American oystercatcher forages, video

This video from the USA says about itself:

27 January 2016

An American Oystercatcher looks for prey in tide pools. These birds are rarely found outside of their coastal habitats and feed almost exclusively on shellfish and other marine invertebrates including mussels and clams of many varieties, limpets, oysters, sea urchins, starfish, crabs, and worms.

Rough-legged hawk video

This video from the USA says about itself:

15 March 2016

The rough-legged hawk is a beautiful raptor that spends the winter in open areas across much of the United States. In spring, it migrates north to breed in the tundra and taiga of Alaska and Canada. Learn to identify this species in flight by watching this video narrated by Jerry Ligouri from HawkWatch International.

This species is also known as rough-legged buzzard.

Young male western bluebirds, new study

This video from the USA is called Western Bluebird (Sialia mexicana), William L. Finley National Wildlife Refuge, Oregon.

From the Santa Fe Institute in the USA:

Bluebird’s conundrum: Shack up now or hang out in mom’s nest for a while?

Date: February 24, 2016

Summary: Young male bluebirds may gain an evolutionary advantage by delaying breeding and helping out their parents’ nests instead, according to new research

For a young male western bluebird, it might be better to live with one’s parents as a helper for a year before starting a nest of one’s own, according to a new study in Behavioral Ecology.

It’s a unique and somewhat counterintuitive interplay of evolutionary tradeoffs that makes this kind of cooperative breeding advantageous for species like bluebirds, says Caitlin Stern, an Omidyar Fellow at the Santa Fe Institute and lead author on the paper with Janis Dickinson of Cornell University.

Female western bluebirds show an age bias, preferring to mate with older males. And bluebirds have high rates of extra-pair paternity, or EPP, where a female’s social mate may not be the father of all her offspring. This means a young partnered male often shares more genetic material with the younger siblings in his parents’ nest than the young of his own nest. (In other words, he is often “more related” to his siblings, with whom he shares his mother’s genetics and often his father’s, than his mating partner’s offspring.)

In addition, behavioral ecologists know that helping behavior often results in longevity. By sharing the workload, each individual in a cooperative system has a survival advantage.

Young bluebirds who stay home as helpers may increase both their parents’ and their own lifespans, on average. For long-lived species like bluebirds, which can survive eight years, males may increase their reproductive fitness — the representation of their alleles in the next generation — over their lifetimes by delaying breeding and helping instead.

Behavioral ecologists usually expect to see helping behavior dominantly in monogamous populations with low EPP, where the helper is guaranteed a close genetic relationship to his younger siblings. However, the additional factors of age bias and longevity change the formula for bluebirds.

“If you have this combination of an age bias — such that young males are not likely to sire offspring in another male’s nest but old males are — and if helpers and their parents have a survival advantage, you can get this evolution of helping behavior even in systems with high rates of EPP,” says Stern.

The behavioral ecology literature is beginning to acknowledge the importance of considering a species’ full life history when studying behaviors, says Stern. “Our study is a case-in-point for the need to do this,” she says. “An individual’s fitness accumulates over its lifespan, and we need to take that into account when we’re looking at the evolution of behavior.”

Bluebirds are some of the most sought after backyard birds, whether they are eastern, western or mountain bluebirds. Backyard birders who know how to attract bluebirds can enjoy the benefits of these colorful thrushes throughout the year: here.

Bird migration in the Americas, Internet map

This video is about bird migration.

Frpm the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in the USA, about bird migration in the Americas:

Watch a Mesmerizing Migration Map

Watch the wonder and spectacle of bird migration captured on a single map. Using millions of bird observations from participants in eBird and the Great Backyard Bird Count, scientists at the Cornell Lab generated an animated map showing the annual journeys of 118 bird species. Watch how the routes change in spring and fall as birds ride seasonal winds to their international destinations. See the map in motion and read more.

Want to know which species is which? Check out the numbered key.

North American nesting birds 2015 report

NestWatch Digest cover

From the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in the USA:

Dear Friend of NestWatch,

We’re excited to kick off another nesting season with you. To get things started, we’re sharing our brand new annual report, the NestWatch Digest. In it, you’ll find data summaries and highlights from the 2015 nesting season. Click here to read the report.

Thank you for your contributions,

The NestWatch team

Long-eared owls threatened in North America

This video from Cornwall is called Long Eared Owl at Screech Owl Sanctuary.

This blog post is a guest blog post by Cassie Mayer from North America. She has a really interesting blog, called kindness over cruelty. Her blog is about subjects like veganism and advocacy for animals.

Thank you for this fine guest blog post, Cassie!

In the past century we have managed to drive the Long Eared Owl to near extinction. Many years ago this beautiful animal could be seen in Southern Canada, New England, and even in California and Texas.

Long Eared Owls require vast, dense forests for camouflage, protection from the elements, and sufficient room for hunting. However, their numbers have dwindled lower and lower due to deforestation and development. Since Long Eared Owls do not make their own nests but rather use old nests from Crows, Hawks, and other large birds, it is especially hard for them to find places to live when forests are constantly being ripped apart by greedy people. Some truly disgusting people even hunt Long Eared Owls for simple fun.

While many studies and counts of the owls have been conducted, their numbers have only continued to shrink. If we don’t act soon, it is clear that this fascinating animal will be a thing of the past. For more information on how you can help endangered animals like the Long Eared Owl, please click this link:

Sources / Information on this species:

American robin builds her nest, video

This video from the USA says about itself:

A female American Robin reinforces her nest with mud

27 January 2016

A female American Robin reinforces her nest with mud. Females build the nest from the inside out, pressing dead grass and twigs into a cup shape using the wrist of one wing. Other materials include paper, feathers, rootlets, or moss in addition to grass and twigs. Once the cup is formed, she reinforces the nest using soft mud gathered from worm castings to make a heavy, sturdy nest. She then lines the nest with fine dry grass. The finished nest is 6-8 inches across and 3-6 inches high.