Posted by: aboutbirds | October 19, 2009

I’m Moving

Hey Everybody,


I’m moving to a new location. I’m very excited about this and I really hope it continues to work smoothly. It was rather difficult to set up, but I believe most of the kinks are ironed out for the time being.

My new location is:

If there is any trouble with the site, please let me know. I have never done anything like that before and I don’t know if there will be problems.



Posted by: aboutbirds | October 18, 2009

Migratory Bird Declines


Over the past few decades, bird migration has been shown to be declining. Migratory songbirds in Europe migrate from the UK down to sub-Saharan Africa. These songbirds include the common cuckoo, European turtle-dove, common nightingale, and the spotted flycatcher. The organizations that have taken on the role to research the declines are BirdLife in the UK (RSPB), the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO), Ghana Wildlife Society, Naturama in Burkina Faso, Vogelbescherming Nederland of the Netherlands, and Dansk Ornitologisk Forening of Denmark. These organizations hope to document the birds on their journey down to Africa and to understand why they are declining.

Recent research has shown that about 40% of the migratory species in Europe and Africa have declined in the last few decades. Also, some of these species are threatened on the IUCN Red List. Climate change, changes in rainfall, and land degradation are all apart of the most likely reason the migrants have declining populations. Also, human encroachment on important habitats is also an issue that can possibly be difficult to address.

The organizations involved will be banding birds and tracking their progress. The declining populations of migrants is an issue that needs to be addressed now if it is going to be reversed, otherwise Europe may lose a lot of its common species.

Click here for the full article.

Pictured: Spotted flycatcher

Posted by: aboutbirds | October 16, 2009

The Brown Pelican May Be Off the Endangered Species List


I see brown pelicans every single day, along with the oh-so-great laughing gull and the oh-so-amazing great-tailed grackle. I’ve never thought the brown pelican was a very attractive bird, but they are fun to watch when they dive and its rather funny to see them sitting on power lines alongside the cormorants. When I first got into birding not so long ago, my professor told me that when she moved to Galveston, there were hardly (if any) brown pelicans at all. Now, they’re all over. They recovered their population, a success. On a side note, the brown pelican is the state bird of Louisiana.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recommended the brown pelican to be taken of the list back in February 2008. If it is removed, it will still be monitored for the ten year period between 2010 and 2020. It was 1970 when the brown pelican was first put on the list and there has not yet been a decision to remove it. Before a decision can be made, a monitoring program has to be in place. The monitoring program will consists of bird sighting information from places like the Audubon Society. Pelican colonies and nesting pairs will be monitored over the ten year period.

In the past, the threat to brown pelicans was DDT, DDE, dieldrin, and endrin, which were all pesticides. Through the banning of certain pesticides and brown pelican reintroduction programs, the bird has now thrived throughout the Gulf of Mexico. Currently, their only threats would be from natural occurrences like hurricanes, but the brown pelican has shown that it can recover relatively well from even that.

The brown pelican, along with other birds that we are familiar with, is a species success story. Hopefully, there will be more stories like this in the future when people are more aware of what is happening to their birds.

Click here for the full story.

Pictured: a picture of a brown pelican not in Galveston, but in Cancun. Picture by me.

Posted by: aboutbirds | October 15, 2009

Rare Bird to Become Center of Ecotourism

The Cebu Flowerpecker is an extremely rare bird that is one of the two endemic species to the island of Cebu, an island located in the Philippines. This bird was thought to be extinct in 1906, but was rediscovered in 1992. That’s great news for the bird and since the bird is endemic to the island, conservationists will have only one chance to save the bird.

Since its rediscovery, the Cebu Flowerpecker has only been seen a few times and what makes it even harder to find is its predominantly silent nature. Also, this bird is considered one of the rarest birds in the world and because of that it is poorly understood. That’s another great reason to save it. Currently, its population is thought to be about 100 individuals.

Efforts to conserve the Cebu Flowerpecker include both local and international conservation groups. These groups are the Department of Tourism, Birdlife International, and Cebu Biodiversity Conservation Foundation. This is great because the more people that are involved the better chance this bird has.

Increases in ecotourism will not only help conserve the bird by appreciating it more, it will also help the economy of Cebu. That’s all the more reason to save this bird and the many others around the world.

Click here for the full article.

I wish I could provide a picture, but there didn’t seem to be any definitive ones.


Posted by: aboutbirds | October 14, 2009

Epicenters of Extinction: Immediate Action Required


As many may know, there is an extinction crisis going on in our world. Some may say that extinction is natural and that’s true, but not at the rate its happening today. In today’s world, humans are the culprit for many endangered species. We are the core cause of what is happening to our fellow animals. Not all is lost, at least yet its not. A new study shows that an extinction crisis can be avoided in 595 sites around the world are conserved. This research is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science. The research was conducted by the Alliance for Zero Extinction. This alliance includes well-known organizations such as the American Bird Conservancy, BirdLife International, and the National Audubon Society.

The study shows that 794 species need to be conserved immediately or they face extinction. This number includes all kinds of species, from mammals to reptiles, none are left out. Of all the extinction hotspots, only one-third are protected. That’s really not enough to stave off the extinction of nearly 800 of our animals. Even the sites that are protected are surrounded by dense populations, which doesn’t bode well for the animals within those sites.

The places with the most sites:

-The Andes in South America

-The Atlantic forests of Brazil

-The Caribbean


-Mexico (has the most sites at 63)

-The United States

The 595 sites need to be conserved now if these species want to be seen in the future. Mike Parr, the Secretary of the Alliance for Zero Extinction, states that “this is a one-shot deal for the human race. We have a moral obligation to act. The science is in, and we are almost out of time.”

India is a place where you can see the need for the AZE. Jerdon’s courser is a wading bird not seen for nearly a century had been rediscovered in 1986. Now it is under threat by the building of a canal. That’s only one example of threats to endangered species. I’m sure there are more similar to that.

In the past, extinctions were mostly localized on islands, usually due to invasive species. Now, that’s not the case. Most of the extinction epicenters are on major continents. The times have changed and extinction is a very real problem. When will we wake up and realize what we are doing to the world?

Click here to read the full article.

Pictured: Jerdon’s courser credit Surfbirds.


Posted by: aboutbirds | October 13, 2009

The Fight for the Mountain Plover


The Mountain Plover is an endangered species that spends most of its time in the Great Plains all the way to Canada in North America. Much like other birds, the decline in mountain plover populations is due to habitat loss and urban development. Agriculture, oil, and gas development are also other contributors to the population decline. It has now been caught in a political debate. In California, two environmental groups, the Biodiversity Conservation Alliance and the Forest Guardians, have filed a suit to sue the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The groups are saying that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has failed the mountain plover by refusing to put it on the endangered species list. According to the two groups, the plover was supposed to be put on the list in 2003, but it was subsequently denied. A possible reason for the denial was President Bush’s interference with the Endangered Species Act. This would mean that the mountain plover was not added to the list for political reasons, where lobbyists affect the Endangered Species Act in a negative way. The lobbyists do not understand the science behind needing to put an animal on the list, therefore they cannot help the animal.

Lauren McCain of the Forest Guardians in Denver states “the mountain plover case reflects a pattern of denying endangered species protection for purely political reasons. We’ve seen this with many other species, including the Gunnison’s prairie dog. Corporate lobbyists are currently dictating endangered species policy, not sound science.”

In Utah, the mountain plover has gone extinct due to oil and gas development. If that doesn’t mean it should be on the list, then what does?

Click here for the full article.


Posted by: aboutbirds | October 12, 2009

The Border Fence and Birds: How will they Fare?


Putting a fence up between Mexico and the United States doesn’t seem to be so bad when it comes to birds. Reasons for the fence and their political implications aside, animals should not have much of a problem going around or over a fence. Well, that may not be the case. Approximately, 516 species travel through the south Texas area every year. That’s over half the entire species seen in North America, it’s a very significant number. There are even species in the area that are only seen in the US in south Texas, but no where else the US. These species include green jays, altamira orioles, ringed kingfishers, green kingfishers, great kiskadees, red-billed pigeons, least grebes, and ferruginous pygmy-owls. Their non-avian friends in the area include ocelots and jaguarundis.

The fence does not cover the entire border between Mexico and the United States, but it does cover some important wildlife habitat in the Rio Grande Valley. Also, many laws have been pushed aside in the building of the fence. These laws include the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act, and the Endangered Species Act. So it seems that the government doesn’t care if there’s an endangered species, it will build the fence anyway in the name of “security.”

The fence also has a very strange route. It does not follow the river and it does not follow the actual border. It cuts through the land about two miles north of the border. This means that people who own land in the area, may not own that land anymore because it is now apart of Mexico. There is a lot of agriculture in the area, so it is not uncommon for that to happen. The small wildlife areas are not faring any better. These areas are being cut in half and species are being cut off from potential mates and having their habitat torn in half. Also, some early research has shown that even though birds can fly over the fence, they may be hesitant to do so. The Sabal Palm Sanctuary, a popular spot for birding southeast of Brownsville, will be about a quarter mile on the other side of the fence if the plans go accordingly. At this sanctuary birders can hope to see plain chachalacas, black-bellied whistling ducks, olive sparrows, buff-bellied hummingbirds, and hopefully some golden-crowned warblers, tropical parulas, and rose-throated becards. Most likely this amazing area will be cut off from the United States, and the area will degrade.

Obviously, there’s nothing that can be done to stop the construction of this fence. Most of it has already been built and about seventy miles are left. There most likely will not be any major changes to the rest of the fence, which means the Sabal Palm Sanctuary will be apart of Mexico in the future. Only after the fence has been built have environmental surveys come in to see the damage. What’s the point of doing the surveys after the fact when they’re meant to happen before the fact. Even if there’s great damage to wildlife, Congress will only shrug its shoulders and say that it’s all in the name of keeping people out.

Why is it that species welfare always comes last?

Click here to see the full article.

Pictured: Green Kingfisher


Posted by: aboutbirds | October 11, 2009

Bird Banding/Hawk Watch at Smith Point with GCBO

    A Chuck-Will’s-Widow, which is a large nightjar, is the first bird I have ever held. It’s a medium sized bird, but its extremely light and surprisingly soft. I never realized how soft feathers were, they are so nice to touch.

    Yesterday, I volunteered with the Gulf Coast Bird Observatory (GCBO) for the annual Hawk Watch on Smith Point. The other Hawk Watch partners include Hawk Watch International and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. Not only were we watching for hawks, we were banding birds and attempting to band hawks as well. A cold front had moved in the day before and yesterday was on the chilly side, but the mosquitoes were still out in high numbers. The weather was very cloudy and mildly windy, not the best day for watching or catching hawks. The hawks did come out after a while and we did see huge numbers of hawks as they made their migration to the south. Even though no hawks were caught, a large number of small birds were caught in the mist nets. I was able to help with removing the birds from the nets and taking them to the banders. This was an amazing job and I would definitely do it again if I had the chance. The little birds seemed so delicate when I was removing them from the nets, but they are very hardy little creatures. Some would try to bite (didn’t hurt at all) and some would defecate and they all made a lot of noise because I’m sure its not the best experience. They’re alright though, they didn’t get hurt. Overall, it was an amazing day and completely worth it. The only downside – the two hour drive there and the two hour drive back and having mosquitoes bites all over my face, scalp, hands, and wrists. That’s not fun at all. It looks like I have hives, though I would still do it again. Bird banding (or helping get the birds for banding) is great fun. I took a lot of pictures and I hope you enjoy them!

    The birds I was able to see:

    -Cooper’s hawk

    -House wren

    -Grey catbird

    -Rufous hummingbird (they were at a feeder on the hawk tower)

    -Least flycatcher

    -Peregrine falcon

    -Brown thrasher

    -Nashville warbler

    -Crested caracara

    -Wilson’s warbler


    -Broad-winged hawk


    -Sharp-shinned hawk

    -Eastern wood pewee

    -American redstart


    -Blue-grey gnatcatcher

    -White-eyed vireo

    The birds I pulled from the net:

    -Nashville warbler 1

    -Wilson’s warbler 1

    -Blue-grey gnatcatcher 2

    -White-eyed vireo 3

    The birds that were banded:

    -RTHU – ruby-throated hummingbird – 10

    -BGGN – blue-grey gnatcatcher – 28

    -NAWA – nashville warbler – 3

    -WIWA – wilson’s warbler – 5

    -RCKI – ruby-crowned kinglet – 1

    -WEVI – white-eyed vireo – 28

    -HOWR – house wren – 2

    -HOWA – hooded warbler – 1

    -BAWW – black and white warbler – 3

    -AMRE – american redstart – 1

    -EAWP – eastern wood pewee – 1

    -YBFL – yellow-bellied flycatcher – 1

    -LEFL – least flycatcher – 1

    -OVEN – ovenbird – 1

    -INBU – indigo bunting – 1

    -GRCA – grey catbird – 3

    -BRTH – brown thrasher – 5

    -NOMO – northern mockingbird – 4

    -WPWI – whip-poor-will – 3

    -NOCA – northern cardinal – 1

    -BLJA – blue jay – 3

    -CWWI – chuck-will’s-widow – 2

    -GCFL – great crested flycatcher – 1

    -23 species total

    -108 banded

    Smith Point, TX:

  1. clip_image001

    The “A” indicates Smith Point. That’s Galveston Bay and I came from Galveston there at the bottom. It was about a two hour drive up and around the entire bay. I could take the Bolivar Ferry, but its under really bad management and you end up waiting about an hour and a half just to take a 15 minute ferry ride.

    Here are the pictures from yesterday:


    Smith Point has open woodland, a good location for many bird species. As you can see the day wasn’t the best.


    Not a good picture, but those are hawks. Mostly broad-winged hawks.


    These are the mesh bags with the birds inside them – ready for banding.


    Mesh bag with bird – don’t know which species.


    This is a mist net. You can kind of see it, which is really to whole point.


    Here is a mist net with some birds it it.


    Bird being removed from the net.


    White-eyed vireo glaring up at me while stuck in the mist net.


    Wilson’s warbler. As you can see it was just banded.


    Juvenile white-eyed vireo.


    Least flycatcher.


    Least flycatcher.


    Least flycatcher.






    Chuck-will’s-widow. Absolutely gorgeous bird. It has great coloring and beautiful feathers.




    Brown thrasher wing.


    Brown thrasher.


    Blue-grey gnatcatcher.


    Black and white warbler. He was very feisty.


    Black and white warbler wing.

    The most common birds of the day were blue-gray gnatcatchers and white-eyed vireos.

    Kingfisher2_thumb.png‘Till next time – enjoy!

Posted by: aboutbirds | October 9, 2009

A Surprise Introduced Species Problem in Hawaii


The Japanese white-eye is a cute little bird introduced to Hawaii in the late 1920s to control bug populations. There wasn’t much thought into introducing a new, unusual species to a new habitat and even since then there hasn’t really been a problem. However, researchers have recently noticed that the populations of white-eyes have increased over the years and that some native birds are declining. The researchers noticed that the native bird’s offspring were smaller and malnutrition where white-eyes were in greater numbers. The native birds also suffer from shorter beaks and cannot get food properly. The malnutritioned birds are more susceptible to other threats, such as parasites and disease.

It really seems that Hawaii’s birds cannot catch a break. Not only do they have decreasing habitat, a multitude of other invasive species, and parasites – they have a fellow bird that’s slowly killing them off. I really wish something could be done about such things, but its easier said than done.

Pictured: Japanese white-eye, the offender

Click here for the full article from Science Daily.

Kingfisher2_thumb.png‘Till next time – enjoy!

Posted by: aboutbirds | October 9, 2009

Rare Birds in Peru to Receive Protected Habitat


The Marvelous Spatuletail, an amazing hummingbird species, along with other rare bird species are receiving plots of land in the Marañon–Alto Mayo Conservation Corridor. Currently, many of these species, such as the Marvelous Spatuletail (endemic to Peru), have no protected habitat. Another species that is only found in the area is the Long-whiskered Owlet.

The conservation corridor in Peru covers over six million acres of diverse land types. High conservation priority places are the Sechura Desert, Tumbes-Piura dry forests, Marañon dry forests, and Peruvian Yungas.

The study conducted by the coalition of the American Bird Conservancy and the Peruvian group the Asociación Ecosystemas Andinos (ECOAN) shows that 64 species of birds in the area are of conservation importance. 28 of the species are very high conservation priority. Also, 26 of those species are endemic to Peru, which makes them even more important.


Using the research as a guide, “the researchers projected the potential range for these highest priority species. Based on these ranges, from one to seven potential conservation areas for each species were identified. These individual areas were then overlain to select the ten highest priority areas which are being proposed for a wide array of conservation strategies, from strict protected area status to sustainable conservation programs, and community owned nature reserves.”

This study is very important because it highlights the need to conserve more species. It showed that there was a lack of conservation in the area and I’m sure it is not the only country that has conservation issues like this.

More research, like this, needs to be done in other countries so that their birds can have the habitat they need. Habitat loss is one of the main issues affecting not only birds, but other animal populations.

Click here for the report.

Top picture: Roger Ahlman

Bottom picture: Asociación Ecosistemas Andinos (ECOAN)

Kingfisher2_thumb.png‘Till next time – enjoy!

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