess with yellow carotenoid production as well.

Yellow-shafted flickers probably pick up the red pigment when they eat berries from invasive honeysuckle plants, which contain the ruby pigment and produce similar red hues in other birds, the researchers write October 12 in The Auk. The plants also happen to produce berries just around the time that flickers molt their flight feathers.

Bears, other carnivores, as vegetarians

This video from Alaska says about itself:

2 Yearling Grizzly Bears with mother eating berries

I don’t think you call a bear that is as old as these cubs anymore. They look like at least yearlings. This was mid August of 2009 in Denali.

From eNature Blog in the USA:

Autumn’s Bounty Can Turn Some Carnivores Into Carb-loving Vegans!

Posted on Sunday, October 02, 2016 by eNature

What would you expect a Grizzly Bear to eat when fattening up for winter? Caribou? Salmon?

How about a nice fruit salad?

Yes, some of our most celebrated carnivores become vegetarians in the fall.

Even the largest terrestrial predator, the Grizzly Bear, turns into a berry specialist at this time of year. It feeds on Salmonberries, crowberries, elderberries, and numerous other species of berries.

In fact, one type of manzanita is called Bearberry because of its importance in the fall diet of bears.

Black Bears, which tend to be more herbivorous than Grizzlies, also load up on berries before the winter, and in areas where oak trees grow, these bears consume vast quantities of acorns, too. Not to mention apples, grapes and other fruit they may encounter in farms and gardens.

Even the Polar Bear, the most predatory of all the bears, feeds on berries when they’re available.

And It’s More Than Bears Who Go Vegan

Coyotes and foxes follow a similar pattern, dining on a broad range of fruits during the fall. The superb climbing ability of the Common Gray Fox offers it access to berries and other fruits growing in places inaccessible to coyotes and bears. Wolves, too, will eat berries in the fall, though these seldom constitute a significant portion of their diet.

At first glance, it seems odd that these large “meat eaters” would consume fruits at a time when their need for stored fats and proteins is paramount. Research, however, reveals that the carbohydrates found in fruits are easily converted into fats when eaten in large quantities.

What are your local animals doing to prepared for winter? Have you seen any seemingly unusual behavior or obvious preparation taking place?

We always enjoy your stories!

Double-crested cormorant dries its feathers

This video says about itself:

Double-crested cormorant dries its feathers

13 July 2016

For most birds, wet feathers are highly undesirable because they impede their ability to fly and don’t provide insulation. But cormorants dive underwater to catch food. They have feathers that become easily waterlogged, which allows them to dive deeper by preventing air bubbles from getting trapped underneath their feathers. This is one reason you often see cormorants standing with their wings spread, drying their wet wings after diving.

Double-crested cormorants live in North America.

Bewick’s wren’s dustbath, video

This video says about itself:

Bewick’s Wren Takes a Dust Bath

13 July 2016

Taking a bath in the dirt might seem counterproductive, but it is actually an excellent way for birds to remove excess oils from their feathers. Dust baths can also be used to dry up ectoparasites living among the feathers, making them easier for the bird to remove.

Bewick’s wrens live in North America.

Saving birds in the Americas, video

This video from the American Bird Conservancy says about itself:

20+ Years of Results for Birds

9 August 2016

From taking on the toughest policy issues to safeguarding the rarest, ABC gets results for birds.

Yellow-rumped warblers, three species, not one?

This video from the USA says about itself:

18 July 2011

Yellow-rumped warbler (eastern, myrtle) singing in the Maine boreal forest. © 2011 Garth McElroy

But is the myrtle warbler in this video really a yellow-rumped warbler?

From the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in the USA, September 2016:

Familiar Songbird May Be At Least Three Different Species

Affectionately known to bird watchers as “butterbutts,” Yellow-rumped Warblers are at the center of another discussion over what defines a species. In 1973, the Myrtle and Audubon’s warbler species were lumped into one to create the yellow-rumped. But ornithologists may have had it right the first time. Read about what the DNA evidence suggests.

American white baneberry plants

This video from the USA says about itself:

24 August 2016

Plants that can kill you! White Baneberry ripens in late August and eating only a few berries can induce cardiac arrest and death. Fortunately it has a rather creepy look about it with a characteristic black dot at the end of each white berry that gives it the name “Doll’s Eyes” and should say “beware”! In very small quantities it has been used as a herbal remedy in the past by native Americans.