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Blog Birding #357

The origin of American Flamingos in Florida, with its myriad zoos and animal parks, has always been a little bit of a mystery, but as Liz Langley writes in National Geographic, the evidence increasingly suggests that they are naturally occurring.

In the study, published recently in The Condor: Ornithological Applications, the authors pored over historical and museum records that suggest flamingos are native to Florida. For example, the scientists found a reference to four flamingo egg specimens from the 1880s, indicating the birds nested in the state at that time.

Birding might be the only avocation that still relies on the humble listserv as much as it does. Andrew Baksh of Birding Dude sings the praises of this antiquated, but still important, corner of the internet.

With all of these tools, one would think the information is readily available to all or most. Not so fast. These tools while easy for some might be difficult for others for a variety of reasons. More importantly, I have found that many users will not crossover – meaning Facebook users may not use Twitter, text messages will not make it outside of the recipients and we end up with stovepiping. The end results are that there are often reports that never make their way to the wider audience until it is too late. This has frustrated many and once again, we are faced with the dilemma of data not being made available to everyone in a timely manner. Sounds familiar?

The conflict between Spotted Owls and Barred Owls in the Pacific Northwest is one that plays out not only in the second-growth forests of the region, but increasingly in courtrooms as well, as Jason Crotty writes at 10,000 Birds.

Although most of the threats to the Spotted Owl relate to its dwindling old growth forest habitat, it also faces potential threats from another bird. The Barred Owl has greatly expanded its range, such that it is now common in the Pacific Northwest. The Barred Owl is larger and more adaptable and it appears to out-compete Spotted Owl for food and other resources, likely causing declines in Spotted Owl populations. Indeed, due to dramatic increase, Barred Owls can outnumber Spotted Owls in their shared habitats.

We’ve known for some time that Common Ravens are fascinating and complex birds. New research, summarized at Phys.Org, suggests that they are saying much more in their various croaks and gurgles than we might have otherwise realized.

Researchers at the University of Vienna and the University of Cambridge found that vocal signals emitted by ravens to alert conspecifics to feeding sites varied in frequency, call duration and amplitude, according to their age and sex. These differences may enable ravens to extract information about the caller and use this knowledge to aid in decision-making processes.
The impact of last fall’s hurricane season on native birds in Puerto Rico is still an open question more than 6 months later. For one endemic subspecies, the Puerto Rican Sharp-shinned Hawk, however, the news is very troubling indeed, as reported at BirdWatching Daily.

In 1985, the subspecies of Sharp-shinned Hawk found only in Puerto Rico, Accipiter striatus venator, was estimated to have a population of 240 birds. In 1994, it was listed as endangered throughout its range by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. When the Peregrine Fund’s team of biologists surveyed the population in 2017, they found 75 birds comprising 16 breeding pairs in four locations on the island.

Last week, Peregrine Fund biologists returned from the island and reported that after Hurricanes Irma and Maria, the population is down to just 19 individual birds.

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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.
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