Researchers develop an effective tool for reducing mammalian predation at nests of critically endangered Florida Grasshopper Sparrows Predation is a common cause of nest failure for many birds, but sometimes predation rates can be high enough to warrant action by managers tasked with protecting imperiled species. Discovering new ways to prevent or decrease predation may be a critical step towards recovering endangered populations. New research just published in The Journal of Field Ornithology reveals how the installation of predator exclusion fences at the nests of critically endangered Florida Grasshopper Sparrows substantially decreased predation by mammals. Researchers hope that increasing nest survival rates with fences will contribute towards the recovery of this endemic songbird.... continue reading.
Gambling at a high-elevations: the risks of enlarged eggs for Mountain Bluebirds Most studies that have looked at why female birds lay the number of eggs they do, and no more, have focused on the consequences of having too many mouths to feed. Few studies have focused on potential problems with having too many eggs to heat. One rarely tested hypothesis suggests that females lay as many eggs as they can effectively incubate. If they laid more eggs, then some or perhaps all eggs would fail to hatch.... continue reading.
Member notes from the field: David Millican Entry 1 It’s early October, “springtime” in Namibia. This is not the cool Blacksburg spring to which I’m accustomed. This “springtime” is dry, dehydrating, and desiccating; the discovery of true damnation. The moisture evaporates off my tongue as if it were splashed on a frying pan, the last bit of medicine from your Nalgene. The thrush does not sit outside my window and call, for it too sees the futility in displaying in this heat. Nor does the sweet smell of flowers fill the air. A few sporadic trees are budding, leaving purple, yellow, and white carpets beneath their canopies; but most are waiting for the rains, which are still a couple... continue reading.
Notes on the breeding biology of Rufous Potoos in lowland Ecuadorian Amazon Potoos are some of the most intriguing birds of the Neotropics. Strictly nocturnal and very hard to see, they hunt insects from a perch, with a technique similar to the used by flycatchers. During the day they perch upright on tree stumps, camouflaging so good that they look like part of the stump or like a dead leaf. There are seven species of Potoos—all from the new world—and five of them inhabit Ecuador. From these, the Rufuos Potoo (Nyctibius bracteatus) is the smallest of the species and perhaps the least known. Rufous Potoos are named after their reddish-brown coloring, that resembles the color of rust or oxidized iron.... continue reading.
Foraging White Ibis target inter-habitat prey movements in the Florida Everglades In the 1800s John James Audubon wrote of the Florida Everglades, “We observed great flocks of wading birds flying overhead toward their evening roosts …. They appeared in such numbers to actually block out the light from the sun for some time.” Though diminished over the past century, wading birds still nest in the tens of thousands during the dry spring months and become an important top predator in the ecosystem. Nesting populations are highly dependent on the availability of aquatic prey, which can become accessible to the birds in high densities as water levels recede across the vast ridge and slough wetland landscape.... continue reading.
Greg Davies: AFO’s 2019 Skutch Research Award recipient This year’s Pamela and Alexander F. Skutch Research Award goes to Greg Davies for research on Sungrebes in Costa Rica.... continue reading.
Using radios and models to assess extinction risk in a Neotropical highland Cinclodes What do the patterns of space use tell us about the risk of extinction of a species? This relationship is certainly strong. The number of individuals (population size) and the geographical range are among the main criteria for assessing the conservation status of a species by the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature), and the knowledge about the habitats used is crucial for protecting the natural resources their need to survive.... continue reading.
Apparent survival of tropical birds in a wet, premontane forest in Costa Rica Downpours, blustery winds, and a damp fog are not the best weather for doing fieldwork in Parque Nacional Volcán Tenorio in Costa Rica. Although the inclement weather isn’t great for behavioral observations of White-ruffed Manakins, it does provide an excellent opportunity to write about our recent paper in the Journal of Field Ornithology – “Apparent survival of tropical birds in a wet, premontane forest.”... continue reading.
The Ornithological Council is pleased to provide this bimonthly report covering activities from Jan – Feb 2019 The Ornithological Council seeks to: Ensure that the best ornithological science is incorporated into legislative, regulatory, and management decisions that affect birds; Enhance the ability of ornithologists to pursue professional activities; and Promote the influence of ornithology in public affairs. Our work focuses on animal welfare issues, permits, research funding, and other policies that affect ornithologists and ornithological societies. Please contact our Executive Director with questions or concerns about this report or about any other matter of concern to your society or your society’s members. Note: We apologize for not submitting this report earlier in March; our executive director has been addressing a serious family... continue reading.
Kicked out or moving out? Fledging behaviors of grassland songbirds Leaving one’s family home is a momentous occasion for all children, human or otherwise, but for birds it’s not well-known how much of this event is up to the parents’ influence or the nestlings’ choice. This is especially true in the grasslands, where birds build well-camouflaged nests down among the grasses and low shrubs, and where sightlines can stretch for miles in all directions, making undetected observation by researchers a logistical challenge.... continue reading.