ABC Bird of the Week:  Antioquia Bristle-Tyrant
This bright little yellow-and-olive flycatcher was only described as a species in 1988. Its name refers to Antioquia, the bird’s mountainous home in Colombia, and to the “bristles” found around the bird’s mouth that help it to capture insects.
The Antioquia Bristle-Tyrant belongs to a large and diverse family, the tyrant flycatchers, found entirely within the Americas. Relatives include birds such as Johnson’s Tody-Flycatcher and Streamer-tailed Tyrant. Along with hundreds of other bird species, the bristle-tyrant finds refuge at El Paujil Reserve, established in 2004 by ABC and our partner ProAves…
(read more: American Bird Conservancy)
photo: Pete Morris

ABC Bird of the Week:  Antioquia Bristle-Tyrant

This bright little yellow-and-olive flycatcher was only described as a species in 1988. Its name refers to Antioquia, the bird’s mountainous home in Colombia, and to the “bristles” found around the bird’s mouth that help it to capture insects.

The Antioquia Bristle-Tyrant belongs to a large and diverse family, the tyrant flycatchers, found entirely within the Americas. Relatives include birds such as Johnson’s Tody-Flycatcher and Streamer-tailed Tyrant. Along with hundreds of other bird species, the bristle-tyrant finds refuge at El Paujil Reserve, established in 2004 by ABC and our partner ProAves…

(read more: American Bird Conservancy)

photo: Pete Morris

New report reveals scale of declines of UK migratory birds wintering in Africa
by Martin Fowlie
The migration of millions of birds across the face of the planet is one of nature’s greatest annual events. Every spring some species move in one direction, while every autumn those same species move in the opposite one, very often linking continents.
Although these migration patterns are as regular as the seasons, monitoring is revealing that, for some species, fewer birds are making the journey each season as the populations of these birds, including species nesting in the UK, are declining rapidly.
The latest in the annual series of State of the UK’s Birds report includes a migratory birds section, including trends for 29 migrant species which nest in the UK in summer and spend the winter around the Mediterranean, or in Africa south of the Sahara Desert.  For the first time the recent population trends for these migratory species have been combined into an indicator revealing some marked differences between species that winter in different areas…
(read more: Bird Life International)
image: Yellow Wagtail, by Andy Hay/rspb

New report reveals scale of declines of UK migratory birds wintering in Africa

by Martin Fowlie

The migration of millions of birds across the face of the planet is one of nature’s greatest annual events. Every spring some species move in one direction, while every autumn those same species move in the opposite one, very often linking continents.

Although these migration patterns are as regular as the seasons, monitoring is revealing that, for some species, fewer birds are making the journey each season as the populations of these birds, including species nesting in the UK, are declining rapidly.

The latest in the annual series of State of the UK’s Birds report includes a migratory birds section, including trends for 29 migrant species which nest in the UK in summer and spend the winter around the Mediterranean, or in Africa south of the Sahara Desert.  For the first time the recent population trends for these migratory species have been combined into an indicator revealing some marked differences between species that winter in different areas…

(read more: Bird Life International)

image: Yellow Wagtail, by Andy Hay/rspb

HOUSTON AUDUBON BEAK OF THE WEEK: Great-horned Owl (Bubo virginianus) Family: Strigidae Standing about 2 feet tall with a wingspan of up to 5 feet, the Great Horned Owl is the largest owl in Texas. The two large feather tufts on top of the head give it the appearance of having horns, hence the name.  Great horned owls are highly adaptable and use a broad range of habitats that includes deciduous and evergreen forests, swamps, desert, tundra edges, and tropical rainforest, as well as cities, orchards, suburbs, and parks. The birds may nest in a variety of sites including older nests of hawks, in the fork of large tree limbs, and holes and natural cavities in trees. During their courtship phase, the deep bass, low key series of Hoo H’hoos can heard from a surprising distance as the birds call to each other or to announce their availability. It sounds like the owls are saying, “Who’s awake? Me too!”…
(read more: Houston Audubon)

HOUSTON AUDUBON BEAK OF THE WEEK:

Great-horned Owl (Bubo virginianus)

Family: Strigidae

Standing about 2 feet tall with a wingspan of up to 5 feet, the Great Horned Owl is the largest owl in Texas. The two large feather tufts on top of the head give it the appearance of having horns, hence the name.

Great horned owls are highly adaptable and use a broad range of habitats that includes deciduous and evergreen forests, swamps, desert, tundra edges, and tropical rainforest, as well as cities, orchards, suburbs, and parks. The birds may nest in a variety of sites including older nests of hawks, in the fork of large tree limbs, and holes and natural cavities in trees.

During their courtship phase, the deep bass, low key series of Hoo H’hoos can heard from a surprising distance as the birds call to each other or to announce their availability. It sounds like the owls are saying, “Who’s awake? Me too!”…

(read more: Houston Audubon)

Cornell Lab of Ornithology
Our new Question of the Week asks “What is a winter finch?” 
Short answer, it’s an informal term for birds of the far north (of North America) that visit our feeders in winter—sometimes. 
For more and a link to this year’s “winter finch forecast,” click here: 
Questions of the Week 
And don’t miss the link to our Ontario FeederWatch cam, and you *might* see some winter finches right now!
photo: Evening Grosbeak (Coccothraustes vespertinus)

Our new Question of the Week asks “What is a winter finch?”

Short answer, it’s an informal term for birds of the far north (of North America) that visit our feeders in winter—sometimes.

For more and a link to this year’s “winter finch forecast,” click here:

Questions of the Week

And don’t miss the link to our Ontario FeederWatch cam, and you *might* see some winter finches right now!

photo: Evening Grosbeak (Coccothraustes vespertinus)

prehistoric-birds
invisiblecatfish:

I commissioned Apsaravis, one of my favorite paleoartists, to create a Pelagornis feeding scenario. What is not to love about this? She is open for commissions. [ Tumblr | DeviantART ]
I also just learned that scientists described a new member of the genus: Pelagornis sandersi. It had a 20-24 foot wingspan!

invisiblecatfish:

I commissioned Apsaravis, one of my favorite paleoartists, to create a Pelagornis feeding scenario. What is not to love about this? She is open for commissions. [ Tumblr | DeviantART ]

I also just learned that scientists described a new member of the genus: Pelagornis sandersi. It had a 20-24 foot wingspan!

Matador Wildlife Management Area - Paducah, TX
We just completed our morning fall Northern Bobwhite Quail (Colinus virginianus) covey call counts. We averaged a little over 5 coveys heard per point, which is up about 50% over last year. Average covey size from our roadside counts is about 11 birds per covey. We still expect an average at best quail season, especially when comparing numbers to the banner year of 2005.
Pictured is a female calling from the low branches of a Cottonwood tree.
(via: Texas Parks & Wildlife Dept.)

We just completed our morning fall Northern Bobwhite Quail (Colinus virginianus) covey call counts. We averaged a little over 5 coveys heard per point, which is up about 50% over last year. Average covey size from our roadside counts is about 11 birds per covey. We still expect an average at best quail season, especially when comparing numbers to the banner year of 2005.

Pictured is a female calling from the low branches of a Cottonwood tree.

(via: Texas Parks & Wildlife Dept.)

The Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus) is the fastest known animal! 
They ambush prey by diving in from great heights and at incredible speed; during this “stoop”, they can reach well over 200 mph (322 km/h). In order to achieve such speeds they have a few specialized adaptations. One is a bony projection inside the nostril that acts as a baffle, disrupting the air flow and reducing air pressure, making it easier for the bird to breathe. 
They use their third eyelid - the clear nictitating membrane present in many animals - to keep the eye free of debris and protect it from the powerful wind. The black cheeks help reduce glare from sunlight and water so they can better target their prey. 
They almost exclusively feed on medium-sized birds which they catch in flight; to avoid injuring themselves from the high-speed impact, the falcons target one of the prey’s wings. Peregrines have one of the most diverse diets of all raptors, with over 300 species of North American birds having fallen prey to them. 
They are also among the most adaptable of our raptors and have readily settled into cities where high-rises appeal to their cliff-nesting preferences and pigeons offer an excellent source of food, often making up 80% of an urban Peregrine’s diet.photograph by budgora on Flickr
(via: Peterson Field Guides)

The Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus) is the fastest known animal!

They ambush prey by diving in from great heights and at incredible speed; during this “stoop”, they can reach well over 200 mph (322 km/h). In order to achieve such speeds they have a few specialized adaptations. One is a bony projection inside the nostril that acts as a baffle, disrupting the air flow and reducing air pressure, making it easier for the bird to breathe.

They use their third eyelid - the clear nictitating membrane present in many animals - to keep the eye free of debris and protect it from the powerful wind. The black cheeks help reduce glare from sunlight and water so they can better target their prey.

They almost exclusively feed on medium-sized birds which they catch in flight; to avoid injuring themselves from the high-speed impact, the falcons target one of the prey’s wings. Peregrines have one of the most diverse diets of all raptors, with over 300 species of North American birds having fallen prey to them.

They are also among the most adaptable of our raptors and have readily settled into cities where high-rises appeal to their cliff-nesting preferences and pigeons offer an excellent source of food, often making up 80% of an urban Peregrine’s diet.

photograph by budgora on Flickr

(via: Peterson Field Guides)

Western Bluebirds Sing Like Their Neighbors, Not Necessarily Like Their Families
by Pat Leonard
Family and neighbors … play a key role in the songs sung by Western Bluebirds (Sialia mexicana), according to a two-year study published in the journal Animal Behaviour. Conducted at the Hastings Natural History Reservation in Carmel Valley, California, the study found that Western Bluebirds not only share their songs with relatives but with unrelated bluebirds that live nearby—i.e., the neighbors.

The researchers found that, no matter where they were raised, when male Western Bluebirds move to their own territories they share songs with their closest neighbors. That’s true whether the other birds are related or not, though they do a bit more sharing with nearby relatives. On the flip side, they rarely share notes with non-neighboring birds, even if they are related…
(read more: All About Birds)
photo: Stephen Parsons, via Birdshare

Western Bluebirds Sing Like Their Neighbors, Not Necessarily Like Their Families

by Pat Leonard

Family and neighbors … play a key role in the songs sung by Western Bluebirds (Sialia mexicana), according to a two-year study published in the journal Animal Behaviour. Conducted at the Hastings Natural History Reservation in Carmel Valley, California, the study found that Western Bluebirds not only share their songs with relatives but with unrelated bluebirds that live nearby—i.e., the neighbors.

The researchers found that, no matter where they were raised, when male Western Bluebirds move to their own territories they share songs with their closest neighbors. That’s true whether the other birds are related or not, though they do a bit more sharing with nearby relatives. On the flip side, they rarely share notes with non-neighboring birds, even if they are related…

(read more: All About Birds)

photo: Stephen Parsons, via Birdshare

October is Save the Kiwi Month!  The National Zoo, in Washington D.C., boasts the nation’s only “Meet a Kiwi” program, where visitors can observe our young male, Pip, up close and learn about conservation efforts. Meet and greets take place every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 11 a.m. The Zoo has contributed greatly to the Brown Kiwi Species Survival Plan; Maori (father) and Nessus (mother) produced six chicks from February 2006 to March 2012. The Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, Va., also has a breeding pair of kiwi and hatched a chick January 2013. Native to New Zealand, brown kiwis (Apteryx mantelli) are nocturnal, flightless birds. The remaining wild population of the brown kiwi is estimated at roughly 24,000, down from 60,000 in the 1980s. The kiwi population is stabilizing in areas where conservation efforts occur. #WeSaveSpeciesPhoto Credit: Mehgan Murphy, Smithsonian’s National Zoo
(via: Smithsonian’s National Zoo)

October is Save the Kiwi Month!

The National Zoo, in Washington D.C., boasts the nation’s only “Meet a Kiwi” program, where visitors can observe our young male, Pip, up close and learn about conservation efforts. Meet and greets take place every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 11 a.m.

The Zoo has contributed greatly to the Brown Kiwi Species Survival Plan; Maori (father) and Nessus (mother) produced six chicks from February 2006 to March 2012. The Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, Va., also has a breeding pair of kiwi and hatched a chick January 2013.

Native to New Zealand, brown kiwis (Apteryx mantelli) are nocturnal, flightless birds. The remaining wild population of the brown kiwi is estimated at roughly 24,000, down from 60,000 in the 1980s. The kiwi population is stabilizing in areas where conservation efforts occur. #WeSaveSpecies

Photo Credit: Mehgan Murphy, Smithsonian’s National Zoo

(via: Smithsonian’s National Zoo)