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Blog Birding #341

The inclusion of Hawaii in the ABA Area has led to discussion of other potential additions, including Puerto Rico. Jason Crotty, writing at 10,000 Birds, has more.

Both territories were declared disasterareas by the president and numerous agencies of the federal government eventually lurched into action.  The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is managing the response.  The Department of Defense and Coast Guard are supporting the efforts with ships, helicopters, personnel, and supplies.  The National Guard has sent thousands of soldiers to help with security and other support missions.  The Department of Transportation has helped to reopen airports and the Department of Energy has assisted with getting power plants back online.

At The Speckled Hatchback, Dorian Anderson shares some advice for those photographers interested in tackling pelagic birds.

Pelagic birds are almost always in flight and most of them fly really fast, so shooting them is really challenging. Sure, it’s sometimes possible to collect shots of birds sitting on the water, but those frames will not do these amazing birds justice. Flight shots are required to show their elegant forms and aerial abilities! Pelagic photography is therefore synonymous with flight photography, and anything that you learn here should benefit more your terrestrial-based flight-work as well.

The Red-eyed Vireo is one of the most familiar birds in eastern North America, but there is more going on with that species than you might expect. At Avian Hybrids, Jente Ottenburghs offers some surprising findings.

The genetic data revealed that there are more species than meets the eye. The Red-eyed Vireo consists of Northern and Southern hemisphere populations, whereas the Yellow-green Vireo is structured into Eastern and Western populations. For the Red-eyed Vireo this distinction is quite obvious and there does not seem to be any gene flow between the populations. The situation for the Yellow-green Vireo, however, is less clear. It appears that this species is currently stuck in the “species/subspecies conundrum.” More data are warranted here.

Why have North American populations of the charismatic Red-headed Woodpecker declines in recent years. Kenn Kaufman at Kenn Kaufman’s Notebook at Audubon site has some opinions.

On a local level, population levels of Red-headed Woodpeckers can go sharply up or down. Overall, though, the trend is downward. An analysis of Breeding Bird Survey data suggests that the total population declined by more than 60 percent between 1970 and 2014. In my state of Ohio, the species declined by 75 percent in roughly the same time period. I can still see this bird when I want to, but I have to go to a few specific places.

A recent study on passerines suggested that the popular geolocator backpacks attached to a variety of migratory birds, may be having a deleterious effect on those birds. At The AOU-COS Pubs Blog, a response to that research.

Unprecedented numbers of species and individual birds have been marked with all sorts of tracking devices in recent years, and those numbers will continue to rise in the future. The data ornithologists are gathering by marking birds with tracking devices are providing a wealth of previously elusive knowledge about all stages of birds’ life cycles. The rapidity with which new tracking studies are being initiated places an ever-growing burden on the USGS Bird Banding Lab (BBL) and other agencies charged with assessing auxiliary marker requests and determining permission to mark birds on a case-by-case basis. In many cases, those agencies have little to no species-specific information on which to base their decisions, either because a species has never been marked before or because those who marked them did not study or did not report marker effects during the course of their research.

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Nate Swick

Nate Swick

Editor, Social Media Manager at American Birding Association
Nate Swick is the editor of the American Birding Association Blog, social media manager for the ABA, and the host of the American Birding Podcast. He lives in Greensboro, North Carolina, with his wife, Danielle, and two young children. He is the author of Birding for the Curious and The ABA Field Guide to Birds of the Carolinas.
Nate Swick

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