American Birding Podcast



Blog Birding #414

Crows that feed regularly on human food tend to have higher cholesterol than those that don’t. Kaeli Swift at Corvid Research explains what that might or might not mean for them.

I’d wager that most people don’t think about this behavior beyond simply finding it amusing or annoying, but I suspect that if you describe yourself as crow lover, naturalist, or bird watcher, you’ve been struck with the same thought as me: “This stuff is called junk food for a reason—it’s bad for you.  What’s it doing to these birds?”

Many storm-petrel species have populations that breed in the summer and in the winter. Jente Ottenburghs at Avian Hybrids explains why this likely means they’re completely different species.

Interestingly, the level of genetic differentiation between the hot and cold season breeders varies from island to island. On the Azores, the populations are clearly distinct and can be seen as different species (as mentioned above). On the Selvagem island, the cool season breeders still clustered with the hot season breeders. This suggests that these breeding populations are still differentiating and thus represent an earlier stage in the speciation process.

Can bird-themed mobile games become a way for people to engage and care about birds and their habitats? Adam Dhalla thinks so, he shares how he makes the connection at Birdwatching Daily. 

A lot of the time, I was at the booth explaining my game to attendees. Find the Birds: US + Canada will be a free download from Apple’s App Store and Google Play for your phone or tablet, about birding and bird conservation. Your character walks across simulated 2D landscapes in search of realistic birds to collect in your virtual field guide, tackling quests about environmental issues along the way. Its main aim is to act as a stepping stone for kids to become inspired to go into conservation as well as birding; in the game, birds represent the issues that face entire habitats.

The most reliable Red-billed Tropicbird on the continent comes to the Gulf of Maine every year and has for more than a decade. At Audubon, Kristen Liao tells the story of mysterious wanderer.

“It’s odd that he keeps coming back to the same spot,” says Keenan Yakola, Seal Island supervisor for Audubon’s Seabird Restoration Program, which since the 1970s has restored colonies of Atlantic Puffins and other species on breeding islands in the Gulf of Maine. “He’s very committed to it for some reason, despite the amount of effort it probably takes him.”

The new Oceanic Birds of the World promises to be the go-to text for the world’s seabirds, and Donna Schulman at 10,000 Birds has a review.

Or, read about the taxonomic confusions and scientific lapses in research on petrels, Albatrosses, storm-petrels, and diving-petrels. Unlike most other birds, we can’t spend time observing seabirds, getting to know them, because….they’re at sea! And, you need a boat. And, for many of these species, you need a boat that goes very far from shore, to extremely remote areas. And, it helps if you don’t get seasick. And, if you have resources for travel. All of which is to say that there are a number of obstacles, both scientific and pragmatic, to seabird identification, and there are very few guides around to help us. Which makes the publication of Oceanic Birds of The World: A Photo Guide a significant and happy event.