2011 Mono Basin Bird Chautauqua

March 17, 2011 by  
Filed under Events

The 10th Annual Mono Basin Bird Chautauqua will be an amazing combinations of birds, field trips science, art and music. The mission of this event is to increase understanding and appreication for the bird life of Mono Basin, educating the public with regards the the importance of the area for people and birds. A large number of presenters and leaders have already been confirmed for the event, as well as special guests Dayan Kai and Keith Greeninger.

Date: 17 to 19 June 2011
Location: Lee Vining
State: California
Country: United States of America

Raising a Chick at the Age of Sixty

March 15, 2011 by  
Filed under Pet Birds

Wisdom’s first band was placed on her while incubating an egg in the year 1956, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have been keeping an eye on her ever since. To be able to breed, a Laysan Albatross needs to be five years old, which now puts her age at an estimated sixty years. Wisdom is a celebrity of the North American Bird Banding Program, as she is the oldest bird on their records since the project was initiated ninety years ago. Now she is raising another chick, which brings her total number of chicks raised during her lifetime to approximately thirty to thirty-five. What is even more amazing, is the fact that these birds mate for life, meaning that her partner is either still accompanying her on her journey or she has outlived him.

The albatross has a long history with mankind, with sailors believing that each albatross was the soul of a lost sailor and thus they were extremely opposed to these birds being killed. The relationship between birds and humans might have changed somewhat, but they are still being studied and protected.

Not only is the new chick that Wisdom is raising a wonderful landmark event, but she has been a great source of information for researchers and scientists. Her estimated age is determined by the life cycle that the Laysan Albatross follows. Parents will raise a chick for an entire year, and once the chick is fledged, it heads out to sea for time period of between three to five years. These amazing birds will not touch ground during this time and are even able to take a small nap while they are flying. Due to these birds traveling a distance of around fifty thousand miles in a year, Wisdom has traveled an estimated two or three million miles already. She has most definitely used her wisdom to survive all these years.

Bruce Peterjohn could not be prouder of Wisdom, and as the North American Bird Banding Program chief, he was able to confirm that the second oldest Laysan Albatross that was recorded by the project was banded as a chick and lived to forty-two years and five months. And while Wisdom silently sits with her chick and continues on her journey, still looking fit and healthy, she has no idea what a stir she has caused amongst the humans who have been following her life and how proud and excited they are for her.

W.K. Kellogg Bird Sanctuary

March 8, 2011 by  
Filed under Features

Cared for by the Michigan State University, the W.K. Kellogg Bird Sanctuary was established by, and named after, a man who is more likely to be associated with breakfast by millions of people in the western world. It was in June 1927 that cereal manufacturer W.K. Kellogg bought the land around the spectacular Wintergreen Lake in Augusta, Michigan, with the intention of creating a sanctuary to preserve indigenous wildlife and breed game birds. The following year the sanctuary was handed over to the Michigan State College of Agriculture for use as a training facility for students studying animal care and land management as a career. The sanctuary was later opened to the public, and today is a popular venue for an enjoyable and educational family outing surrounded by the beauty and tranquility of nature.

Group tours are available all year round, with the different seasons offering insight into different aspects of nature. In spring the focus is on nesting, while in summer visitors are likely to see plenty of nestlings and their tireless, vigilant parents. Autumn brings the spectacle of migration, with winter highlighting the hardiness of birds that are adapted to deal with cold weather conditions. Tours are led by well-trained volunteer workers and should be booked at least four weeks in advance to ensure that a guide will be available to greet you. Should you prefer to make your own way around the sanctuary, this can be done between the hours of 09h00 and 17h00 from November to April, and 09h00 to 19h00 from May to October (subject to change). Trail guides are obtainable from the Resource Center at the sanctuary, or can be downloaded from the W.K. Kellogg Sanctuary website so you can plan your route when you plan your outing.

Special events hosted by the W.K. Kellogg Sanctuary, also referred to as KBS – Kellogg Biological Station – include fascinating topics such as the Owl Prowl; Birds and Beans; and Decoy Carving Workshops. There are also volunteer training sessions and group instruction on how to participate in the annual Great Backyard Bird Count.

The Wintergreen Lake covers an area of 40 acres and forms part of the sanctuary that covers an additional area of 180 acres, with close to a mile long trail winding through various habitats where waterfowl, birds of prey and upland game birds can be spotted. The large picnic area ensures that there is always place for visitors to relax and enjoy the surroundings at leisure and the Resource Center includes a gift shop with fascinating bird-related items and books for sale. There is no doubt that a visit to the W.K. Kellogg Bird Sanctuary will be time well spent.

New Rail Species Identified

March 1, 2011 by  
Filed under News

The recent discovery of a new bird species in Madagascar has confirmed that no matter how much the world thinks it knows about nature, there are still a number of surprises in store. Many have known about the bird for ages, but only heard its call at night. No-one has been able to view a live specimen, as it also seems to be master at being illusive. Now that it has finally been seen, identified and illustrated, the find is not only good news for researchers and scientists, but for the entire dry forests of Madagascar, as conservation efforts will be enhanced to protect this rare bird species.

Classified amongst the rails, the Mentocrex beankaensis is the latest species that has finally come to light. It has been a collaborated effort to find this bird, as it is small and brown, camouflaging itself perfectly and only comes out at night. The Chicago Field Museum, as well as researchers from Madagascar, are extremely excited about adding the new species to the list. Several new species have been discovered since the project began in the Beanka Forest, which is an extremely remote area that is rich in rare plant and animal life. This forest has always proved to be a wonderful location of exploration and research, proving the importance of conserving this forest numerous times over. The Director of Biodiversity Conservation in Madagascar, Aldus Andriamomonjy, commented that the discovery of these species will help the small communities living near to the forest and will enhance the conservation of the forest and its animal life.

Andriamomonjy was quoted saying: “We have taken an approach to the conservation of the Beanka Forest resting on working in unison with local people to fulfill aspects of their economic and development needs and bestowing a sense of natural patrimony of the organisms that live in their forest. These are aspects critical for any long-term successful project. The discovery of this new species of bird and other organisms during the late 2009 expedition underlines the importance of our mission and the uniqueness of the Beanka Forest.” With other species and now Mentocrex beankaensis being found and identified, one has to wonder how many more secrets this magnificent forest in Madagascar still has in store for researchers.

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