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Blog Birding #383

The Cape May Bird Observatory’s new 21st century banding station is already seeing dividends. The researchers there are place geotrackers on some of the catches to see where they go and and how they use the landscape. David La Puma has more.

As of today, they have now been deployed on two resident species (Northern Mockingbird and Carolina Wren) and one short-distance migrant (Yellow-rumped Warbler). These transmitters will allow us to determine such things as habitat usage, home range, and migration decisions of these species and more. These transmitters communicate with an array of receivers distributed across our banding area, as well as a broader network throughout the Cape May Peninsula and the Delaware Bay region. It’s also possible that our birds will be detected by base stations anywhere between the Canadian Maritimes and South America, and with more stations being deployed every day, the chance of a long-distance data point is ever increasing!

Encouraging land managers in the Great Plains to think about birds other than waterfowl has been a tough argument to make, but the benefits are becoming clear and resistance is softening. At Shorebird Science, Maina Handmaker and Monica Iglecia discuss how they make that case.

Cheyenne Bottoms is one of the largest interior marshes in the United States. It has been a Site of Hemispheric Importance in the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network (WHSRN) for 30 years, and the symposium celebrated this milestone by presenting certificates to the site partners. Migratory shorebirds passing through the mid-continent are subject to unpredictable weather patterns and a landscape of ephemeral wetlands in which to find their food. Water levels at Cheyenne Bottoms still vary on a regular basis, but the basin provides some of the most reliable food resources for shorebirds migrating through the center of the continent.

It’s looking like a big year for Red-breasted Nuthatches, at least in the eastern part of the continent, Andrew Del-Colle, writing at Audubon, has more.

A year-round resident of Canada and certain parts of the Northeast, as well as higher elevations of Appalachia, the Rockies, and along the West Coast, the bird’s wintering grounds can fluctuate in the U.S. dramatically year to year, especially in the east. Typically, the birds remain more northern, but on an irruption year, they can be seen in unusually high numbers throughout the northern and eastern U.S.

Birders and bird scientists know color. Or, at least, we know words for colors that the general public might not. As it turns out, ornithologists are as influential as any artist when it comes to naming the myriad shades available, as Bob Montgomerie writes at the History of Ornithology Blog. 

Because many of the species that Darwin collected were new to science, he was careful to record colours, especially those that might fade on specimens of fish and invertebrates preserved in ‘spirits’. To do this, he was keen to use a method that would allow him to record colours in a way that could be understood by others and reproduced accurately by artists reading his notes years later. For many of Darwin’s descriptions in his field notes, he used the colour swatches and names in Werner’s Nomenclature of Colours by Patrick Syme published in 1821.

A new species of hummingbird was recently discovered on a mountaintop in Ecuador–one that is already critically endangered. Juan Freile, the bird’s discoverer, tells the tale at The AOS Publications Blog. 

Last year a new hummingbird species was unexpectedly discovered on a seldom-visited mountain top in southern Ecuador. A brief visit to the rocky outcrops of Cerro de Arcos in the southern province of El Oro produced a photographic record that rang a bell: a mysterious immature male clearly assignable to the genus Oreotrochilus, the hillstars, which included six species at the time. A few days later, an adult male was captured in another photo, and a week after that, several males and females were observed and a handful collected for scientific purposes.

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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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