Author Topic: News: Songbirds, Swifts & Hummingbirds  (Read 5584 times)

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Offline The Peregrine Chick

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News: Songbirds, Swifts & Hummingbirds
« on: December 03, 2010, 13:21 »
Deformed beaks in Alaska birds puzzle scientists

By Yereth Rosen, Reuters (December 2, 2010 9:01pm)

ANCHORAGE, Alaska - Crows, chickadees and other birds living year-round in Alaska are suffering an epidemic of beak deformities that is confounding scientists.

The grossly overgrown, overly-curved and sometimes crossed beaks started showing up in large numbers about a decade ago, and are now being widely reported across southern and interior Alaska, as well as neighboring parts of the Pacific northwest, said Caroline Van Hemert, a wildlife biologist.

“It’s really rare to have so many birds in a geographic area that are affected at one time,” said Van Hemert, who co-authored a pair of studies published in the current edition of The Auk, the quarterly journal of the American Ornithologists’ Union.

The most dramatic problems seem to be in Northwestern crows, she said.

Van Hemert and fellow U.S. Geological Survey scientist Colleen Handel found the rate of beak deformities among adult crows to be 16.9 percent, the highest rate of gross deformities ever recorded in a wild bird population.

On some parts of the Kenai Peninsula, south of Anchorage, the beak deformity rate hit 36 percent, according to the biologists’ research.

Hardest hit were black-capped chickadees, according to the studies.

Since 1999, scientists have documented beak deformities in 2,160 chickadees, mostly in and around Anchorage. About 6.5 percent of the chickadees in the region have the deformed beaks, according to the newly reported studies.

Other affected birds include Steller’s jays, woodpeckers and magpies. Many of the birds also have abnormalities in their skin, legs, claws or feathers.

Potential causes include environmental pollution, nutritional deficiencies or disease, according to the scientists.

Van Hemert said she and other scientists have few clues to the cause.

“At this point, we really don’t know,” she said Thursday.

The deformed beaks make if difficult for the birds to feed and preen.

“A lot of birds with the really severe deformities can’t open up a sunflower seed,” Van hemert said.
« Last Edit: January 01, 2012, 16:43 by The Peregrine Chick »

Offline The Peregrine Chick

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« Last Edit: January 01, 2012, 16:44 by The Peregrine Chick »

Offline Ellie

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Re: Re: News: Songbirds, Swifts & Hummingbirds / 2011
« Reply #2 on: July 26, 2011, 11:13 »
What a  job Mom and Pop have feeding that "Big Mouth".  The reed warblers are so small :o  Thanks for the link TPC.  It was worth it.  There is another bird that does that too.  Is it the cowbird?

Offline Doreen

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Re: Re: News: Songbirds, Swifts & Hummingbirds / 2011
« Reply #3 on: July 26, 2011, 12:09 »
What a  job Mom and Pop have feeding that "Big Mouth".  The reed warblers are so small :o  Thanks for the link TPC.  It was worth it.  There is another bird that does that too.  Is it the cowbird?

Yep, stupid cowbird.  :(

Offline The Peregrine Chick

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Re: Re: News: Songbirds, Swifts & Hummingbirds / 2011
« Reply #4 on: July 26, 2011, 13:30 »
Actually, this really is a cuckoo - the story is from the UK ...

http://www.rspb.org.uk/wildlife/birdguide/name/c/cuckoo/
Royal Society for the Protection of Birds website ...

Offline Leana

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Re: Re: News: Songbirds, Swifts & Hummingbirds / 2011
« Reply #5 on: July 26, 2011, 18:20 »
When I see something like this I just can't believe that nature can be so cruel!  How can those poor little reed warblers even hope to feed that enormous "child" of theirs.  And the fact the cuckoo gets rid of their eggs when it hatches.  So mean!!! But what a valiant effort the warblers are making.  Most amazing photos!

Offline susha

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Re: Re: News: Songbirds, Swifts & Hummingbirds / 2011
« Reply #6 on: July 26, 2011, 21:11 »
They're beautiful to look at, but nasty!

Offline birdcamfan

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Re: Re: News: Songbirds, Swifts & Hummingbirds / 2011
« Reply #7 on: July 26, 2011, 21:26 »
OMG it looks like it's going to eat the Mom! This is what it must be like for Moms of twins/triplets.

Offline The Peregrine Chick

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News: Songbirds, Swifts & Hummingbirds / 2012
« Reply #8 on: January 01, 2012, 16:36 »
Not again! Thousands of birds fall dead in Arkansas on New Year's Eve

by Michael Sheridan / New York Daily News
Sunday, January 1 2012, 2:49 PM

Similar mass death occurred on New Year's Eve in 2010; experts believe fireworks scared birds, caused panic




Thousands of blackbirds dropped dead on New Year's Eve in Arkansas in an incident eerily similar to one that occurred at the same time a year ago.

The disturbing deaths in Beebe, a city northwest of Little Rock, were sparked after loud fireworks sent flocks of the small birds into a panic, scientists said. This caused them to collide with each other, as well as power lines, houses and cars.

Officer John Weeks said the first reports of "birds on the streets" came around 7 p.m. as residents celebrated the year's end with fireworks in their neighborhoods, The Associated Press reported.

Police worked with animal control workers to locate and clean up the bird bodies.

On New Year's Eve 2010, an estimated 3,000 to 5,000 birds died from "blunt trauma" after they were similarly spooked by fireworks.

Eyewitnesses told authorities "the birds were hitting mailboxes, cars, basketball goals, houses, trees," Keith Stephens of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission told the Daily News last January. "The trauma shows that they were in flight when they collided with something that killed them."

The bird deaths, which were followed only days later by hundreds of more bird deaths in Louisiana, sparked conspiracy theories ranging from the Biblical end of the world to government coverups.



Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/thousands-birds-fall-dead-arkansas-year-eve-article-1.999476#ixzz1iFTTPQ7p

Offline The Peregrine Chick

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Re: News: Songbirds, Swifts & Hummingbirds / 2012
« Reply #9 on: March 03, 2012, 12:49 »
Nothern Wheatear - Migration Sensation!



This little bird seems to have taken over the record for migratory dominance!!  They are small songbirds - larger than a European robin but smaller than a North American one (Wikipedia).  This bird nests in the Arctic, frequently raising two families before migrating south.  Now this species is not indigenous to North America rather their breeding range has expanded into northern Canada from the east and from Russia through Alaska in the west.  Why is this important?  Because the birds' migratory destination is Africa, not Central/South America!  But no one knew what they did exactly until they put tiny transmitters on them and then tracked them over their 30,000km annual round trips.  Their migrations are 1-2 months long - shorter in spring, longer in the fall.

Tiny songbird northern wheatear traverses the world‎ - BBC News

This tiny songbird makes a non-stop 14500km migration each year from Alaska to Africa - The National Post



Offline irenekl

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Re: News: Songbirds, Swifts & Hummingbirds / 2012
« Reply #10 on: March 06, 2012, 11:46 »
I was listening to a bird segment on CBC Radio Quirks & Quarks on the wknd and I believe this is the same bird they discussed as having an incredible migration range.  They had a backpac on it similar to the one attached to Rain & Rosser.  The information gained about this tiny thing crossing the ocean was so amazing I could hardly believe what I was hearing.  So fascinating!  I will go back online to see if I can find this segment and share it here.  I've learned alot about birds from this program.  For whatever reason they often discuss birds.  Gotta love that CBC radio!

Offline bcbird

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Re: News: Songbirds, Swifts & Hummingbirds / 2012
« Reply #11 on: March 06, 2012, 17:32 »
I was listening to a bird segment on CBC Radio Quirks & Quarks on the wknd... I've learned alot about birds from this program.  For whatever reason they often discuss birds.  Gotta love that CBC radio!

I think I found the Quirks and Quarks summary of the program you heard Irenekl.  I love the variety of information presented on Q&Q.
http://www.cbc.ca/quirks/
 
Marathon Migration

Northern Wheatear - copyright Ómar Runólfsson
The Northern Wheatear is a small (25g) songbird that lives in two main groups; one in the eastern Canadian Arctic, Greenland and Eurasia; the other in Alaska.  Although its winter migration destination was suspected, it was only proven recently.  Using tiny geo-locaters strapped to the birds like back-packs, Dr. Ryan Norris, an Assistant Professor from the Department of Integrative Biology at the University of Guelph, was able to track what turns out to be an astonishing route.  The birds in the eastern Arctic group migrate across the Atlantic, then south to the west side of sub-Sahara Africa.  An incredible 3,500kms!  The group from Alaska migrate through Asia to the east side of sub-Sahara Africa - 14,500kms!  Both migrations involve amazing distances per day for many months, making the Wheatear's migration route the longest for a bird of its size.   

Offline Kinderchick

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Re: News: Songbirds, Swifts & Hummingbirds / 2012
« Reply #12 on: March 06, 2012, 20:47 »
Yes! Very interesting program with lots of info about birds and wildlife, in general.

Offline irenekl

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Re: News: Songbirds, Swifts & Hummingbirds / 2012
« Reply #13 on: March 08, 2012, 10:13 »
Thanks for posting that bcbird.  I got all excited and then got too busy to go search the cbc website.   :-[

Offline bcbird

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Re: News: Songbirds, Swifts & Hummingbirds / 2012
« Reply #14 on: March 08, 2012, 16:25 »
You're welcome Irenekl.  I have lots of Q&Q podcasts downloaded, and was very pleased to go troll the CBC site for one of my favourite shows.