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Blog Birding #393

A year and half later, Puerto Rico is still dealing with the after-effects of 2017’s Hurricane Maria. At 10,000 Birds, Jason Crotty explains what the last two years of CBCs say about how the birds are recovering.

Immediately after hurricanes, surviving birds appear to wander in an effort to find any remaining food supplies and habitat.  Birds that rely on a closed canopy, mature trees, or nectar, fruits, or seeds may be particularly out of luck. For example, hummingbirds must find patches where there are still flowers. Species with small ranges (e.g., single island endemics) or tiny populations (e.g., endangered species) are especially vulnerable.

At Feathered Photography, Ron Dudley has an opportunity to look at the bizarre feet of Ruffed Grouse.

Notice all the narrow pectinations (meaning comb-like) growing laterally from the scales on the toes. Those pectinations are actually extensions of foot scales so they’re not feathers. Ruffed Grouse are non-migratory and typically prefer higher-elevation forests in the lower 48 states (or boreal forests further north) so they spend a lot of time in deep snow. The pectinations act to significantly increase the surface area of the feet so they function like showshoes. Interestingly, the pectinations of Ruffed Grouse in northern areas where there’s typically more snow are twice as long as those in more southerly regions.

At Birdwatching Daily, Steve Hampton tells the story of his journey to ABA 700.

But 700 is the standard lifetime goal. When I was a kid, very few had achieved it. Now, thanks to the widespread popularity of birding, cheap air travel, and Internet rare-bird alerts, the ABA reports 410 people in the “700 club,” and there may be thousands more. Amazingly, 56 people are over 800, and three have seen more than 900. In first place is Macklin Smith, an English professor at the University of Michigan, with 928. If you’re thinking that he must be one frenetic individual, I can assure you he is one of the nicest people I’ve ever met.

Josh Vandermuelen of Ontario Birds and Herps sings the praises of winter birding in southern Ontario.

At that time the landfill was letting birders in to look at the gulls, so we signed in at the scale house and proceeded to find the massive gull flock near the active dumping location. We ran into Nathan Miller and enjoyed scoping out the gulls with him. In short order, we had studied a variety of species: Herring, Ring-billed, Great Black-backed, Lesser Black-backed (at least 2), and multiple Glaucous Gulls and Iceland Gulls, including a Thayer’s Gull. One of the two Slaty-backed Gulls was present and easy to pick out, partly due to its super broad white tertial crescent (the white feathers between the dark grey mantle, and the black and white wingtips when at rest).

A number of lawsuits moving their way through courts in the western US look to challenge the arrangement between NWRs and the farmers and ranchers who use them. More from Karina Brown at Courtroom News Services.

Much of what was once a vast swath of natural wetlands in the 200,000 acres that make up the Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuge Complex was drained and diverted for agricultural use in the early 1900s. In 1908, President Theodore Roosevelt designated five wildlife refuges in the basin, to preserve bird populations decimated by suddenly shrinking habitat, hunting and the country’s enormous appetite for feathers to decorate hats.

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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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