Smith’s longspurs, Valentine’s Day birds

This video says about itself:

The Smith’s Longspur Project: 2013 Field Season

5 September 2013

© 2013 Jared Hughey
All Rights Reserved

The Smith’s Longspur (Calcarius pictus), one of the least studied songbirds in North America, breeds on the arctic tundra and has become a species of conservation concern. I spent the summer working as a field technician for Heather Craig, a Master’s student at University of Alaska Fairbanks who is studying the breeding ecology of this polygynandrous species in the foothills of the Brooks Range in northern Alaska.

From eNature Blog in the USA:

Record Setting Lovebird! The Smith’s Longspur May Be Nature’s Champion Lover

Posted on Monday, February 09, 2015 by eNature

Are you the type that has an insatiable appetite for lusty affairs?

Do you seek the same qualities in a partner?

Then you’ll probably enjoy the story of the Smith’s Longspur. This bird’s 70’s swinging style is enough to make even Hugh Hefner blush.

Arctic Summers, Midwest Winters

Small like a sparrow, the Smith’s Longspur spends its summers in Alaska and Canada and its winters in the Midwest and the South, often congregating in open fields.

In terms of range, then, it’s a lot like some other species. What sets the Smith’s Longspur apart is its astonishing libido.

An Insatiable Appetite For Love

At the peak of the spring mating season, the typical Smith’s Longspur copulates more than 350 times a week. The females solicit these encounters, and the males cooperate roughly half the time.

Otherwise the creatures are resting and refueling—for their fall migration or just to maintain their busy love lives!

You can always plan eNature’s Mating Game to find what creature you most resemble in love.

As hard as it may be to believe given the cold affecting much of the country, but spring is only a month or so away!

Have you seen any signs of the plants and animals in your neighborhood preparing for warmer times and the new life the spring season brings?

We always enjoy your stories.

John James Audubon named the Smith’s Longspur after his friend Gideon B. Smith.

More about the Smith’s Longspur is here.

Bird webcams in North America

This 4 February 2015 Laysan albatross video from Kauai island in Hawaii is called Dad Ko’olau and baby Niaulani.

From the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in the USA:

Baby Boom on the Bird Cams

Laysan Albatrosses, Season 2: On January 31, Niaulani—an albatross chick on the island of Kauai—hatched under the watchful eye of Malumalu, the mother. Watch Niaulani grow up from a hatchling just six inches long to a massive bird with a seven-foot wingspan by the time it fledges in July.

Great Horned Owls: Two downy young owlets are eagerly taking bits of food from their mother when their father delivers prey. Watch them while you can-—the owlets will grow quickly and are estimated to fledge from their nest in mid-March.

Can’t get enough winter? Watch a bevy of winter birds—Common Redpolls, Pine Grosbeaks, Evening Grosbeaks—on our Ontario FeederWatch Cam.

Installing a nest box camera

This video from the USA says about itself:

Nest Box Bird Cam installation part 1

11 May 2013

I replaced the old wren nesting box with one specifically designed to attract Black Capped Chickadees. I also installed a nature cam to document a nesting pair.

And this video is the sequel. It says about itself:

I installed a nature cam in the nesting box and connected the cable up the side of the house to an old computer I had. I’m using video capture/conversion software by Pinnacle with the Dazzle video creator platinum system.

From the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in the USA:

Whether you are a long-time citizen scientist or brand new to birds, nest cams can enhance your enjoyment of bird watching. With nest box cameras, you can witness interesting behaviors that cannot be seen outside of the nest box, while learning about the cycle of life unfolding in your backyard.

But for many, the thought of installing a nest cam can seem daunting. That’s why we put together a helpful slideshow to get you started. Check out some of our insights before you get started on your project, for the best chance of success.

Fun, friendly illustrations by Bartels Science Illustration Intern Anna Rettberg will walk you through the considerations involved when Installing a Nest Box Camera.

North American nesting birds in 2014

This video from Canada is called How to Report Barn Swallow Nests on Project NestWatch.

From the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in the USA:

Happy New Year, NestWatchers! Now that 2014 is under our belts, it’s time to look back and celebrate all that we accomplished last year. In total, 16,981 nest attempts were monitored by 1,524 NestWatchers! Data were also received from Canada, Puerto Rico, and Australia last year.

A total of 163 species were monitored, which collectively laid 55,172 eggs. Of those that hatched, NestWatchers counted 37,681 fledglings last year. Eastern Bluebird continues to lead the top 20 list, but this year, there was a surprise as Herring Gull crept into the top 20 for the first time ever (thanks to some ambitious Cornell students at Shoals Marine Lab).

Top 20 species
There were also 11 new species monitored for the first time last year, including some birds from Down Under you may not recognize. Below are the newest additions to the database.
New species 2014
We thank everyone who participated in 2014 for your diligence, time, and contributions to science. We couldn’t do what we do without your help!

Monarch butterfly protection in the USA?

This video is called Monarch Butterfly Amazing Migration.

From Wildlife Extra:

Monarch butterflies to be considered for special protection in US

The US Fish and Wildlife Service has announced it will be conducting a status review of the monarch butterfly under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

Monarch butterflies are found throughout the United States and some populations migrate vast distances across multiple generations each year.

Many monarchs fly between the US, Mexico and Canada – a journey of over 3,000 miles.

This journey has become more perilous for many monarchs because of threats along their migratory paths and on their breeding and wintering grounds.

Threats include habitat loss – particularly the loss of milkweed, the monarch caterpillar’s sole food source – and mortality resulting from pesticide use.

Monarch populations have declined significantly in recent years.

The Fish and Wildlife Service was petitioned by the Center for Biological Diversity, the Center for Food Safety, the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation and scientist Dr Lincoln Brower to list a subspecies of monarch (Danaus plexippus plexippus).

The substantial information presented was considered to be indicative that listing may be warranted.

The Service will now conduct a status review, and to ensure this review is comprehensive, scientific and commercial data and other information is being requested through a 60-day public information period.

Specifically, the Service seeks information including:

The subspecies’ biology, range and population trends, habitat requirements, genetics and taxonomy;

Historical and current range, including distribution patterns;

Historical and current population levels and current and projected trends;

The life history or behaviour of the monarch butterfly that has not yet been documented;

Thermo-tolerance range and microclimate requirements of the monarch butterfly;

Past and ongoing conservation measures for the subspecies, its habitat or both;

Factors that are the basis for making a listing determination under the Endangered Species Act.

The notice was published in the Federal Register on 31 December and it is requested that information be received by 2 March 2015.

Snowy owls news update

This video is called Magic of the Snowy Owl.

From the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in the USA:

Species on the move: Snowy Owl

29 December, 2014

Snowy Owls staged a major invasion last year, one that was covered far and wide by birders and the news media alike. Check out this great album from Ryan Schain of Snowy Owl candids! This irruption was most likely related to an abundance of rodents in and around northern Quebec that helped Snowy Owl pairs produce large numbers of young that irrupted into the US.

This invasion also caught the attention of a group of technological-minded scientists that took the opportunity to outfit these irregular Arctic invaders with state of the art tracking devices that collected, stored, and the returned information about the whereabouts of the individual birds. Amazing information is coming in from this effort, Project SNOWStorm, in tracking the movements of birds from last year’s irruption outfitted with trackers across their travels during the past year since being outfitted! Some individual owls are returning to the US, and the information that these trackers is returning is eye opening to say the least. Check out this and this!

That said, Snowy Owls are again on the move this fall, with numbers of birds reported across the northern tier of the US. See this link for a report earlier in the fall of 38 birds in Newfoundland, and also this link to see current reports all across the US and Canada. Presumably, the success of last year’s Snowy Owl bounty is translating into more owls present that can irrupt; but this year’s irruption is following a different course than last year, something Project SNOWStorm has been following and discussing and that is also apparent in comparing eBird data for these years.

For example, the images below show daily changes in the frequency of occurrence of Snowy Owls as reported in complete checklists to eBird for the Upper Midwest and Northeast. The autumn irruptions of 2013 and 2014 are both striking in their departures from the mean frequencies of occurrence for the 2001-2012 period (although irruptions are by no means average occurrences, we choose the mean for illustrative purposes). But note the differences between 2013 and 2014 from these two graphics and the last image comparing 2013 and 2014 frequencies. Clearly owls are on the move in 2014, but this year’s movement so far is nothing like the epic event of 2013. …

If you want to track the owls as Project SNOWStorm does, go here. If you want to track Snowy Owls on your own, please check in to eBird’s range maps, and use this alert to tell you where these fabulous creatures are as they are seen! And of course, please enter your data into eBird (and tell us what you can about the ages and genders of these birds!)!

How North American birds survive winter

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

From eNature Blog in the USA:

How Do Our Birds Cope With Winter’s Big Chill?

Posted on Wednesday, December 10, 2014 by eNature

Winter’s chill is arriving, with close to Arctic conditions forecast for many of less temperate states over the next few days.

So how do our birds cope and what do they do for protection during severe weather such as blizzards, hurricanes, and tornadoes?

Birds have an amazing ability to find refuge from storms, but they do it in a variety of ways, 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. Many other birds retreat to dense, evergreen thickets where they are protected from the elements for the duration of the storm.

How are your birds coping with the cold?

Please share your stories— we always enjoy hearing them!