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.

Here’s a comparison photo of a Lesser and Greater Yellowlegs I took earlier this week (the Greater is in the back with the Lesser in the front).,


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Birding News #79

Scientists report that the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster caused genetic damage, a decline in the population, and other changes to the birds, insects, and plants in the area.

DDT continues to kill birds in a Michigan town.

The misunderstood and maligned Magpie

Archaeologists have discovered that toward the end of his life, King Richard III apparently ate more water birds — such as swans, cranes, herons, and egrets — and drank more wine.

A New Jersey airport has found that letting the weeds grow deters birds from gathering, and so lowers the risk of bird strikes, and an Ohio airport is doing something similar, planting tall prairie grasses.

US Fish & Wildlife Service officials are searching for the person who shot at least one Osprey and one Barred Owl, both species of which are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. An adult male Osprey was shot in the wing and had to be euthanized; he was the father of two hungry chicks discovered several days later one of jumped 60 to 80 feet from its nest, into traffic, and died. The mother osprey’s body was later found nearby, and officials also believe it was shot.

A pair of pigeons interrupted the recent Detroit Tigers vs. Pittsburgh Pirates baseball game.

The US Fish & Wildlife Service is proposing to designate 546,335 acres in nine western states as critical habitat for the Yellow-billed Cuckoo, now under consideration as a Threatened Species.

Nudists are scaring off the birds at a small Florida island wildlife refuge.

Great posts in birding blogs this week:

:: From Noah at The ABA Blog: Cell Phone Bird Photography

:: From Alex at Flight of the Scrub-Jay: Late July on Cape Cod

:: From Julie at Birding is Fun: The Midwest Woodpecker Drill Team

:: From Alex at Nemesis Bird: Alcids of the Olympic Peninsula

:: From Sharon at Birdchick: BirdFair Bound & A Collins App

:: From Nicholas at Hipster Birders: Of Hawks and Hummers

:: From Josh at Ontario Birds and Herps: Yellow-crowned Night-Heron in Toronto

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.

One evening this week, I watched this Eastern Kingbird gleaning insects from a barbed wire fence near our house,


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Bird News #78

:: The Audubon Society is looking for volunteers to monitor its three web cams on Seal Island, Maine, a National Wildlife Refuge in outer Penobscot Bay, to contribute data for a project scientists hope will help save Atlantic puffins in the state from starvation.

:: The California Clapper Rail has been renamed Ridgway’s Rail, the American Ornithologists’ Union announced recently, after a DNA examination showed that the species is more closely related to Mexico’s Aztec Rail than to its East Coast namesake, the Clapper Rail.

:: A visit to the new Wild Bird Fund Center for injured birds, on Manhattan’s Upper West Side; more about the center here, if you happen to be in the neighborhood.

:: Alaska biologist Julie Hagelin made her own bird decoy with a 3D printer, to help in her research to save the Olive-sided Flycatcher, which is mysteriously declining throughout most of its range in North America.

:: Surveys for the Atlas of the Breeding Birds of Ontario revealed an unexpected result: volunteer citizen scientists over the age of 50 weren’t as proficient as younger volunteers (those under the age of 40), when it came to detecting 13 of the 43 songbird species, and interestingly the lack of proficiency is not related to hearing loss.

:: Migrant families in Baltimore are planting flowers and shrubs in a park to feed and shelter migratory birds as part of the Patterson Park Audubon Center’s Bird Ambassadors program.

:: Actress Jane Alexander is a keen birder, talking to The New York Times about her passion.

:: Workers at the archaeological site at Gorham’s Cave, Gibraltar, where Neanderthals lived for nearly 100,000 years, have uncovered evidence of a diet more varied than originally thought — a cache of Rock Dove bones with tooth marks, cuts from stone tools, and signs of charring, perhaps created when the meat was left to roasted over a fire.

:: United Airlines working with the Houston Airport System at Bush Intercontinental Airport last month poisoned and killed hundreds of birds with Avitrol, as part of a “bird abatement project” that animal rights groups have called cruel and inhumane.

:: The US Fish & Wildlife Service postponed the New Jersey Institute of Technology’s drone testing at the US Coast Guard Training Center in Cape May from last month to November, in order to protect the threatened Piping Plovers and Red Knots that migrate to the coastal area in the summer in the summer.

Great posts in birding blogs this week:

:: From Shyloh at beakingoff: Yukon birding at Swan Lake

:: From Sarah for The EyrieWhat to Do When You Feel Under the Weather at Bird Camp

:: From Pat at Bird CanadaWelcome to Prince Edward Island Birding!

:: From Kathleen at birdworthySunrise Stakeout

:: From Laurence at Butler’s BirdsBro, Do You Even Pish???

:: From Nick at The BirdistInquiring Minds Want To Know: Answering Google Questions About Birds

:: From Kathie at Kathie’s BirdsA Summer’s Day at Reid State Park

Birding After Work

I’m sorry for being missing in action for much of this summer on my blog, but my summer job (working for our local agricultural society during the 108th annual Vermilion Fair), and farming, especially looking after my 100 broilers and 100 layers, have kept me very busy. On the up side, I got my driver’s license at the end of June, so I’m enjoying being more mobile.

This past week, I was finally able to get out and do some birding, something I haven’t been able to do for a while. On Wednesday, I brought my camera, binoculars, and scope in work, so when I was finished for the day, I stopped off at the Vermilion Provincial Park to see what was around.

There were lots of gulls flying around the river, mostly non-breeding Franklin’s Gulls, a few Bonapart’s Gulls, Ring-bills, and four Herring Gulls. Double-crested Cormorants were also quite prominent on the river, especially on the dock where many of them were vibrating the muscles and bones in their throats, called gular fluttering, to help them cool down.

On the way back to my truck, I heard a bird “chipping” in the poplars. I was able to see that the bird was an Orange-crowned Warbler.

Here’s my eBird checklist from my bird walk at the park, which included a Ring-billed Gull,


a pair of Herring Gulls — the front one is a juvenile and I believe the back one is a first winter plumage bird (please add a correction in the comments if necessary!),


A juvenile Franklin’s Gull, IMG_5108

Double-crested Cormorant and the juvenile Herring Gull, IMG_5077

After evening chores one night this week, I went out with my scope to our summerfallow field to look at some of the wet areas to see if there were any shorebirds feeding in the low spot. I did find a Semipalmated Plover — a year bird for me as I missed the species this spring, and five not-so-solitary Solitary Sandpipers.

I took a few photos of the plover before the resident Swainson’s Hawk flew over where the shorebirds were feeding and scared off the plover. The hawk landed in a bare tree and was immediately harassed by a pair of American Robins and Eastern Kingbirds.

Here’s my eBird checklist from that day, which included the Swainson’s Hawk and American Robin,


An adult Semipalmated Plover,


On Thursday after work, I went out for another bird walk around our yard. I first headed to the lake behind our house where I was hoping to find more shorebirds feeding along the lakeshore.

When I walking to the lake, a Merlin flew down and landed on a fence post in front of me until it noticed me and abruptly flew off,


A Red Paintbrush,


A juicy wild raspberry,


There weren’t too many birds at the lake, but there were four adult Eared Grebes feeding their chicks on the lake, and also a group of Savannah and Clay-colored Sparrows flitting about in the bushes. A Killdeer, American Goldfinches, Cedar Waxwings, and Red-winged Blackbirds flew above me.

My eBird checklist from the lake.

Cedar Waxwing,




At the slough east of our house I found many more birds than at the lake: a Great Blue Heron, dozens of American Coots, a Black-bellied Plover, common Goldeneyes, Black-capped Chickadees, Red-winged Blackbirds, Redheads, Savannah Sparrows, a male and female Northern Harrier, Spotted Sandpiper, Pied-billed Grebes, and more.

My eBird checklist from the slough.

I spent an hour watching the birds at the slough until I noticed one of my brothers on our deck, barbecuing hamburgers, so I headed home

This Solitary Sandpiper was feeding in a group of five other Solitary Sandpipers and a juvenile Spotted Sandpiper,


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.

Sunday afternoon I saw seven Mourning Doves sitting on powerlines while driving near St. Paul, Alberta. Here is one of them, which I snapped quickly on a country road,


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Birding News #77

:: Alberta has announced that the Western Grebe has been added to the province’s threatened species list, and that the Trumpeter Swan, a species on its way to recovery, has been removed from the list of threatened species.

:: Following up on the groundbreaking study, by University of Alberta biologist Colleen Cassady St. Clair of bird landings at toxic tailing ponds (see Bird News #70 from June), Dr. St. Clair is testing the use of laser pointers, as a complement to the noisemakers typically used to flush waterfowl, to keep birds away from from tailings ponds.

:: A pair of Peregrine Falcons have nested along the Pembina River for the first time in 50 years, and only 100 metres away from the spot where the previous pair nested in 1964.

:: eBird is looking for some missing bird species

:: Minneapolis’s City Council passed a resolution on Friday calling for the use of “fritted” glass — to help birds avoid collisions — at the new downtown Vikings Stadium, which has just begun construction. The group overseeing the building said using the special glass would add an additional $1.1 million to the project’s $1 billion cost. (See below, in Great posts in birding blogs this week for more on this.)

:: The last rehabilitation facility for songbirds and waterfowl in the Denver, Colorado area — Wild Bird Information and Rehabilitation of Denver, known as Wild BIRD — has to leave its current location by Sept. 1st because it’s improperly zoned, and the center has to raise nearly half a million dollars by Nov. 1st to be able to open in time for next year’s spring migration.

:: A story of bird evolution: Honey, I Shrank the Therapod!

:: Physicists at the Institute for Complex Systems in Rome have used high-speed cameras to film murmurations of starlings to study how and when individual birds know when and where to turn, “a behavior that mirrors certain quantum phenomena of liquid helium”.

:: As filming of the latest Star Wars movie began last week — in the middle of the breeding season for thousands of pairs of puffins, Manx Shearwaters, and Storm Petrels  — on the Irish island of Skellig Michael, a designated Unesco World Heritage site as well as a special protection area under the European Union habitats directive, Unesco, Birdwatch Ireland, and an independent archaeologist are expressing concern about the impact of a film crew on such a fragile environment.

Great posts in birding blogs this week:

:: From The Eyrie: Meet Alec Wyatt, 2014 ABA Young Birder of the Year

:: From Michael at The ABA Blog: 2014 AOU Check-list Supplement Is Out!

:: From Sharon at Birdchick: How Easy Is It To Fix The Viking Stadium? Very.

:: From Duncan at 10,000 Birds: Birding by Volunteering 

:: From Laurence at Butler’s BirdsTexas Birding: The Final Chapter and No Room for Tears

:: From Josiah at Birds in Your BackyardSpring Birds – Shorebirds

:: From Dan at Bird CalgaryTravel Tuesday – Bobolinks, babies and more south of Calgary

:: From Sharon at Bird Canada: Those Incredible Cormorants