Some Fascinating Facts About Pelicans

February 18, 2014 by  
Filed under Features

Based on the oldest recorded pelican fossil found at Luberon in southeastern France belonging to the Early Oligocene era, it has been deduced that pelicans have existed virtually unchanged for at least thirty million years. Fossils of several birds from the Pelecanus species have been identified elsewhere in the world – South Australia; Siwalik Hills, India; Bavaria, Germany; Idaho, United States; Odessa, Ukraine; and North Carolina, United States – backing up this claim. Today there are eight living pelican species distributed around the world and some of which are considered ‘vulnerable’ or ‘threatened’ by the IUCN, and all of which use their amazingly elastic pouches to catch fish.

With the exception of the brown pelican, which dives for fish and snatches it up in its bill, pelicans usually form cooperative groups for their fishing expeditions. They either swim along in a line or U-shape formation, beating their wings on the surface of the water to drive the fish into a group in the shallows where the pelicans scoop them up in their pouches. Contrary to popular belief, pelicans do not store fish in their pouches, but swallow them almost immediately upon catching them. Baby pelicans feed by retrieving fish from the throats of their parents.

Pelicans are very social birds, traveling in flocks and breeding in colonies, either along the coastline or inland alongside rivers and lakes. The brown pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis) was at one time considered to be ‘vulnerable’ in North America – primarily due to poisoning by chemical pesticides such as the notorious DDT which devastated the populations of many seabirds – but recent reports indicate that significant recovery has taken place and the birds’ conservation status is now that of ‘least concern’.

The Dalmation pelican (Pelecanus crispus), found in South-eastern Europe through to India and China, has the IUCN conservation status of ‘vulnerable’, while the Peruvian pelican (Pelecanus thagus) found on the Pacific Coast of South America, and the spot-billed pelican (Pelecanus philippensis) found in Southern Asia, are both considered to be ‘near threatened’. The other pelican species – pink-backed pelican (Pelecanus rufescens) found in Africa, Seychelles and southwestern Arabia; the American white pelican (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos) found in North America; the great white pelican (Pelecanus onocrotalus) found in the eastern Mediterranean, Malay Peninsula and South Africa; and the Australian pelican (Pelecanus conspicillatus) found in Australia, New Guinea, New Zealand, Bismarck Archipelago, Fiji and Walacea are all listed as being of ‘least concern’ from a conservation standpoint.

Iowa Purple Martin Potluck

June 21, 2013 by  
Filed under Events

Anyone interested in Purple Martins is invited to attend this event being held on Saturday August 17th at the Edgewood Park in Madrid, Iowa from 1PM until late. For more details on this fun and informative event visit www.purplemartin.org

Date: 17 August 2013
Time: 1PM until late
Venue: Edgewood Park
City: Madrid
State: Iowa
Countrey: United States

Birdsong Apps Pose Threat to Breeding

June 18, 2013 by  
Filed under Birding Tips

Bird watching as a hobby has been traced back to the late-18th century as portrayed in the works of English naturalists and ornithologists Gilbert White, Thomas Bewick and George Montagu. During the Victorian Era, the study of birds became fashionable, but not necessarily in their natural habitats, as collectors obtained specimens of eggs and preserved dead birds sourced from around the world. In the late 19th century the Audubon Society in the United States and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds in Britain were founded to protect birds from these collectors and from the increasingly popular feather trade. In 1901 a book published by British ornithologist and writer Edmund Selous, entitled simply Bird Watching, is thought to have been the origin of the term describing the practice of observing birds in their natural habitat – a pastime which requires plenty of patience.

In today’s society which is increasing becoming accustomed to instant gratification, patience may sometimes be seen as a hindrance rather than a virtue, and this may be the case among birding enthusiasts who are using mobile phone apps to mimic birdsong in an effort to attract birds. Wardens on England’s Brownsea Island have recently reported instances where visitors have used these mobile apps to mimic the unique call of the Nightjar, apparently so they could get a clearer photograph. What these visitors may not realize is that they are breaking a law (the Wildlife and Countryside Act of 1981) which was put into place to protect nesting birds from being intentionally disturbed. Designated as a Special Protection Area (SPA), Brownsea Island is home to a host of bird species, including the Nightjar which, thanks to conservation efforts, has experienced an increase in numbers in recent years.

When a recorded birdsong is played repeatedly it is likely to divert the bird from essential duties, such as feeding its young. It may also prompt a bird to interrupt the mating process to chase off what it perceives to be a rival in order to protect its territory.

Giving birders the benefit of the doubt that they may be unaware of the negative impact their birdsong apps are having, the Dorset Wildlife Trust is launching an online campaign to warn people of the harm they may inadvertently be causing. To reinforce the message, signs will be erected on each of the 42 reserves overseen by the Trust requesting that birdsong apps not be used in the reserves.

2012 Mono Basin Bird Chautauqua

April 17, 2012 by  
Filed under Events

Individuals attending the 2012 Mono Basin Bird Chautauqua have a fantastic program to look forward to. A number of exciting field trips have been organised in a variety of habitats. Interesting presentations and workshops will be hosted including: Aerial Predators and Ecology, Nature Awareness: Fire by Friction and Primitive Shelters, Meet the Chipmunks, Bird Vocalizations, Field Sketching, Great Basin and Sierra Nevada Odonates 101, Who Gives a Hoot, Introduction to Image Editing, Bird Words, The Art of Seeing and much more. Don’t forget to register for the Mono Basin Bird Chautauqua.

Dates: 15 to 17 June 2012
Location: Lee Vining
State: California
Country: United States of America

Cerulean Warbler Weekend

April 17, 2012 by  
Filed under Events

Organized by Michigan Audubon the Cerulean Warbler Weekend is held in the state’s best area for spotting these delightful little birds, Barry County. This weekend is devoted to learning about North America’s fastest declining songbird and its conservation. Several birding tours will be held, focussing on Cerulean Warblers, Henslow’s Sparrow, Flycatchers and so forth. The Cerulean Warbler Weekend schedule also includes workshops on butterfly and dragonfly identification and opportunities to paddle on Glass Creek. Keynote speaker at the evnet is Dr. Jeff Hoover, an Avian Ecologist from the Illinois Natural HIstory Survey.

Dates: 1 to 3 June 2012
Time: 05:30 am
Location: Barry County
State: Michigan
Country: United States of America

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