North American bird photo contest winners

This video from the USA says about itself:

29 July 2010

Home Tweet Home: Schoolyard Nest Box Trail Competition

WSKG is proud to offer the Home Tweet Home competition. This contest is offered to area elementary and middle school students and calls for the application of science and technology skills.

Special thanks to our partner, Cornell Lab of Ornithology for their many contributions to the Home Tweet Home project.

From the Cornell Lab of Ornithology‘s NestWatch eNewsletter, August 2016, in the USA:

Home Tweet Home Winners

Betty Smith (via Facebook) said it best: “I wish I could vote for each of the photos, knowing behind each one are people who love and care about birds!” That was exactly our sentiment as we combed through 670 submissions, reading your stories and sharing in your discoveries. You all deserve a prize and a resounding, “thank you!”

But, a contest has to have winners, and the votes are in. Here are your 2016 Home Tweet Home official winners:

Congratulations to all of the winners! Thank you so much for participating. See all award winners and honorable mentions in our gallery of honorees.

Northern mockingbirds in North America

This video from the USA says about itself:

A Master of Song: Northern Mockingbird

11 March 2015

A master of mimicry lets loose. You never know what’ll come out of this bird’s beak next.

More at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology‘s All About Fancy Males interactive feature.

What’s happening: With hundreds of songs in his repertoire and the stamina to sing for hours on end, the male Northern Mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos) specializes in vocal excess. A masterful mimic, he mixes a variety of songs borrowed from other species with his own material to defend his territory. His capacity to improvise is so extensive that he’ll sing many of his song types only once a season. The overall effect is that listeners never quite know what will come out of his beak next—and for mockingbirds, it’s variety that counts.

Videographer: Eric Liner. This video is archived at the Cornell Lab’s Macaulay Library, ML466291.

From the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in the USA:

Mockingbirds Can Learn Hundreds of Songs, but There’s a Limit

Northern Mockingbirds can learn hundreds of sounds that they weave into songs, even replicating sounds from other birds and from noises in the environment such as car alarms and squeaky gates. Do males show off their greater age or experience by singing more songs? Not according to a study that tracked 15 birds as they aged. Read the story in Living Bird.

Avoiding poison ivy and poison oak in North America

This 2015 video from North Anmerica says about itself:

Poison IvyToxicodendron radicans – Poison Ivy vs Virginia Creeper – How to identify poison ivy.

From eNatureBlog in the USA:

How Can You Avoid Poison Ivy and Poison Oak— And Treat Them If Disaster Strikes?

Posted on Tuesday, May 24, 2016 by eNature

Knowing how to avoid poison ivy is a good skill—but you should also know what to do if you happen to encounter it.

As we move into the summer season, people across the country will celebrate and enjoy it by taking weekend hikes through places scenic and undisturbed. Most of folks will return from their hikes revived, but some will find themselves itchy afterwards.

It’s inevitable. And it’s unfortunate, too, because there are ways to avoid the adverse effects of Poison Ivy and Poison Oak.

Actually, five species of rash-inducing plants flourish in North America: two species of Poison Ivy, two species of Poison Oak, and Poison Sumac. The last is a wetland plant and not nearly as common or commonly encountered as the others. One or more of these species is pretty common throughout the country, particularly along the edges of woodlands.

And all contain the same essential oil that irritates human skin.

Urushiol is its name, and it exists in the roots, stems, leaves, and even the berries of these plants. Roughly 85 percent of the population is allergic to Urushiol, which can cause a rash in sensitive people who come into contact with as little as one millionth of a gram of the stuff. And all of these plants are more than willing to share their Urushiol if they are bruised, crushed, or opened up in any way.

Thus it’s important for people to know how to identify these plants. Most field guides, including eNature’s online version, provide concise descriptions and photos. But even the most attentive hiker can inadvertently brush against a Poison Ivy or Poison Oak leaf.

When that happens, there are two ways to rid the skin of Urushiol.

The first involves washing the affected area with great amounts of water. Plain water is best, since soap has no effect on Urushiol and when used with only a little water it can actually spread the offending oil. So use room-temperature water and lots of it.

To be clear, we’re not saying here to avoid using soap! Just be sure to use lots of water if you do— the object here is to get the oil off, not redistribute to other parts of your skin.

The second way to rid the skin of Urushiol is to swab with rubbing alcohol. The alcohol counteracts the oil and can even draw oil from the skin four or five hours after exposure. Waiting any longer than that, though, is inadvisable.

Whether cleaning with water or alcohol, use care. Don’t scrub violently—it does no good and can actually do harm. Similarly, don’t use very hot water or harsh soaps and chemicals. The point is to remove the oil, not to annihilate it.

There’s no shortage of folk remedies as well— some of which are more effective than others.

We’ve received several reports from folks in the Eastern US saying that they’ve encountered more Poison Ivy this year than past years— perhaps because of the mild winter and spring large parts of the country experienced.

American red-bellied woodpeckers, video

This video from the USA says about itself:

27 April 2016

Documentary on Red-bellied Woodpecker territory and mating calls and courtship and nesting behavior observed in great detail with cameras inside and outside the nest box. This 17 minute documentary takes an intimate look into the life of the backyard Red-bellied Woodpeckers and shows just what fascinating and exotic birds they really are.

North American bird sounds at night

This video from the USA is called Eastern Screech Owl calling in Eastern Colorado at Prewitt Reservoir.

From eNature Blog in the USA:

Are Your Local Birds Singing All Night Long? Here’s A List Of The Likely Culprits

Posted on Monday, April 04, 2016 by eNature

Is something (or someone) keeping you awake these spring nights?  Waking you up before sunrise?

Many questions come to eNature about night birds calling and other weird and incessant noises in the dark.  It seems that there’s a lot of activity taking place when most of us expect our birds to be resting.

So what’s going on?  And who’s making all that noise in the dark?

Depending on the kinds of calls, and you location in North America, they could be any of at least four bird species.

Whip-poor-wills and their relatives are famous for calling their names, over and over again, sometime into the thousands of times without stopping. Unless you like to fall to sleep to the call of the whip-poor-will, it can become annoying.

Northern Mockingbirds are well known night callers, especially if there is a full moon. Enthusiastic mockingbirds can stay up ALL night, mimicking every bird song in the book as well as other sounds such bells, whistles, and sirens. These are birds that can try the patience of the most committed bird-lover!

If the call is coming from a wetland, it is probably one of the two night-herons, the Black-crowned or Yellow-crowned. They make squawks and cackles, and sometimes scary noises that will wake the heaviest sleeper.

Owls make another kind of noise in the night, which can range from the hooting of great horned owls to the whinnyings of screech-owls.

All of these birds are protected by state and federal laws, and nothing can or should be done to disturb them, not matter how annoying they are. The best solution is to either enjoy them, or to put plugs in your ears.

This advice may not help you get through the day at work..  but most of us prefer to think of those late night sounds as the glorious sound of spring.

Are you hearing your local birds’ and their squawks, chirps or cackles in the night?

We always love to hear your stories!

To listen to these bird calls and many others, please visit our Birding Audio feature.

And be sure to use our Local Guides to find out which birds are in your neighborhood.

Birders who listen carefully to birds quickly learn that there are many different types of bird sounds that have different meanings and uses. Understanding these different bird noises and being able to distinguish them is the first step in effective birding by ear and identifying birds based on sound: here.

Black tern catches insects, video

This video from North America says about itself:

A Black Tern gleans insects on the wing

Black Terns are small, dark, graceful terns of freshwater marshes. They eats insects as well as fish. Here, one flies above a marsh gleaning insect prey.

White-throated sparrows, new study

This 2013 video from North America says about itself:

White-Throated Sparrow Calls and Sounds – Watch in HD

The call of the White-throated sparrow — Oh sweet Canada, Canada, Canada, or old-sam, peabody, Peabody, Peabody– brings with it such an amicable whistle, that it is no wonder it goes so harmoniously with the peaceful expanse of Canada’s boreal woodlands. You could even say, and many do, that the White-Throated sparrow’s call has become an anthem for the untouched regions of the boreal wilderness. I couldn’t imagine a summer morning/evening’s stroll through the forest without hearing the memorable White-throated sparrows song.

From the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in the USA:

Twinning Revisited: A Look at White-Throated Sparrows

Two years ago, NestWatch brought you the story of twin Eastern Bluebirds discovered by participant Gerald Clark. We’ve recently learned that researchers have since found a new species for which twinning is now known to occur.

Adam Betuel observed the first documented case of twinning in White-throated Sparrows, a bird which breeds in the boreal forests of North America. Interestingly, White-throated Sparrows have two color morphs: tan and white. Morph type is important in White-throated Sparrows because individuals of one color type almost exclusively mate with the other color type. At the time of the discovery, Adam was working on his Ph.D., and conducting field research at the Cranberry Lake Biological Research Station (Adirondacks, New York). He focused on parental care, begging behavior, and nest success of the White-throated Sparrows. Part of Adam’s project involved the collection and inspection of any remaining unhatched eggs, to investigate why they didn’t hatch. During the dissection of a rather large egg, he discovered a pair of embryos—twins! Molecular analysis revealed that one embryo was a female white morph and the other was a male tan morph, indicating that the twins were fraternal rather than identical.

Twinning in wild birds is an extremely rare occurrence, and Adam was fortunate to study the phenomenon. Adam told us, “One of the components I liked the most about my research and about the topic of twinning is that it provides you a glimpse into the hidden world of bird breeding and nesting. Nests are all around us, but they can be hard to find. They hold so many secrets about bird behavior, growth, genetics, and life history. It always seemed like a privilege to be watching them tend to their nests or offspring…like I was catching a glimpse into a hidden world.”

Adam is now continuing his enthusiasm for nesting birds as the Director of Conservation at the Atlanta Audubon Society, one of NestWatch’s newest regional chapters.