Birds of New York City Get New Rehab Center

June 19, 2012 by  
Filed under News

New York City has opened its first wildlife rehabilitation and education center, a much-needed facility in a city that hosts more than 355 bird species on their annual migration along the East Coast flyway, in addition to the multitude of birds that are permanent city residents. The non-profit Wild Bird Fund and its team of dedicated volunteers has been providing emergency care for more than a thousand birds and animals each year in New York City. Working along with Animal General and the Center for Avian and Exotic Medicine, licensed rehabilitation volunteers take the injured birds, squirrels, and other small creatures into their own homes to care for them. The new 1300-square-foot rehabilitation center on Columbus Avenue between 87th and 88th street will provide a temporary sanctuary, with the emphasis on rehabilitation for reintroduction into the wild wherever possible.

Rita McMahon and Karen Heidgerd started the non-profit Wild Bird Fund more than a decade ago, and the need continues to grow. Birds crash into windows, become disoriented, dehydrated or fall out of their nests. Others are victims of humans who simply don’t want the birds around. Some people coat their windowsills with sticky glue to discourage the birds, but the glue coats the birds’ feathers and causes them injury.

With the new facilities, the Wild Bird Fund hopes to expand its capacity for assisting injured birds by up to fifty percent. To meet this goal the organization is looking for additional volunteers to feed baby birds and carry out the many duties required to rehabilitate rescued birds. They also need donations to help toward obtaining the equipment and consumable supplies necessary to provide adequate care.

The center already has more than 60 birds and other animals to care for, and now that the first rehabilitation center has been established, McMahon hopes to fulfill her five-year plan of having intake centers in all five boroughs of the city. At the recent Wild Bird Fund gala, author Jonathan Franzen noted that “There are roughly 100 billion birds in the world, but the 7 billion strong human population is making it harder and harder for those birds to survive. Like it or not, we are the stewards of the birds now. We claimed the planet.” Food for thought indeed!

Searching for Magnetoreceptors in Birds

April 24, 2012 by  
Filed under Features

The theory that navigational skills in some birds may be influenced by iron particles in their beaks reacting to the magnetic field of the earth, has recently been refuted by scientists at Vienna’s Institute of Molecular Pathology. Acknowledging that the new discovery was somewhat disappointing, molecular biologist David Keays noted that the mystery of how animals detect magnetic fields had become even more mysterious.

Using 3D scanners on slivers of pigeon beak, researchers found that the particles which had previously been thought to react with the earth’s magnetic field were in fact macrophages with normal amounts of organic iron to protect the birds from infection. These cells have no ability to produce electric signals to communicate with brain cells and are therefore unable to influence the pigeon’s behavior. These same cells were also found in other parts of the bird’s body and are found in other animals, particularly in the spleen, lungs, and skin, where they play an essential role in recycling iron from red blood cells and fight against infection. The findings were confirmed by scientists from the University of Western Australia – Jeremy Shaw and Martin Saunders – who were also working on the study.

Keays was reported as saying that the new discovery should not be seen as a set-back as it puts scientists on the right path to finding magnetic cells. The general consensus remains that birds, and a significant number of other animals, detect the magnetic field of the earth and use it for navigation. So it stands to reason that they must have cells facilitating this, although in the case of birds, it has been suggested they may make use of landmarks or sunlight for navigation as well.

Scientists will continue in their quest to understand how migratory birds interact with the earth’s magnetic fields, with the hope of linking their findings to other species with homing habits, including sea turtles, rainbow trout and bees. Although the project has its challenges, Keays believes that learning how nature detects magnetic fields could lead to the creation of artificial magnetoreceptors with the potential of treating human medical conditions, particularly relating to the brain.

Shreve Spring Migration Sensation

February 15, 2012 by  
Filed under Events

The Shreve Spring Migration Sensation features fantastic self-guided tours and family activities. Experts will be available at help stations for self-guided birding tours at Shreve Lake, Killbuck Marsh, Funk Bottoms and Brown’s Bog. The following six worshops will be held: Monthly Birds by Chuch Jakubchak; Flights for Life Butterfly Migrations by Cheryl Harner; Muskrat Populations at the Killbuck Marsh by Mike Ervin, Rare Bird Sightings in the Bobolink Area by Bruce Glick; Black Swamp Bird Observatory – 30 Years of Bird Research by Kimberly Kaufman; and Spectacular Sparrows by Kenn Kaufman. Other activities at the Shreve Spring Migration Sensation event include the Birder’s Market Palce, facepainting, crafts and more, Dip-Net for Marsh Creatures and more.

Date: 24 March 2012
Time: 7:00 am to 4:30 pm
Venue: Shreve Elementary School
Town: Shreve
State: Ohio
Country: United States of America

Chinquapin Takes on Irene

September 6, 2011 by  
Filed under News

Whimbrel birds stand a height of 1.5 feet and are known to be migrating birds, referred to as long haul fliers, as they are able to travel distances of up to three thousand five hundred miles without resting in between and can maintain speeds of fifty miles per hour. Before they migrate they ready themselves by packing on weight, and will weigh approximately double their usual weight before migrating. What is truly amazing is a bird named Chinquapin that took on Hurricane Irene.

Chinquapin is a Whimbrel that was tagged with satellite tracking, enabling researchers and biologists, such as Fletcher Smith (College of William and Mary’s Centre for Conservation Biology), to track Chinquapin’s movements. Whimbrels are shorebirds but move to the high Arctic regions for breeding, with most birds remaining in Brazil during the winter months. To learn more about the migratory patterns of the whimbrels, tracking devices were fitted to a few birds.

Panic erupted as Chinquapin’s device transmitted that he was on a one way collision course with Hurricane Irene. As he entered the hurricane, his tracking device lost signal, leaving researchers expecting the worst and nervously watching their monitors to try and find him. Eventually his transmitter confirmed that he had made it through and was safely resting in the Bahamas. Smith said that it was incredible that some birds are able to increase their energy levels to fly through such horrific conditions. Even though Chinquapin survived, researchers are still no closer to finding out how he managed to survive.

Many birds are either thrown off course, or worst case scenario, killed, while trying to fly through these weather conditions, but it is not the first time for Chinquapin, who made the decision to fly around the 2010 Tropical Storm Colin. Another bird tried flying though the storm and was killed, while Chinquapin’s decision saved his life. Chinquapin is most definitely a very brave and special bird, and researchers will continue their efforts to track Whimbrels to learn more about them and their habits.

Explore the Birds of Vermont Museum

August 2, 2011 by  
Filed under Features

Through its displays of superb wood-carvings, representing close to 500 birds from 258 species, the Birds of Vermont Museum offers visitors the opportunity to discover the diverse birdlife of the State of Vermont. The life-like carvings are displayed in settings closely resembling the habitats each species would favor in its natural surroundings. As a non-profit organization, the museum is dedicated to educating the public, while encouraging an appreciation of the environment and the wildlife, particularly of the feathered kind, that depends on the environment remaining intact.

Most of the museum’s birds have been carved by Robert Spear, Jr., a local naturalist and author who founded the museum to pursue his goal of using biologically and anatomically accurate wood carvings to teach both children and adults about the essential role birds play in the ecosystem. The museum’s collection is arranged in four major groups in accordance with their habitat – Wetlands in Spring and Fall; Endangered and Extinct; Special Exhibit; and Nesting Birds and Raptors.

The Wetlands in Spring and Fall category features a loon family, spring and autumn migration scenes, and two wetland dioramas. The Endangered and Extinct category features a range of birds, as well as an Archaeopteryx – a genus of theropod dinosaur controversially believed to have been the oldest known bird. The intricately carved California condor is one of the largest of Bob Spear’s works and took him more than 500 hours to complete. The Special Exhibit located near the Autumn Migration Diorama consists of a Turkey which took the meticulous artist two years to complete. The Nesting Birds and Raptors display is in the main gallery and features all the nesting birds of Vermont in their respective nests displayed in more than 120 glass cases, while raptors in flight hang from the ceiling overhead. A Winter Diorama displays birds that only visit the area during the wintertime, and then only if their food supplies have run out in their northern habitats. The balcony off the main gallery features hawks and their prey, as well as a magnificent Bald Eagle.

The Birds of Vermont Museum is located in a 100-acre nature conservation area, and in addition to viewing the wood-carved birds, visitors can stroll along the various trails and participate in early morning Bird Monitoring walks, and students can sign up as volunteers to assist with various projects. This unique and fascinating museum is an enduring testament to the efforts of a group of people dedicated to sharing nature’s wonders with others.

Astounding Research into Great Snipe Migration

May 31, 2011 by  
Filed under Features

There are twenty-five species of wading birds that fall under the Scolopacidae family, and the great snipe is one of them. Generally recognized by their long bills and plumage coloring that allows it to blend in with its surroundings, there is a magnificent talent that the snipe possesses that has been recently been uncovered. This beautiful shore bird is quite small and its stocky body, which they ensure carries enough fat by August, assists them in their migration. But until recently, their migration patterns were a mystery, and the information revealed by a project started in 2009 has uncovered breathtaking details.

Raymond Klaassen, a biologist from the Lund University in Sweden, captured ten great great snipes and managed to tag them to collect information in regard to their migration. Captured and let go on the western coast of Sweden, three birds returned and were recaptured to have their tags removed, revealing the most staggering information. For the first time ever, the migration of great snipes could be put on record, but even for scientists and biologists, the information received from the tags was overwhelming. It seems the great snipe tops all other birds when it comes to migration as it is able to fly an impressive four thousand miles without making any stops to eat, drink or sleep. Not only was the flight astounding, given that the great snipe is able to fly ninety-six hours non-stop, but they also averaged speeds of fifty miles per hour. The flights were compared to wind charts showing that the birds had almost no tail winds during their migrations, meaning that they are able to make the flights and maintain high speeds on their own.

One of the recaptured tagged birds completed a migration of three thousand eight hundred miles, while the other two had migrations of two thousand eight hundred miles and four thousand two hundred miles. The first trip took eighty-four hours, while the others took forty-eight hours and eighty-four hours. Klaassen commented that the reason why the great snipes do not stop on their flights is unknown, but it is suspected that this is the unique migration strategy of the great snipe. Even though there are other birds that are also able to travel vast distances, it is the speed the great snipes are able to travel at that has astonished researchers, as their wings are not the most aerodynamic of the bird kingdom. But it seems the fat they store before a migration gives them enough energy to maintain speed and cover large distances. According to this new information and studies, the great snipe can officially be called the king of bird migrations.

Conservation Crossing Borders

February 22, 2011 by  
Filed under News

Climate change is an issue that has been discussed the world over and is of great concern. As climates begin to shift and weather patterns begin to change, so does nature. Wildlife are forced to adapt to conditions they are not used to, over and above the fact that their habitats are being encroached on. The first wildlife to have shown signs of adapting are birds. Migratory bird patterns have diversified and as the need grows, birds are moving to areas that are best suited to their survival, causing a cry out for cross border conservation efforts.

A team of researchers decided to conduct a study concentrating on the birds of Africa. The team consisted of Dr. Stephen Willis (School of Biological and Biomedical Sciences of the Durham University), as well as Professor Brian Huntley from the same department. They considered where the birds are located at present and how they would move due to climate change. Eight hundred and three Important Bird Areas (IBAs) were looked at.

Monitoring the birds will be the first way to detect signs of the effects of climate change, as they would be the first to move. The researchers have therefore written a guideline to governments on how to deal with the reshuffling of wildlife should this occur as predicted. According to their studies, at least one third of the Important Bird Areas will experience a noticeable change, as shrinking habitats will force birds to find more suitable areas for food supply. During their research project, the researchers were also able to identify areas that are not currently under protection but could become potential habitats for the birds.

Dr. Stephen Willis commented: “The bird map of Africa is set to change dramatically and we need conservation policies that see the bigger picture.” He went on to say: “There are large areas of Africa lacking protected status and many of these areas are predicted to be critically important for bird conservation in the future. We need to be ready to protect remnant populations of birds while also preparing for new colonists.” As co-author of the guideline paper he stressed the importance of cross border conservation, “We need to improve monitoring, communication and co-operation to make protected areas work across borders. Conservationists and policy makers will have to work together in new ways as networks become increasingly important in protecting species.”

2011 Spring Banding Session

February 16, 2011 by  
Filed under Events

Taking place at Fort Mogan State Historical Park, along the Alabama Gulf Coast, banding will begin before dowan and end mid-afternoon. This area is an important stopover for migratory birds returning from South and Central America. Banding is free, with admission to the fort costing $5.00 for adults, $3.00 for children of 6 to 12, and free for children under 6.

Date: 2 to 14 April 2011
Venue: Fort Morgan State Historical Park
State: Alabama
Country: United States of America

Godwit Days Spring Migration Bird Festival 2011

February 1, 2011 by  
Filed under Events

Taking place on the north coast of California, this annual spring migration festival boasts a number of bird-rich habitats for bird watchers to explore. Amongst the activities offered during the festival are field trips, workshops, lectures and boat excursions. The opening reception for the event at Arcata Coummunity Center will feature an arts exhibition, vendor booths, food and drinks.Keynote speaker for the event will be Scott Weidensaul.

Date: 14 to 20 April 2011
Venue: Arcata Community Center
Town: Arcata
State: California
Country: United States of America

41st Annual Rivers and Wildlife Celebration

December 22, 2010 by  
Filed under Events

Presented by Audubon Nebraska, Nebraska Bird Partnership and Audubon’s Rowe Sanctuary, the Rivers and Wildlife Celebration sees bird and wildlife enthusiasts gathering to celebrate the migration of waterfowl and 500 000 sandhill cranes through central Nebraska. Visitors to the event can enjoy crane viewing, excursions to wetlands and lakes and The Wild Experience Room. Keynote speakers will be David yarnold, Dr. Richard Beilfuss and Rick Wright.

Date: 17 to 20 March 2011
Venue: Holiday Inn Convention Center
City: Kearney
State: Nebraska
Country: United States of America

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