Do you sing like I do? Geographic variation in the vocalizations of a Neotropical sparrow species complex Variation in phenotypic traits are common in geographic scenarios, and conspicuous when geographic isolation is involved. Genetic, morphological and cultural traits are all affected with important consequences in the recognition of conspecifics and speciation processes. In songbirds, the vocal traits are of special interest as songs are learned producing great diversity of acoustic signals.... continue reading.
Passive restoration contributes to bird conservation in Brazilian Pampa grasslands Passive restoration (natural colonization) has been tested and used as tool to recovery-degraded habitats, mainly in forests. Researchers have investigated for the first time that southern South America grasslands in the process of passive restoration can provide suitable habitat for many species of grassland birds and is an appropriate management tool for biodiversity conservation. Bird species restricted solely to, or which make extensive use of grassland habitats (such as Wedge-tailed Grass-Finch), were recorded in sites under passive restoration and native grasslands, as do also some species of conservation concern (such Sedge Wren and Pearly-bellied Seedeater).... continue reading.
Microhabitat nest‐site selection by ducks in the boreal forest The boreal forest is one of the most important breeding areas for ducks in North America, but there is little information about the nest ecology of ducks from this region. New research just published in The Journal of Field Ornithology reveals microhabitat nest-site selection strategies of five species of boreal ducks from two nesting guilds.... continue reading.
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.
2018 meeting recap Between the 7th and 9th June, 2018 AFO held its annual meeting jointly with the Wilson Ornithological Society at the Chattanooga Convention Center in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The meeting offered nearly 100 oral and poster presentations. Highlights from the program included the 2018 Margaret Morse Nice lecture given by Dr. Reed Bowman (Archbold Biological Station) entitled “The challenges of long-term research: getting the work done and keeping it relevant”, and the AFO plenary delivered by Dr. Valentina Ferretti (Universidad de Buenos Aires) entitled “Variation in extra-pair paternity: lessons learned from studying birds in South America”. The program also included a symposium focused on the ecology and conservation of high elevation birds in the southern Appalachian Mountains, and a... 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.