Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival 2013

October 14, 2013 by  
Filed under Events

The Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival has a full schedule of events, seminars and field trips for bird lovers. 2013 marks the 20th anniversary of RGVBF, so visitors can look forward to an even more exciting experience.The seminar schedule includes a Warbler Workshop, Field ID Workshop, Why Humans Love Birds, Get Started Birding, The Plume Hunter, Adventures of the Urban Birder and so much more. Field trips will take birders to Anzalduas, Bentsen-Rio Grande State Park, Rio Costero Ranch and other lovely destinations. Also planned is the Birders Bazaar Trade Show, a Big Sit, author signings, Winter Texan Day and fun-filled family activities. For more information visit www.rgvbf.org

Dates: 6-10 November 2013
Venue: Fair Park Municipal Complex
City: Harlingen
State: Texas
Country: United States

Central Valley Birding Symposium 2013

October 14, 2013 by  
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The program for the Central Valley Birding Symposium in 2013 will include a Bird Identification Panel, A talk on alien invaders by Kimball Garrett, a sketching workshop, a specimen workshop, a discussion of the Migration Patterns of the Northern Saw-whet Owls near Forest Ranch, a talk on bird intelligence by Susan Schneider, a flycatcher ID Workshop, a keynote address on the Birds of the Sierra Nevada and much much more.Birding field trips will cover areas such as Colusa National Wildlife Refuge, Cosumnes River Preserve, Merced Refuges, Salt Springs Valley and a number of other fascinating destinations. Register now to avoid disappointment. For more information visit www.2013cvbs.org

Dates: 21-24 November 2013
Venue: Stockton Hilton Hotel
City: Stockton
State: California
Country: United States

New York Birders Conference 2013

October 14, 2013 by  
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The 66th annual New York Birders Conference offers birders the opportunity to view the fall coastal migration when it is at its peak, the ideal time to spot rare birds. Keynote speaker for the event is James Currie, a renowned birder who has contributed to a number of publications. Other speakers and presenters are Mark E. Hauber Ph.D., John Turner, Sean Mahar, Susan Elbin, and more. Field trips will have birders exploring Jones Beach State Park, Kissena Park, Sunken Meadow State Park, Francis Purcell Preserve and other lovely birding spots. Book your spot today. For more information visit nybirdersconference.wordpress.com

Date: 1-3 November 2013
Venue: Mariott Hotel
City: Uniondale
State: New York
Country: United States

Birds Protect Costa Rico’s Coffee Crops

October 8, 2013 by  
Filed under Features

Millions of people around the world could not imagine starting the day without a cup of coffee. Coffee production plays a major role in the economy of a number of Central and South American countries, including Costa Rica, where ongoing research has highlighted the role local birds play in protecting one of the most lucrative crops in the world – coffee. Stanford University graduate student Daniel Karp and a group of researchers recently published a paper in Ecology Letters where they detail how birds control populations of coffee borer beetles (Hypothenemus hampei) in Costa Rican coffee plantations, increasing the yield per hectare significantly.

Originating in Africa, the coffee borer beetle has spread around the world and is found wherever coffee is grown. This small brown beetle is very destructive and difficult to control, causing an estimated $500 million in damage every year. The female beetle burrows its way into the coffee berry and lays up to 50 eggs. Little white maggots hatch from the eggs and consume the coffee berry from the inside. In coffee plantations where patches of rainforest habitat were left undisturbed, damage by coffee borer beetles was noted to be much less resulting in higher yields.

In determining what contribution birds are making to the coffee economy of Costa Rica, researchers carried out calculations on how much yield could be expected if there were no borer beetles to contend with. They then made a comparison between infested plants left in their natural condition, and infested plants grown inside bird-proof enclosures. It was concluded that, taking the season into account, birds improve yield per hectare by between $75 and $310.

In order to determine which birds were eating the beetles, researchers took bird faeces back to the laboratory at Stanford to test the DNA. One of the bird species identified as a coffee borer beetle eater is the yellow warbler. The research results will be used to show Costa Rican coffee farmers that it is advantageous to protect rainforest habitat on their land – both for the birds and for the coffee crop.

New Bird Species Discovered in Amazonia

September 24, 2013 by  
Filed under News

Technological advances, along with the dedication and patience of researchers, have resulted in the recent discovery of fifteen new bird species in the Amazon rainforest. The formal description of the fifteen birds has been presented in a special edition of the Handbook of the Birds of the World, adding to the sixteen volumes already published by Lynx Edicions in partnership with BirdLife International. Entitled “Special Volume: New Species and Global Index” the book includes descriptions of 84 new species, including the fifteen from the Amazon rainforest.

The Amazon rainforest, also referred to as Amazonia, covers most of South America’s Amazon Basin and includes parts of territories of nine different nations, with up to 60% of the region belonging to Brazil. Amazonia is the most species-rich region on the planet, with more than 1,300 species of birds – one in five of all of the world’s bird species – living in this region which also hosts migrating birds at different times of the year. Sadly, at the current rate of deforestation conservationists are of the opinion that the Amazon rainforest will be destroyed in the next 40 years – and birds, along with other animals that depend on this paradisiac part of the world, are paying the price.

Led by ornithologist Bret Whitney of the LSU Museum of Natural Science (LSUMNS) an international team of researchers was involved in the discovery of the new species. Noting that discovering such a large number of un-catalogued species was unexpected, Whitney went on to say that it highlighted how little is known about species diversity in Amazonia, as well as showing how technological advances are benefiting research efforts. Satellite imagery, DNA analysis, digital vocalization recordings and advance computation power have, in a way, opened up a new age of discovery. Current or former LSU students were involved in each of the fifteen discoveries, underscoring the work that Louisiana State University Museum of National Sciences has been consistently carrying out since the 1960s.

Yellow Rails and Rice Festival

September 19, 2013 by  
Filed under Events

Birders of all levels of experience are encouraged to join in the fifth annual edition of this event, the primary goal of which is to provide participants with a unique bird-watching venue, where birders and farmers can meet and the value of birds in this habitat is highlighted. Be prepared for a whole lot of fun. For more information visit the Yellow Rails and Rice Festival Website.

Date: 23-27 October 2013
Venue: Jennings, Los Angeles

Bird Festival at Fairchild

September 19, 2013 by  
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This exciting two-day event will include off-site birding field trips, lectures, bird walks with experts, info on using plants to attract birds, kiddies activities and much more. For more information visit www.fairchildgarden.org/

Dates: 12-13 October 2013
Venue: Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden
City: Miami
State: Florida
Country: United States

Lake County Wings and Wildflowers Festival

September 6, 2013 by  
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This three day celebration of local birds and their habitats has something for all ages. The program includes workshops and presentations by experts, as well as expert-led field trips. For more information visit www.wingsandwildflowers.com

Dates: 4-6 October 2013
Venue: Tavares, Lake County
State: Florida
Country: United States

Spectacular Courtship Ritual of Peafowl

August 27, 2013 by  
Filed under Features

Best known for the spectacular courtship display put on by the males of the species, peafowl originate in Asia and belong to the genus Pavo of the Phasianidae (pheasant) family. While the term “peacock” is often used to describe the entire species, irrespective of sex, “peacock” is the correct term for the male in the species, with the female being referred to as a “peahen” and their offspring are known as “pea chicks”. The name for a group of peafowl – pride or ostentation – is very descriptive and this colorful bird has long been associated with high social standing and royalty, particularly in Asian cultures. It also features in Hindu mythology as the mount of the god of war, Karthikeya.

The species of peafowl are the Indian Peafowl (Pavo cristatus), the Green Peafowl (Pavo muticus) and Congo Peafowl (Afropavo congensis). The Indian Peafowl is found in South Asia and is the national bird of India. The male of the species has a brilliantly blue colored body and head, which is topped by a fan-like crest of feathers. Its most prominent feature is its long train of upper-tail covert feathers covered in colorful, iridescent spots resembling eyes. During courtship, this breathtakingly beautiful tail is spread out into a fan and quivered by the male in an attempt to attract a mate. The female of the species has a duller brown plumage with its neck being a greenish color. Although they can fly and often roost in tall trees, Indian Peafowl are usually found on the ground, where they forage for berries, grains and other plant material, with lizards, snakes and small rodents also being on the menu.

While Indian Peafowl are considered to be of “Least Concern” by the IUCN, the Green Peafowl is listed as “Endangered”. Found in the tropical and subtropical forests of Southeast Asia, the Green Peafowl is a target of predators such as Leopards, Tigers, Jungle Cats and humans. Hunting and a loss of habitat has resulted in numbers of these beautiful birds dwindling to the extent that they are now considered to be endangered. The males and females of Green Peacocks are relatively similar in appearance, with the male’s upper tail coverts being longer than the female during breeding season. After breeding season the male molts, resulting in the appearance of the two sexes being even more similar.

Found in the Congo Basin, the Congo Peacock looks like a cross between a peafowl and a guineafowl, with the male’s feathers being a deep blue, tinged with green and violet, while the female is brown with shiny green feathers over its back. Due to habitat loss and hunting, the Congo Peacock has the IUCN status of “Vulnerable”.

Berkeley Springs Fall Birding Festival

August 21, 2013 by  
Filed under Events

Bird walks, field trips, workshops and lectures are some of the highlights of this event sponsored by the Potomac Valley Audubon Society. Speakers will include Smithsonian Institution forensic ornithologist Marcy Heacker; Smithsonian research associate Desiree Narango; naturalist Wil Hershberger and raptor expert Liam McGranaghan. For more information visit www.potomacaudubon.org

Date: 20-22 September 2013
Venue: Berkeley Springs
State: West Virginia

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