Friday May 24, 2013
It's been a busy birding month, and our "mother" birds are busy as well building nests, laying eggs and tending to their young. For this month's photo contest, seven photographers submitted 19 outstanding tributes to bird mothers, and it was no easy feat to narrow them down to just three finalists. With careful consideration of photo quality and parenting techniques, however, the finalists are...
- debk - Nesting Cardinal
- Lmreid71 - Hummingbird on Nest
- Fotobirder - Heron Nest
Each of these photos is a beautiful capture of dedicated mother birds, but which one captures your heart? Check them out in the forum then vote in the poll below to help choose this month's winner. Voting will continue through the end of the month and the winner will be announced in early June. Until then, be sure to get out and enjoy all the mother birds in your neighborhood!
Thursday May 23, 2013
This week's featured hummingbird is a tiny, fiery ball of attitude - the rufous hummingbird is the most aggressive humming species in North America. Common in the west during the spring and summer, these hummers migrate north along the Pacific Coast but take an interior route along mountain ranges for their fall migration, spreading their aggression out over a larger area, but are nevertheless welcome at many backyard feeders because of their feisty personalities and colorful rusty plumage.
Is the rufous hummingbird on your life list? Share your sightings in the comments!
Photo © Roy W. Lowe / USFWS
Wednesday May 22, 2013
Many corvids, including jays, consume other birds' eggs, and that is a problem for endangered marbled murrelets in California. According to NBC News, the seabirds - which nest inland in redwood trees - are victims of nest-robbing Steller's jays, which consume 80 percent of the eggs each year. A two-sided approach to protecting marbled murrelets is now underway, first by discouraging feeding the birds at campsites so they will move on to other food sources in different territories, and second by using decoy eggs to make resident jays sick.
Dummy eggs - dyed and decorated to resemble murrelet eggs - are injected with a non-lethal dose of carbachol, which will make Steller's jays immediately sick after just a small taste. Tests in 2010 and 2011 proved the technique's effectiveness in discouraging jays, and it is hoped that this behavior will be passed on and fewer jays will rob murrelet nests. In time, the marbled murrelet population should stabilize.
Do you agree with this type of "taste-aversion" training when Steller's jays are native, protected birds, just as the marbled murrelets are? Share your opinions in the comments!
Photo © Roy W. Lowe / USFWS
Tuesday May 21, 2013
A chance nighttime encounter in the Florida Everglades has removed the largest ever of these introduced snakes from the fragile ecosystem. According to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the female snake measured 18 feet eight inches, more than a foot longer than the previous longest python recorded in Florida, and weighed 128 pounds. The man who killed the snake had experience handling pythons and turned it over to state authorities for examination.
This particular snake was slender for its size, but a necropsy did reveal that it had consumed birds. Burmese pythons are invasive predators in Florida, and earlier this year the first annual python hunt was held to help reduce their population in order to protect native wildlife, including many bird populations that have declined since the snake population has grown. The longest snake killed during that competition was just over 14 feet long.
Photo © Karunakar Rayker