Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Is this 'Bird Armageddon'?

Since 1966 UK bird population has decline by 44 million which amounts to just under a million birds a year (over 45 years), which is dismal November news indeed.

Yesterday (November 19th) the RSPB published their most extensive survey of the UK’s bird populations over the last 4 decades (including data from 2011); ‘The state of the UK’s birds 2012’. SUKB2012, as it is also known, is a collaborative affair between NGO’s and the UK’s governmental nature conservation agencies: RSPB, BTO, WWT, NE, NIEA, SNH and JNCC. The report uses a mix of indicators to assess the populations of wild birds, seabirds and wintering birds throughout the UK and overseas territories. All species are given a conservation status (red, amber or green) in accordance with the criteria set out in the BTO’s document Birds of Conservation 3, 2009.

View the full story on the British Ecological Society blog here.

Monday, November 26, 2012

UW Collections Manager, Talk & Tour, Nov 28

Dr. James Maley to talk about rails and give a tour of the University’s vertebrate collections: We have all heard of splitters vs. lumpers when it comes to dealing with bird species, but how do scientists determine whether two species really should be lumped together as a single species or whether a single species should be divided into two or more? Dr. James Maley, Collections Manager for the University of Wyoming’s Museum of Vertebrates, will touch on this issue as he discusses his Ph.D. research on the very similar Clapper and King rails during the November public meeting. James used morphology (the study of the form and structure of organisms), genetics, and ecological adaptations to salt vs freshwater marshes to better understand what differentiates Clapper and King Rails--in essence what defines them as species. He also used specimens housed in museums throughout the United States to understand the genetic diversity of the Clapper/King Rail complex, often using scrapings of toe pads from specimens when tissue samples were not available. After his talk, James will provide a tour of the collections at the University of Wyoming Museum of Vertebrates to highlight the importance and utility of bird specimens for avian research and conservation.

We will also be holding a public vote: At this meeting, our members will vote for three new Board Members (Anika Mahoney, James Maley, Vicki Henry), President (Sophie Osborn), Vice President (Brian Waitkus), and Secretary (Julie Hart) at the meeting before the program.  If you are unable to attend, please email your vote to  Thanks for your support!

When & Where: Wednesday, Nov. 28, 6:30pm Bird Chat & Refreshments, 7:00pm Short Business Meeting & Program, UW Berry Center, corner of 10th & Lewis Streets.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

LAS Raptor Trip – November 10, 2012

Despite threats of snow and wind and cold, eight stalwart Laramie Auduboners ventured out to look for raptors in the Laramie area on November 10. We were lucky with the weather as well as with the birds. The snow stopped, the wind died down, and we were treated to looks at a variety of raptors, as well as many other birds and mammals.
Bald Eagle – 4 (All juveniles or subadults)
Golden Eagle – 9
Northern Harrier – 2
Red-tailed Hawk – 1
Ferruginous Hawk – 6 (including one that caught a rodent after we inadvertently flushed it)
Rough-legged Hawk – 11 (mainly adult females; no adult males).
American Kestrel – 1 (a male with a vole)
Great Horned Owl – 1

Eared Grebe
American Wigeon
Northern Shoveler
Lesser Scaup
American Coot
Black-billed Magpie
Common Raven
Black-capped Chickadee
Western Meadowlark

We had a great look at a pronghorn herd that bunched together and ran when an adult Golden Eagle flew toward it. We also saw another large herd of running pronghorns. Other mammals included a small group of mule deer, a white-tailed deer, and a little red fox poking its head over a nearby hill. Thanks to all who participated!