This is such a worthwhile video that shows how the introduction of wolves to Yellowstone National Park have made a tremendous difference primarily by culling the deer population. Deer, it turns out, are extremely destructive to the vegetation which many creatures rely upon. The deer eat the ground vegetation; they eat the tree vegetation. Having fewer deer has meant that the ground and tree vegetation has returned, along with all the creatures that used to be prevalent. Watch the video and see if it doesn't make a difference to you how you feel about wolves.
The whooping crane (Grus americana), is North America's largest bird, standing five feet tall, and one of its longest-lived, surviving 30 years or more in the wild. The species was near extinction in the 1940s, with fewer than 25 individuals. Today there is one flock of approximately 250 whoopers in the wild. This flock is the ONLY self-sustaining flock of whooping cranes in North America that migrate annually. This flock breeds in Canada and winters along the gulf coast of Texas.
The Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership, made up of government and non-profit experts, has been working since 2001 to establish a second population in the Eastern U.S., which now numbers more than 100 birds. Whooping cranes occurred naturally in the eastern United States until the mid-twentieth century, and there are records of whooping cranes in Florida until the 1930s. At Maryland's Patuxent Wildlife Research Refuge and other captive breeding sites, adult whooping cranes produce chicks and biologists hand-raise them, using special methods designed to prepare the chicks for life in the wild. Each summer in a Wisconsin marsh, experts train a group of captive-raised chicks to follow an ultralight aircraft, using techniques like those portrayed in the fictional 1996 movie "Fly Away Home" to lead them on a 1,300-mile journey to their Florida wintering grounds.
Only this first migration is human-assisted; from then on the young birds travel on their own, usually in the company of other whooping cranes. It appears that only one experienced bird per group is enough to keep the migration on track. Their movements are monitored daily via satellite transmitters, radio telemetry and on-the-ground observers. The result is a record of the movements of individual birds over several years, all with known parentage and the same upbringing.
The study shows the migration training for captive-born whooping cranes is working, Mueller said. However, the reintroduced whoopers are having trouble breeding in the wild. Based on the migration study's finding, "we need to take into consideration that these birds may also reproduce more successfully as they age," he said.
Given the whooping cranes' recent plunge towards extinction, it wouldn't be surprising if the birds need to re-learn how best to raise their chicks, said Patuxent-based scientist Sarah J. Converse of the U.S. Geological Survey, a co-author of the paper.
You can read the full article here: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/08/130829145119.htm
Sandhill Cranes are so fascinating. I found this very informative article and links from Audubon. Someday I hope to go to the Platte River in Central Nebraska and see the spectacle of cranes. It is on the bucket list!
From February to April, more than half a million Sandhill cranes and millions of waterfowl will make their way to central Nebraska as a part of their yearly migration north.
Beginning the first week of March, Audubon Nebraska’s Rowe Sanctuary will open viewing blinds in several locations along the Platte River, where enthusiasts can view the birds in their natural habitat. The cranes roost on the river’s sandbars and gorge themselves in surrounding fields in preparation for flights to nesting grounds as far away as Siberia.
“It’s pretty fascinating, because they seldom hold still,” said Chris Thody, coordinator for Audubon’s Nebraska Crane Festival in Kearney, Neb. “And the noise they make is awe-inspiring. Imagine tens of thousands of cranes trilling; it’s an incredible sound.”
In addition, starting March 20, when the concentration of birds peaks, the festival will offer three days of special events, including field trips, workshops, and guest speakers. Registration costs $125, and a portion of the proceeds will be used to preserve sandhill crane habitat.
“The preservation of habitat is the utmost reason for this festival,” Ms. Thody said. “Sandhill cranes are one of the oldest bird species, and they have been coming to Nebraska since before the Platte River existed, but preserving this land for them also helps a plethora of other endangered and threatened species, like whooping cranes, interior least terns and piping plovers.”
Those who can’t make the festival can still observe the cranes from their homes, using the online CraneCam.
This CraneCam is very cool. Take a look.!
I found this wonderful article which gives 15 fun facts about bird migration, things I certainly never knew.
1. Before migration, many birds drastically increase their body weight to store fat for the long travels ahead. This is called hyperphagia.
2. Hawks, swifts, swallows and waterfowl migrate primarily during the day, while many songbirds migrate at night, in part to avoid the attention of migrating predators such as raptors. The cooler, calmer air at night also makes migration more efficient for many species, while those that migrate during the day most often take advantage of solar-heated thermal currents for easy soaring.
3. Migrating birds use the stars for navigation, as well as the sun, wind patterns and landforms, all of which help guide them to the same locations each year. The earth's magnetic field also plays a part in how birds migrate.
4. Birds may fly from 15-600 miles or more per day during migration, depending on when they are migrating, how far they have to go and the conditions they face along the route, including the availability of suitable stopovers.
5. Transoceanic migrants – birds who follow a migration route that crosses an ocean – may spend up to 100 hours or more in the air at a single time until they come to land.
6. Many migratory birds have longer, more pointed wings than nonmigratory species or birds with shorter migrations. This wing structure is more aerodynamic with less air resistance and allows for more efficient, easier flight.
7. Migrating birds travel at speeds ranging from 15-50 miles per hour depending on the species, flight pattern and prevailing winds that can increase or decrease speed.
8. While most migrating birds fly at heights lower than 2,000 feet, birds have been recorded migrating at up to 29,000 feet high. The height of a bird's migration flight depends on wind patterns and landforms that may create obstacles, such as mountain ranges.
9. The ruby-throated hummingbird migrates from the Yucatan peninsula of Mexico to the southeastern United States every spring, a journey of 500-600 miles over the Caribbean Sea that takes 24 hours without a break.
10. The rufous hummingbird has the longest migration of any hummingbird species: a one-way trip of 3,000 miles between its breeding grounds in Alaska and its winter range in Mexico. In spring, rufous hummingbirds travel north up the Pacific coast, while in autumn they travel south through more mountainous regions.
11. The Arctic tern has the longest recorded migration of any bird on the planet; banded Arctic terns have confirmed a round-trip migration of roughly 22,000 miles.
12. Migrating birds face many threats along their journeys, including window collisions, confusing lights that disrupt navigation, hunting, habitat loss and predation. Juvenile birds are at greater risk because of their inexperience with migration – yet somehow, birds successfully migrate every year!
13. The time it takes a single bird to complete its one way migration can range from a few weeks to up to four months, depending on the total distance, flight speed, route and stopovers. Birds migrating late in the season typically travel faster than earlier migrants of the same species.
14. Migration peaks in spring and fall, but in reality, there are birds migrating 365 days a year. The actual dates of when birds migrate depends on many factors, including bird species, migration distance, travel speed, route, climate and more.
15. The word migration comes from the Latin migratus that means “to change” and refers to how birds change their geographic locations seasonally.
Looking over all of these facts, I think the most surprising is that the little birds mostly migrate at night to avoid the predator birds.
To see the full article, go to this link: http://birding.about.com/od/birdbehavior/a/15-Fun-Facts-About-Bird-Migration.htm
This is a very interesting article about monitoring the migrations of birds, and eventually butterflies, bees, fruit bats, even insects, from SPACE. The mystery of exactly where the world's 10-20 billion migratory birds go and how they navigate perilous journeys across continents and oceans without experience or guidance from parents has long puzzled people. Being able to track birds, and eventually very small insects, is now seen as vital tool for conservation as well as a benefit for human health, which is increasingly linked to the movement of animals and people. About 70% of worldwide epidemics, like Sars, West Nile virus or bird flu, result from animal-human contact. Uschi Müller, co-ordinator of the Icarus Project states, "To start with, Icarus scientists will use 5g transmitters but in the future we will use much smaller ones, under 1g, which will allow us to follow insects. It will be used for conservation, health and disaster forecasting". Because animals are known to sense imminent tectonic activity, she visualizes birds and other animals living near disaster-prone zones being fitted with the transmitters. "It could give people an extra five hours warning of a disaster".
"Icarus and the miniaturisation of telemetry means we are going to be able to monitor the natural world for the first time. We know hardly anything about bird migrations. We can now see that in evolutionary terms birds must know when it's a good time to migrate. We knew it was something like this but not at the individual level. This is answering questions and posing more," says Kasper Thorup, a bird migration researcher at Copenhagen university.
Until 10 years ago, satellite tracking was used only on large animals which could be fitted with powerful transmitters with long lives, but the new solar-powered devices only switch on when a satellite passes overhead, and are getting smaller every year.
"By next year we hope to have devices that weigh just 2g, which will be small enough to place on songbirds like wood thrushes, warblers and finches," says Chris Hewsom, research ecologist at the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO). "These will allow us to track birds like nightjars, too. We are getting to the stage we could do swifts, which would need devices that weighed no more than 1g."
There is also hope that this project can address the decline of a number of bird populations. Bryan Watts, director of the Center for Conservation Biology at William and Mary college in Virginia, USA says,"Understanding the routes they take can help us preserve them and prevent higher than normal rates of infection among wildlife populations. We still don't know where they go and many are only here for a few months. Without knowing exactly where they go and when we can not understand how to conserve them."
We are getting close to a full life cycle understanding of birds," says Watts. "We used to see birds at different places at different times, but we did not know they were the same ones. What we are seeing now for the first time is the way birds connect places. We are reducing the size of the world."
You can read the full article here: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/jan/19/migration-secrets-birds-icarus-space-station
Click on the BIRD to be taken to my latest TREASURY: Sweet Birds of Spring. All the artwork has been created by ETSY Artists, such a wonderful group.
Here is a link to a group of wonderful bird artists on ETSY. It is one of my TREASURY Lists.
This is a great story. I would encourage you to go to their website, WoodstockSanctuary.org and read about it. This is a worthwhile organization not to mention a great story. The ducks apparently had never been in water before and it took some coaxing to get them to go in. Once they got over the initial shock of something so new, they started enjoying themselves! Very cute story.
Last night at 11pm, I was turning out lights and there was a chestnut-backed chickadee trying to get into my back door. I have a window in the top of the door and here is this little bird frantically trying to get in. So I let him in with the door left open and he flew up on top of the cabinetry, then around the light. I have a natural wreath of dried flowers and he landed on that. He was quite confused, flying all about. I should explain that this is my back porch so it was not like I was letting him into my whole house. Anyway, I decided to turn off the overhead light and turned on the outside light right outside the door and he flew right past me and out. I find this rather odd and have never had this experience before. I don't think of chickadees as nocturnal at all and why all the agitation. ...............................................................Anyway, thought I would share.
Here is a Sentinel Article that was sent to me through the Monterey Bay Sanctuary Exploration Center. The Monterey Bay Birding Festival is September 12-15.
By CLARK TATE
Break out your binocs— the birds are back in town. The seasons are shifting, migrations have begun and, from August to October, a spectacularly diverse assemblage of bird species will be passing through. Trailing on their tailfeathers will be an equally colorful flock of birders flying in from around the globe to participate in the Monterey Bay Birding
Festival Sept. 12-15.
Monterey Bay is dreamy for many reasons — flourishing marine life, worldclass surf breaks, miles upon miles of hiking and biking trails, etc. — and its truly spectacular birding prospects stack up with the best of them. They inspired Hitchcock. The area’s extreme range and diversity of habitat types (Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, Big Sur, Elkhorn Slough National Marine Estuary, Pinnacles National
Monument) make it an ideal avian stopover. Smack in the middle of the autumn
flocking frenzy, the Birding Festival takes full advantage of the splendor nature so nicely delivers to our front door.
Offering field trips to local birding hotspots, water adventures to view seabirds, birding workshops, social events and speaker presentations, the festival is a varied affair. Expert guides will show you the ropes and point out the feathery eye candy.
Once you register for the festival, event prices range from $0 to $154, with most falling
between $10 and $25.
I love birds; I love water; I love