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Friday, May 25, 2012

This week in birds - #22

Female Orchard Oriole among the reeds at Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge last week.


Cattle Egrets are very common here in summer and their appearance is very familiar to anyone who takes time to notice birds, but a very unusual egret has turned up in Florida. It is buff-colored rather than white and is almost orange in spots.  


In the New York Times this week, a scientist wrote about his research on the effects on its birds of forest fragmentation in Hawaii.


Also in Hawaii, an introduced bird, the Japanese White-Eye, is expanding its range and driving native birds out of conservation areas that were set aside for them. 


A new survey of the population of pygmy three-toed sloths found less than 100 surviving in the wild.


Great Egrets, a very common bird to us, is very rare in the United Kingdom. It has caused a great deal of excitement among birders there to learn that these birds are nesting in their country for the first time. Volunteers are protecting the nests to see that no harm comes to them.


And also in the UK, their oldest Osprey, a 26-year-old bird, has just hatched her 48 chick. She's been nesting in the same spot for 22 consecutive years.


In more unusual news of nesting birds, Black-crowned Night Herons are nesting in downtown Oakland!


The brown argus butterfly of the UK is expanding its range farther northward, apparently in response to hotter summers. It may be one of the species that actually will benefit from global warming.


Though it is still seriously endangered, the California Condor population now stands at 405 birds, a remarkable increase over the 22 birds that were alive just twenty-five years ago.


A new study shows that, for Song Sparrows anyway, promiscuity doesn't pay. Mating with birds outside the pair bond had less successful results than mating within the pair.


The color of a bird's bill can often indicate its health. The brighter the bill, the healthier the bird, and thus the bill can be an signal of the bird's ability to successfully breed.  A new study of storks confirms this.   


Around the backyard:

My little family of bluebirds fledged successfully on Thursday. Unfortunately, I didn't get any pictures, but I was happy to see them around the yard today. My yard can't have too many bluebirds.

I heard a Baltimore Oriole calling from my magnolia tree today but it was well-hidden among the dense leaves and I could never get a look at it.

I continued to hear my "rain crow," the Yellow-billed Cuckoo, around the neighborhood this week. Now, if only he would bring me some rain!

Here are a few more pictures from my trip to Anahuac last week.

A young Little Blue Heron, still mostly white.

Lesser Yellowlegs (I think).

Black-necked Stilt - lots of those around.

Double-crested Cormorant.

Blue-winged Teal pair.

An "authorized" Laughing Gull. Wonder what an unauthorized gull would look like?

Have a safe and happy Memorial Day weekend and never forget what we commemorate with this holiday


  1. Amazing news about the Osprey. Congrats on your bluebirds fledglings. How fun to see them around the yard. Have a great Memorial Day weekend!

    1. Yep, that is one prolific lady Osprey, Steph!