Off On A Lark
Ornithology - The Science of Birds
by Dr. Roger Lederer
2d ago
Off on a lark Lark may mean “spree, frolic, merry adventure,” 1811, slang, of uncertain origin; or possibly a shortening of skylark, sailors’ slang for playing rough in the rigging of a ship (larks were known for their high-flying). The bird got the name in the 14th century. The derivation of the word lark is actually quite complex; you can read more about that here. The family of larks is Alaudidae, from the Latin aluda, lark. Worldwide, there are about 90 lark species, many of which are found in Africa and Asia. The only lark belonging to this family in North America is the Horned ..read more
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Ukraine Birdlife
Ornithology - The Science of Birds
by Dr. Roger Lederer
1w ago
“Ukraine is internationally important for wild birds: 434 species, 18 globally threatened birds, 19 species for which the country hosts more than 15% of the European population (over 60 percent of the Slender-billed Gull species resides in Ukraine) and 141 Important Bird Areas covering 2.5 million hectares.  All of them are under the threat of direct and indirect influence of military actions.” Birdlife.org. Photos. Ukrainan Birdwatching Centre Since the invasion of Ukraine by Russia in February of 2022, bombing campaigns, missiles, rocket attacks, and following fires have not only damage ..read more
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Blackburnian Warbler, Scilly
Ornithology - The Science of Birds
by Dr. Roger Lederer
2w ago
Hundreds of birdwatchers from all over England and even mainland Europe recently descended on the tiny island of Bryher on the Isles of Scilly (pronounced si-lee) southwest of Cornwall, England, to catch a glimpse of a tiny bird from the U.S. which has rarely been seen in the U.K. In Mid-October, 2022, “twitchers” arrived in great numbers to see the bird. (The British term twitcher, often used as a synonym for an avid birder, is applied to those who travel long distances to see a rare bird. The term apparently originated in the 1950s, when it was used to describe the nervous behavior of H ..read more
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Woodpecker Drumming
Ornithology - The Science of Birds
by Dr. Roger Lederer
3w ago
There are approximately 240 species of woodpeckers in the world, distributed in a variety of habitats across the world, excepting Australasia and Antarctica. Although they make oral sounds- calling- they use drumming – pecking rapidly at a tree, post, metal chimney – to defend their territories. There is an excellent article, Evolutionary and Biomechanical Basis of Drumming Behavior in Woodpeckers, that examines the evolution of drumming behavior and the adaptations the birds have for such behavior. One would think that since woodpeckers also call, that drumming would be controlled by a differ ..read more
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State of the Birds
Ornithology - The Science of Birds
by Dr. Roger Lederer
1M ago
Thirty-three leading science and conservation organizations have released the State of the Birds report for 2022 and the results are mainly grim. More than half of U.S. bird species are declining. Grassland birds are among the fastest declining with a 34% loss since 1970. Waterbirds and ducks in the U.S. have increased by 18% and 34% during the same period. 70 newly identified Tipping Point species have each lost 50% or more of their populations in the past 50 years, and are on a track to lose another half in the next 50 years if nothing changes. They include beloved gems such as Rufous Hummi ..read more
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Bird Sticky Traps
Ornithology - The Science of Birds
by Dr. Roger Lederer
1M ago
I often receive emails asking advice on caring for a sick, injured, or baby bird. I offer what advice I can and also suggest they contact their local wildlife rehabilitation center or wildlife official. There are a plethora of reasons birds get into these conditions but this email was unusual. The bird, a Dark-eyed Junco, was caught in a sticky trip. To free it, the rescuers had to remove most of the bird’s feathers. This was a sticky trap used for mice but they are also used to capture pest insects. Unfortunately, there are a variety of sticky traps including glue boards that indiscrimin ..read more
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Lights and Migration
Ornithology - The Science of Birds
by Dr. Roger Lederer
1M ago
I have blogged about birds flying into buildings and windows before and the problem persists simply because there are more and more buildings and windows. It is especially severe during migration time in the northern hemisphere. Not only buildings and windows but power lines, towers, and wind turbines also pose dangers. Exacerbating the hazards from those sources is light, as in light pollution. Light pollution is a global issue. This became glaringly obvious when the World Atlas of Night Sky Brightness, a computer-generated online map based on thousands of satellite photos, was published ..read more
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Taking a Poll or Two
Ornithology - The Science of Birds
by Dr. Roger Lederer
2M ago
Well, election season is upon us and poll takers abound, asking questions about people’s political leanings. The word “poll” arose around 1300 from the word polle, meaning head or top. Later its meaning extended to individuals, like people or sheep. By 1620 it meant the counting of heads or votes, as in an election. By 1902 it meant a survey of public opinion as it does today. That’s why the Common Redpoll is called such – it has a red head. Common Redpolls are industrious, spending much of their time flitting about, feeding, and calling. A very small finch in the family Fringillidae, it has t ..read more
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Ornithotherapy
Ornithology - The Science of Birds
by Dr. Roger Lederer
3M ago
A recent European study entitled Biological Diversity Evokes Happiness determined that a ten percent increase in bird diversity increases life satisfaction as much as a comparable increase in income. So people are happier if they see more birds? I would think so. Generally, it is beneficial for us to experience more nature in our ever-disconnected-from-nature world. This has led to interesting solutions like “forest therapy and forest bathing” the idea that communing with the wild (or at least wilder) world “allows for ecstatic joy and pleasure, the resolution of grief, and the fulness of grac ..read more
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The Predation-Starvation Tradeoff
Ornithology - The Science of Birds
by Dr. Roger Lederer
3M ago
Many casual bird watchers, particularly those maintaining bird feeders, appear to assume that birds participate in a bimodal pattern of feeding, at least at bird feeders by seed eaters. That is, from early to late morning there is a feeding binge which drops off for the rest of the day and resumes in the early evening and lasts until dusk or slightly after dark. So birds eat in the morning to make up for what they metabolically used up overnight and they fill up just before dark to make it through the night. That’s what this paper on foraging patterns begins to discuss but then goes on to unde ..read more
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