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Tweets & Links

I found these two fun nuggets and thought I’d share them with you here since I tweeted them earlier today.

Cornell Lab of Ornithology did this nifty little study to see if Black-Capped Chickadees would be more interested in nesting in tubes rather than houses, since tubes better resemble their preferred nesting sites of excavated snags. The results? They way preferred the tubes over traditional bird houses! So if you’re into providing nests for your birds, especially cavity nesters like chickadees, you may be inspired to try this method out. I bet with some glue and tree bark, those PVC tubes could look AWESOME.

NatGeo did a little report on a study published in 2005 in the journal Ecology Letters that looked at why some bird eggs are speckled when the speckles provide no camouflage. It turns out that the building blocks of the speckles’ darker pigmentation acts like a glue in areas of the eggshell that are weaker from calcium deficiency. NEATO!

And this.

Taken from somewhere on ICanHasCheezburger.

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Baby Birds 101 – To Rescue or Not to Rescue?

Working as a naturalist, I’ve received tons of calls about injured animals and thought I’d share some of my knowledge with you about handling situations with baby birds, since it’s the most common one.

Baby finch. Author photo.

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[Bird Video Series] #5: Bower Birds Love Blue

Bower Birds Love Blue concludes our week of bird videos! As a visual person, I find it nice sometimes to take a break from reading and processing, and just watch the behaviors in their natural settings. I hope you’ve enjoyed these clips too.

Bower Birds are known for several things: 1) amassing a lot of stuff with which to impress their potential mates, 2) erecting impressive structures out of sticks (complete with support beams) and 3) stealing blue things from humans.

This is a group of species that go to an enormous amount of trouble to attract and please a mate: with Bower Birds, it’s not just about having good-looking feathers. Some species build piles of beetle wings that iridesce¬†in the light, while others thatch entry ways in which they hope to mate. Today you get two videos, and I won’t apologize for featuring David again. I just won’t.

[Bird Video Series] #3: Birds of Paradise

If you still haven’t seen the Planet Earth series, let me give you a sneak peek here. David Attenborough narrates this incredible clip of several different Birds of Paradise. Each has its own elaborate, colorful, sometimes mesmerizing mating display. These birds are no larger than your average chicken but their displays truly rival that of the Peacock. I remember the first time I saw this, I was so blown away I had to rewind it and watch it again, just to be sure I wasn’t hallucinating. Enjoy!

[Bird Video Series] #2: The Amazing Lyre Bird Mimic

I love David Attenborough. I will watch anything he makes, anytime, anywhere. If there is a Heaven, his documentaries play on repeat all day long. And I’m not picky – I’ll settle for things he only narrates too.

Now that that’s out of the way and you all know my secret love obsession with Sir Attenborough, on to the video. This clip is from Life of Birds, which, if you are unaware, is an amazing documentary on – you guessed it! – birds. There’s also Life of Mammals (obviously about mammals), Life in the Undergrowth (about invertebrates), and Life in Cold Blood (reptiles and amphibians). These documentaries are essentially the Planet Earths of the animal kingdom and they’re without a doubt some of the best nature documentaries ever made. Check them out, you’ll be happy you did!

This clip features a tropical bird called the Lyre Bird, which is a bird that mimics to impress mates. You won’t believe your ears when you hear what this bird can imitate…

And, now that you’ve enjoyed something educational, I’m leaving you with this one as well. At first I was highly offended by the hacking of an Attenborough clip, but, well, then I was laughing so hard I almost choked on my Poptart.

[Bird Video Series] #1: Dance of the Sharp Tailed Grouse

Sharp-Tailed grouse via Teo on Wiki.

I knew nothing of the Sharp-Tailed Grouse before catching a TV show featuring the reintroduction of a Western population and immediately wanted to share with you the amazing dance that this bird puts on during the mating season. In fact, I’m so excited about little-known bird behavior right now, I think this week will be a series of fun bird videos – check back for all five!

Sharp-Taileds are in trouble due to habitat loss and this little clip from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources does an excellent job of showing the mating dance. Other videos have poorer sound and I really wanted you to hear the sound of the foot-stomping that they do. I’ve never seen anything like it; it’s so fast you don’t even realize that the grouse are making it! Enjoy.

Hungover Owls

I’m not proud that I find this funny, but I’m a naturalist, and I love owls, and, well… that’s all I can say.

I’ve linked my favorite of the 9 pages of owl images, as most of the other captions I don’t find particularly clever. But page 8. Page 8 is good.

Hungover Owls, Page 8.

 

Teaching Crows to Contribute to Society.

Joshua Klein had an idea. It was an idea that could revolutionize the world, and, at the same time, revolutionize how we perceive one of the most maligned creatures inhabiting the skies: the corvid.

Corvids are known tool-users.

For centuries, crows and ravens have symbolized death, poverty, trickery, theft, and a million other negative things. In reality, corvids are extraordinarily intelligent, discerning creatures. Like other animals that man hates most, corvids do not simply survive alongside us; they thrive, even in areas that we devastate.  Read the rest of this entry

In Praise of the Heron.

Recently I’ve been fascinated with the many varieties of heron and have come across some equally fascinating photos. Herons are marsh birds with long legs, long necks, and long beaks. They remind me of pterodactyls in flight and are extremely patient hunters. They stalk slowly through the shallows in search of just about anything they can fit into their mouths and down their throats – which are stretchy enough to allow some pretty big fish passage. Enjoy!

It may look like they’re having fun, but only one of them really is.

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Weekly Photo Wunderbar!

Okay, so these aren’t the best quality but do you remember the baby-with-a-mohawk from a couple of weeks back?

Well, they all went and grew up! Look at those funny faces…