Bird of the Week - 1/11/13
Bird of the Week
This distinctive bird is a member of the tyrant-flycatcher family, a large, New World group of insect-eating birds. The name “tyrant” reflects the aggressive nature of some of these species, which drive away larger birds that venture too near their nests. Male Cock-tailed Tyrants are eye-catching; mostly black above, with white shoulder patch, face and underparts. Its black tail has broad central feathers that stand perpendicular to the others, giving the bird its “cock-tailed” appearance. Females are similar to males, but brown instead of black, and lack the fancy tail.
The biggest threat to this species is continuing habitat loss. Grasslands throughout its range are threatened by agriculture, livestock farming, plantations, and mining. Its dependence on tall grasslands makes it especially sensitive to intensive grazing, trampling by cattle, and frequent burning.
In Bolivia, ABC works with Asociación Armonía to manage the Blue-throated Macaw Reserve, which also protects the Cock-tailed Tyrant. ABC has helped Armonía acquire land to establish the reserve and build infrastructure for reserve management, including a research station. For those interested in visiting the reserve for its excellent birding, please see Conservation Birding and Birding Bolivia.
What a little sweetie!! Thanks for starting a new thread Lynn.
Bird of the Week
The 'Akiapôlâ'au (pronounced ah-kee-ah-POH-LAH-OW) is a member of the highly specialized Hawaiian honeycreeper family. This species is most notable for its mismatched-looking beak that has a long, downward-curving upper mandible, used for probing, and a shorter lower mandible, used as a drill as the bird creeps along tree trunks and branches, probing for arthropods under the bark. It also takes flower nectar and drinks sap from shallow wells it drills in live bark.
Threats include grazing and logging, that have degraded or destroyed much of its habitat; predation by introduced mammals; mosquito-borne avian diseases; and depletion of the birds’ prey by introduced insects. Global climate change could allow mosquitoes to move to higher elevations, further decreasing suitable habitat for the 'Akiapôlâ'au and other native Hawaiian passerines.
ABC is involved in a significant conservation project that will benefit the 'Akiapôlâ'au and other native birds on the Mauna Kea volcano, where the species disappeared when overgrazing by non-native mammals severely degraded the forest. Mouflon sheep and goats will be removed following the completion of an ungulate-proof fence that will encircle the mountain, setting the stage for forest regeneration and restoration. Fencing and removal of cattle and pigs has also been successfully employed at Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge, a key stronghold of the 'Akiapôlâ'au.
Andean flamingo dance. Really funny to watch!
Bird of the Week
The Blue-billed Curassow is a large, ground-dwelling bird closely related to turkeys and guans.The male is glossy black with a curly black crest, white undertail and tail tip, and pinkish-white legs. Its bill is decorated with a fleshy blue cere (a waxy structure covering the base of the bill) and wattle. The female is also black, with black-and-white crest feathers and white barring on wings and tail, plus a rufous lower belly and undertail.
This bird forages on the forest floor for fruit, seeds, and small invertebrates. It roosts in trees for protection; these roost sites are near feeding areas and are often used for several days running.
Blue-billed Curassow populations have declined dramatically due to to habitat loss. Huge areas of its lowland forest range have been cleared for livestock farming, crop cultivation, oil extraction, and mining. Another significant threat comes from local people, who hunt these birds and take their eggs for food.
In 2004, ABC and Colombian partner Fundación ProAves established the El Paujíl Reserve to protect this species. El Paujíl now protects over 14,830 acres of lowland forest in the Magdalena Valley, and has been recognized by Alliance for Zero Extinction as the place where the overwhelming majority of Blue-billed Curassow are now found. ABC and ProAves continue habitat protection and restoration here, as well as educational outreach, job-training programs for local women, and tourism.
Bird of the Week
This small, mottled seabird (9.5 inches long and 8 ounces) is one of the rarest and least-known murrelets. The Kittlitz’s Murrelet is unique because of its intimate association with glaciers, which has earned it the nickname, “Glacier Murrelet.”
The effects of climate change are hitting this species especially hard. Rapidly rising temperatures are causing glaciers to melt and recede, and changes in ocean ecosystems are reducing the availability of the fish it eats. Kittlitz’s Murrelets are also affected by human disturbance from activities such as cruise-ship tours, which may cause it to abandon feeding areas, and entanglement in commercial gillnets.
The 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill had a catastrophic effect on this species, destroying as much as 10 percent of its world population, with the populations in Prince William Sound decreasing by 84 percent. Similar declines elsewhere suggest the bird may disappear within a few decades. It is under review for listing under the Endangered Species Act.
I love all of these birds Lynn! Thanks you!
Hi Cheryl I miss you, Lynn, Mary so much!!!
Let's start up chatterbox again!!!
I don't like Facebook very much.
I love all of you!
Happy Valentine's Day to all of you!
Love and big hugs.
Barb, Baby and Beenie ))
I have been super busy with online work with my business but think of all of you!
How are all of you doing?
Hi Barb, it's so good to hear from you! I don't know if it's because of Care2 problems or our people are engrossed in Facebook, but Chatter Box isn't the same anymore. I try to keep the weekly Bird post but otherwise everybody is doing their own thing.
I've been suffering with tendonitis in my elbow and there's also water in there. I had a steroid shot in the elbow last week but it hasn't helped at all. I have to limit my time on the computer because of the angle of my arm when using the mouse. It's exacerbating the problem so the doctor said not to do much on the computer. I've been alternating between my little laptop and my iPad. The weather isn't helping either.
How are you doing. By business, do you mean Melaleuka? What about your dancing class? Are you still dancing? Let me (us) know how you are in the Chatter thread. This thread is really for the birds! lol
Love you lots.
Bird of the Week
The Wandering Tattler is a stocky, medium-sized wading bird, with unpatterned, grayish wings and back, and a barred breast and underside. It is solitary for most of the year, occurring alone or in groups of two or three.
As the name implies, this species is a true wanderer, with a widespread winter range around the entire Pacific basin. Some individuals migrate west across the Pacific all the way to Australia, a journey of 8,000 miles across open ocean. "Tattler" refers to the bird’s voice, a rapid trill of accelerating, descending notes given at the approach of any perceived danger.
The Wandering Tattler feeds on marine invertebrates, aquatic insects, and small fish. This bird forages actively, constantly bobbing its tail and rear end up and down as it walks.
The Wandering Tattler is one of North America's least numerous shorebird species. It is listed by the U.S. Shorebird Conservation Plan as a Species of Moderate Concern, primarily due to the small number of individuals. Breeding Bird Survey (BB data suggest significant long-term declines, but it is not well surveyed by the BBS, so population trends need further investigation.
Bird of the Week Banded Cotinga
- The male Banded Cotinga is a strikingly beautiful bird, with bright blue plumage set off by a vivid purple throat and belly divided by a blue breast-band, set off by black mottling on the back with black wings and tail. The more low-key female is mottled dusky brown and white. Males also have specially modified primaries (the biggest flight feathers) that produce a whirring sound as the bird displays.
These are treetop birds that live high in the forest canopy, where they feed on mainly on fruit, sometimes supplemented by seeds and insects.
The biggest threat to the Banded Cotinga is habitat loss; extensive, continuing deforestation within its range has restricted populations to a few protected areas, including the Stresemann’s Bristlefront Reserve, managed by ABC’s partner Fundação Biodiversitas. These birds have been collected for their feathers by local indigenous people, and capture for the cage-bird trade has also posed a threat.
Recommended conservation measures that will benefit this lovely species include surveying areas of suitable habitat within its range to locate further populations, continuing protection of known territories, and reforesting adjacent areas with native trees. ABC continues to work with Biodiversitas to protect this beautiful bird and its Atlantic Forest habitat.
Check out a YouTube video by Ciro Albano!
Oh my gosh, isn't he gorgeous?! When you look back at all the birds on this thread, there is awesome beauty on this earth, and I sure hope we can come together to save them all.
Bird of the Week
The Lark Bunting is actually a North American sparrow. Breeding males are distinctive, with all-black plumage set off by a large white patch on the upper wing. Nonbreeding males and females are grayish brown with white striping.
Lark Buntings forage on the ground, mainly taking insects, especially grasshoppers. They eat seeds in winter, when they often congregate in large flocks. They prefer grassland with some shrub cover for nesting; the nest, a loose bowl of grass, fine roots, and plant stems, is on the ground. Populations in any given area may fluctuate depending on precipitation levels.
Christmas Bird Counts and Breeding Bird Surveys show this handsome bird to be one of the fastest declining in the United States; habitat loss and fragmentation, pesticide poisoning, and overgrazing are the chief causes. Livestock water tanks also pose risks; large numbers of buntings in search of a drink often drown or fall prey to domestic cats lurking around tanks.
Important conservation measures needed for the Lark Bunting include protecting and restoring native grasslands, delaying mowing of hayfields until after the breeding season to prevent destruction of nests, and minimizing pesticide use.
Bird of the Week
Until 2000, the Gunnison Sage-Grouse was thought to be the Greater Sage-Grouse, but we know now that it is a distinct species. It is characterized by a smaller body size, unique plumage, and low genetic variation, and there are differences in the spectacular mating displays and vocalizations the grouse are noted for.
Occupying 1,511 square miles, the bird is found only in six counties in Colorado, and one in Utah. The bird’s habitat is shrub-steppe (a type of low rainfall natural grassland) below 9,200 feet, including sagebrush, riparian areas, and meadows.
Sage-Grouse eat only sagebrush leaves during the winter and the important wintering sites may change within and between years, depending upon climatic conditions. Lek (mating dance ground) sites within the sagebrush are traditional breeding areas that the grouse return to each year.
The total estimated population size for Gunnison Sage-Grouse is less than 5,000 breeding birds. At present the population of the grouse is declining in and its distribution has been reduced substantially from historical levels. The most pressing threats to the species continue to be the loss, degradation, and fragmentation of its sagebrush habitat.
With ongoing development pressure and a growing human population, firm protection measures for its remaining habitat are urgently needed. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed listing the Gunnison Sage-Grouse as an endangered species and is currently accepting public comments on the proposal.
what a gorgeous guy thanks Lynn
Bird of the Week Red-bellied Grackle
- The Red-bellied Grackle is an uncommon and distinctive blackbird found only in the Colombian Andes. It is large, long-tailed, and heavy-billed, with a bright red belly and glossy black plumage; adults also have a light yellow eye.
It is usually found in noisy groups of up to 50 birds in the forest canopy along edges, often in mixed flocks along with other large bird species such as oropendolas.
The continuing decline of this species is due to extensive clearance of its forest habitat through logging, agriculture, and human development. Although the Red-bellied Grackle tolerates modified landscapes to some degree, they seem to require mature forest for at least part of their life cycle. Brood parasitism by Giant Cowbirds could explain the local disappearance of the species in some areas; it is also sometimes persecuted as a crop pest, and trapped for the cage-bird trade.
ABC and Colombian partner Fundación ProAves are protecting habitat for the Red-bellied Grackle and other rare species such as the Chestnut-capped Piha, an AZE-listed species, at their Arrierito Antiqueño reserve, a 5,300-acre property with a lodge and trails for visitors and an ongoing reforestation program.
Bird of the Week
The Rusty Blackbird is a medium-sized blackbird with a slender, slightly decurved bill, matte black plumage (in males), and pale yellow eye. They are North America’s most northern-nesting blackbird, and a characteristic breeding species of boreal forests. In winter, they gather in small flocks, sometimes mixing with Common Grackles, Red-winged Blackbirds, and European Starlings. “Rusties” have a distinctive winter plumage, set off by red-brown feather edges.
This bird is one of North America’s most rapidly declining species. Its population has plunged an estimated 85 percent or more over the past 40 years, and scientists are not sure as to the exact cause.
Destruction and degradation of wetlands appear to be the chief threat to the Rusty Blackbird, both on its boreal breeding grounds and across its wintering range.
Conservation measures needed to help this species recover include further study of the bird’s ecology and natural history; finding specific causes for its disappearance; and continued monitoring of its populations. The International Rusty Blackbird Technical Working Group, formed in 2005, continues work to better understand this species’ steep decline.
Bird of the Week
American Bird Conservancy, bowing to a tidal wave of public opinion, has declared the Peep (Marshmallicious delicious) to be this year’s Easter bird of the week, and has further announced it is to be split into four bird species. The reselection of 2011’s choice was based on popular opinion. “I couldn’t fight it any longer. The time has come – it was a no brainer for me,” ABC President George Fenwick said.
Up until now, scientists have recognized only the familiar “yellow” form of peep as a full species; but there is currently support in the ornithological community for granting separate species status to the blue, teal, pink, and purple forms, currently considered color morphs. “There simply isn’t any evidence that these forms interbreed,” said ABC senior scientist Dr. David Wiedenfeld. “While they can often be found roosting in the same box, the fact is that nobody has ever seen an intermediate bird between the color morphs,” he added.
In naming the Peep as Bird of The Week for a second time, ABC also raised eyebrows again. “We’ve never had a repeat Bird of the Week. That was a tough decision and I know some will disagree but if the Grammy Awards and Saturday Night Live can have repeat hosts, we thought we could break tradition as well. Some will point out that Bird of the Week is a bigger deal and needs to stand firm on tradition, but I say the Peep has been a real giver and it’s time for us to give back and return the favors from decades of springtime giving. It’s just the right thing to do.”
Peeps typically make their appearance in the springtime, with numbers peaking in April. Despite their ubiquitous distribution and social nature, their migratory paths, wintering, and breeding areas are little known.
During their breeding season, Peeps can easily be found in suburban backyard habitats, where they lay clutches of colorful eggs in nests of brightly-colored plastic grasses. Adult and immature peeps can be quickly located by their sweet calls and neon plumage.
Although Peeps are heavily consumed, their populations appear to quickly rebound in subsequent years and therefore they are not a species of conservation concern. Enjoy this popular harbinger of spring!
Asked about the possibility of a three-peat, Fenwick was noncommittal: “Well, we’ve never shied away from controversy. Naming the Peep Bird of the Week in 2011 caused quite an uproar – almost crashed our website. This decision will probably cause another firestorm – I probably won’t answer my phone for a week. But who knows, anything is possible. We’ll take the pulse when the next time comes.”
Bird of the Week
A simple whistle in the dense bamboo is all that might reveal the presence of the secretive and highly endangered Ochre-fronted Antpitta. This plump, long-legged bird is less than five inches long, with an olive-brown back and black-streaked white underparts. Males have the ochre-buff forehead that gives this species its name.
This bird was only discovered in 1976, and until very recently, sightings in the field were almost unknown. ABC’s Daniel J. Lebbin was one of the first to take a full-length photo of this species in the wild. He captured the bird on camera in 2010 at the Abra Patricia Reserve.
Abra Patricia, established in 2004 by ABC and in-country Peruvian partner ECOAN (Asociación Ecosistemas Andinos), spans over 24,000 acres of protected habitat.
One of the biggest threats to the Ochre-fronted Antpitta is habitat loss, mostly due to clearing of forest for agriculture. ABC has modeled the range of this species in a planning document for the Marañon-Alto Mayo Conservation Corridor, and continues work with ECOAN to acquire more land to conserve habitat for this antpitta and other threatened birds.
Abra Patricia is designated an Alliance for Zero Extinction (AZE) site because of the presence of both this antpitta and the endangered Long-whiskered Owlet. The site is part of ABC’s Conservation Birding network, so birders can easily visit and take a chance on finding this elusive species. Territories of both species overlap on the reserve’s owlet trail, about an hour walk downhill from the Owlet Lodge.
what a little cutie thanks Lynn
Oh yes... so very cute and innocent and beautiful! What would the world be like without birds? We would have such a large void. Thanks Lynn.
Bird of the Week
If you’re lucky, you might spot the Golden-cheeked Warbler on its breeding grounds in central Texas at this time of year. The snazzy-looking adult male is particularly striking, with a golden-yellow eyebrow and cheek-patch, split by a black eye-stripe that joins its black nape and back.
The Golden-cheeked Warbler depends on the bark of the Ashe juniper for nesting material and tends to forage in deciduous oaks. Its ideal habitat consists of mixed juniper-oak woodlands.
Major threats are habitat fragmentation and degradation caused by ranches and housing developments, the effects of global climate change, lack of prescribed fire, which clears the forest understory to provide habitat, and removal of Ashe juniper trees. Habitat fragmentation compounds the impact of additional threats such as cowbird parasitism, overbrowsing by deer, and the spread of oak wilt fungus.
ABC is determined to ensure the species’ survival at both ends of its range. The ABC-led Oaks and Prairies Joint Venture is coordinating with partners to enhance habitat management programs on the Golden-cheeked’s breeding grounds. ABC’s Quercus and Aves Program has worked to conserve and expand threatened oak woodland in its wintering range, and ABC’s Migratory Bird Program has begun a habitat protection program at the El Jaguar Reserve in Nicaragua that could benefit this attractive species.
Bird of the Week: Buff-fronted Owl
The Buff-fronted Owl was a surprise visitor to the Urraca Lodge at the Jorupe Reserve in Ecuador this February, when it dove through a dining room window in pursuit of insects. This visit marked the first record of the rarely seen owl within the Jorupe Reserve, run by our partner Fundación Jocotoco and supported by ABC. Park guards were able to safely return the owl to the outdoors – after snapping the above photo.
This striking little owl is the only member of its genus (Aegolius) to occur in South America. It is widespread but uncommon throughout its range, which is separated by the enormous expanse of the Amazon basin.
Relatively little is known about the species, but like many small owls, it lays its eggs in tree cavities and preys on rodents and other small mammals, birds, and insects. Its voice is a quavering trill.
Nearly 190 bird species have been found in Jorupe, including almost all the dry forest endemics of Ecuador’s Tumbesian region. Birders wishing to book a trip to this unique reserve should visit the Conservation Birding website.
i love owls theres just something about them thanks for this gorgeous guy Lynn
Bird of the Week: King Rail
Back in the days before automobiles, the King Rail was called the “stage driver,” since its "chuck-chuck" call reminded listeners of a rider or teamster clucking to his horses. Another folk name for this rail is “marsh hen,” because the bird looks a bit like a long-billed chicken, and marshes are where you will find them—if you’re lucky.
These solitary, elusive birds are more often heard than seen as they forage through their freshwater wetland habitats in search of crustaceans and insects. The King Rail was first scientifically described in 1834 by John James Audubon, and is the largest North American rail, about the size of a crow.
Over the past several decades, the King Rail has declined in population in the northern part of its range, while appearing to remain somewhat stable in most of the southern United States. It is most threatened by the destruction and degradation of wetlands caused by agriculture and other development, pollution, and pesticide contamination. This species often suffers fatal collisions with tall buildings, communications towers, and telephone wires during its nocturnal migrations.
The best hope for the conservation of this species is on public wildlife refuges, where most of the highest quality wetlands are found. Strong wetland protection and pollution laws are also essential to maintain suitable habitat. Within our system of Bird Conservation Regions, ABC protects habitat for the King Rail and many other wetland-dependent bird species.
Hi Lynn. I was in the other "room" while you were posting this!
What a handsome, strong looking bird. Obviously these birds are not programmed to fly OVER buildings. I can't help but think that they were here first, just like geese get in the way of planes. They carry on doing what Nature tells them and humans get in their way one way or another.
Thanks for posting, sis.
Bird of the Week: Russet-mantled Softtail
Imagine hiking up a steep set of stone stairs, passing through pastures dotted with remnant forest and hedgerows. You’re leaving the village of San Lorenzo in northern Peru, heading for better forests at higher elevations.
A descending trill emerges from a patch of bamboo at the edge of the trail, and soon a bright rufous bird appears, foraging among the foliage and sometimes hanging like a chickadee to probe the base of leaves -- the Russet-mantled Softtail.
This Russet-mantled Softtail does well defending its territory from others of its species, but it can’t compete with the campesino farmers clearing the bird’s land for pasture or agriculture as they move upslope.
Fortunately, the Russet-mantled Softtails at San Lorenzo now have some help defending their territory. Thanks to efforts by Asociación Ecosistemas Andinos (ECOAN) and ABC, the San Lorenzo community and neighboring communities have agreed to protect 930 acres of timberline habitat on their communal lands this year. With our help, San Lorenzo and other communities in northern Peru have also planted hundreds of thousands of native trees, restoring habitat for resident and neotropical migrant birds.
For those who want to see the Russet-mantled Softtail and other interesting endemics such as the Pale-billed Antpitta, the new San Lorenzo Private Conservation Area is the place to go. The area can be easily visited as a day or half-day trip by birders staying at Huembo or Abra Patricia Reserves.
For more information about lodging at Huembo and Abra Patricia, please visit Conservation Birding.
thats so sad while we are watching they are disappearing we take these from our children
Bird of the Week: Kentucky Warbler
A rich, rolling "churee churee churee" rings out from the lush understory of the woods, then the songster itself flits up to a low branch and sounds out again. This golden and olive warbler with the black mustache spends much of its time on the ground in deep woods, where it nests, but the patient birder can often catch a glimpse of one, especially as males stake out their territories each spring.
The Kentucky Warbler’s characteristic loud song is heard less frequently today, and continued losses of bottomland hardwood forests across the southeastern United States may be the reason why. However, destruction of habitat on its wintering grounds through clearing for agriculture and pasture may pose an even greater threat.
ABC is partnering with the Yucatán Peninsula Avian Alliance (AAPY) in Mexico to protect the Yucatán Peninsula - a major migratory pathway for the Kentucky Warbler and many other neotropical migrants. Over 1,600 acres of migratory bird habitat have been purchased within the Yum Balam-Sian Ka’an Biological Corridor so far, with more land acquisitions planned.
i hope they do get the protection they need poor little souls
Looking back over the last number of posts I've missed (as well as scrolling down from the top), I am so very saddened that we may lose so many little angels God has given us to enjoy. Their gorgeous colours in patterns, their soothing, healing, sweet songs, each one having its own individualized importance like one precious droplet that combines to make an ocean - as each of us is one droplet making an ocean. Without all those droplets there would be no oceans.
We must continue to fight for them as we continue to stand up for other human beings, animals, and the lands that make this planet. For all the problems we have with Care2, at least it still gives us a place to stand together and do something to make changes for the good.
Thanks again, Lynn, for your postings here. Love ya, sis!
Cheryl, beautifully said. We all must continue to fight for these beautiful creatures who know how to build their own homes in which to raise their young. Remarkable little souls, aren't they?
Thank you, Mary and Cheryl for your input. Love you, my sisters.
Update on the owl triplets. Boy do they grow up fast.
We sure do have to continue to fight, Lynn. It hurts to think of how many trees come down every year with nests and babies in them. Breaks my heart. I never thought I'd become a bird watcher when I think back to about five years ago. And then.... the eagles started. I'd go on egg-watch and race down to my computer every morning.... and listen while I worked.... and lo and behold it was wonderful to see those tiny eaglets peck through their shells! And then we found the hummingbirds and robins....
I love that picture! Now here's one fella that won't be showing up to pay a fine! lol
I love the link to the OWL TRIPLET story. Aren't they beautiful? All grown up - sorta - but really just big fuzzy babies having to learn to fend for themselves. I think Mom and Dad stay with them for some time. Couldn't help but take a pic:
what a handsome fella
Cheryl, thanks so much for taking a picture of the baby horned owl. He/she is so cute, as they all are. We've loved watching so many species of birds grow....from the hatching, to the "birth", to the tiny featherless floundering of the new borns and then we watched as they fledged. What a sight to behold. Isn't nature wonderful? We have to take care of all of the endangered species and do whatever we have to do to make sure that they survive. We love birds! And to attest to that fact, take a look at what the world choice as their favorite species:
Bird of the Week: Hawaiian Petrel
The Hawaiian Petrel is called `Ua`u in Hawaiian for its haunting call, “oo ah oo,” heard after sunset near its nesting colonies. The bird’s striking dark and light plumage is easily seen at sea, where its white wing linings and belly flash during its typical “roller-coaster” flight. Male and female `Ua`u share incubation and chick-feeding duties during the nearly four months the chicks spend in their burrows between hatching and fledging.
The `Ua`u is threatened by introduction of non-native predators such as rats and cats to its nesting islands. The birds are also attracted to artificial lights, which puts them at risk of collision with power lines, guy wires, and other man-made structures. Hawaiian Petrels may also become disoriented and blinded by lights and drop to the ground, where they are easily taken by predators or hit by vehicles.
Satellite tracking studies in 2006-2008 revealed that adult `Ua`u fly huge, clock-wise circuits around the north Pacific Ocean during foraging trips. Breeding birds may traverse more than 6,000 miles in two weeks before returning to their burrows to feed their chicks.
ABC is collaborating with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Park Service, and other partners to secure predator-free breeding habitat for `Ua`u and other seabirds on high islands in Hawai’i.
You can help the Hawaiian Petrel by joining our Spring 2013 Fundraising Challenge. We urgently need your support to conserve the Native Forests of Hawai’i and other critical bird habitats!
Pekin duck, or Long Island duck (Anas platyrhynchos domestica, or Anas peking), is a breed of domesticated duck used primarily for egg and meat production. It was bred from the Mallard in China. The ancestors of those ducks originated from the canals which linked waterways in Nanjing and originally had small bodies and black feathers. With the relocation of the Chinese capital to Beijing, supply barge traffic increased in the area which would often spill grain on which the ducks fed. Over time, the ducks slowly increased in size and grew white feathers. By the Five Dynasties, the new breed of duck had been domesticated by Chinese farmers.
In 1873 twenty-five ducks were exported from China. Only nine survived the trip to Long Island, New York in the United States and the animals and their meat are sometimes referred to as "Long Island duckling".It is the most popular commercial duck breed in the United States, although some farming has since relocated to Indiana from Suffolk County, New York. Around 95% of duck meat consumed in the United States is Pekin duck.
what a shame i hate to think of anyone eating any bird this guy is a beauty
Bird of the Week: Sage Sparrow
At first glance, the Sage Sparrow might seem rather ordinary, but look closer, and you’ll find a species with distinctive behaviors and conservation needs.
Unlike some sparrows that can use a variety of habitats, the Sage Sparrow must have open sagebrush habitat to breed successfully; it breeds in these areas over 90 percent of the time. A mixture of bare ground and plants also appears to be an important component for breeding success.
The Sage Sparrow is often seen running with its longish tail cocked; when perched, it wags its tail up and down like a phoebe. The bird spends much of its time on the ground foraging for insects and seeds.
Although populations appear stable across most of its range, the clearing of sagebrush for grazing has had a significant negative effect on the Sage Sparrow. Fire suppression, which leads to a build-up of brush and invasive weeds such as cheatgrass, also degrades suitable habitat.
Five subspecies of Sage Sparrow are currently recognized. The three non-migratory subspecies found in coastal California and Baja California were once considered a separate species and are again being considered for a potential split by the American Ornithologist’s Union (AOU).
The Californian subspecies belli is listed by the state as a Species of Special Concern, and the subspecies clementeae of the California Channel Islands is listed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as threatened.
sparrows are such wonderful birds they have such personality it also reminds me of my grandmothers saying "not a sparrow falls from a tree but god sees it " see was a great birdwatcher thanks for reminding me Lynn
Bird of the Week: Araripe Manakin
The discovery of the striking red, white, and black Araripe Manakin in 1996 stunned bird enthusiasts all over the world. The bird’s habitat is humid riverbank “gallery” forest watered by streams arising from springs at the base of the Araripe Plateau. These streams continue into arid caatinga (dry shrubland and thorn forest), which surrounds the riverbank forests.
The Araripe Manakin’s Critically Endangered status, which has led to its listing as an Alliance for Zero Extinction (AZE) species, has also focused attention on the importance of conserving its unique habitat, which determines not only this bird’s continued survival but also the quality of life for thousands of people living in this largely impoverished region of northeastern Brazil. Both bird and habitat are threatened by the clearing of these forests for farming, cattle, and home-building.
In 2003, the first information about the Araripe Manakin’s biology and threats to its survival were presented in a management plan aimed at local stakeholders. Just this year, the bird became the first species in Brazil to receive a National Conservation Action Plan — making it a widely recognized symbol for biodiversity, natural resources conservation, and the importance of environmental sustainability.
With ABC support, the Brazilian NGO Aquasis and the Araripe Manakin Conservation Project are maintaining an experimental tree nursery and beginning a long-term habitat restoration initiative with local partners, providing hope for the future of this rare bird.
Unbelievable camera work
The hummingbird doing rolls chasing a bug is neat!!!
The imagery of the bee hives and wasps are amazing!
This is beautiful.......be sure and watch closely (around 2 min 40 sec) and check out the baby bat clinging to its mother as she flies and feeds
The gent who caught these pictures is a real master at what he does!
The combination of time-lapse and high-speed photography is only possible with digital imagery
Amazing what our God-given, human creativity can produce when mixed with equal parts of patience and talent
If you never knew what goes on in the garden when you aren't paying attention
Watch this - some of the finest photography you will ever see
Bird of the Week: Reddish Egret
Reddish Egrets fish like no other birds. They dart here and there, twisting and turning from side to side, then spreading their wings in what appears to be a struggle for balance. But this seemingly strange behavior is actually a very effective hunting strategy: As the bird spreads its wings, it creates a canopy of shade, which attracts its fish prey.
The Reddish Egret occurs in two color phases — one with slate-blue body plumage and reddish head and neck decorated by shaggy plumes; the other completely white. This handsome egret was nearly extirpated by plume hunters in the early 20th century. Numbers have rebounded since this hunting ended, but it is still an uncommon bird. In the United States, there are roughly 2,000 pairs, with the largest colonies in Texas. Coastal development and climate change pose the biggest threats to this bird’s wetland habitats.
A Bird's Eye View of the World
The way birds see each other, and everything around them, is vastly different from the way that we do. Birds' larger eyes give them better eyesight than mammals have, and most have UV vision, making everything around them—from vegetation to a potential mate's plumage—much more colorful. Recent discoveries are revealing even more about the wonder of bird vision: They use their right and left eyes for different tasks, and may even be able to see Earth's magnetic field. Read more.
Saving the Florida Grasshopper Sparrow
This delicate little sparrow could become the first bird in the Lower 48 to go extinct since the Dusky Seaside Sparrow disappeared in 1987. Meet the birders, scientists, and conservationists who are racing to bring the Florida Grasshopper Sparrow back from the brink, and watch a video of the bird. Read more.
Ancient Trees Targeted for Logging
The Tongass National Forest is home to the world's largest remaining tracts of temperate rainforest. Congress wants to allow a single corporation to cut down the rarest and largest of these ancient trees, critical habitat for birds such as the Northern Goshawk and nesting Marbled Murrelets. Take action now.
Bird of the Week: Chilean Woodstar
In one of the driest deserts of the world, a tiny hummingbird with a long forked tail and violet throat guards his territory among some chañar bushes along a wash surrounded by lifeless expanses of sand and rock. This Chilean Woodstar continues to hang on, but for how long?
The Chilean Woodstar was once found in desert river valleys of northern Chile and southern Peru, but has only been seen in remnant habitat patches in three Chilean valleys during the last decade. During this time, the population declined by more than 80 percent, from at least 1,500 birds in 2003 to roughly 400 birds in 2012.
This dramatic decline led ABC and partner group AvesChile to petition the bird’s uplisting from Endangered to Critically Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The woodstar’s decline started in the 1960s when pesticides (now discontinued) to control fruit flies were widely used. In the 1970s, the closely related Peruvian Sheartail, which competes and hybridizes with the Chilean Woodstar, expanded its range from Peru, possibly assisted by expanding agriculture and other human-related changes to the landscape.
Most of the Chilean Woodstar’s natural habitat has been converted to agriculture or heavily degraded, and the species now relies on a mix of native and non-native plants for feeding and nesting. ABC is currently seeking funding to expand our work with AvesChile to establish a network of small reserves where we can restore and manage habitat for the Chilean Woodstar, experiment with sheartail removal, conduct public outreach to reduce pesticide usage — and ultimately prevent the extinction of this species.
brilliant Lynn thanks sis hope your having a great day
Bird of the Week: Worm-eating Warbler
- An insect-like trill sounds repeatedly as you hike along the foot of a steep forested slope. But it’s no insect sounding off. If you wait patiently and quietly, you may see the singer: a handsome, buff-colored little warbler with a striking head pattern of alternating black and buff.
Contrary to its name, the Worm-eating Warbler doesn’t eat earthworms, but it does eat worm-like caterpillars, along with many other insects and spiders. Its most characteristic foraging behavior is “dead-leafing”—investigating and prying apart clumps of dead leaves hung up in branches and vines in search of the prey hiding there. They also glean among green leaves and the bark of trees and shrubs, like many other warbler species.
Forest fragmentation is the greatest threat facing the Worm-eating Warbler, both on its breeding grounds, where habitat loss exposes this ground-nesting species to nest predation and cowbird parasitism, and on its wintering grounds, where deforestation continues to reduce this bird’s wintering habitat.
Bird of the Week: Saltmarsh Sparrow
- You wouldn’t think that a little brown sparrow and a huge white polar bear had anything in common—but both species are in danger of disappearing because of climate change. Because the Saltmarsh Sparrow depends exclusively on saltmarsh, it could disappear, along with the habitat, if sea levels continue to rise.
Aside from sea level rise, the Saltmarsh Sparrow is threatened by development and diking of its habitat; habitat degradation from chemical spills and other pollutants; and invasive species (particularly Phragmites, an introduced reed which makes the bird’s habitat completely unsuitable).
One important conservation measure for this species would be to identify and protect large areas of saltmarsh along the Atlantic Coast, especially where this habitat could move inland should the climate change. The Saltmarsh Sparrow does occur within a number of protected areas supporting coastal habitat, and restoration of tidal marshes is ongoing.
Very pretty. Save the Saltmarsh Sparrow.
Thanks so much Lynn for keeping this beautiful thread going. I watched the hummingbird et al video and it truly is a thing of beauty and wonder. I shall come back and read more of the ones I`ve missed.
Mary, that passage from the Bible about the sparrow is something that has stayed with me since I was a little girl, having learned it in Sunday school. I have quoted it many times when life situations came up that needed it. It`s wonderful that you remember it from your grandmother saying it to you.
Welcome back, sis! Love you.... ♥
Bird of the Week: Mountain Plover
- The sand-colored Mountain Plover is misnamed as it is found on flat land, not in mountains. Unlike most plovers, it prefers dry habitat with short grass and bare ground. These birds are often associated with prairie dog towns and areas of cattle concentration.
The most severe threats to this species are habitat loss and degradation caused by agriculture, development, and the absence of grazers (prairie dogs, bison, and grasshopper swarms) that historically kept grass short. Nests on cultivated land can also be destroyed by farm machinery. Native predators, especially the swift fox, limit the bird’s productivity in some parts of its range.
Conservation actions to benefit the Mountain Plover include protection and restoration of native grasslands. Controlled grassland burning in both the breeding and wintering ranges can also be beneficial. ABC and Mexican partner Pronatura Noreste have protected important wintering habitat for the species through land purchase, conservation easements on community owned lands (ejidos), and helping local cattle ranchers implement best management practices.
How beautiful. Thank you Lynn.
Bird of the Week: Red-breasted Sapsucker
An important “keystone” species, the Red-breasted Sapsucker often provides food and shelter for a variety of other wildlife through its feeding and nesting habits.
Like other sapsuckers, the Red-breasted Sapsucker drills a series of shallow holes in the outer bark of a tree and feeds on the sap that wells up. The birds create elaborate systems of these wells and maintain them to ensure constant sap production. Because of this large investment in maintenance, sapsuckers defend wells from other sapsuckers, as well as from other species.
Many hummingbird species take advantage of sapsucker wells; the Rufous Hummingbird has been observed following the Red-breasted Sapsucker around to feed at the wells that the woodpecker keeps open.
A pair of Red-breasted Sapsuckers usually excavates a new nest cavity each year, leaving the old ones for other species of birds and mammals such as flying squirrel.
Red-breasted Sapsucker numbers may have suffered local declines because of habitat degradation and persecution as an orchard pest. Regional populations appear stable, but forestry practices that remove snags and older forests may decrease its abundance in particular areas.
awwww.... what a great pic! As I scrolled down the thread this morning I was sure "hit" with all the beauty of the different birds. Got a kick out of the Gunnison Sage-Grouse (4 months ago). I don't remember seeing her... and one can't help but believe it's a "her". lol
And the Pekin Duck... I had one exactly like her for 12 years when I was a kid. I say "her" because the females usually have the curl in the tail feathers. Or maybe it is the other way around.... such a long time ago. What an awesome pet he was... named "Daffy" of course. He'd sit on my lap in the backyard, just like one would have their dog or cat cosy up to them. Needless to say, I would NEVER EVER eat Duck!!
Thanks Lynn, for this gorgeous thread. The big thing to remember: they all are at risk.
Yes beautiful picture and yes they are all at risk. Thanks for sharing Lynn.
Hi Lynn, Barbara, Mary and Cheryl - Birds are a fascination,
and the contributions here are just wonderful!!! Thanks to ALL!
As a little girl in the Midwest we saw many Robins.
The one below has a white head, I thought maybe you'd enjoy ~
“It's what they call leucistic,” said Lauren DeRosa, owner of Wild Birds Unlimited. “It's an abnormal pigmenting that occurs because of a genetic mutation.”
“It's a very cool-looking robin. It's neat.”
Dot, it's so great to see you in here. I hope you're doing well and thank you for the wonderful article about the white headed robin red breast. So unique!
Hi all you birdlovers! And DOT... so great to see you! I am so taken by those little Robins with the white head. Wow... there are so many new things to learn each and every day. Thank you!
Lynn, that video is ADORABLE. New life - in whatever form - is always amazing and I always look at it (them) with awe. Teeny weeny little things with a heart, stomach... all the goods that make them alive and grow make me reverent. Thanks to you too for posting this.
Bird of the Week: Scripps's Murrelet
- The Scripps's Murrelet is a newly recognized species, a split from the population of Xantus's Murrelet once known as the "northern" race. Xantus's Murrelet was split into Scripps’s and Guadalupe Murrelets in 2012 based on a lack of evidence of interbreeding, differences in facial pattern and bill shape, and differences in vocalizations and genetics.
These small seabirds are only about the size of an American Robin. They spend most of their lives on the open ocean where they feed, often in pairs, using their wings to propel themselves underwater in pursuit of small fish and crustaceans. Adults visit their nests only by night. Chicks hatch fully feathered and well-developed, and leave the nest for the open ocean at two days old, navigating down steep slopes and cliffs to reunite with their parents in the water.
Scripps's Murrelet is threatened by oil spills, since most of its population live near busy shipping lanes. A single oil spill could spell catastrophe for the species. They are also threatened on their nesting grounds by introduced species such as rats and feral cats, although this threat has been lessened by efforts to remove introduced predators from its habitat.
A staple fiber plant is slated to be built less than a mile from the Karnala Bird Sanctuary. This could be devastating to the 147
Signed keep Factory Pollution away from Endangered birds Lynn. Cute bird of the week and also bird of the week thread is awful long isn't it?
Ingrid, thanks so much for reminding me how long this thread has gotten. I didn't realize this one was opened 7 months ago! I'll start a new one right now and post the last item here as the first one there.