American yellow warbler migration, new discovery


This video is about a yellow warbler nest in North America.

From the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in the USA:

Yellow Warbler Beats the Odds, Reveals 2,300-Mile Journey

Student researchers from the Cornell Lab were dumbfounded and then ecstatic this summer when they captured a Yellow Warbler that had been banded just two months earlier in Colombia. It was the first of its species to be banded in South America and recovered in North America. Read this story about long odds and new insights, thanks to a pretty yellow bird that made the journey to tell the tale.

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Grasshopper sparrow video


This video says about itself:

Grasshopper Sparrow

24 May 2017

Footage courtesy of Benjamin M. Clock, Macaulay Library at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

These birds live in the Americas.

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.

GULF CROSSING: STORY OF SPRING

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.

South American blue dragonflies, new study


This 201 video fgrom Brazil is called Zenithoptera lanei male and female. By Ruy Penalva.

From Science News:

The blue wings of this dragonfly may be surprisingly alive

Adults go to great lengths to shine blue

By Susan Milius

7:00am, June 30, 2017

An adult insect wing is basically dead.

So what in the world were tiny respiratory channels doing in a wing membrane of a morpho dragonfly?

Rhainer Guillermo Ferreira was so jolted by a scanning electron microscope image showing what looked like skinny, branching tracheal tubes in a morpho wing that he called in another entomologist for a second opinion. Guillermo Ferreira, then at Kiel University in Germany, showed the image to a colleague who also was “shocked,” he remembers. A third entomologist was called in. Shock all around.

The shimmering, bluest-of-skies wings of male Zenithoptera dragonflies might be unexpectedly and fully alive, Guillermo Ferreira says. That bold idea will take some testing. So for now, he and colleagues report the unusual tracheal respiratory system, the first in any insect wing as far as they know, in the May Biology Letters.

Wings of insects start as living tissue, but as the creatures take their adult form, cells die between the strut work of supporting wing veins. The dried-out zones can go cellophane-clear or cover themselves in color, bordered by the vein network like the glass pieces in a cathedral window. The veins, as they’re called, have their own respiratory tubes, nerves and such. But entomologists thought the rest of an insect wing would be no more alive and in need of oxygen than toenail clippings.

Living, breathing wings might help explain how South America’s four or five species of morpho dragonflies make such complicated blue color, says Guillermo Ferreira, now at the Federal University of São Carlos in Brazil. Blue pigment, rare in nature, is nowhere on these wings. Instead, the wings, perhaps powered by abundant oxygen, create a living layer cake of light-manipulating doodads.

In the tough inner layers, male Z. lanei wings form nanoscale spheres sandwiched between blankets of black pigment–filled nanolayers. This setup can enhance reflections of blue light and muddle other wavelengths. On top are two more light-trick layers, each made of wax crystals. The uppermost crystals, Guillermo Ferreira found, are shaped “like little leaves.”

Better blues might help a male intimidate rivals for breeding territory around the edges of their palm tree swamp homeland. Male dragonflies don’t just dart and bluff. Guillermo Ferreira often sees a male “rushing toward the rival, grabbing the wings, biting the wings and then sometimes biting the head.”

In spite of the world-class color nanogadgetry, males aren’t known for courtship displays, he says. “The female just flies in, and he just grabs her.”

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.”

North-South America bird migration, transmitters research


This video 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.

GULF CROSSING: STORY OF SPRING

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 it’s 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 BirdLife:

The tiny transmitters tracking birds from North to South America

By Ed Parnell, 10 Feb 2017

The Motus Wildlife Tracking System is a pioneering programme of Bird Studies Canada (BSC, BirdLife Partner), in partnership with collaborating researchers and organisations. Motus (which means “movement” in Latin) utilises miniaturised radio transmitters weighing less than 0.3g, which can be unobtrusively fitted onto the backs of birds, including small passerines such as warblers. (Even smaller transmitters have also been developed that can be fitted to insects: for instance, one study already underway is tracking the movements of Monarch butterflies Danaus plexippus).

The transmitters, or tags, emit a short burst or pulse every 5–30 seconds, each with a unique numerical pattern. These pulses are then picked up by automated very high frequency (VHF) receivers, which can automatically detect and record signals from the tags at distances of up to 15 km.

Thousands of tags can be simultaneously deployed and tracked within the system, which, as of today comprises nearly 350 receiving stations. Resembling oversized television aerials, the receivers can be fixed to existing structures such as towers or lighthouses, on trees, or on stand-alone poles that are around 30 feet in height. The receivers can also be located out to sea; some receivers have already been placed on offshore oil and gas platforms in coastal Nova Scotia, Canada.

“What’s new and exciting about Motus is that it harnesses the collective resources and infrastructure of numerous researchers into one massive collaborative effort. Indeed, it is the depth of these collaborations that makes the entire system possible”, explains Stuart Mackenzie, Motus Programme Manager for BSC.

As birds—or other animals, such as bats and large insects—pass within range of any receiver in the network, data is recorded automatically into BSC’s central database in Ontario, where it is shared with researchers. “As each tag has a unique signature we can extract a massive level of detail about movement and behaviour, including learning where and how quickly the bird in question has travelled, and for how long they may have stopped en route”, says Mackenzie.

A large number of individual study projects are currently underway that utilise Motus’ open source technology. These include: studying the stopover and migration ecology of various waders (including Red Knot Calidris canutus, Semipalmated Sandpiper Calidris pusilla and White-rumped Sandpiper Calidris fuscicollis); monitoring the migration routes of Grey cheeked Thrush Catharus minimus and Swainson’s Thrushes Catharus ustulatus; and investigating the post-breeding dispersal of Ipswich Sparrow, the princeps sub-species of Savannah Sparrow Passerculus sandwichensis which breeds only on Sable Island, Nova Scotia.

One of the big advantages of Motus over other methods of tracking bird movements —such as ringing (banding) or the use of geolocators or other archival tags – is that Motus-tagged birds don’t have to be recaptured in order for the data to be accessed. Indeed, Mackenzie estimates that the chances of recovering data from a tagged Motus bird is something like a thousand times greater than with traditional ringing recoveries.

“With the 2015 project that studied migratory Grey-cheeked and Swainson’s Thrushes on their Colombian wintering grounds, migration data was obtained from around 30% of the birds involved—19 out of 67 tagged birds—an unprecedented figure compared to previous transcontinental migration studies”, says Mackenzie.

A striking level of insight is already being gleaned into the movements of thrushes. For instance, a Swainson’s Thrush tagged on 19 March 2015 remained at the Colombia study site, a shade-grown coffee plantation, until 14 April. On 18 May, it was detected flying past a small array of towers in Canada’s Chaplin Lake in Saskatchewan, an astounding journey of nearly 6,000 km in just 34 days; this equates to flying at least 175 km per day for a month. And one of the study’s Gray-cheeked Thrushes travelled over 3,200 km from Colombia to Indiana in just 3.3 days, meaning it flew an average of 986 km a day.

Motus is poised to expand rapidly over the next few years. Until recently most of the MOTUS equipment was located in North America, mostly around eastern Canada and the United States. However, a collaboration with BirdLife Partners Audubon Panama and Guyra Paraguay has seen the Motus’ networks of antennas stretch to Central and Southern America for the first time.

“This really is a project with global potential”, explained Mackenzie. “Perhaps one of the most exciting developments in 2016 is the deployment— working alongside Audubon Panama – of receivers across the canal zone of Panama, meaning that most tagged birds that migrate from North to South America will have to cross through and be recorded by the Panama Gateway.”

In Paraguay, a South American country that has documented more than 40 migratory species arriving from the northern hemisphere, we’ve pinpointed the ideal location to track their arrival. Thanks to the support of the Municipality of Asuncion, Guyra Paraguay has installed the first Motus tracking station in the southern cone in the Bay of Asunción, above the office of the Municipal Tourist Information Centre, a strategic place for the antenna on the coast with open view to the Bay of Asunción and the Paraguay River. Later, it is planned to expand the system to Guyra Paraguay reserves, along the Paraguay River and other key areas for migratory birds such as the Salt Lagoons in the central Chaco plains.

In addition, Motus now has a foothold in Europe, with the tagging of songbirds taking place on the German island of Heligoland. With receiver coverage now expanding around the Gulf of Mexico and America’s Pacific Flyway, use of this groundbreaking technology is picking up pace, and enquiries have been made from as far afield as Australia as the world seeks to increase its understanding of the movements of our planet’s incredible migratory birds.