Tag Archive | birds

Dress to Impress: Bird Courtship Rituals

birds of paradiseWooing women, it seems, is a practice not exclusive to the human male. This post from No Ordinary World observes the dramatic and colourful mating rituals of some of the world’s most exotic birds. Click the link to see videos of these birds in action!

no ordinary world


Birds exhibit some of the most elaborate and bizarre courtship rituals of any animals on earth.  Here are a few of the more beautiful and zany examples:

The marvellous spatuletail hummingbird exhibits one of the most extreme courtship rituals (see video below).  The male bird has two elongated tail feathers that end in a large violet-blue disc, or spatule.  The male bird hovers in the air, waving his spatules in front of the female and making a snapping sound with his beak.  To the hummingbird, which is the size of a ping-pong ball, this display costs a lot of energy.  Spectators of this courtship ritual have reported that after he’s done dancing, the male will have to flop down on a branch, exhausted, and sit still for over an hour to regain his strength.  This species of bird is rare and endangered, and lives in only a few…

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Galveston Oil Spill Threatening Crucial Bird Refuge

An oil containment boom cuts across a sandbar covered with birds on Pelican Island near Galveston, Texas.

A barge that spilled 168,000 gallons (635,000 liters) of oil Saturday into Galveston Bay is threatening a refuge that’s crucial habitat for thousands of birds, experts say.

The spill occurred when the barge collided with a ship in the Houston Ship Channel near Texas City, on the western coast of Galveston Bay.

The area is about 8 miles (13 kilometers) from the Bolivar Peninsula, which is home to the Bolivar Flats Shorebird Sanctuary, a preserved area of marshy mudflats that’s home to a variety of geese, ducks, herons, and other waterbirds.

The sanctuary has been designated by bird-advocacy organizations as a Globally Significant Important Bird Area and is part of the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network.

The government’s cleanup efforts began immediately, with 24 response vessels working to skim the oil and to stop the leak from the damaged barge, which was carrying more than 900,000 gallons (3.4 million liters) of oil.

About 69,000 feet (21,000 meters) of oil-absorbing boom have been placed around the site of the spill and along sensitive shorelines, according to the Coast Guard.

At least 50 oiled birds have been discovered so far, though the number will likely be much higher as rescuers expand their search, said Richard Gibbons, conservation director of Houston Audubon.

Read the full story here.

Vultures Threatened by Lesotho’s First Wind Farm

The Cape vulture, Gyps coprotheres, is endemic to southern Africa, and is found mainly in South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana and in some parts of northern Namibia.

A controversial wind farm proposed for Lesotho’s Maluti-Drakensberg region has received the green light from the Lesotho government. But BirdLife South Africa and its conservation partners have requested that the government of this mountainous independent kingdom rethink its decision, because the wind farm “compromises the survival of vultures in the region and the reputation of the fledging wind energy industry in southern Africa.”

The 42-turbine wind energy project is a project of PowerNET Developments (Pty) Ltd, a joint venture between South African energy consultancy NETGroup and Lesotho’s Powerdev Group.

Lesotho’s first wind power facility, the 25-35 megawatt project would be located near the diamond mine of Letseng La Terai in the highlands of Lesotho. The company is planning to sell the wind power to Lesotho Electricity Company, a Lesotho government company.

Read the full story here.

Riddle of Early Bird Migration Cracked

2,000 volunteer birdwatchers recorded sightings of Icelandic black-winged godwits (Limosa limosa islandica) migrating from Portugal and Spain to Iceland between 1999 and 2004

In the northern hemisphere, birds now return from their winter migrations sooner. Yet, ornithologists don’t know exactly how the birds adapted to return earlier. One possible explanation holds that individual birds changed their behavior to return sooner.

However, recent research observed that individual birds haven’t changed their schedules. Instead, the results of a 14-year-long study of a migratory shore bird species suggested that early-born birds get more worms and can migrate sooner.

In the study, an international network of more than 2,000 volunteer birdwatchers recorded sightings of Icelandic black-winged godwits (Limosa limosa islandica) migrating from Portugal and Spain to Iceland between 1999 and 2004. The citizen scientists observed that individual birds returned on nearly the same date each year. As these birds returned each year to find an earlier greening of Iceland, the monogamous mated pairs of godwits could nest and hatch eggs sooner. The new generation of birds matured and began their migration cycle earlier.

Read the full story here.

Small birds save big money for Costa Rica’s farmers

Small birds.

The yellow warbler may not pull a perfect latte, but it turns out it’s a friend to coffee drinkers all the same. Research in Costa Rica shows that hungry warblers and other birds significantly reduce damage by a devastating coffee pest, the coffee berry borer beetle.

A study found that insectivorous birds cut infestations by the beetle Hypothenemus hampei by about half, saving a medium-sized coffee farm up to US$9,400 over a year’s harvest — roughly equal to Costa Rica’s average per-capita income. The results, published in Ecology Letters1, not only offer hope to farmers battling the beetle, but also provide an incentive to protect wildlife habitat: the more forest grew on and near a coffee farm, the more birds the farm had, and the lower its infestation rates were.

“Based on this study, we know that native wildlife can provide you with a pretty significant benefit,” says Daniel Karp, a conservation biologist at Stanford University in California, who led the study. “Incorporating their conservation into your management of pests is absolutely something you should do.”

Read the full story here.

Age isn’t just a number: New research shows song sparrows are affected by climate change differently depending on age

Song sparrows are affected by climate change differently depending on age.

Climate change affects many species, but can it affect a particular one as a whole? Two studies from the University of California, Davis, and Point Blue Conservation Science have some interesting theories. Through their research of using the various stages and ages of individuals in a species, they have not only predicted how climate change could affect a species, but also why.

Lead author Kristen Dybala, a postdoctoral scholar in the UC Davis Department of Wildlife, Fish and Conservation Biology says, “To learn how climate change is expected to affect an individual population, you have to look at demography. If you don’t break it down by these different stages, you get a different understanding that may be misleading, or worse, that’s just wrong.”

In a study published today in the journal Global Change Biology, climate change had opposite projected effects for adult and juvenile song sparrows in central coastal California. While it is evident that adult survival is sensitive to cold winter weather, warmer, drier winters mean less food for juvenile sparrows during the following summer.

Click here for the full story.

Goldenrod ‘Weed’ May Actually be a Treasure


Goldenrods are magnets for a wide variety of six-legged and eight-legged fauna, insects and spiders.

The prevalent attitude towards Goldenrod is to regard it as a weed fit only for removal, yet these beautiful plants have many beneficial qualities, and are a vital link in a larger ecosystem. They attract a whole host of insects that provide important food sources for birds. Please click the link below to read more about the benefits of keeping Goldenrod in your garden.

Goldenrod, a Weed or a Treasure?