Feather Degrading Bacteria Studied

December 21, 2009 by  
Filed under Features

The existence of feather degrading bacteria in wild birds was only discovered for the first time approximately ten years ago. This natural phenomenon has therefore been plaguing ornithologists with more questions than answers and sparked the undertaking of the recent studies done to explore the effects feather degrading bacteria has on birds, and in which birds this occurrence is more common. Even though more information has been collected in regard to the bacteria, studies remain ongoing. A few interesting facts have been discovered so far.

The feather degrading bacteria seems to target brightly colored birds more than those with dull plumage. To investigate this fact, a group of scientists chose a large colony of Eastern Bluebirds living in Virginia as test subjects, studying the population as a whole and noting the differences of the bacteria found in the male and female birds. Not only does this bacteria influence the coloring of the birds, but their general health as well.

It is now known that most wild birds carry feather degrading bacteria and some birds are even host to more than one bacteria species. The exact impact the bacteria has on their feathered hosts is still unclear, but they are not found to be in the majority. Almost all the birds in the study were found to have the bacteria, which hydrolyses the protein beta-keratin. It had been found that melanin pigmented feathers are resistant to feather degrading bacteria and that the oils used by birds to preen can also halt the growth of the bacteria. These traits confirm that defenses against these bacteria can be built and it is therefore suggested that the bacteria could have an influence on the evolution of birds. It was also found that the bacteria had a greater impact on the female birds than on their male counterparts. The bacteria seems to dull the coloring of the feathers, and scientists believe that the difference in bacteria between male and female birds could be influenced by the routines followed by each sex, and the areas they travel in. It is, however, mere speculation as scientists are still trying to confirm if the daily routine of males and females could play a role in the bacteria occurrences. Alex Gunderson, from Duke University in North Carolina commented, “If bacteria detrimentally influence feather coloration, they may place selective pressure on birds to evolve defenses against them.”

13th Annual Space Coast Birding & Wildlife Festival

December 17, 2009 by  
Filed under Events

What can visitors to the 13th Annual Space Coast Birding & Wildlife Festival look forward to? An exciting program featuring a silent auction, bird count list, art competition and over 70 exhibitors such as birding organisations, photography businesses, optics, nature-touring equipment, artists and more. Field trips as well as classroom presentations are also available. There will also be various opportunities to meet and mingle with like-minded individuals. Don’t forget to check out the “Behind the Scenes” tour of Florida Audubon’s Center for Birds of Prey.

Date: 27 January to 1 February 2010
Venue: Brevard Community College, Titusville Campus
City: Titusville, FL
Country: United States of America

Everglades Birding Festival

December 17, 2009 by  
Filed under Events

The Everglades Birding Festival is a fantastic opportunities for bird watching enthusiasts to explore the natural features of Cypress Swamps, beaches and Everglades prairies. Birds you may spot include Peregrind Falcon, Burrowing owl, Sora, Snail Kite, Roseate Spoonbill, Pileated Woodpecker and others. During the event, expert guides will assist you in bird identification. There will be instruction and workshops regarding bird watching skills and techniques, along with field trips, friendly birders, and great lodgings.

Date: 13 – 19 January 2010
Venue: Hollywood Beach Golf Resort
City: Hollywood, FL
Country: United States of America