Southwest Wings Birding & Nature Festival 2013

May 31, 2013 by  
Filed under Events

Ranked as one of the best annual birding festivals in the United States, the Southwest Wings Birding & Nature Festival will take place from 31 July to 3 August 2013. Features of the program include keynote speaker Scott Weidensaul, and field trips targeting endemics, and free nature seminars. For more information visit swwings.org

Dates: 31 July-3 August 2013
Venue: Sierra Vista
State: Arizona
Country: United States

Orlando Wetlands Festival 2013

December 7, 2012 by  
Filed under Events

Join fellow birding and nature enthusiasts at the 13th annual Orlando Wetlands Festival where the Florida Native Plant Society will lead native plant identification hikes, while the Florida Trail Association will conduct wilderness hikes. Professional nature and wildlife photographers will be leading guided photo hikes. Guided bus tours and hayrides are other options for exploring this spectacular area. Bird-banding and net-misting demonstrations, along with wildlife shows, live music and children’s interactive activities will keep the whole family occupied. Collect your free backyard tree from the City’s Families, Park and Recreation Department in celebration of Arbor day. For more information visit www.orlandowetlands.org or the City of Orlando’s Website.

Date: 16 February 2013
Times: 9am-3pm
Venue: Fort Christmas Historical Park
City: Orlando
Country: United States

Nantucket Birding Festival 2012

October 4, 2012 by  
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The second Nantucket Birding Festival will be taking place on 18-21 October 2012. Local experts and experienced guides will take participants to the island’s birding hot spots where they can observe local and wintering waterfowl, gulls, finches, falcons and more. Visit the Linda Loring Nature Foundation Website for more information.

Dates: 18-21 October 2012
Venue: Nantucket
State: Massachusetts
Country: United States

Pledge2Fledge 2012

August 23, 2012 by  
Filed under Events

Pledge2Fledge (P2F) is an international grassroots campaign organized by non-profit organization the Global Birding Initiative for birders to introduce friends and acquaintances to the pursuit of bird watching. P2F presents the perfect opportunity for birders to share their love for birding with others, thereby helping more people to discover the allure of birds while connecting with the natural world around them. On 24 to 26 August 2012 birders across six continents will be actively involved in sharing their passion for birding by introducing non-birders to this fascinating activity and sharing the results with the world through videos, photos, and stories on the P2F website and social media channels. For more information visit the Pledge 2 Fledge Website

2012 Southwest Wings Birding & Nature Festival

June 15, 2012 by  
Filed under Events

Located at the foot of the Huachuca Mountains, Cochise College in Sierra Vista will be the venue for the 2012 Southwest Wings Birding and Nature Festival. The festival program features 35 expanded field trips and more than 50 free programs covering a wide variety of topics. For more information visit the 2012 Southwest Wings Birding and Nature Festival Website

Dates: 1-4 August 2012
Venue: Conchise College
City: Sierra Vista
State: Arizona
Country: USA

White-crowned Sparrow Males Unruffled by Younger Rivals

March 13, 2012 by  
Filed under News

In the territorial world of nature, it’s not uncommon for older males to give way to the younger generation, albeit with a fight. Researchers have recently discovered that this is not necessarily the case with mature white-crowned sparrow males. In fact older males don’t even bother to get involved in any altercation, verbal or physical, and this is seen as evidence that they don’t view younger males as a threat.

In the study, which was carried out by Angelika Poesel and Douglas Nelson of the Ohio State University and funded by the National Science Foundation, it was noted that the older male would, however, become agitated and aggressive upon hearing a rival bird of the same age in his territory. It appears that the males of this species assess the fighting ability of their opponents based on age, and younger males simply don’t scare them.

The study observed a migratory population of white-crowned sparrows nesting in Bandon, Oregon, from 2008 to 2011. While plumage is an important indicator of maturity, the results of the study reveal that some birds use each other’s songs to determine age and threat level. As is the case with many bird species, male white-crowned sparrows use their songs to establish nesting territory and court a potential mate. Should a male sing in another’s territory, he can expect to be attacked and driven off if perceived to be a threat. With this particular bird species, second-year males do have plumage differences, but they also sing two or more versions of their species unique song before they choose one, and abandon the rest. This multiple version singing indicates to more mature males that the bird singing in his territory is a second-year male, and not a threat worth getting ruffled feathers about.

The research was carried out by playing various songs through loudspeakers within the established territories of mature males, and careful observation of the birds’ behavior. It was noted that second-year males that have established territory, did not tolerate other second-year males invading their space. It is thought that female birds are naturally more attracted to mature birds than to younger ones, and the older birds know this. Also, younger birds are disinclined to push their luck with a mature male which is likely to be stronger and more experienced.

Lead author of the study, Angelika Poesel, is curator of the Borrer Laboratory of Bioacoustics. Douglas Nelson is associate professor of evolution, ecology and organismal biology, and director of the University’s Borrer Laboratory.

Southwest Wings Festival

March 17, 2011 by  
Filed under Events

The 20th Annual Birding and Nature Festival in Sierra Vista, or Southwest Wings, is both educational and fun, as participants learn about birds, reptiles, mammals and insects in southern Arizona. The festival boasts a busy schedule of events including 40 field trips (including overnight trips), a welcome reception, keynote address by Scott Weidensaul (the title being “Living on the Wind: The Miracle of Bird Migration”) and movie night. There will also be a number of free programs, including Warbler identification, Butterflies for Birders, choosing and using optics, Bird identification, Hummingbirds of the US, Birding by ear, Arizona Dragonflies 101, Ants of Southern Arizona, Photo workshop, Hummingbirds 101 and so much more. Registration for the event can be done online.

Date: 3 to 6 August 2011
Venue: Cochise College Campus
City: Sierra Vista
State: Arizona
Country: United States of America

A Bird’s Touch

March 5, 2010 by  
Filed under Features

Nature not only surrounds us with sheer beauty but also offers an abundance of fascinating new discoveries that continue to amaze us. Just when we think we know everything about an animal or bird, they seem to prove us wrong. More recently, birds have revealed that crests and beards are not merely used for finding a mate, but serve a greater purpose, allowing them to explore their surroundings as well. Research on birds, such as the auklet, has opened up a new door into the world of birds and their feathers.

Professor Ian Jones, St John’s Memorial University, and Dr Sampath Seneviratne, University of British Columbia, shared their insights and suspicions that certain feathers on a bird’s body could serve to heighten the sense of touch. When looking at birds, such as the auklet, which have intricate feathers on their heads, scientists found that by putting them through a simple navigational test, much was revealed in regard to the role that crests and head feathers play. Using a dark maze, as this breed tends to breed in dark crevices, it was found that when the birds navigated the test, they succeeded in completing the maze with less difficulty than when researchers flattened their head feathers. It was also noted that in general, if birds have ornamental feathering, they tend to be birds that are active at night.

Researchers then looked at bird species that do not feature elaborate feathering, including pheasants, kingfishers, parrots, penguins and owls. They suggest that even if some birds do not have crests and rectal bristles, longer wing feathers may also serve as a means of touch. Many birds use their feathers and coloring to show off their abilities and to either startle or camouflage themselves from their predators, but there is good reason to believe that feathers have various other functions that we have not been aware of until now. The new insight into facial feathers and flamboyant feathering could lead to further studies,to confirm these findings and the preliminary research. This use of their feathers for touch and orientation has revealed a more complex side to birds, and will have us gazing a little more intently whenever we look at these colorful creatures of the skies.

Anting Behavior in Birds

January 14, 2010 by  
Filed under Features

Anting is a form of bird behavior that has yet to be explained by researchers and scientists. Even though hundreds of bird species engage in anting all over the world, no-one has been able to confirm the reason why birds choose to do so.

Anting can take on different forms. Some birds will pick up ants in their beaks and rub the ant over their feathers, after which they eat the ant; while others will open their wings and lie down over an active anthill and allow ants to climb up onto them. But it does seem that one part of anting remains consistent: birds prefer using ants that produce formic acid. Ants use the formic acid their bodies produce as a defense mechanism, which they spray at their attackers, but at the same time provides birds with a certain something that scientists would love to discover.

One theory on anting is that the formic acid could be used as a fungicide, bactericide and as an insect repellent, while others choose to believe that it is the vitamin D content in the acid that birds are after. This leads to another unanswered question: why do birds sometimes use alternative anting tools, such as millipedes and fruit? Some scientists believe that anting is used to preen feathers and helps prevent the drying out of their plumage, but then one again has to ask, that if only some birds include anting in their behavior, could preening really be the answer? Another suggestion that has been made is that anting has an intoxicating effect, as some birds have been known to shake and lose control over their ability to walk. Anting has been documented in a variety of species including crows, babblers, weavers, owls, turkeys, waxbills and pheasants to name but a few. And for all the research done and no lack of theories, it seems the human race will have to be satisfied with the fact that the mystery behind anting might elude us forever, and remain a small secret that nature is not willing to share.

The Mini Bird Race 2009

September 10, 2009 by  
Filed under Events

The Mini Bird Race 2009 will be hosted by the Borneo Highlands Resort, with the support of the Malaysian Nature Society, on the 4th of October 2009. Contrary to what one might expect the Mini Bird Race 2009 to consist of, only wild birds a part of this event, as it is held to promote bird species and the conservation of nature. It will be the second time that this event is hosted, because of its previous success, and the Mini Bird Race sees teams face off against each other in a race of knowledge and good bird spotting skills. Each team has a limit time to find, record and identify as many bird species as possible.

The Mini Bird Race 2009 is an extremely fun and exciting event and offers spectators the opportunity to enjoy the company and activities with fellow bird lovers. For more information in regard to this event, visit the official website at http://borneohighlands.com.my/birdrace2009.html.

Date: 4 October 2009
Venue: Penrissen Range, Borneo Highlands Resort, Kuching
City: Sarawak
Country: Malaysia

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