Once feared extinct, the Kaempfer’s Woodpecker was rediscovered in 2006, 80 years after its initial discovery. Long considered a subspecies of the Rufous-headed Woodpecker, the Kaempfer’s was recognized as a distinct species in 2003 based on differences in habitat, size, and plumage, combined with a large distance between the species’ ranges. (Read about another “rediscovered” species that ABC is working to protect, the Palkachupa Cotinga.)
Kaempfer’s Woodpecker is strongly associated with Gadua bamboo and specializes in feeding on ants found inside the bamboo canes. Students at Brazil’s University of Tocatins have been studying this species for several years, increasing knowledge of its range, which is vast but increasingly fragmented by agricultural activities, infrastructure development, and land-clearing for cattle ranching.
This woodpecker does not occur in any protected areas, and there appears to be no clear stronghold site for the species, which puts it at even greater risk of extinction. ABC is working with FAPTO (Fundação de Apoio Científico e Tecnológico do Tocantins) at the University of Tocatins to educate landowners about Kaempfer's Woodpecker and to create private protected reserves for this striking species.
Other Brazilian species are protected via the recently expanded Serra Bonita Reserve.
Like woodpeckers? Here are some other species benefitting from ABC’s conservation work: Beautiful Woodpecker | Red-cockaded Woodpecker | Red-headed Woodpecker | Lewis’s Woodpecker | Red-breasted Sapsucker
Beautiful collage Lynn, thanks for sharing. The shoebill has Paul Newman's eyes, I thought they were my Dad's eyes, he had blue eyes and dark hair. It's his top feathers that I liked too, a bit punk looking. Than again I was always, and still am, very fond of the way Billy Idol looked so you can tell I prefer unusual looking creatures. I long to hear birdsong in the morning and evening, but our birds are shivering so much they probably don't have the energy to sing.
I am trying to catch up on all this goodies posted in the group while I was away renovating. I am amazed at all the new birds I haven't seen here!
Gosh, that Shoebill really does have a prehistoric look... with Paul Newman eyes! lol I couldn't help but chukkle when I saw him. A real cutie.
Sue, I saw that program too, or at least a similar one about fossilzed feathers! Amazing. I love all those discoveries, along with mummies and other ancient finds.
Thanks, Barb, for info. about the Woodcock. Yes, we certainly do share this planet with other awesome forms of life.
Lynn, that's an awesome creation you did. Really beautiful! Thanks for all your work on this thread.... and Wendy and others for contributing as well.
Sue and Barb, the Woodcock and the Shoebill certainly are unique birds.
The Shoebill does look a bit like a dinasaur, Sue. His eyes look almost human to me, though. So blue and piercing....Paul Newman eyes, perhaps?
Barb, I didn't know about the Woodcock's eyes being able to look all around. How interesting! Birds are so beautiful and I love to hear them singing in the morning. Here's a collage I made of different bird species.
Lynn, that shoebill looks for all the world like a dinosaur to me. Watched a program where the researchers who found fossilized remains saw the dinos actually did have feathers. I love all the birds you post info on, what a wonderful variety of life we share the planet with.
And the eyes on the woodcock are so unusual! I read they are like that so they can see behind and above them when they are eating in the grass.
This post was modified from its original form on 28 Feb, 21:59
Wow Lynn look at the Shoebill. He is so striking! Very beautiful. Thank you for posting him.
The Shoebill, Balaeniceps rex, also known as Whalehead, is a very large stork-like bird. It derives its name from its massive shoe-shaped bill.
The adult bird is 115-150 cm tall, 100-140 cm long, 230-260 cm across the wings and weighs 4 to 7 kg. The adult is mainly grey while the juveniles are browner. It lives in tropical east Africa in large swamps from Sudan to Zambia.
One of the American Woodcock’s more colorful folk names is “timberdoodle,” probably for the bird’s forest-edge haunts, erratic, zigzag flight, and twittering call notes. These plump little birds are technically shorebirds, though they’re found far from any beach. Like the Spruce Grouse, they are beautifully camouflaged to match the forest floor, in varying tones and patterns of brown, black, buff, and gray.
American Woodcocks share their second-growth habitat with the Golden-winged Warbler and benefit from conservation measures designed for that bird. Rarely seen, the woodcock spends most of its time hidden in fields and forests, where it probes for earthworms with a flexible-tipped bill that can reach worms more than two inches underground. Its large eyes are positioned high and near the back of the skull, an adaptation that enables the bird to keep watch for danger while probing for food.
Since American Woodcocks are nocturnal migrants, they are a frequent victim of collisions with communications towers, glass windows, and other man-made structures. (ABC BirdTape can help prevent this!)
These small green parakeets typically travel in small, noisy flocks, flying swiftly at or below canopy level. Once settled in a tree they tend to be silent (especially if aware of danger) and difficult to spot.
Santa Marta Parakeets nest in natural tree cavities but will use artificial nest boxes. Although the species is non-migratory, the birds move seasonally in response to local environmental conditions and food availability. Like most of its brethren, including the rare El Oro Parakeet, the Santa Marta Parakeet feeds on a variety of vegetation, nectar, fruit, and seeds.
The chief threat to these parakeets is habitat loss due to logging, agricultural development, cattle raising, and human settlement. The expansion of non-native pine and eucalyptus plantations also threatens this bird’s native habitat. Only 15 percent of the original vegetation in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta remains.
ABC and its Colombian partner Fundación ProAves have conserved important tracts of the Santa Marta Mountains beginning in 2006, when 1,600 acres of key parakeet habitat beyond the nearby national park were protected and named the El Dorado Nature Reserve. Additional land acquisitions in 2010 and 2012 have enlarged the reserve to its current 2,250 acres. (You can visit!)
Work to eradicate invasive pines is ongoing; thousands of pine trees and saplings have been removed and replaced by native palm trees appropriate to the Santa Marta Parakeet's foraging and nesting requirements. Artificial nest boxes have been used in the reserve since 2006 to help boost the parakeet’s populations.
What better bird to celebrate Valentine's Day, a day of love, than this species hailing from the passionate country of Brazil? Consider our work in Brazilian reserves benefiting this pretty bird (&ldquoássaro bonito&rdquo our valentine to you!
Known as the tiê-sangue (blood-tanager) in Portuguese, the stunning male Brazilian Tanager is a vivid scarlet-red; it’s also known as “ox-blood” and “fire-tanager.” Its plumage has a soft, velvety quality that soaks up light and gives it a richness rivaled only by North America’s Scarlet Tanager.
In fact, the Brazilian Tanager can be seen outside of Brazil, with some birds found in extreme northwest Argentina. The species is native to the threatened Atlantic Forest biome, made up of coastal "restingas," or specialized forests adapted to sandy, acidic, and nutrient-poor soils.
Fortunately, this tanager also thrives in degraded forests, coastal scrub, and suburban areas such as parks. It has not suffered from the massive deforestation throughout it range that has affected other, more sensitive Atlantic Forest species such as the critically endangered Stresemann's Bristlefront and the endangered Banded Cotinga.
Did you know a Red-headed Woodpecker can exert up to 10 Gs of force while drilling into trees!? Or that a Red-breasted Merganser can zip through the sky at 80 miles per hour? While human athletes are showing off their skills on the slopes and rinks of Sochi, we’re celebrating the amazing abilities of birds. Vote for your favorite avian athletic feats in the Audubon Winter Games to determine which birds take home the gold. Vote Now→
Birds' Surprising Sense of Smell
For more than a century conventional wisdom held that most birds had little, or no, sense of smell. A small, passionate cadre of scientists is working to set the record straight. They’ve proved that Kakapos, nocturnal parrots, use their keen sense of smell to find food at night. Albatrosses can sniff out dinner from miles away on the open sea. And an array of songbirds relies on smell for everything from finding a mate to detecting predators. Read More→
Thank you Lynn.
The Hermit Thrush is perhaps best known for its beautiful song: one clear, flute-like note followed by a series of ethereal, bell-like tones. (Hear it on our website.) People who hear this bird sing rarely forget it.
“One of my most memorable birding experiences was in western Maryland, where I was coming down a shady forest trail,” says Gemma Radko, ABC’s Communications and Media Manager. “I came across not one but two Hermit Thrushes singing, one on each side of the path. I never tire of hearing this gorgeous song.”
The Hermit Thrush is one of five similar-looking thrushes in the genus Catharus, but is the only one that remains in the United States during the winter. One reason for this may be its wider-ranging diet, which includes insects and small arthropods as well as fruits and berries in the winter months.
Unlike its close relative, the Wood Thrush, this species seems to be increasing across its range. Even so, Hermit Thrushes migrate at night and—like many migrant songbirds—can be fatally drawn toward lighted transmission towers, wind turbines, and buildings, where they die in collisions. ABC's Collisions Program—the only such national program in the country—is working toward a variety of solutions to help keep nocturnal migrants safer.
A bill is now being debated in the U.S. Senate that would open up to logging more than 200,000 acres of currently protected habitat—lands that are essential to the endangered Northern Spotted Owl. This legislation could undo the protections provided by President Clinton's Northwest Forest Plan, which studies show is working to improve water quality and restore wildlife habitat.
Will you speak up for the Northern Spotted Owl and another imperiled species, the Marbled Murrelet, that will be impacted by your Congress' decision? Tell your senators to oppose the "O&C Land Grant Act," S. 1784, that seeks to increase logging in western Oregon’s federal forests.
This post was modified from its original form on 05 Feb, 22:59
An official symbol of many Andean countries, Andean Condors are among the heaviest flying, weighing up to 33 pounds with a wingspan of up to 10.5 feet. These birds are so large they make their close relative, the California Condor, look like a lightweight.
Because Andean Condors are so heavy, they prefer areas where they can easily find strong thermal air currents to boost them into the air. Once aloft, they can soar for hours without a wing beat and travel hundreds of miles each day in search of food.
Unfortunately, this near-threatened species is hunted for sport or by ranchers who mistakenly view the birds as a threat to livestock. Primarily a scavenger, condors can be sickened by consuming animals that have ingested pesticide-laden plants. Since these birds only reproduce once every two years, their populations are especially sensitive to each individual loss. Birds that escape these threats can live a long time—up to 70 years in captivity.
ABC recently helped partner organization Fundación Jocotoco acquire a 7,000-acre area in Ecuador, Hacienda Antisanilla, which protects the majority of Andean Condors found in that country and adds to the buffer zone surrounding the Antisana Ecological Reserve. Andean Condors are also present at other reserves that ABC and our partners have established, including the Red-fronted Macaw Reserve in Bolivia and Vilcanota Reserve Network in Peru.
Beautiful bird pictures Lynn and Wendy! Love the Turtle Dove. What a beautiful bird!
Hi to all my dear sisters and Les!
This could be for Valentine's Day. Oriental Turtle Dove. Reposted with smaller picture for Wendy K.
Common Loons (called “divers” throughout Europe) are avian torpedoes, perfectly designed for underwater pursuit of their fish prey. Unlike most birds, the Common Loon, Yellow-billed Loon and others in their family have solid bones, which help them sink quickly and silently beneath the surface. Strong webbed feet propel them through the water to depths of up to 150 feet.
Loon legs are placed far back on their bodies for more efficient swimming. (Flip side: They can barely walk on land and often get into trouble when they mistake icy pavement for water.) Loons can expel air from their lungs and flatten their feathers to dive and swim even more efficiently. Once below the surface, the loon’s heart slows down to conserve oxygen.
Although the Common Loon population appears to be increasing, threats still exist. Among these are lead poisoning: the birds ingest discarded lead fishing tackle as they scoop up pebbles from the lake bottom to store in their gizzards. In the Adirondacks, acidification and contamination of lakes caused by burning of fossil fuels also pose a problem. Common Loons are accidentally caught by commercial fishing nets, both on the Great Lakes and in the ocean.
ABC is actively working to counter many of these threats to ensure a future for the Common Loon and other waterbirds.
What a great picture, Wendy--thanks for the share.
Beautiful Flycather. Thank you Lynn.
What's in a name? This small and colorful tyrant flycatcher was originally named Lulu’s Tody-Tyrant to honor Lulu Von Hagan for her support of avian research, but is now more widely known as Johnson's Tody-Flycatcher in honor of one of the people who first described the species in 2001.
Whatever you call it, this is one lively bird. Like other flycatchers such as the Olive-sided, Johnson's Tody-Flycatcher forages for its insect prey in short sallying flights and by gleaning the undersides of leaves. It is nearly always encountered in pairs, with both sexes calling back and forth with emphatic 'chick!' notes throughout the day. Like other tyrant flycatchers, this species does not have a sophisticated song; aside from the call note, it sounds off with a short, unmusical trill.
Cloud forests within the documented range of the species are being cleared for timber, agriculture, and to secure land ownership. Although ABC and our partner ECOAN have protected more than 25,000 acres of cloud and montane forests at Abra Patricia, including habitat for this species, the forests outside these protected acres are under increased threat due to rapid colonization and population growth.
Thank you lynn.
That duck is so unique, and I signed the petition..... BUT WOWEEEEEE.... watching the video of the Blue Monarch family was absolutely BEAUTIFUL! The music was great too. If ever we don't believe in miracles, we just have to watch that video or see the birth of a baby of any species.
Thanks so much, Lynn. That was a lovely meditation watching that and pure joy for my heart, soul, and mind!
The Harlequin Duck borrows its name from the Italian comedic character, the harlequin, who wears brightly colored clothes. "Lords and Ladies" is another nickname, again because of the vivid coloration of the males. These ducks gives distinctly unduck-like squeaks when interacting, the source of yet another local name: Sea Mouse.
Although the male’s coloration is stunning, females and immature birds are more subdued, or cryptically colored, for protection against predators.
George Wallace, ABC’s Vice President of Oceans and Islands, remembers: “I saw these birds every day when I was a salmon fishing guide in Alaska. I was always amazed at the ability of these birds to literally outrun a skiff up a river running eight miles per hour. It’s really a lovely sight to see a female with a string of tiny fluff-ball chicks sprinting over the surface of water and then diving for cover under a fallen log.”
The eastern North American population was in decline but is slowly recovering. It is listed as threatened in Maine and is considered a species of special concern in Canada and the western United States.
How do Harlequin Ducks resemble colorful corks? Read more>>
It’s hard to believe, but a wind turbine is being planned for Camp Perry on Lake Erie, Ohio, directly in the flight path of one of America’s greatest songbird migrations. It’s also within 15 miles of more than 60 Bald Eagle nests. Please help us halt this poorly conceived project.
While we support Bird Smart wind energy development, proper siting of turbines is vital to minimize bird mortality. It’s hard to overstate how poorly this project is sited: It sits on Lake Erie’s south shore, in the center of one of the most important bird migration routes in the United States. In fact, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources advised against it, citing impacts to federally protected bird species. But construction is about to start, and spring migration is just a few short months away.
We feel so strongly about this issue that we are—for the first time ever regarding a wind energy project—issuing a letter of our intent to sue the Ohio National Guard if they do not address the concerns of the many wildlife agencies and groups over the project. Ohio’s Black Swamp Bird Observatory (BSBO) has joined with us in this effort.
You can help: Sign our petition by Jan. 30 to send a clear message to Camp Perry that you don’t want wind energy in the path of one of America’s greatest bird migration routes. Say no to the Camp Perry wind turbine, and the many that are scheduled to follow!
Too many pictures to post here but take a look at this. It's spectacular!
Click here: The Bird Tree – Mosaiculture | Jessica's Nature Blog
At up to six feet tall and 60 pounds, the Greater Rhea is the largest bird in the Americas. A member of the group commonly known as ratites (large, flightless birds), their size, long legs, and lack of ability to fly makes them unmistakable.
Although they don’t take flight, Greater Rheas have long wings; the birds use them to maintain balance on tight turns as they run at speeds up to 40 miles per hour, and also during courtship displays. A real athlete, this bird can even swim.
Although the Greater Rhea resembles an ostrich—in fact, Charles Darwin first described it as a “South American ostrich”—the two species are not closely related. Greater Rheas are social, living in mixed flocks of up to 30 or more for most of the year. They often forage with Pampas deer, guanacos (wild llamas), and domestic animals, a behavior that allows them to find food more readily and gives an element of protection from predators.
The recent expansion of the Barba Azul Nature Reserve in Bolivia is excellent news for this species. Other birds that will benefit are the resident Blue-throated Macaw, Cock-tailed Tyrant, and Orinoco Goose, as well as the migratory Buff-breasted Sandpiper and Bobolink.
Little "Jewel" and "Snowy" are gorgeous, Lynn. Thanks!
Feathered from beak to toe tips, the Snowy Owl is well-equipped to survive on the frigid, high Arctic tundra. Its thick feathers make this bird North America’s heaviest owl, typically weighing about four pounds.
“Snowy Owls are one of those birds that really don’t seem like a bird at all—more like a furry white mammal with wings,” observes ABC’s Mike Parr. “Even though they look cuddly, I’m pretty sure they’d be tough customers if you ever tried to pet one!”
Some Snowy Owls remain on their Arctic breeding grounds year-round, while others migrate in winter to southern Canada and the northern half of the United States. In years when food is scarce, Snowy Owls may stage “irruptions,” traveling far south of their usual haunts in search of food, to the delight of birders and nonbirders alike.
Hi everyone, I'll catch up with you all in the Chatter thread. See you there!
ABC’s Dan Lebbin recalls one of his first encounters with a Calliope Hummingbird: “I was sitting in a grassy meadow surrounded by tall conifers, and daylight was dwindling after a long day of hiking in Yosemite National Park. A tiny bee-like hummingbird zipped over my head, flew low over the grass, and disappeared before I could get an identifying look. Was it a Calliope Hummingbird? The size and gestalt were correct… ”
At 3.25 inches long, the Calliope Hummingbird is the smallest breeding bird found in Canada and the United States—and the smallest long-distance migrant bird in the world. This tiny hummingbird travels over 5,500 miles round-trip during its migration!
Calliopes winter in dry thorn forest and humid pine-oak forests in southwestern and south-central Mexico. Vagrant Calliopes are increasingly found wintering in the eastern U.S., however, much like other species of western hummingbirds like the Rufous Hummingbird.
thanks Lynn hows the job going ?miss you
I'm so sorry I missed this little warbler! What a cutie-pie with a big personality. Thanks, Lynn.
We all are thinking of you and hope you get a chance to bring us up-to-date on what's happening in your life. You must be very busy with the bookkeeping. We miss you, sis!
Described as an “aberrant warbler” by Roger Tory Peterson, the Yellow-breasted Chat is an odd example of a North American wood warbler – twice as large as most, with a stout bill more like a vireo’s. Debate continues about whether the chat is in fact a warbler or something else altogether.
Whatever it may be, its song, sometimes heard at night, is as distinctive as the bird itself: a bizarre collection of cackles, clucks, whistles, and hoots. P.A. Taverner, a Canadian ornithologist, describes the bird perfectly:
“With his stealthy elusiveness, wild outpourings of song and fund of vituperation, the Chat is a droll imp . . . He is full of life and boiling over with animation. It bubbles out of his throat in all manner of indescribable sounds. He laughs dryly, gurgles derisively, whistles triumphantly, chatters provokingly, and chuckles complacently, all in one breath.”
Read more about this odd bird >>
The Ferruginous Hawk—North America’s largest hawk—is often mistaken for an eagle due to its size. The word “ferruginous” derives from the Latin word for iron, referring to the rusty brown of the species’ light color morph. (There is also a less-common dark morph).
ABC’s Dan Casey, our Northern Rockies Conservation Officer, is an admirer. “I have been observing the same pair—one light morph and one dark—nesting on a small prairie hillside north of Cutbank, Montana, for five years or more.”
Along with the Rough-legged Hawk, the Ferruginous is the only American hawk to have legs feathered all the way to the toes, an adaptation that may help preserve heat on the windy, often frigid plains where it makes its home. The feathering may also protect it from the bites of rodent prey.
Lynn, sure wish I could grow bristles on my feet to help me not slip and slide around in winter like that bird! What a truly amazing ability to have.
When Spruce Grouse is approached by a predator, it relies on camouflage and stillness to stay hidden, often allowing people to approach within a few feet before exploding into flight. This behavior has earned the species the nickname of “fool hen.” (Other birds that rely on cryptic coloration include American Woodcock and Snowy Plover.)
Spruce Grouse are at home in the trees and prefer to walk along tree limbs or on the ground rather than fly. Each fall they grow "snowshoes"—short fleshy bristles called pectinations—on their toes, which help support the bird on snow and probably help to grip slippery branches as well. These bristles are shed each spring ... see more >>
I have to turn this thread because it's hard to load. So here goes!
Wow, that's interesting, Lynn. I encourage everyone to read the blog. A simple thing like buying the right coffee can help so many birds live!
Author Scott Weidensaul sends this uplifting message: the simple act of buying Bird Friendly coffee can make a big difference for migratory songbirds. People create challenges for birds, but Scott says that humans can be helpful, too. "I saw vivid proof of that last January in the highlands of northern Nicaragua. ... For years, this area has been a stronghold for farmers growing quality shade coffee. Not coincidentally, it’s also known as a paradise for birds.”
sounding somewhat like a "...rubber-ducky bathtub toy." Awwwwwwwwwww What a fluffy cutie. I want to scratch his little breast feathers! Thanks, Lynn!
Although tool use is rare among birds, the tiny, quick-moving Brown-headed Nuthatch is an exception: It can often be observed using a piece of bark to pry up loose bark in search of insects. The bird may carry this “tool” from tree to tree as it forages and even use it to cover up caches of seeds.
This nuthatch's call is a series of high-pitched squeaky notes, sounding somewhat like a rubber-ducky bathtub toy. A flock of them can sound like bath time gone wild!
Nests of Brown-headed Nuthatches, usually excavated in snags, are regularly attended by extra birds, often young males that may be older offspring of the breeding pair. After breeding, these social nuthatches gather in groups of a dozen or more and move through the woods in mixed flocks with woodpeckers, chickadees, titmice, and Pine Warblers.
The species’ population is suffering the effects of logging and fragmentation in southeastern pine forests. Fire suppression may also negatively affect the Brown-headed Nuthatch by reducing the number of snags and enabling dense understory growth.
Oh my goodness, is that Count Dracula up there? On the serious side, he has his purpose in this world and I can't imagine what a nest full would look like.
Between being poisoned and having their habitat destroyed, there's always going to be lots of work to do to keep these beauties singing and making our lives better.
From Rare Powers to Rare Species:
The diminutive Ê»Elepaio (pronounced “el-a-pie-o&rdquo had remarkable powers, according to native Hawaiians. Canoe-builders considered the bird an incarnation of their patron goddess Lea: If the bird pecked at a fallen koa tree, it was a sign that the tree was riddled with insects and unusable for boat-building. Farmers believed that this insectivorous bird was the incarnation of Lea's sister goddess, Hina-pukuÊ»ai, a patron of agriculture.
This bold and adaptable bird may indeed follow people when they enter its forest habitat, and quickly learns to exploit feeding opportunities created by human activity. Unfortunately, the OÊ»ahu ‘Elepaio—an Old World monarch flycatcher—is in serious decline on its native island, where it was once among the most common land birds. Declines have been so severe that the species is listed as Endangered under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. It is also a U.S. WatchList species.
More than half of the O’ahu ‘Elepaio’s former range has been converted to agriculture or urban development. Fires also threaten the remaining suitable habitat. Mosquito-borne diseases such as avian pox and malaria are a problem throughout its range. (Learn more about HawaiÊ»i, the bird extinction capital of the world.)
Nest predation by black rats is the most serious current problem, although rat-control efforts have been locally effective at stabilizing the bird’s population. Recent research shows that OÊ»ahu ‘Elepaio in some areas are evolving in response to rat predation by building their nests higher off the ground.
Victory! Getting the Lead Out
In a major conservation victory that will have repercussions throughout the country, last month California Governor Jerry Brown signed historic legislation that will require hunters to use non-lead ammunition. The bill, championed by Audubon California, Defenders of Wildlife, and the Humane Society of the United States, will eliminate what nationally-renowned scientists say is the number one source of unregulated lead left in our environment. Read more →
Audubon Supporters Want More Climate Action
A recent poll of Audubon supporters let us know loud and clear that together we can and should be doing more on climate change. Groundbreaking science on the impacts of climate change on birds and our powerful Audubon network are two key elements to making a strong Audubon statement on climate. Read more →
Farm Bill and Restoration Bill Head to Conference Committee
Both the Farm Bill and the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) have made it to the final stages of congressional action. Both contain provisions we support, but keeping those intact will require hard work—and a little luck. Read more →
What a beautiful little fellow! It really warms the heart to scroll down the thread and see so many gorgeous birds. We have to believe humans will save their habitats in time.
So this little bird is actually British, right?
Baltimore Oriole: Shade-grown Coffee Bird
Baltimore Orioles take their name from the colorful black and orange heraldic crest of England’s Baltimore family, for which Maryland’s largest city is named. The species is a familiar sight in parks and yards across its breeding range, having adapted well to living in proximity to people.
This oriole overwinters largely in the tropics and follows the flowers in flocks of 30 to 40 birds, pursuing nectar—an important winter food.
Traditional shade coffee farms in Central and South America are magnets for Baltimore Orioles in the nonbreeding season. These farms produce the highest-quality coffee and also provide important habitat for many migratory birds. (Read more about shade coffee and birds in a blog post by author Scott Weidensaul, “The View from Northern Nicaragua’s Highlands: Saving Birds with Coffee.&rdquo
Unlike Audubon’s Oriole and Bahama Oriole, which are declining, the population of Baltimore Orioles is currently stable. However, the felling of forests for sun coffee plantations, along with other types of habitat loss, threatens the species across its winter range.
One of the best ways you can help keep the population of Baltimore Orioles stable is to purchase only shade coffee designated Bird Friendly, which ensures that coffee producers adhere to the best practices to conserve birds. Learn more about Bird Friendly coffee from our friends at Birds & Beans.
Yes thanks Lynn.
WOWEEEE... great halloween mask! I am really surprised to read that this bird "inspired spirituality"... or did it do that when people saw them flying around and thought they better get to the church and say a prayer? hee hee
Seriously, that's really interesting info., Lynn. I didn't know so much about them. They have their place in this world. Like the wolves, people at one time did away with them because they feared them... then found out how important their presence on earth really is.
Thanks for this great post.
Meet the Black Vulture, Our Halloween Muse
- It’s Halloween, a time when spiritual connections are brought to the forefront. This mystical occasion is a great time to celebrate a species that has at times inspired spirituality—and at times been abhorred. Meet the common, but frequently unappreciated, Black Vulture.
In Egyptian mythology, the nurturing ways of vultures, in general, led the birds to be respected as sources for maternal inspiration. Priestesses, called mothers, wore robes made of vulture feathers. Early Egyptians believed that vultures would reveal the site of a future battle by appearing there seven days prior to bloodshed, while in other cultures the bird was believed to play a role in releasing the spirit of the deceased to the heavens.
In the early 20th century, ill-founded concerns arose about vultures spreading disease. The birds were killed by the thousands until the 1970s, when their role in the environment became better understood and accepted. Today, Black Vultures are mostly regarded as the beneficial scavengers that they are. (Read about another scavenger that is not faring so well: the California Condor.)
Black Vultures have limited vocal abilities; since they have no syrinx, the vocal organ of birds, they communicate through raspy hisses and grunts. They also lack a keen sense of smell, instead relying on birds that do—such as Turkey Vultures—to lead them to carrion, their main source of food.
Black Vultures are monogamous, staying with their mates for many years, all year round. They maintain strong social bonds with their families throughout their lives and will aggressively prevent non-relatives from joining them at roosts or following them to food sources.
Bird of the Week
- Although closely related to the common Mourning Dove, the Socorro Dove has been called the "Solitary Dove" because only one male and female were normally seen together in the wild on their native Socorro Island.
Typical of many birds on islands without native mammalian predators, Socorro Doves showed little fear of humans or, fatally, cats, which were introduced there during the 1970s. Cat predation, combined with habitat degradation caused chiefly by non-native sheep, is thought to have quickly led to a disastrous population decline.
The last sighting of a Socorro Dove in the wild was in 1972. Fortunately, aviculture has prevented the extinction of the species, with captive populations in the United States and 12 European countries, managed since 1995 under the direction of the European Endangered Species Program (EEP) of the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria.
The Socorro Dove Project, begun by the Island Endemics Foundation in 1987, aims to return these doves to their native island. By 2004, a breeding station funded by the Island Endemics Foundation and the Mexican Navy had been built on Socorro, but in 2005, concerns about the potential for spreading avian influenza from Europe prevented the return of the doves bred by the EEP to Mexico.
In April 2013, the conservation breeding program was successfully extended to Mexico. Plans for the species’ reintroduction to Socorro Island are under development by a diverse group of partners committed to securing a future for the bird: the Island Endemics Foundation, the EEP (led by the Frankfurt Zoo), the U.S. conservation breeding program, led by the Albuquerque Zoo and other U.S. zoological parks, Africam Safari, INECOL, and Mexico's National Autonomous University. This program’s success will largely depend on the conservation breeding efforts in Mexico and a habitat restoration program funded by the Mohamed Bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund.
Bird of the Week White-throated Sparrow
- White-throated Sparrows are a familiar sight in backyards and around bird feeders across the eastern United States each winter. Their sweet whistled song, described variously as “Poor Sam Peabody Peabody Peabody” or “Oh, Sweet Canada Canada Canada” can be heard throughout the day.
These sparrows have two adult plumage variations: tan-striped and white-striped. On the white-striped birds, the supercilium (eyebrow) and central crown stripe are white; these areas are tan in tan-striped birds. The two color morphs occur in approximately equal numbers, and interestingly, almost always pair with the opposite color morph when breeding.
Although the white-throated is one of our more common sparrow species, it is also one of the most frequent victims of window collisions, according to urban bird monitoring programs around the country. ABC's Collisions Program is working to increase awareness of this problem and offer solutions that will keep even our most common birds safer.
Bird of the Week
A flock of Rufous-headed Chachalacas—chicken-like, tree-dwelling birds—begin to call together, their loud, raucous voices echoing through the dry forest. It’s this characteristic “chachalac” sound that gives the birds their name. As one flock begins to call, it triggers a nearby flock, and then that group’s neighbors sound off too in a chain reaction. Soon an entire valley or hillside can be heard “chachalaca-ing” as groups of these birds advertise their whereabouts to one another.
This species, like other chachalacas, lives in flocks of four to 10 individuals. It has a small and contracting range, affected by rapid habitat loss and severe fragmentation. The greatest threat Rufous-headed Chachalacas face is hunting pressure; they are considered a good food source by many rural people and are highly sought-after. The birds are also threatened by loss of forests to agriculture.
One of the healthiest populations of Rufous-headed Chachalaca occurs at Fundación Jocotoco’s Buenaventura Reserve in southern Ecuador, which was created with support from ABC. The reserve not only protects this beautiful and vulnerable bird, but also the highly threatened El Oro Parakeet and El Oro Tapaculo.
Very pretty Audubon's Oriole. Thank you Lynn.
Wendy, as Cheryl said, the little blue fuzzbird does look like a toy. He/she is so adorable. Thanks for posting this cutie!
Awwww.....Wendy, that little blue baby looks like a toy. In fact, many baby birds with all their fuzz look like adorable little toys. Thanks for parking him or her here! lol
Oriole - "... almost sounds like a person learning to whistle." Hee hee - there certainly are many versions of THAT sound. Anyone whose had kids can probably remember when they got to the age they wanted to learn to whistle. Very humorous (including myself)! Thanks, as usual, Lynn!
Bird of the Week
The song of Audubon’s Oriole—a low, slurred warble—almost sounds like a person learning to whistle. Both males and females sing a series of long notes, often calling to each other as they forage or come and go from the nest.
Once known as the Black-headed Oriole, Audubon’s Oriole is the only yellow oriole with a black hood and a yellow back found in the United States. Less than five percent of its population occurs in the U.S., making it a much sought-after species by listers.
The bird was once common in the Lower Rio Grande Valley but began to decline there in the 1920s because of the destruction of thorn and riparian forests for agriculture. Populations have declined significantly not only in Texas but in much of its Mexican range, following conversion of its preferred habitat to crops and pastureland. Brood parasitism by the Bronzed Cowbird, facilitated by habitat fragmentation, is also a major problem.
Audubon’s Oriole is a priority species for the Rio Grande Joint Venture, which includes ABC and a network of private and public partners. The best hope for this species’ recovery are efforts to protect and restore native vegetation in the Lower Rio Grande Valley.
Thank you Wendy. It made me smile Also love the White Thrasher.
Here's a pic, to make you smile I hope x wendy k x
Bird of the Week
The White-breasted Thrasher—more closely related to the Gray Catbird than any thrasher species—is a rare bird, found only on St. Lucia and Martinique. On St. Lucia, it is known by the local name Gorge Blanc, which refers to the bird’s white throat. This inquisitive, talkative species often droops or twitches its wings when excited or curious.
The birds typically forage on the ground, tossing leaves aside as they hunt for invertebrates, small frogs, and lizards. Breeding seems to coincide with the start of the rainy season. This thrasher sometimes breeds cooperatively, and approximately one-third of nests have “helpers,” which are male or female offspring from previous years. Chicks leave the nest before they are completely independent, and continue to be fed on the ground by adults. Unfortunately, the chicks are noisy and often fall victim to the many introduced predators on the island, which include cats, rats, and Indian mongooses.
The main threat to this species is habitat loss—specifically tourism development. On St. Lucia, installation of a major resort has already resulted in large swaths of forest clearing. The White-breasted Thrasher could be driven to extinction on the island if developers fail to consider the bird’s conservation needs.
To learn more, read “The Art of Waiting,” an ABC blog post by Villanova University student Kate Freeman. Kate studied White-breasted Thrasher breeding biology on St. Lucia, with support from ABC, as part of her graduate studies.
How very pretty bird. Thank you Lynn.
Bird of the Week
The Red-faced Warbler is one of only two warblers in the U.S. with bright red in its plumage (the other is the Painted Redstart). Unlike many warbler species, female Red-faced Warblers are nearly as brightly colored as males. This species has a distinctive habit of flicking its tail sideways as it feeds.
Male Red-faced Warblers do not appear to defend territories, and extra-pair copulations are common in the species. Over 45 percent of all nests in one study contained young that did not belong to the attending male. Its nest, a cup of bark, dead leaves, or pine needles, is built in a small hole on the ground beneath a log or plant and is lined with grass and hair.
Logging in areas where the Red-faced Warbler breeds can result in drastic declines and even complete disappearance of the local population. In a study of a gradient of disturbed plots in forests ranging from clear cuts to selectively logged plots, these birds were present only in the untouched control areas.
This species would benefit from more study on its wintering areas and more research on the effects of fire management and other forestry practices on its populations. The Red-faced Warbler is fairly easy to find in areas near the Paton property, a birding landmark which ABC and other organizations are working to save.
Awww.... lovely little fella! Thanks Lynn. Learn something new every time.
Bird of the Week
The Sincora Antwren was once mistaken for the somewhat similar and widespread Rusty-backed Antwren. However, in 2007, the two were designated separate species due to their distinct vocalizations, plumage, and habitat preferences. Like other members of its genus, the Sincora Antwren has a loud, repetitive song and shows strong sexual dichromatism, with plumage color differing between males and females.
The small, long-tailed bird is only found in the Chapada Diamantina National Park in northeast Brazil. With support from ABC, researchers from Associação Baiana para Conservação dos Recursos Naturais (ABCRN) conducted seven bird surveys throughout the park from 2011-2013 to better understand the species’ range, ecology, and conservation needs. Their surveys detected the species at six sites, which extended its known range by around 28 miles. Breeding behavior of the Sincora Antwren was first observed and recorded during this study. Dependent juvenile birds were also seen, confirming successful nesting in the area.
Fires set by farmers and ranchers are the major threat to the habitat of this species, which is likely decreasing across its small range.
Very pretty bird. Thank you Lynn.
Bird of the Week
The graceful, strikingly marked Swallow-tailed Kite rarely flaps its wings while flying, but almost continuously moves its tail—sometimes to nearly 90 degrees—to maintain a flight path, make a sharp turn, or circle. The species’ northern populations are migratory and come together with the non-migratory, southern populations in the wintertime.
In North America, this species once occurred up the Mississippi Alluvial Valley, along the Missouri River, and north along the Mississippi River into Kansas and Missouri. These northern populations were extirpated when the bottomland and riparian forests along these rivers were cut in the 1800s and early 1900s.
The Swallow-tailed Kite’s main prey items are flying insects such as dragonflies and cicadas, which are captured and eaten on the wing; these aerial acrobats also snag insects and lizards as they skim across the treetops.
These are unusually gregarious raptors, and several pairs may nest in close proximity. Successful nesting requires tall, living trees and nearby open areas to hunt prey. The birds may roost communally at night, and some pre-migratory roosts may attract hundreds.
The main threat to this kite is habitat loss and degradation, especially the loss of tall trees due to logging, clearing for agriculture, or other development. Although the species’ U.S. population seems to be increasing due to re-growth of trees in many riparian areas, the trend may not be long-lasting, as these trees are now threatened by development.
Recommended conservation measures include avoiding cutting of trees around active nests and protection of large pre-migration communal roosts, which are used year after year.
Thank you Lynn.
Big Baby Birds - an Aussie Bird Tale
Bird of the Week - Orinoco Goose
Highly social Orinoco Geese can often be seen in pairs or family groups, with the male distinguishable only by his larger size.
Although technically shelducks (mid-sized waterfowl), they are named "goose" because of their heavy flight style. Orinoco Geese often take a flying hop to perch in tree branches, but beyond resting and nesting in tree cavities, the species is terrestrial in its habits. Most feeding is done in daytime in open areas near water, but this "goose" migrates almost exclusively during twilight or at night.
The Orinoco Goose is declining across much of its range due to hunting and habitat loss, but conservation measures are ongoing in a number of protected areas. One stronghold for the goose occurs in Beni, Bolivia, in an extensive, sparsely inhabited area of lakes, marshland, and seasonally flooded savannas.
Here, ABC’s partner Asociación Armonía protects habitat and has erected artificial nest boxes for the Orinoco Goose at the Barba Azul (Blue-throated Macaw) Reserve. Recent research by Lisa Davenport and colleagues has shown that although some of the Beni's Orinoco Geese are resident breeders, others breed in Peru's Manu National Park and fly long distances to stay in this part of Bolivia outside the breeding season.
Watch footage of the Orinoco Goose on YouTube.
Thank you Lyn. Very beautiful bird.
Bird of the Week
Great Green Macaw
The Great Green Macaw—second-largest macaw in the world after the Hyacinth Macaw—created quite a stir in Ecuador recently. A sighting of 36 birds flying over the lush forest of the Canandé Reserve marked the first time such a large flock was spotted here. The flock included more Great Green Macaws than were previously thought to exist in the country.
Canandé Reserve—established in 2000 by the Jocotoco Foundation and supported by ABC, World Land Trust-US, and other partners—was established in part to protect this macaw. Park guards have continued to track the birds to try to learn more about their seasonal movements. Ironically, it is suspected that timber harvesting adjacent to the reserve is causing these macaws to seek new habitat and thus, signals that more conservation action is needed.
Like its other parrot relatives, the Great Green Macaw is highly sociable. Sightings of groups of a dozen or more birds should be common, yet this majestic bird has become rare throughout its range due to poaching for the pet trade and feathers. Other threats include habitat destruction from logging, conversion of land for agriculture and cattle pasture, and hunting.
Photo: Great Green Macaws, Wikipedia.org; Range Map by ABC
You're welcome, Ingrid. I'm glad you enjoyed seeing and reading about this bird.
Thank you Lynn. Very interesting bird.
Bird of the Week: Äkohekohe
Known in English as the Crested Honeycreeper, the Äkohekohe is a brightly colored and boisterous bird whose raspy, guttural calls make it easy to locate. It is highly aggressive and territorial.
Its habitat is estimated to be only five percent of its original range; the species was formerly found elsewhere on Maui and on MolokaÊ»i, where it is now considered extinct. The Äkohekohe feeds mostly on nectar of native flowering trees, including the Ê»ohiÊ»a and koa, but it will also consume insects.
Threats to this unique bird include deforestation and the introduction of exotic species such feral ungulates, which destroy native forests, as well as introduced Barn Owls, cats, rats, and mongoose. As elsewhere in the Hawaiian Islands, introduced mosquito-borne disease has virtually eliminated this native species from elevations below 5,000 feet; 99 percent of its population is found above this elevation, up to treeline at approximately 7,000 feet.
Conservation measures for the Äkohekohe includes preserving and restoring native forest, particularly above the mosquito zone, and removal of feral ungulates, such as pigs. Fencing to exclude ungulates in important reserves, such as the state’s Hanawi Natural Area Reserve and The Nature Conservancy’s Waikamoi Preserve, have benefited the Äkohekohe and its habitat.
So cute and beautiful. Thanks for sharing Lynn.
Thank you Lynn they are so cute!
Bird of the Week: Golden-plumed Parakeet
A distinctive, long-tailed parrot of high elevations in the Andes, the Golden-plumed Parakeet is the only member of its genus.
Golden-plumed Parakeets populations face a slew of man-made threats. Much of their home range has been cleared for agriculture, logging, and mining. In Colombia, over 90 percent of montane forests have been felled, and in Peru, road construction cuts through the center of prime habitat.
In Ecuador, wax palms—an important nesting tree and food source for this parakeet—are cut to provide leaves for church services. Cattle also eat tender wax palms seedlings, so palms are frequently not replaced at the rate at which they are harvested. These parakeets are also trapped for pets and killed as pests.
ABC’s South American partner, the Jocotoco Foundation, is working to help save Golden-plumed Parakeets by reducing the unsustainable harvesting of wax palms and by installing nest boxes on its reserves. Jocotoco’s Tapichalaca Reserve is a great place to see this bird, as well as the endangered Jocotoco Antpitta and the vulnerable Bearded Guan, Rufous-capped Thornbill, and Masked Saltator.
Another of ABC’s partners, Fundación ProAves, has developed a Threatened Parrots Program and supports the Golden-plumed Parakeet through its Artificial Nest Initiative, which is showing great success with this and several other threatened parrot species.
See the Golden-plumed Parakeet in action: