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Blog Birding #381

At Shorebird Science, Shiloh Schulte shares what it’s like to seek the hidden nests of shorebirds on the tundra.

Good nest-finding skills are essential for our work up here on the Canning River. We are trying to retrieve satellite transmitter put out in previous years and deploy new tags on several shorebird species. In both cases, we need to catch the bird, and trapping at the nest is the quickest and most reliable way to do that. We use mesh bow nets that pop over the nesting bird and are easy to use, safe for the bird and eggs, and very reliable. But first, we have to find the nests.

The tiny Little Gull and the ethereal Ross’s Gull have some of the smallest bills of any gull species, according to Amar Ayyash of Anything Larus. 

At first glance it’s easy to agree that Little and Ross’s Gulls appear to have some shared derived traits, especially in juvenile plumage. However, these two are each placed in their own, montoypic, genera by the AOU. Little Gull is a hooded (or masked gull) and shows unique osteological features. Ross’s is without a hood and has been under Rhodostethia for as long as anyone can remember. Little was placed in Larus for over 100 years until recently, and is now Hydrocoloeus.

At Audubon, Nick Minor explains what is behind the extraordinary irruption of Roseate Spoonbills in North America this past summer.

Birders and ornithologists have long speculated about what makes vagrants ticks. Some believe the birds get lost due to defective navigation systems. Others look to the weather, arguing that rarities are swept up by storm fronts and transported to parts unknown. Others still contend that some fraction of all bird populations have an inherent tendency to disperse far—in other words, that vagrancy is normal for any species. If certain individuals are born with a genetic predisposition for exploration, known as neophilia, then the pattern would be exaggerated in breeding-boom years.

At History of Ornithology, Bob Montgomerie explores paleolithic people’s interest in birds, as expressed on the walls of caves.

At the AOU (now AOS) meeting in Jacksonville, Florida, in 2011, Peter Stettenheim [1] gave a talk on ‘Cultural Images of Birds: A neglected source of information’. He suggested that the many images of birds in prehistoric cave paintings, hieroglyphics, carvings, rock art, and mosaics might yield useful ornithological information about former ranges and the process of domestication. I was not entirely convinced by his examples but my attention was piqued when he showed what looked like two owls scratched into the wall of the Cave of the Trois-Frères in Ariège départment in the south of France.

Nathan Miller of Nathan’s Nature Adventure Blog shares the story of an incredible Ontario first.

I had work down in the Rondeau area on Wednesday and made the wise decision to swing by the park to see the celebrity bird that was found there on the weekend, the Great Kiskadee!

This is a bird that anyone who has spent some time in the tropics would be very familiar with, but is virtually unheard of in the northern latitudes, and this is the first time one has been found in Canada!

As I was pulling up to the park I got word that it was being seen again, and I hurried toward the marsh boardwalk.  I was able to get some great views of the bird as it foraged for frogs and other food along the edge of the water.


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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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