Feathers on Friday

If you would like to join me for my Feathers on Friday meme, please put the link to your blog post in the comments and I’ll add the link to my post.

A sign of Spring — an American Robin from earlier this week,


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Birding News #65

:: The US Fish & Wildlife Service’s National Fish and Wildlife Forensics Laboratory studied three solar farms in Southern California and found a disturbing amount of bird injuries — 233 total birds, over 71 species — and says that there are no easy fixes to the problem.

:: A new list documenting the world’s most distinctive rare bird species, according to their appearance, behavior, and evolutionary history, has been compiled by researchers at Yale University and the Zoological Society of London as part of the EDGE of Existence conservation program.

:: Mountain Bluebirds and other cavity-nesting bird species in Nevada are being killed by the hollow plastic pipes driven into the ground to mark mining claims on public land; the birds go into the pipes but can’t climb back out or spread their wings to fly, so trapped at the bottom, they slowly die of dehydration.

:: The U.S. Geological Survey and researchers from the University of New Mexico and Northern Arizona University released a report last week the effects climate change on wildlife species in the Sonoran Desert and the Colorado Plateau ecosystems; the Pinyon Jay is projected to lose nearly one-third of its breeding range, while other species could lose as much as 80 percent by the end of the century

:: BBC nature show host Chris Packham is criticizing television producers and bird charities for ignoring the mass slaughter of migrant birds in Malta.

:: The US Fish & Wildlife Service has again extended, to April 25, the public comment period on a proposal to list Yellow-billed Cuckoos as a threatened species, because of last year’s government shutdown.

:: Several iconic bird spices in the Adirondacks (NY) are in trouble — including the Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, Lincoln’s Sparrow, and  Palm Warbler –  with declines driven by the size of their wetland habitats, how connected these wetlands are to one another, and how near they are to human infrastructure, according to a new Wildlife Conservation Society study.

:: According to the Center for Biological Diversity, Defenders of Wildlife, and WildEarth Guardians, a new federal plan to list the Lesser Prairie Chicken as threatened rather than endangered would not reverse the species’ decline because it would allow ongoing destruction of the bird’s habitat, and so the three groups plan to sue the US Interior Department and US Fish & Wildlife Service under the Endangered Species Act.

:: Carole Burns of The Washington Post interviews David Sibley about the new edition of his Sibley Guide to Birds

Great posts in birding blogs this week: 

:: From Jeremy at A Victoria BirderEndemics, Undemics, and Everything in Between

:: From Josiah at Birds in Your BackyardSpring has Sprung! (Part 1)

:: From Kirby at Birding is Fun: Pledge to Fledge — Every Day!

:: From Ethan at Bird BoyA Trip to Kimberley, BC #2

:: From Jochen at 10,000 Birds: Know Your Audience: A Ring-necked Duck in Germany

:: From Jeff at NeoVista BirdingSunshine’s Got Me Humming for Hummers!


Earlier this week on Facebook, one of my friends shared this terrific sparrow poster created by Richard Edden.


It’s a very handy chart if you’re out in the field and quickly want to compare sparrow “faces”.

A few days later, Mr. Edden shared a poster of “warbler faces” and also announced that he’s working on an app called BirdFace, which will be out soon!

In reply to a Facebook query I sent him, Mr. Edden replied, ”Within 24 hours of posting the first graphic online, there was so much positive feedback and support from MD [Maryland] birders, but also throughout the US, that I decided to jump to producing an app, BirdFace. This is my first foray into iOS App programming, so BirdFace is an exciting, evolving project, with on-going feedback through Facebook. The anticipated release date in App Store is April 12th, and I can’t wait to see what happens next.”

Updated to add:

Mr Edden just created a Facebook page for BirdFace today!


Birding News #64

:: Canada Rare Bird Alert: A Common Shelduck was found near Renews, Newfoundland, on April 2nd. Pending acceptance, this would be a first provincial record and potential first for the ABA area.

:: One of the UK’s most important bird of prey colonies is apparently being targeted in its core breeding area, after 16 raptors were found fatally poisoned in a small area of the Scottish Highlands; the bodies of 12 Red Kites and four buzzards were found near Inverness, in what ornithologists suspect is the largest mass poisoning of birds recorded in an effort. The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds is offering a £10,000 reward for information leading to a successful prosecution

:: It has taken researchers 10 years to create the first comprehensive map of hummingbird evolution over its 22-million-year history.

:: The Fatal Light Awareness Program (FLAP Canadais looking for volunteers this spring to help rescue injured birds and collect dead ones on the streets of Ottawa.

:: Artist Todd McGrain’s “Lost Bird Project”, about extinct species, has landed at the Smithsonian Gardens in Washington, DC

:: Artificially changing the size of a Jackdaw brood can have fatal consequences for parent birds

:: A pair of White Storks have been seen nesting at the Thrigby Hall Wildlife Gardens near Great Yarmouth, in Norfolk, England. The last record of storks breeding in Britain was at Edinburgh, in 1416.

:: Houston Audubon volunteers have counted about 140 oiled birds from the Galveston Bay Oil Spill last month.

:: A new Anna’s Hummingbird livecam has been set up in British Columbia — you can learn more about the cam here

:: Two Hoosiers have started a grassroots campaign to change Indiana’s state bird, from the Northern Cardinal to the White-breasted Nuthatch

:: The US Army Corps of Engineers plans to kill birds at some Snake and Columbia River dams in Washington State to help protect juvenile salmon and steelhead; the plan will allow as many as 1,200 California Gulls, 650 Ring-Billed Gulls and 150 Double-Crested Cormorants to be killed.

Great posts in birding blogs this week: 

:: From Len at Focused on Fauna (and a little flora)S. Padre Island Mar 30,31 and April 1 2014

:: From Jeremy at AZ BirdbrainCatching Up

:: From Duncan at 10,000 BirdsBirding Borneo with Non Birders

:: From Wallace at Our Florida JournalSpringing Into Action!

:: From Mia at On the Wing PhotographyMountain Plovers – Technology today is amazing

:: From Kathleen at BirdworthyWings after Work

:: From Grant at The Birders LibraryWin the New Sibley Guide

Feathers on Friday

If you would like to join me for my Feathers on Friday meme, please put the link to your blog post in the comments and I’ll add the link to my post.

I saw this Common Goldeneye on the Vermilion River last Friday,



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Rusty Blackbird Blitz 2014!

Yesterday marked the launch of the new Rusty Blackbird Spring Blitz 2014 in Alberta. The Blitz is a North American-wide citizen science project that birders can participate in by submitting checklists to eBird. There are different target dates for the different states in the US and different provinces in Canada, and you can find them all here. The target dates for Alberta’s Rusty Blackbird Blitz in Alberta are April 1st through mid-May. The population of the Rusty Blackbird has been rapidly declining across North America, and this decline has raised concerns for the past few decades.

The new Spring blitz is an initiative by the International Rusty Blackbird Working Group, in partnership with eBird, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, and the Vermont Center for Ecostudies to track the RUBL population and hopefully learn about conservation strategies for this declining species.

From the website:

In an effort to better understand the distribution of this species during migration, the Rusty Blackbird Spring Blitz was initiated this year. This citizen science project will provide insight for conservation objectives such as Rusty Blackbird habitat selection during migration and whether or not some of these choice stopover locations may or may not be protected.

Researchers are also interested in “zero-observations”. So, if you’re out and do not see any Rusty Blackbirds, please report “0” in your eBird checklist. Even if you don’t see any Rusties, that’s valuable information for researchers.

To submit a checklist, click on the “Other” tab and select the Rusty Blackbird Spring Migration Blitz (as shown here),


Explaining the need for the Blitz, Southern Alberta co-ordinator Yousif Attia wrote to me, “The reasons for the sharp decline in Rusty Blackbird numbers over the past 20 years still remain largely speculation, [and] initiatives such as this one may shed some light on the cause(s) before it’s too late. Identifying specific stopover habitat and locations can help focus conservation efforts and at the least provide some measure of assistance to the species.”

You can learn more about the Blitz, Rusty Blackbirds, and how to submit your sightings at the Rusty Blackbird Blitz website, and there is also a Rusty Blackbird Facebook page you can follow.

If you have any questions about the Spring Blitz, please contact any of the co-ordinators for Alberta: Yousif Attia (Southern Alberta), ysattia (at) gmail (dot) com; James Fox (Northern Alberta), jamesfox (at) hotmail (dot) ca, and Jason Rogers, hawkowl (at) hotmail (dot) com.

Rusty Blackbirds in our farm yard in October 2012, gathering up for Fall migration,





Birding News #63

:: Last weekend’s Galveston Bay oil spill is threatening the nearby Bolivar Flats Shorebird Sanctuary

:: A breeding pair of endangered Hawaiian Geese, the state bird of Hawaii, thought to have been absent from the island of Oahu for hundreds of years, has been found nesting there. The Hawaiian Goose, or Nene, is a descendant of the Canada Goose which arrived in Hawaii almost one million years ago, shortly after the islands were formed.

:: Newcastle Disease Virus (NDV), which is highly contagious and often fatal for poultry and pigeons, might be a possible cancer treatment in humans

:: In the United States, House Republicans are hoping to prove that the Obama Administration is selectively enforcing wildlife laws to prosecute oil and gas companies while sparing wind-energy farms, and bird deaths are coming into play

:: A Project NestWatch volunteer has discovered the first known Eastern Bluebird twins

:: Officials are telling bird watchers in New Hampshire to remove feeders because they’re attracting bears this Spring

:: Holland Cotter reviews the new “Audubon’s Aviary: Parts Unknown” (Part II of the Complete Flock), exhibit for The New York Times

Great posts in birding blogs this week: 

:: From Kathie at Kathie’s BirdsFlorida Scrub Jay Day

:: From Jeremy at A Victoria BirderKilldeer for the Win!

:: From From Laura at the ABA blogGalveston Bay Oil Spill: What We Birders Can Do

:: From Josiah at Birds in Your BackyardA Special Visitor – Pileated Woodpecker

:: From Russell at British Columbia Rare Bird AlertFirst Northern Cardinal in BC

:: From Jeremy at The Naturalest Naturalist: Conquering a Nemesis: Say’s Phoebe and Tiny Picnic Tables

:: From Ashley at Views from the Urban LakeFeeding Wild Birds in Your Garden