Good Swainson’s warbler news from the USA


This video from the USA is called Swainson’s Warbler.

From Wildlife Extra:

Rare warbler on the increase in USA

Numbers of the rare songbird, the Swainson’s warbler, are increasing in the US, particularly on private pine plantations along the coastal plain from eastern Texas to southeastern Virginia.

The results of the study, which compiled data from 20 years of field studies, suggests that if current trends continue, forests managed as short-rotation pine plantations will support the majority of Swainson’s warbler breeding populations by the end of the 21st century.

The Swainson’s warbler has been a high conservation concern for decades as its 90,000 breeding individuals are sparsely distributed across 15 states in the USA.

The rarity of the Swainson’s warbler was previously blamed on its finicky preference for large areas of densely vegetated breeding habitat in the southeastern U.S. and wintering range in the Caribbean basin. However research carried out in the 1990s revealed that this warbler could be found in a surprisingly wide spectrum of habitats, including young loblolly pine plantations in eastern Texas.

The researchers believe the short-rotation pine plantations have a seven-to-eight-year window when the plantations are dense enough to support populations of Swainson’s warbler. Once this period ends and the plantations thin out, Graves believes that the warblers will likely relocate to nearby younger plantations that exhibit the desired foliage density.

“The Swainson’s warbler is becoming a conservation success story in a habitat that was once feared to be a biological desert,” said lead author Gary Graves from Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History in the USA.

“This is a prime example of how intensive management of forest lands for industrial purposes can have a direct impact on bird populations in a positive way.”

The Swainson’s warbler a small olive-brown bird with pale yellowish-white underparts that measures approximately 5.5 inches long and is known for its loud, distinctive song and secretive behaviour. Despite its small size, male Swainson’s warblers defend large territories that range in size from 3 to 18 hectares.

Bats can jam other bats’ sonar


This video from the USA says about itself:

Flight of the Mexican Free-tailed bat at Bracken Cave

16 May 2011

We watched these Mexican Free-tailed bats flying out of Bracken Cave for over an hour. With an estimate of more than 20 million bats, this is the largest colony in the world. It takes around 4 hours for the entire colony to fly out to hunt. In this video, they are leaving to fly approximately 50 miles to feast on boll weevils in Texas cotton fields.

From New Scientist in the USA:

Bats jam each other’s sonar to steal meals

06 November 2014 by Penny Sarchet

Species: Mexican free-tailed bat (Tadarida brasiliensis)

Habitat: Large caves, hollow trees, bridges and attics ranging from Brazil to Nebraska in the US.

It’s frustrating when your smartphone loses its signal in the middle of a call or when downloading a webpage. But for bats, a sudden loss of its sonar signal means missing an insect meal in mid-flight. Now there’s evidence to suggest that bats are sneakily using sonar jamming techniques to make their fellow hunters miss their tasty targets.

Like other bats, the Mexican free-tailed bat uses echolocation to pinpoint prey insects in the dark. But when many bats hunt in the same space, they can interfere with each other’s echoes, making detection more difficult.

Jamming happens when a sound disrupts a bat’s ability to extract location information from the echoes returning from its prey, explains Aaron Corcoran of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. Previous research has shown that Mexican free-tailed bats can get around this jamming by switching to higher pitches. Using different sound frequencies to map the hunting grounds around them allows many bats to hunt in the same space.

In these studies, jamming of each other’s signals was seemingly inadvertent – a simple consequence of two bats attempting to echolocate in close proximity. But Corcoran has found evidence of sneakier goings-on.

Sonar sabotage

Corcoran has found a second type of sonar jamming in these bats – intentional sabotage of a fellow bat. “In this study, the jamming is on purpose and the jamming signal has been designed by evolution to maximally disrupt the other bat’s echolocation,” he says.

Working with William Conner of Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, Corcoran compared flight-path calculations with audio and video field recordings. They discovered that these bats emit special ultrasonic signals that interfere with the echolocation of other bats that are attacking insect prey.

“For this type of jamming, the interfering sound needs to overlap the echoes in time and frequency,” says Corcoran. This is unlike previously described accidental jamming, which covers only a single frequency, so can be avoided by shifting to another frequency. “This jamming signal covers all the frequencies used by the other bat, so there’s no available frequency to shift to.”

Vicious competition

Playing back recordings of these jamming calls was enough to make flying bats miss their insect targets. Corcoran suggests being jammed by another bat is like having your sense of where an insect is become blurry. “The bats know a moth is there, they just can’t quite know where it is with sufficient detail to capture it.”

He believes the bats do this to each other because they live together in huge numbers, putting them in tough competition for the same food. “This species has the largest aggregations of mammals on the planet – up to one million individuals in a single cave,” explains Corcoran. Leaving a moth for another bat and going to look for another costs more energy. “It’s all about efficiency of getting food. Under high levels of competition, it pays to stay and fight for a food item.”

But it’s a game that one insect has evolved to get in on too. Grote’s bertholdia moth (Bertholdia trigona) is the only moth known to jam bat echolocation to protect itself from being caught and eaten. Corcoran says it jams most bats that have been studied, by making a barrage of high-frequency clicks as a bat approaches them. Far above the range of human hearing, it’s a life-or-death audio battle out there.

Journal reference: Science, DOI: 10.1126/science.1259512

Bats change their tune to cope with human noise pollution: here.

Texas barn owls, video


This video from the USA says about itself:

Texas Barn Owls Highlights 2014

7 October 2014

Over six months viewers followed a family of Barn Owls in Italy, Texas. Five eggs were laid and hatched in May. Unfortunately the two youngest owlets passed away, most likely due to starvation, however the strongly bonded Barn Owl parents raised 3 healthy owlets. All three juveniles left the nest box July 14, but continued to return to roost in the box during the day until the end of August. The parents throughout September and October are roosting in the box over night and continue to bond.

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology would like to thank the many people involved in watching, tweeting to @texasbarnowls and helping to protect these enchanting birds. Without the devotion of a community of dedicated people we would not be able to show these birds to the world.

A special thank you to everyone who donated to keep the cams running, your support means everything to us.

Thanks for watching, see you in 2015.

For more highlights and news check out here.

Country musician Willie Nelson’s new album


This music video from the USA is called Whatever Happened To Peace On Earth? Willie Nelson.

By Hiram Lee in the USA:

Willie Nelson’s Band of Brothers: A songwriter returns

2 September 2014

Veteran country music artist Willie Nelson is now 81 years old. Approaching the sixth decade of his career, he continues to record and perform at an impressive pace. A talented singer, songwriter and guitarist, it is hard to think of another performer in the genre as well liked as he.

Nelson has been making music professionally since 1956. While he found little success as a recording artist in those first several years, he was able to establish himself quickly as a songwriter of note. Some of his early compositions have become standards recorded by large numbers of country, jazz and blues musicians. Nelson wrote “Crazy,” made famous in a legendary recording by Patsy Cline, and “Night Life,” which Ray Price recorded. “Hello Walls” became a hit for Faron Young and “Funny How Time Slips Away” was recorded by Billy Walker.

Like most country music performers, the Texas-born Nelson’s career eventually became centered in Nashville. But Nelson never quite fit in there. He grew frustrated with the constraints of the Nashville entertainment industry and moved back to Texas in the early 1970s. …

In more recent years, an even larger majority of Nelson’s recorded output has consisted of songs by other composers. His latest album, Band of Brothers, however, marks a return to songwriting. Not since his 1996 release Spirit has a Willie Nelson album featured this many new compositions.

Band of Brothers is an interesting and entertaining album. Nelson’s unique, nasal singing voice has begun to weaken somewhat, but his loose—even casual—sense of rhythm remains. His lyrics fall into the music like clothes tossed onto a bed, but they fit him well in the end. …

This music video from the USA is called Willie Nelson/ The Git Go – New Album “Band Of Brothers”.

While Band of Brothers may represent Nelson’s return as a songwriter, some of the strongest songs are still those written by other composers. Perhaps the best verse on the album belongs to veteran songwriter Billy Joe Shaver and his song “The Git Go.” In a duet with Jamey Johnson, Nelson sings Shaver’s angry words:

Money breeds war as long as there’s a man alive/Rich kids go to college and the poor kids fight/And high rollers crap out every time/Roll up soldiers’ bones like loaded dice/War is a beast that makes every mother cry.

One is reminded that when popular country music stars, including Toby Keith and Darryl Worley, wrote openly pro-war songs like “Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue (The Angry American)” and “Have You Forgotten?” during preparations for the Iraq war in 2003, Willie Nelson responded with the anti-war song “Whatever Happened to Peace on Earth?” in which he asked the questions: “How much oil is one human life worth?” and “How much is a liar’s word worth?”