Prize-winning North American bird photos

Northern Cardinals reinforcing their pair bond won the Home Tweet Home Judges' Choice award and Eyewitness category. Photo by Kim Caruso

From the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s NestWatch eNewsletter, September 2017:

Home Tweet Home Winners

In July we hosted our 4th annual Home Tweet Home photo contest. With great prizes on the line, including Zeiss binoculars and an exclusive artist-signed Eggs of North America print, we received over 630 entries! Narrowing down the winners was hard; luckily more than 1,300 people helped by wading through the contest gallery and voting for their favorites. Without further ado, your winners are:

Young Anna's Hummingbirds by Soo Baus

Anna’s Hummingbirds by Soo Baus: People’s Choice & Cutest Baby category

Northern Cardinals by Kim Caruso: Judges’ Choice & Eyewitness category [see top of blog post]

Northern mockingbird nest by Melanie Furr

Northern Mockingbirds by Melanie Furr: Nests and Eggs category

Young tree swallows fed by parent, by John Olson

Tree Swallows by John Olson: Feeding Time category

The judges also selected 15 Honorable Mentions that stood out as exceptional submissions. See the gallery of honorees here. Thanks to everyone who participated! We appreciate your gorgeous photos, kind comments, and discerning votes.


American migratory birds, new study

This video from the USA says about itself:

12 April 2013

Original documentary about the annual migration of billions of songbirds across the Gulf of Mexico and into North America. Features HD footage of hundreds of colorful songbirds.

Try watching in HD: 720 or 1080p full screen (with fast connections). 1080p is the very highest quality for this movie and looks great!

It seems like the video loads with the player in the middle of the movie, so you have to move it back to the start.


In the spring hundreds of bird species move from the tropics into North America. As they make their way they eventually face the great barrier of the Gulf of Mexico. This arm of the Atlantic ocean is more than 900 miles wide, and more than 600 miles across from north to south.

While some birds skirt the edge of the water, the overwhelming majority-more than 200 species, and hundreds of millions of individuals-cross the unbroken plain of the gulf in a single flight of 20 or more hours.

Gulf Crossing is a record of trans-gulf migration on America’s southern coast: the expectation of arrival, the surprise each day of what birds appear, and the habitats they are found in. The experience is expanded by a scientific perspective on the phenomenon of migration, describing its geographic shape, the coastal habitats birds rely on, physiological cycles in birds, and the effect of weather patterns on bird flight.

Bird migration along the gulf coast is one of the most exciting and powerful natural experiences you can have. Millions of birds from hundreds of species are passing overhead each day, and you never know what’s going to show up. But despite the hundreds of nature documentaries that are made each year, the story of trans-gulf migration has never really been told before.

Gulf Crossing is an attempt to document this remarkable and moving natural phenomenon. The six episodes provide a comprehensive exploration of the Gulf crossing, from Spring to Fall, covering migration along the Upper Texas Coast, the arrival and breeding of birds in the north, and Fall migration in north Florida.

I hope this documentary will increase awareness and appreciation of America’s immense but vanishing natural heritage.

Gulf Crossing is free to use in any classroom or group setting. For more info on use, see the Creative Commons License. If you are interested in downloading the file to show to groups, please contact me.

From the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in the USA today:

eBird Data Reveal Crucial Role for Wintering Grounds

After merging bird observations from eBird along with projections for land use and climate change, a new Cornell Lab study finds that loss of habitat on the wintering grounds may be the greatest threat faced by 21 species of eastern forest birds that winter in Central America in the coming decades. These flycatchers, warblers, and vireos spend nearly 60% of the year on their wintering grounds. The study is the first to measure the impact of climate and land-use change throughout the birds’ entire life cycle, including breeding, wintering, and migration. Read more.

Buff-breasted sandpiper video

This is a buff-breasted sandpiper video.

This American bird species is a rare vagrant in Europe.

Saving birds from window collision deaths

This video from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in the USA says about itself:

Bird Mortality From Collisions With Glass: What we’ve learned, what we need to know, what you can do

1 May 2017

Speaker: Dr. Christine Sheppard, Bird Collisions Campaign Manager, American Bird Conservancy

Over half a billion birds are killed every year in North America after colliding with windows. Birds can’t see glass-nor do they come to understand that it is an invisible barrier or reflective illusion-which means they don’t put on the brakes and usually hit windows at full force. In the last decade, many scientists have contributed pieces to the puzzle of how birds really see the world. This has established a basis for developing new solutions for existing glass, as well as materials and design strategies for creating new, bird-friendly buildings. Dr. Christine Sheppard discusses the tools we have to solve the birds and windows problem, and how we can get solutions implemented. This is one conservation issue where individuals can take immediate action and see immediate results.

Periodical cicadas video

This video, recorded in North America, says about itself:

17 Year Periodical Cicadas – Planet Earth – BBC Earth

5 May 2017

The biggest insect emergence on the planet is underway – after an absence of 17 years the next batch of Periodical Cicadas will grace the forest for just a mere few days. For the turtle and other forest inhabitants this will be one very rare but ultimately satisfying banquet.

American great crested flycatchers, photos wanted

This video from the USA is called Great Crested Flycatcher Calls.

From the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in the USA, April 2017:

Wanted: Great Crested Flycatcher Nest Photos

Great Crested Flycatchers have a curious habit of adding snake skins to their nests. But, why do they do this? If you find a Great Crested Flycatcher nest this spring, take a photo and submit it to NestWatch to help us understand this unusual behavior. We’re collaborating with Dr. Vanya Rohwer of the Cornell University Museum of Vertebrates to address three main questions:

  1. Does the use of snake skins in nests vary across the breeding range?
  2. Where in the nests do flycatchers place snake skins (e.g., touching eggs, around the entrance hole, or scattered throughout the nest cup)?
  3. Do snake skins increase nesting success?

How to take photos: Great Crested Flycatchers are cavity nesters, so these directions assume that you’ve found a nest in a box. Please take photos looking straight down onto the nest so that the nest cup, eggs/nestlings, and box walls are visible. For each photo, please include the location, the date you took the photo, and indicate whether you’re NestWatching the box (data on nest fates are especially helpful). In order for photos to be used, they must be in focus and sufficiently bright so that we can see snake skins inside the nest (or lack thereof). Please submit photos through our online Participant Photos Gallery.

Great Crested Flycatchers are an insectivorous bird that is declining in some parts of its range. If you live in an area with an open forest habitat (urban or suburban neighborhoods with mature trees, old orchards, lake or riverside areas with large shade trees) in the eastern or midwestern states, you can put up a nest box to attract Great Crested Flycatchers. For the best chance of success, avoid placing the nest box in open agricultural areas or dense forest.

Semipalmated sandpiper migration, new study

This video from Canada says about itself:

16 August 2015

Southbound migration of Semipalmated Sandpipers, upper Bay of Fundy

From the American Ornithological Society Publications Office in the USA:

Sandpiper detectives pinpoint trouble spots in continent-wide migration

April 5, 2017

Understanding and managing migratory animal populations requires knowing what’s going on with them during all stages of their annual cycle — and how those stages affect each other. The annual cycle can be especially difficult to study for species that breed in the Arctic and winter in South America. A new study from The Condor: Ornithological Applications tackles this problem for Semipalmated Sandpipers, historically one of the most widespread and numerous shorebird species of the Western Hemisphere, whose populations in some areas have undergone mysterious declines in recent years.

Stephen Brown, Vice President of Shorebird Conservation for Manomet, assembled a large group of partner organizations to deploy 250 geolocators, tiny devices that use light levels to determine birds’ locations, on adult sandpipers at sites across their breeding range in the North American Arctic. Recapturing 59 of the birds after a year to download their data, they found that the eastern and western breeding populations use separate wintering areas and migration routes. Birds that breed in the eastern Arctic overwinter in areas of South America where large declines have been observed. The researchers believe these declines are tied to hunting on the wintering grounds and habitat alteration at migration stopover sites, although their precise impacts remain unclear.

“This study was a response to the discovery of a large decline in the population of Semipalmated Sandpipers in the core of their wintering area in South America, and the need to determine which birds were involved. We didn’t know if the decline affected the entire population or just part of it,” says Brown. “Bringing together the 18 partner organizations that worked collaboratively on this project allowed us to track the migration pathways used by Semipalmated Sandpipers at the enormous geographical scale of their entire North American Arctic breeding range and provided critical new information about what sites are important to protect to support their recovery.”

“The authors here present one of the few studies that examine year-round connectivity, including stopover sites, of Arctic-breeding shorebirds,” according to the University of Guelph‘s Ryan Norris, an expert on migration tracking who was not involved with the study. “Multi-site, range-wide studies on connectivity, such as this, are critical if we are to understand the population consequences of environmental change in migratory birds.”