Friday, August 23, 2013

Bird research in the news

I came across two articles highlighting bird research this week. The first is related to the public talk we are co-hosting Sept 4th on eBird, and the second is on shearwater movements being tracked during their non-breeding season.


published in The New York Times August 19, 2013
Photo from Cornell Lab of Ornithology
Helena, Mont. — On a warm morning not long ago on the shore of a small prairie lake outside this state capital, Bob Martinka trained his spotting scope on a towering cottonwood tree heavy with blue heron nests. He counted a dozen of the tall, graceful birds and got out his smartphone, not to make a call but to type the number of birds and the species into an app that sent the information to researchers in New York.

Mr. Martinka, a retired state wildlife biologist and an avid bird-watcher, is part of the global ornithological network eBird. Several times a week he heads into the mountains to scan lakes, grasslands, even the local dump, and then reports his sightings to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, a nonprofit organization based at Cornell University. 

Read the rest of this article here.


published on Constantine Alexander's blog and LinkedIn August 18, 2013

Photo copyright NOAA
Researchers at NOAA's Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary are using satellite technology to learn more about the movement, life cycle, feeding and foraging habits of Great Shearwater seabirds in the Gulf of Maine ecosystem. Scientists have attached satellite transmitters to 10 birds and are tracking their movements this summer.

Shearwaters are one of more than 30 species of seabirds that can be found in the sanctuary. The birds winter and nest in the southern hemisphere, usually appearing in the Gulf of Maine in April to feed. However, little is known about how they spend their time in the Gulf of Maine.

Read the rest of the blog entry here. You can read about the research directly and track individual birds at the NOAA's Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary page.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Webinar Series on Shorebird Identification

Willet by Shawn Billerman
The Cornell Lab of Ornithology is offering a series of webinars this fall to help people learn shorebird and waterfowl identification. This is a great opportunity for those wanting to advance in this difficult area. Kevin McGowan is a great teacher and helped me become the birder I am today. The series starts this Friday and each webinar is only $10. Space is limited.

For more information, click here.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Threatened IBA in the Dominican Republic

For those that were present for my LAS presentation on Bicknell's Thrush a few years ago (2009 I think?), you may remember that I conducted research on this thrush in the Dominican Republic. The place where I conducted this research is an Important Bird Area is now under severe threat. Please read below for more information.
Sunset in the Sierra de Bahoruco by Julie Hart
Excerpt from the Birding Community E-bulletin by Paul Baicich and Wayne Peterson.


In December we ran a quick review of a new bird finding guide for the Dominican Republic, RUTA BARRANCOLI, by Steven C. Latta and Kate J. Wallace (2012, National Aviary).

Now there is news from the Dominican Republic that the Sierra de Bahoruco, an Important Bird Area (IBA) in that country is currently under increasing threat.

The area has long been suffering due to burning for charcoal production and illegal agricultural practices, and in mid-July a dry forest area on its northern foothills an area formally protected as Loma Charco Azul Biological Reserve, is starting to be cleared to make way for an agricultural settlement. This is occurring despite the fact that the area is supposed to be protected as a Biological Reserve.

The Dominican Agrarian Institute has approved this activity, and about 260 acres are slated for immediate destruction. Multiple species are at risk. The Loma Charco Azul Biological Reserve, which falls under the larger Jaragua-Bahoruco-Enriquillo Biosphere Reserve which has been ratified by UNESCO, is habitat for the endangered Bay-breasted Cuckoo (Coccyzus rufigularis), an endemic species with a very limited distribution in Hispaniola.

You can get more details on this threat and actions being taken here.

Monday, August 5, 2013

State of the Birds 2013

The 2013 report on the state of the birds focuses on birds on private lands. Approximately 60% of land in the U.S. is privately owned. Highlights of the report include:

  • Through the Farm Bill’s Working Lands for Wildlife Program, more than 700 ranchers are enhancing 2.5 million acres of aridland habitat for the benefit of sage‐grouse.
  • Regional spring counts of Henslow’s Sparrows are now about 25 times higher than 30 years ago, prior to the Farm Bill’s Conservation Reserve Program.
  • Through Mountain Plover Nest Conservation Programs in Nebraska and Colorado nearly 250 private landowners have protected more than 1,000 nests of the imperiled Mountain Plover.
Download the State of the Birds 2013.