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Sep 26, 2017

Snowy Egrets (Egretta thula)

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Sep 25, 2017

California Condors continue comeback

Photo: Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP
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.
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Sep 24, 2017

Grus americana

 Photo: Johann Schmacher/Vireo/Audubon
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 by a 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.  

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Sep 23, 2017

Astonished bird banders

    Photo above by BarrytheBirder
Photo below by David Chang van Oordt
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.
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Sep 22, 2017

Nothing is easy in Australia

Photo: Genevieve Vallee / Alamy
A Wedge-tailed Eagle (Aquila audax) is seen grappling with a dead bat entangled in barbed wire, in the isolated town of Burketown, Queensland, in the far north-western shire of Burke, in Australia.
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Sep 21, 2017

Can look side-to-side and up-and-down

Photo: Robin Chittenden/Alamy
(Jynx torquilla)
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.
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Sep 20, 2017

Feather proves existence of bird for first time in a century

Photo: Australian Wildlife Conservancy/AFP/Getty Images

A feather 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.
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Sep 19, 2017

2017 Greenpeace Photo Competition

These two photos were among the 12 top images in Greenpeace's Best Wildlife Shots chosen recently by a panel of judges.

 Photo: Doris Potter
'Sap Sippers'
by Doris Potter
The sapsucker drilling holes in the tree above has two butterflies, a Green Comma (left) and a Mourning Cloak (right) waiting patiently to sip sap from the holes drilled by the bird.

Photo: Nicola Bryan
Junco in Cherry Tree
by Nicola Bryan
The Dark-Eyed Junco pictured in this blooming cherry tree is a member of the Oregon Group, a.k.a. "Oregon Junco".   It is typically found on the western coast of Canada and the US.

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Sep 18, 2017

Massive replica of Bowerbird bower is part of art exhibition

Photo: Marcus Leith
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.
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Sep 17, 2017

Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2017 Finalists

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 by Klaus 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 by Tyohar 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 by Sergey 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.

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Sep 16, 2017

Large Old World Vulture...

Photo: Alamy Stock Photo
A Griffon 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.  

Photo: Khaled Al Ghanem
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Sep 15, 2017

Butterflies at hummingbird feeders

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.

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Sep 14, 2017

Population is booming...

Photo: Ian Ward / National Trust
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.
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Sep 13, 2017

Ceryle rudis in Turkey

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.
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Sep 12, 2017

Gulls on horse farm

Photo by BarrytheBirder
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. 

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Sep 11, 2017

A few interesting magpie facts...

Photo: care2
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.

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Sep 10, 2017

Here's an interesting photograph...

Photo: Alamy
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.
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Sep 9, 2017

Dendroica virens

Photo by BarrytheBirder
Black-throated Green Warbler
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.
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Sep 8, 2017

How many bird species in the world?

Photo by BarrytheBirder
Are there 9,000 or 20,000 species in the world?
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.
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Sep 7, 2017

What would they tell us if they could speak?

Photo: Thomas Mukoya/Reuters
Marabou Storks stand on a pile of recyclable plastic materials at the Dandora dumping depot on the outskirts of Nairobi, Kenya.
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Sep 6, 2017

Bird on a wire...

Photo: Donald Devine/Alamy
An immature male Ruby-throated Hummingbird perches on a fence in Searcy, Arkansas, US. It appears to be sticking its long nectar-sucking tongue out at something or someone.
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Sep 5, 2017

British Trust of Ornithology ~ Part 5

Andean Condor in flight over mountain peaks
by Ben Hall, UK.
Gold award winner 
in the birds in the enviroment category
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".

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Sep 4, 2017

British Trust of Ornithology ~ Part 4

Barn Owl hovering
by Roy Rimmer, UK.
Category: bird behaviour
Barn Owl (Tyto alba) at Wigan, UK.

Grey Heron
by Ahmad Alessa, Kuwait
Silver award winner in the attention to detail category
Grey Heron (Ardea cinera) photographed in Hungary

by Daniel Stenberg, Sweden
Honourable mention - birds in the environment category
Mallard (Anasplaty rhynchos) in central Stockholm, Sweden

Calling for the Sun
by Ondrej Pelanek, Czech Republic
Gold award winner
Young bird photographer of the year
Whiskered Tern (Childonias hybrida) in wetlands in Hungary 

More photos tomorrow... 
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British Trust of Ornithology ~ Part 3

Bearded Sunset
by Markus Varesvuo, Helsinki, Finland
Winner in best portfolio category
and honourable mention for best portrait
Bearded Reedling (Panurus biarmicus) is seen against the setting mid-winter sun.

Wing Formation
by Tom Hines, UK.
Gold award winner in the attention to detail category
Detail of a Great Cormorant wing (Phalacrocorax carbo) in Hyde Park, London, England.

Full Speed
by Faisal Alnomas, Kuwait
Category: bird behaviour
A little Greater Tern (Thalasseus bergii) runs at full speed to get its meal in Kuwait.

Goosander and brood
by Johnathon Gaunt, UK.
Category: bird behaviour
A female Goosander (Mergus merganser) appears on an upland stream with her newly hatched brood, on the edge of the Cheviot Hills in Northumberland, UK.

More photos tomorrow...
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Sep 3, 2017

British Trust for Ornithology ~ Part 2

Pink Flamingo feeding their young
by Alejandro Prieto Rojas, Mexico
Gold Award and Best Photographer of the Year 2017
Winner in the best portrait category
This image was taken during the annual feeding of the flamingo (Phoenicopterus ruber) chicks in their nesting area at Rio Lagartos, Mexico.

by Markus Varesvuo, Kuusamo, Finland
Best portfolio winner in the creative imagery category
A black-and-white study of the Great Grey Owl (Strix nebulosa) in twilight in northern Finland. 

Coots fighting
by Andrew Parkinson, Derbyshire, UK.
Gold Award Winner in the bird behaviour category
Two Common Coots (Fulica atra) are fighting in a dispute over territory; the background illuminated by dawn sunlight.

Barn Owl hunting by house
by Jaime Hall, Suffolk, England
Gold Medal Winner in the birds in the garden category
A Barn Owl (Tyto alba) hunts for vole and rats against the photographer's patio light.

More photos tomorrow.
Please comment if you wish.

Sep 2, 2017

British Trust of Ornithology

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.

The Battle
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.

The Speculum
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". 

Daily Basket
by Ionel Onofras, Romania
Category: best portrait
Great White Pelican (Pelecanus onocrotalus) on the Danube Delta, Romania.

More photos tomorrow.
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Sep 1, 2017

A different bird's-eye view...

Photo: Yashpal Rathore / Nature PL / Solent
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.
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