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Blog Birding #376

Some fascinating insights on indigenous bird names by Jessica Gorzo at Avian Ecologist. 

As I’ve been researching Indigenous bird names from what is currently known as North America, I’ve also been reading a book from a very different part of the world: Mount Bosavi, Papua New Guinea. It’s a musicology text, written by an ethno-musicologist that embedded with the Kaluli. He speaks to how well they know the birds around them, and how prominently bird song plays into not only the perception of the birds themselves, but many aspects of their culture.

Bluethroat is a species that many North American birders associate with the Old World, but they breed in northern Alaska. At The Migratory Connectivity Project, Tim Romano writes about a research project that involves, among other things, tagging these birds with geo-trackers to find out where they go.

In spring 2018 researchers from SMBC travelled to Nome, Alaska to study the Bluethroat (Luscinia svecica). The Bluethroat is a widespread bird in Europe and Asia, but in the Americas this charismatic species is only found in northern Alaska. Little is known about this Alaskan population; their population size, population trends, and migratory movements are all unstudied. Our team aimed to locate and capture breeding birds, take a variety of biological data, and to fit the birds with light level geolocators.

The American Bird Conservancy announced an agreement with New York State Parks regarding a long-standing feral cat colony at Jones Beach State Park, the cats will be removed from the park to protect nesting shorebirds.

Under the order and settlement, the cats currently living in colonies at Jones Beach will be humanely trapped and removed from the park by the end of the year to a sanctuary where they will be cared for. If the cats cannot be humanely relocated immediately, a limited number of cats will temporarily remain in a fenced area at the park. State Parks has also agreed that any new cats found in the park will be trapped and removed so new cat colonies do not exist at the park in the future. The agreement means that the plovers and their chicks will no longer face the possibility of predation from cats.

At The AOU-COS Pubs Blog,  a summary of a new paper seeking to understanding how arctic seabirds are responding to climate change.

Seabirds such as gulls can be key indicators of environmental change as their populations respond to shifts in their ocean habitat over time. A new study from The Auk: Ornithological Advances investigates how several species have responded to changing environmental conditions in the Arctic over the last four decades. The authors find that a warming ocean is directly and indirectly affecting seabird populations in Alaska.

Ron Dudley at Feathered Photography poses a bird physiology question that I didn’t know, the fact that female birds have only one ovary.

Most adult female birds have only a single ovary and oviduct, the left ones. That’s in contrast to other vertebrates that have two of them, including humans of course. The loss of the ovary was long-presumed to be a weight saving device that enabled more efficient flight and some sources still claim that as fact.

The direct dinosaur ancestors of birds had two ovaries but the earliest birds had only one. We have compelling evidence that both statements are true from recent discoveries of their fossilized soft tissues, including parts of their reproductive systems – further circumstantial evidence suggesting that the loss of the right ovary might be related to weight loss and its advantage for flight.

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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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