California Condors huddle around a watering hole in the Ventana wilderness east of Big Sur, California. Three decades after being to the brink of extinction, the California Condor is staging an impressive comeback, thanks to captive breeding programs and reduced use of lead ammunition near their feeding grounds.
The recent convictions of shooters in Texas and Louisiana have sent messages that shooting a Whopping Crane is a serious offence and that the shooter faces time in jail, fines and other penalties. In October, 2016, a young man was sentenced to five years of federal probation after pleading guilty to a violation of the Endangered Species Act for the 2016 shooting deaths of two Whooping Cranes belonging to a reintroduced flock in Louisiana. He was back in federal court for violating the terms of his probation, for using a semi-automatic rifle to hunt from a roadway in Texas. The probation terms prohibited his owning or possessing firearms, ammunition or any other dangerous weapon. He is also prohibited from hunting or fishing anywhere in the U.S.A. A U.S. Magistrate Judge sentenced the man to 11 months in jail to be followed bya one-year term of supervised release. The judge waived the 200 hours of community service of the 2016 sentence, so the convicted man could work to obtain money to pay two restitution amounts of $12,907.50 each to the International Crane Foundation and to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation.
USDA photo by John Noll
In a separate case, in 2014, a Whooping Crane was found in Louisiana with a gunshot wound and had to be euthanized because of the injury. Louisiana officials investigated the shooting. In 2017, a 21-year-old man pleaded guilty in federal court, to violations that included hunting birds out of season, hunting from a vehicle on a public road, not having a valid hunting licence, and wanton waste of migratory game birds. The man had also been arrested in 2015 of felony witness-intimidation charges. He made guilty pleas and was sentenced to 45 days in federal prison for each of the five convictions to run concurrently and a $2,500 fine. The fine must be paid within one year, or the man will have to serve 45 days in federal prison for each of the five convictions to run consecutively.
The Yellow Warbler pictured at right was was netted by University researchers at Cornell, on June 24, 2017, in Ithaca, New York. It had been banded 3 weeks earlier in Coprdoba, Colombia, SA. This recorded band recovery was the first ever between North and South America for a Yellow Warbler, despite the fact that more than 130,000 of them have been banded in northeastern North America alone in the last few decades. It probably made the entire 2,320 mile trip in about three weeks, in its rush to get a jump on the spring mating season.. It also likely made the trip via a single, non-stop flight across the Gulf of Mexico.
The Eurasian Wryneck (pictured here in Suffolk, UK.) aquired its name from its ability to turn its head almost 180 degrees. It is part of the woodpecker family and males and females look alike....wherever they're facing. Please comment if you wish. BarrytheBirder
Photo: Australian Wildlife Conservancy/AFP/Getty Images
aAUSTRALIAN NIGHT PARROTa
Afeather from one of the world's most elusive birds, the Australian Night Parrot (Geopsittacus occidentalis) found in South Australia, is the first proof in more than a century that it lives there. Please comment if you wish. BarrytheBirder
Artist, Andy Holden, and his ornithologist father Peter Holden created this huge replica of an Australian Bowerbird's bower as part of an exhibition entitled Natural Selection in London's former Newington Library. The project was commissioned by Artangel and runs until November 5, 2017. Andy Holden is particularly interested in how bower-building and nest-building relate to art-making. Do birds create their intricate constructions because instinct tells them to drop moss on twigs, or do they have a vision of their home in mind, suggesting a higher consciousness? The Australian Bowerbird fashions a unique inverted arch of sticks purely for displaying the objects it collects, like "a set for a performance". Bowerbirds range from 8" to 16" long and the bowers are usually slightly taller than the birds. This information was taken, in part, from an article by Skye Sherwin in a recent online edition of Britain's The Guardian.
Below is a selection of three of the finalists in this year's Wildlife Photographer of the Year contest, sponsored by Britain's prestigious Natural History Museum. Grand prize winners will be announced in October.
Bald Eagle byKlaus Nigge (Germany)
Finalist 2017 ~ Animal Portraits
After several days of constant rain, this Bald Eagle was soaked to the skin. Full concentration on the eagle's expression created an intimate portrait, enhanced by the overcast light of the rainy day.
Resplendent Delivery byTyohar Hastiel (Israel)
Finalist 2017 ~ Behaviour: Birds
Tyohar watched a pair of Resplendent Quetzels for more than week as they delivered fruit to their chicks. ResplendentQuetzels usually nest in thicker forest, but this pair had picked a tree in a partly logged area in the Costa Rican cloud forest of San Gerardo de Dota. The additional light made it easier for Tyohar to catch the iridescent colour of the male's dazzling emerald and crimson body plumage and tail streamers.
Arctic treasure bySergey Gorshkov(Russia)
Finalist 2017 ~ Animal Portraits
An Arctic Fox carries its egg trophy from a raid on a Snow Goose nest and heads for a suitable feasting spot.
AGriffon Vulture (Gyps fulvus), a.k.a. Eurasian Griffon, is seen flying over the Uvac River in the Uvac Special Nature Preserve in Serbia. This large vulture can be up to 4 ft. long and have a wingspan of 9 ft., with a weight of up to 25 lbs. Reports of Griffon Vultures weighing up to 33 lbs. are thought to be birds raised in captivity.
For the last two weeks or so it has been Monarch butterflies passing through the backyard flower beds, but this week it is the Mourning Cloaks that have been showing up, at the hummingbird feeders in particular (see below).
Photos by BarrytheBirder
This Mourning Cloak (above)
visited one hummingbird feeder in particular, several times over the last few days and spent a considerable amount of time on each occasion drawing nectar from the bird feeder.
Arctic Terns (Sterna Paradisaea) are seen above on the Farne Islands, Northumberland, UK. The terns here are booming in population thanks to the conservation efforts on this stretch of coast recently bought by the National Trust.
Photo: All Ihsan Ozturk / Anadolou Agency / Getty Images
Pied Kingfisher on north side of Mediterranean
A Pied Kingfisher is seen above drinking from Lake Ercek, in Van Province, in far-eastern Turkey. Normally an African native, this Pied Kingfisher has crossed northward across the Mediterranean Sea -- not likely the first, or last, to do so.
Over a hundred Ring-billed Gulls have occupied the pastures and a pond on this horse farm, near the Holland Marsh, on Hwy. 9, for the past few summers. Often dozens of Canada Geese join them, as well as the occasional cormorant (see photo at left). I believe these gulls are far-ranging in the area between Lake Simcoe to the north and Lake Ontario to the south, but have an affinity for this horse farm at certain times each day. I must pay attention to see how long they continue to visit this spot when winter arrives and the pond freezes over.
After posting yesterday's blog about the photo of a magpie and Spanish Imperial Eagle sharing the same perch, my wife directed me to the six interesting magpie facts listed below. 1. Magpies don't actually like shiny things - they're scared of them. 2. Magpies have been known to steal other birds' eggs and even young chicks. 3. Magpies are closely related to crows, jays and ravens and therefore are highly intelligent. 4. Magpies recognize themselves in mirrors, one of only seven animal species in the world to do so. 5. A group of magpies is called a 'parliament'...apparently for their stately appearance and cawing exchanges with each other. 6. Magpies have extremely long tails and can make swift turns in the air to avoid larger avian predators. Please comment if you wish. BarrytheBirder
There's no telling, I suppose, what led these two bird species, a Magpie and a young Spanish Imperial Eagle, to share the same branch. The eagle does appear however, to be ever so slightly unimpressed by the smaller bird's presence.
An immature Black-throated Green Warbler is seen perched in a cedar hedge, in my backyard, in King City, Ontario (just north of Toronto), Canada.
Photo: Christina Rollo / Alamy
A female Black-throated Green Warbler is seen perched on pink flowers in Binghampton, NY, US. The birds breed in the north-eastern US and southern Canada in summer and then migrate to Mexico. They are very abundant. Please comment if you wish. BarrytheBirder
It's been almost a year since a study doubled the number of bird species in the world by redefining 'species'. Joel Cracraft, an evolutionary biologist and ornithologist at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, and some colleagues, settled on a new figure at 18,043. But it could be as high 20,000. The new figure is an extrapolation of a study of 437 biological bird species, which on average, were split into 2.4 taxa each. A current list of 9,159 species therefore grew to over 18,000. How accurate and valid is this extrapolation? No one really knows. What I know is that I was right, a long time ago, to forget about being a lister. Now I just enjoy myself watching and listening and appreciating the simple existence of my feathered friends. Which means I can experience the presence of a single species a hundred times and never stop marvelling at its differences and similarities to me. Amen.
An Andean Condor (Vultur gryphus) circles the thermals looking for prey in its dramatic habitat of Torres del Paine National Park, Chile.
A perfect landing
by Bret Charman, New South Wales, Australia
Gold award winner in the birds in flight category
"I was photographing Australian Pelicans (Pelicanis conspicillatus) on the edge of a small mangrove swamp. They were resting in the calm, shallow waters and the soft evening light was providing the perfect conditions to capture reflections. I was photographing a portrait of an individual when I heard the wing beats of another bird coming in to land and took the snap".
The British Trust of Ornithology (BTO) has announced the winners of its 2017 Bird Photographer of the Year competition. The photos appearing here were published by England's Guardian Newspaper Online and include several winners and short-listed images from this year's competition.
by Jose Garcia
Category: bird behaviour
A Great White Heron (Ardea herodias occidentalis) is fighting a green snake in the Florida Everglades. The battle lasted for nearly 20 minutes with the heron having to release its prey.
by Georgina Steytler
Gold Award winner in the creative imagery category
A Pacific Black Duck (Anas superciliosa) shows its iridescent speculum feathers in Garvey Park, Perth, Western Australia. "I took this photo at a small lake. The still waters and the dark foliage of the background resulted in an opportunity to highlight the gorgeous feathers...".
Catch of the Day
by Vince Burton, UK.
Winner of the Nature Photographer Ltd. Peoples Choice Award
A Common Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis) is seen in Suffolk, England. "The kingfisher caught the fish by spearing it with its beak. It flew to a nearby branch, threw back its head and tossed the fish in the air, before catching it again".
by Ionel Onofras, Romania
Category: best portrait
Great White Pelican (Pelecanus onocrotalus) on the Danube Delta, Romania.
A low-angle view of cranes in the village of Khichan, in Rajasthan, India, is seen after the photographer, Yashpal Rathore, buried his camera in the ground underneath scattered grain to capture the birds feeding. Thousands of migrating cranes land in Khichan, flying from the east.