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Filter’d Out #14 — 18 [Hatchings]

September 4, 2011

Continuing my summer clearance sale of the the most enlightening* bird and nature blogging from 2011, here we are with August’s offerings. Good stuff not slated for the discount rack, that’s for sure. It may be the dog** days in the outdoorsosphere, but man, the bloggers were productive.
* Including but not limited to: entertaining, challenging, informative, inspiring, alarming, and/or that simply spoke to me.
** Did you know Sirius, the dog star, is responsible for all that hot weather? I knew it wasn’t our fault! Unless the satellite radio company is behind it all?

For the weeks covering 01 through 28 August 2011 I’ve Filter’d Out:

Catching gulls on Sable
Rob Ronconi, writing for Sable Island Gulls
I’m not just highlighting Rob’s post, but his entire site. Why? Not because I’m lazy (though this strategy is giving me an idea), but because the enlightening part is more than just a post. It’s an interaction between you and researchers that will lead to a better understanding of gull movements. From the site:

Rob Ronconi, a postdoctoral researcher working with Professor Phil Taylor, captured gulls during the breeding season to track them with electronic tags and mark them with coloured wing- and leg-bands. The purpose is to study how gulls interact with offshore platforms and vessels, and to learn more about the year-round movements of these birds.
This research relies on reports of banded birds spotted by bird watchers, beach goers, offshore workers, fishers, and keen observers anywhere. Sightings throughout the year will help researchers to map out the home range and migration routes of Sable Island gulls.

A Birder’s Guide To … INDOCTRINATION
Felonius Jive, writing for 10,000 Birds
Converting the unwashed masses to the bird side is always a good thing. Mr. Jive (Dr. Jive? That’s way too cool!) offers suggestions.

I am proud to say that over the years Seagull and I have managed to inadvertantly make people more aware and appreciative of the birds around them. The number of times I have heard beautiful women whisper in my ear “When I see a bird, I think of you” is now countless, and I assure you, it does not get old. Some of these people have gone further…they have become birdwatchers, birders and biologists. My reach and influence is far-reaching now, and I believe both birders and the birds themselves benefit.

Tough Shorebirding Season At Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge…
Andrew Baksh, writing for Birding dude
Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge is renowned for shorebirds. Not this year, due to water levels. Andrew explains what’s going on.

The East Pond, is usually where the action is at and it requires careful management in monitoring the water level. Every summer, the water needs to be drawn down to provide mudflats for thousands of migrating shorebirds who use the pond as a critical stopover to rest and feed as they try and gain enough fat to continue the long journey to their wintering grounds. . . . The last few years, there have been some difficulty with the water level, but this year has been a total disappointment!!! According to a few veteran birders, this year was the worst they had ever encountered and we are talking about folks with well over 20 years birding Jamaica Bay.

Gray-hooded Gull At Coney Island Beach Brooklyn NY…
Andrew Baksh, writing for Birding dude
One more from Andrew: an Überrarity arrived at Coney Island this summer, and I’m not talking about the binocular- and scope-toting midwesterners that cruised the boardwalk the first week of August. They arrived after the discovery of a certain Gray-hooded Gull, only the second record from the U.S.

. . . later this afternoon Shane called to let me know he was going back to the site where the bird was seen. Minutes later, I was putting my work on hold, grabbing scope, camera and binoculars as I raced out to the truck. Shane had re-found the bird!!! Muttering words that would make sailors blush, I battled the dreaded traffic down the Belt Parkway . . .

More about the gull can be found on Peeps, A DC Birding Blog, Anything Larus, and a host of other accounts. Just check The Google.

Bad Beetle Karma
Bug Girl, writing for Bug Girl’s Blog
Not about birds, not about an insect that birds eat, but about a bug that we have a hell of a time keeping off the native plants we offer the birds. Turns out, we’ve been doing it wrong. The things you learn from “research blogging” posts.

Beetle bags contain a combination of lures–the bright yellow color mimics flowers, there’s a feeding attractant, and also a female sex pheromone. It is the buggy equivalent of a giant flashing neon sign advertizing a message equivalent to “FREE SEX ORGY AND ALL YOU CAN EAT BBQ WINGS + BEER”.

A lot of beetles come to the trap–but less than 25% of the beetles attracted actually go into it.

BWCA Tower Case: The Ruling!
Laura Erickson, writing for Laura’s Birding Blog
I’m a sucker for courtroom flicks, 12 Angry Men to A Few Good Men, To Kill a Mockingbird to Inherit the Wind, Primal Fear to My Cousin Vinny. Could this be the case that becomes the next big courtroom drama? Who would play Laura? Would they call it “The Tower Kills”? Tune in for the exciting conclusion!

Last year, AT&T asked Lake County for a permit to construct a communications tower just off the Fernberg Road, near Ely. . . . Lake County approved the project, but then the Friends of the Boundary Waters sued under the Minnesota environmental rights act, asking that AT&T be allowed to build a tower in the area no taller than 199 feet. I testified on their behalf regarding a tower’s potential impact on birds.

Listening to the Predawn Morse Code
Bill Thompson III, writing for Bill of the Birds
Posted on August 10th, Bill reports on listening to the flight calls of songbirds winging their way south in the dark. Yes, it’s been fall for a few weeks already, and you may not have even noticed!

I was up very early this morning—before light—and when I stepped outside, the still morning darkness was broken ever so slightly by the Morse code of migrant birds overhead, whispering their contact calls to their fellow travelers.

Science at work: How many kinds of Red Crossbills are there, anyway?
Wesley Hochachka, writing for Round Robin
I was going to post a piece about Red Crossbills after hearing Craig talk about them at a conference in 2009 — I even took notes! Sadly, I never did write the post, and now I know why: I was subconsciously waiting for someone like Wesley to do it right.

The world is full of amazing “radiations” of birds—that’s what evolutionary biologists call groups of closely related species that have evolved amazing diversities of plumage, size, bill shapes, and habitat requirements. Craig (Benkman) has spent decades studying crossbills, and having known him for many years I think that he probably lives, thinks, and dreams crossbills (and it wouldn’t surprise me if he sprinkles pine nuts on his breakfast cereal too). Right now, we recognize two species of crossbills in North America—but Craig’s work shows ecological grounds for the possibility that there are many species of crossbills coexisting right under our noses.

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