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!
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
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
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
Hummingbird Month is humming along, and just as hummingbirds are arriving at feeders, so are hummingbird questions arriving in my inbox! This week, Jodi from Tennessee asks...
"My five-year-old daughter is fascinated by the hummingbird feeder we have. Are there any activities she can do to enjoy hummingbirds without hurting them? She's not always gentle with our pets!"
Little birders are often fascinated by little birds, and there are many great hummingbird projects for kids that not only teach them about hummers, but also help support the hummingbirds with better plants, feeders, shelter and more. Or if you're just interested in some craft projects and other simple fun, try having more fun with hummingbirds!
Photo © Sean McGrath
Damaged nests, missing eggs and lost birds from a Texas rookery have inspired a reward leading to information about possible theft or vandalism from the protected site. According to the Rockport Pilot, damage to the rookery near San Antonio Bay occurred in late April, and while it is possible that poor weather caused the damage, other clues indicate human interference.
The rookery is a site popular with nesting reddish egrets, great blue herons and roseate spoonbills, and birding tours often visit the area. The $1,000 reward is being offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for the damage. Anyone with details should call toll-free 1-800-792-4263 to report their information.
Nesting Great Blue Heron
Photo © Kid Cowboy
Gull species can look remarkably similar with their gray, white and black plumage, similar shapes and overall general jizz, but one gull is standing out in a bold way. According to the Petoskey News-Review, a ring-billed gull with rich pink plumage has been spotted around the northern Michigan town of Petoskey. Officials aren't sure what has caused the bird's discoloration - dye, food or some unknown source. The bird is in fine health, however, and its odd plumage has not seemed to impact its behavior.
Photo © Dan Pancamo
May is a month to celebrate mothers, and we're celebrating bird mothers with this month's photo contest theme, "Mother" Birds. Female birds of dimorphic species, or any birds showing "mothering" behavior are great subjects, but get those cameras clicking - the contest deadline is May 23, and all entries must be submitted by then. Enter your photos today and don't miss your chance to show what great bird mothers you've seen!
Photo © Ferran Pestaña
This week's featured bird is missing from many birder's life lists - the Allen's hummingbird is often misidentified as a rufous hummingbird, and so might not be as often recorded as it really should be. There are subtle clues to tell the two apart, however, and when you learn those you can appreciate the coppery beauty of this California hummingbird.
Is the Allen's hummingbird on your life list, or would you just like it to be? Share your thoughts in the comments!
Photo © Kate Ure
The police aren't usually called to intervene with feeding birds, but that's exactly what happened in a grocery store parking lot in Alaska recently. According to kucb 89.7 fm, a flock of 40 bald eagles descended on a truck in a Safeway parking lot on May 2, obstructing customers from their vehicles and creating a feeding frenzy. The pickup had several bags of fish trash in the open bed, and the birds were attracted to the food. Police officers distracted the birds so the customers could enter their vehicles, and no humans or birds were harmed - though the same can't be said for the fish.
While bald eagles are powerful predators, they are also opportunistic and will take advantage of easy food sources. The scene at the Safeway was described as an "eagle party" and is surely one of the more unusual frays police anywhere have had to break up.
Scrap-Eating Bald Eagle
Photo © Alan