Thursday, March 31, 2011
Migratory bird species that breed in the U.S. and Canada often winter in the Caribbean, Central America, and South America. A Smithsonian study of American Redstarts on their wintering grounds in Jamaica found that rainfall changes disrupted the birds' migration schedule in the spring.
Precipitation in Jamaica is highly seasonal, with consistent rainfall from September to November and a pronounced dry season from January to March. The scientists observed the redstarts in their non-breeding territories for five years during the dry season. They paid special attention to the annual variation in dry season rainfall. The correlation between the amount of insects in a bird's territory and the timing of its departure suggested to the team that annual variation in food availability was an important determining factor in the timing of spring migration. Had the redstarts relied on internal cues alone to schedule their spring departure, they would have all left their winter territories at the same time each year.The result has obvious implications for climate change, since warmer average temperatures are likely to reduce rainfall in many areas. A major question is how birds will cope with the disrupted migration schedule. In many cases, birds time their migrations to arrive on their breeding grounds just as certain food sources are becoming available, whether those are insects or seeds or some other source.
"Our results support the idea that environmental conditions on tropical non-breeding areas can influence the departure time for spring migration," said Colin Studds, a postdoctoral fellow at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute's Migratory Bird Center and lead author of the study. "We found that the same birds changed their spring departure from one year to the next in relation to the amount of rainfall and food in March."
During the past 16 years, the dry season in Jamaica has become both increasingly severe and unpredictable, leading to an 11 percent drop in total rainfall during the three-month annual drought. Making the future even more dire, climate models predict not only increased warming on temperate breeding areas but also continued drying in the Caribbean.
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Alberta's oil sands region has been back in the news recently with proposals to build new pipelines to carry unrefined oil extracted there (diluted bitumen) south to Texas for refining. Those pipelines have their own risks, especially when they cross important watersheds or wildlife areas. Regardless of how the oil is transported, the extraction process has a tremendous impact on migratory birds. Bird Canada calls our attention to this report from 2008 on the dangers oil sands mining poses for migratory birds and their habitats (pdf). It is worth a read if you are unfamiliar with the conservation issues and the birds at risk.
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
* I should add that the series does have a new moth guide in preparation, which will be substantially different from Covell's.
Monday, March 28, 2011
If you have traveled the southern portions of the Garden State Parkway at all in the last few years, you will no doubt have noticed the extensive tree-clearing and road-widening underway. Under the state's no-net-loss law, the agency overseeing the project needs to replace the trees being cleared or contribute to a tree-planting fund. However, it looks like the Turnpike Authority is trying to avoid that obligation by reclassifying the tree-clearing from mile 30 to mile 64.5 as routine maintenance rather than preparation for construction.
Officials from the Turnpike Authority say they have lived up to their “no net loss” obligations and plan to continue doing so. But they believe the tree-cutting project may be eligible for exemption since the state’s Division of Parks and Forestry has said the cut trees could classify as a firebreak for the pinelands.The plan originally submitted described the work as minor, in contrast to the clearcutting evident along the Parkway now.
The authority has submitted a plan to the state Department of Environmental Protection to mitigate the loss of wetlands and trees, although it did so only after the clearing work had begun, a breach of etiquette if not of the regulatory process....
In recent months, the Turnpike Authority has repeatedly said the clearing is not part of the $900 million parkway widening project that, when completed, will widen the roadway between mileposts 80 in Toms River and 30 in Somers Point, but rather a maintenance program designed to keep drivers safe and the roadway clear of debris.
Tom Feeney, a spokesman for the Turnpike Authority, told The Press in February that “originally, this was billed as clear zone maintenance for this entire stretch and, also, the northern part was going to be worked into the removal for the widening project. But we’re still in the planning process for the next phase of the widening, and any actual work is so far away that some of the trees will probably have started to grow back by the time work begins on the widening.”
On March 17, Kropp told The Press that the Turnpike Authority submitted a reforestation or payment plan in February for the section of the project that stretches between mileposts 30 and 64.5, but that the plan still had not been reviewed at that time.
The size of the undertaking is reflected in both the $6 million price tag to clear the trees and in the visual impact of the razed oak, maple, cedar and pine trees. The scene has become familiar to motorists: heavy machinery, specially fitted timber-cutting machines and dump trucks picking their way through long swaths of denuded ground and fallen timber. Piles of woodchips tower more than 20 feet high.
Yet despite the scope of the project, the authority’s environmental impact study, submitted in 2006, describes the work as relatively minor.
“The proposed project will require minor disturbances of vegetated areas. ... In total, 155.58 acres of existing vegetated area will be cleared, of which 88.84 acres will be converted to paved area,” the report reads.
The report states that a majority of the permanent impact will be to the plant and animal habitat in the project area, including those of threatened and endangered species, such as bald eagles, ospreys and Pine Barrens tree frogs. But it states that the loss of habitat is not expected to affect the ability of existing species to successfully breed, forage and hibernate because there is plenty of available habitat space nearby.
Sunday, March 27, 2011
Saturday, March 26, 2011
Friday, March 25, 2011
Birds and birding news
- The US Fish and Wildlife Service wants to double the number of West Coast beaches set aside as nesting areas for Western Snowy Plovers.
- David Sibley has posted an annotated list of field identifiable subspecies of North American Birds. As in the past, Sibley is skeptical about identifying subspecies in the field and urges birders to record the variation they see in written descriptions and images rather than just names.
- A researcher is tracking the movements of migratory animals from the International Space Station. The animals, some of which are insects, are fitted with tiny transmitters that broadcast their location to a receiver at the ISS.
- An albatross species that breeds on Amsterdam Island in the Indian Ocean is a unique species, genetically distinct from the Wandering Albatross.
- Cuckoos have evolved eggs to appear very similar to redstarts, which are good at recognizing eggs from other bird species, but dissimilar to Dunnocks, which do not recognize foreign eggs as readily. Both species frequently host cuckoo eggs.
- A recent study on Gray Catbirds in suburban areas found that domestic and feral cats were the top threat to baby catbirds; predation was so high that the adult catbirds were unable to replace their numbers from one generation to the next. This result emphasizes that domestic and feral outdoor cats currently kill more birds than wind turbines, which get more publicity. While cats killed the most baby catbirds, collisions with windows and buildings kill the most birds per year continent-wide.
- Net Results: More shade coffee birds and banding: part 1; part 2
- Sibley Guides: Distinguishing the subspecies of Purple Finch
- Sibley Guides: Distribution of Greater White-fronted Goose subspecies
- Pixiq: Hummingbird Photography in Costa Rica
- View from the Cape: Birder phrases: Pair of binoculars
- On the Road: Piping Plover courtship display
- Not Exactly Rocket Science: Vultures use tools. Ravens use vultures. Vultures are tools
- eBird News: Identification Pitfalls--Crows and Ravens
- 10,000 Birds: Leucistic Pileated Woodpecker
- Temperature increases resulting from climate change will probably drive Joshua Trees out of most of their current range over the next century.
- New York City is still struggling to clean up and replace the Fresh Kills landfill on Staten Island.
- The maximum extent of Arctic sea ice this winter was tied with 2006 for the lowest on record.
- Coastal Louisiana is again the site of an oil spill, this one smaller than the one that happened over the summer. So far the source of the spill is unnamed.
- An analysis by Norwegian technicians of BP's oil spill blames the extent of the spill on failures within the blowout preventer. The report urges the oil drilling industry to redesign blowout preventers to prevent such failures in the future.
- Bad Astronomy: The skies at night, are too darn bright
Thursday, March 24, 2011
A freighter, the Malta-based MV Oliva, ran aground near Tristan da Cunha, a group of islands in the South Atlantic. The ship released 800 tons of oil, and there is now an oil slick around Nightingale Island. The slick has the potential to be difficult to clean up since the islands are remote and cleanup vessels will have to travel a long way to reach Tristan da Cunha.
Nightengale Island is notable for its large population of Northern Rockhopper Penguins (Eudyptes moseleyi), an endangered species that has more than half of its population living within the archipelago. Conservation workers on the islands say that about 20,000 penguins have been oiled so far, with the potential for more to be oiled by the time rescue workers arrive.
There are photos of the penguins at Mongabay.com and updates at the Tristan da Cunha website.
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Along with the warmer temperatures, spring revives sounds, the songs of animals calling to establish breeding territories and attract mates. Birds, of course, do this; my first sign of spring is usually when the House Finches start to sing in earnest again in February. Insects sing, too, though we will not get the full effect of those nightly choruses for a while yet. Right now, the nights around wetland areas are full of the sounds of amphibians.
Several species of frogs were calling in Cape May Point State Park one night last week. I took these videos at various points along the boardwalks, as the evening got darker and the choruses got louder. The video above, taken early in the evening, records the sound of Northern Spring Peepers. Other sounds in the video include waves on the beaches and footsteps on the boardwalk.
This video has mostly Wood Frogs, as well as a New Jersey Chorus Frog.
This video has four species: Northern Spring Peepers, Northern Cricket Frogs, Wood Frogs, and Pickerel Frogs.
This video, my last of the evening, has the same set of species as the previous one.
New Jersey's fish & wildlife agency produced a guide to the state's amphibians. There is a pdf summary of the frogs and a website with links to factsheets about each of the state's reptiles and amphibians.
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
"Although wildlife biologists generally manage at the level of populations," Stieglitz said, "we, too, become entwined in the fates of individual animals. Wisdom is one such special creature. She has also provided us valuable information about the longevity of these beautiful birds - in her case over 60 years - and reinforces the importance of breeding adults in the population. It's also very humbling to know this 8-pound bird has been producing chicks longer than I have been alive."The fate of the parents of the endangered Short-tailed Albatross chick is still unknown, but the chick at least survived.
The image at the top of this post was taken by Pete Leary of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. You can read updates about the albatrosses and cleanup from the tsunami at Midway on his blog.
Monday, March 21, 2011
Unless you always bird by yourself, an important and under-appreciated skill is being able to get other birders onto a good bird. Nick Lund, who formerly wrote The Birdist, created this video to show just how difficult that can be sometimes. I know I have been involved in this type of conversation (playing both roles) many times.
Sunday, March 20, 2011
I have run my moth light three times over the past two weeks in the hope of attracting some early season moths. The first session, on March 8th, was mostly a bust, with no moths and not even midges or gnats. In the second session, on March 11th, I recorded one moth, a Spring Cankerworm (Paleacrita vernata), in two and a half hours of running the light. That moth is shown below. It came towards the end of the session after the temperature had dropped to 43°F.
Saturday, March 19, 2011
Friday, March 18, 2011
Birds and birding news
- The tsunami generated by Japan's recent earthquake washed over many Pacific islands used for nesting by seabirds, including Midway Atoll. Visit the USFWS Pacific photostream to see images of the damage. The endangered Short-tailed Albatross chick (pictured above) managed to survive the tsunami. You can read more about it at Pete Leary's blog.
- A study explored why birds collide with human-made obstacles such as buildings and wind turbines by examining how their sensory information. Part of the reason is that they are more likely to be looking down or to the sides than straight ahead. Birds' forward vision may also be tuned to detect movement rather than stationary obstacles.
- Oklahoma wildlife officials are trying to rebuild the state's Northern Bobwhite population, which has declined in recent years.
- Laelaps: The Lost Cowbird of Térapa
- Sibley Guides: Identifying songbirds by flocking behavior
- Not Exactly Rocket Science: How the Transylvanian naked neck chicken got its naked neck
- 10,000 Birds: Meet Suliformes, one of the newest orders of birds
- Hawkwatch at the Franklin Institute: Eggciting news! Egg #1 just arrived
- A recent study found 89 cases of national parks and protected areas being shrunk or abolished over the past century.
- A new population of the rare Andean cat was discovered in central Argentina. The find was significant both for extending the cat's known range and because this population occurs at a much lower altitude than any of the other known populations.
Thursday, March 17, 2011
City Wildlife tracked the deaths of migratory birds around buildings in Washington, D.C., last year during spring and fall migration.The group collected 123 birds, 36 of which appeared at the Thurgood Marshall Federal Judiciary Building near Union Station. The building proves particularly deadly to birds because it fronts an open plaza with a glass facade. When the lights are left on all night, migrating birds seeking shelter at the end of a long flight see the trees inside the atrium; instead of landing in the trees, they crash into a glass wall. In other cases, birds may simply be disoriented by the bright lights.
Here is a list of the most dangerous buildings, with the numbers of dead birds in parenthesis.
- Thurgood Marshall Federal Judiciary Building (36)
- TechWorld, 800 K Street NW (21)
- Senate Hart Office Building (11)
- U.S. Court of Appeals, 430 E St. NW (10)
- 300 New Jersey Avenue NW (8)
- 1099 New York Avenue NW (7)
- Washington Convention Center (7)
- 425 I Street NW (6)
- 20 Massachusetts Avenue NW (3)
- Second and G Streets NE (3)
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
marked with colored plastic bands; if you happen to see one, report it following the directions at the link. One that was sighted by Andrew on Long Island last year and then re-sighted in the Bahamas; at least one Bahamas plover has already been reported this spring in Connecticut.
Monday, March 14, 2011
Parrots of the World covers all 356 species of parrots, including extinct species such as the Carolina Parakeet. The guide groups species by geography rather than taxonomy, to make it easier to find species in the field. Each species is represented with the high quality painted illustrations I have come to expect from Princeton's field guides. Illustrations depict each species's major forms, as well as the uppersides and undersides of their wings and tails. The top and bottom views appear more like study skins than flying birds, but they achieve the same goal as a depiction of a flying bird would.
Facing each color plate is a page with text for each depicted species. The accounts include a range map, identification points, and notes on the bird's distribution and conservation status. Each account also names a handful of places where a species is most likely to be found. The suggested locations are usually national parks or other protected reserves, or in some cases lodges that cater to birders.
Why might a North American birder want a field guide on parrots when the only native parrot species in the U.S. or Canada is extinct? First, parrots are beautiful and intriguing species. Some are highly intelligent, and many are threatened by habitat loss or capture. Of the 356 species, 123 are listed as threatened or endangered by BirdLife International. This makes parrots one of the most threatened groups of birds. This alone makes it worth learning more about parrots.
Second, exotic parrots are establishing themselves in American cities by escapes or releases of imported birds. Monk Parakeets are on the state lists for New York, Illinois (pdf), and more recently New Jersey (pdf); they have been documented in other states as well. California and Florida have small populations of numerous parrots. Escaped pet parrots like Budgerigars can turn up almost anywhere. Virtually any species brought into the country can escape and not all of them are depicted in standard field guides. (The Sibley Guide to Birds and The Crossley ID Guide both have extensive sections on the most common feral parrots.) Since Parrots of the World covers species from every continent, it is a useful reference for checking the identity of an unknown parrot. I think it will prove especially helpful to urban birders who encounter escaped or feral parrots on a regular basis.
Sunday, March 13, 2011
Saturday, March 12, 2011
Friday, March 11, 2011
Birds and birding news
- New Jersey's first record of Pink-footed Goose was spotted this week on a lake in Bergen County.
- A small colony of Emperor Penguins in western Antarctica disappeared due to loss of sea ice caused by climate change. It is not clear if the colony died off or relocated.
- The oldest known wild bird in the U.S. is a Laysan Albatross, and she has produced another chick this season at the age of 60.
- Alaska's Teshekpuk Lake region has some of the highest breeding bird nesting densities and productivity in the Arctic. As a result of recent nest surveys there, the Wildlife Conservation Society recommends that such important breeding areas be left free from energy development even though they lie within a BLM petroleum reserve.
- A recent study found the remains of 25 bird species inside the digestive tracts of invasive pythons in Florida; the bird species included four listed as "special concern" species by the state: Snowy Egret, Little Blue Heron, White Ibis, and Limpkin.
- Cerulean Warblers depend on Colombia's mountainous coffee growing regions for its winter habitat; they favor shade coffee plantations where coffee plants are grown under the forest canopy. Colombian coffee has been in the news because extreme heat and heavy rains have reduced coffee yields at Colombian plantations.
- The extinction of large mammals 20,000 years ago caused the extinction of one cowbird species.
- Older Great Tits are less successful breeders than younger ones; the problems seem to occur after young have left the nest.
- A mother hen can feel her chicks' distress; their empathy was measured according to physical indicators such as heart rate and body temperature, as well as vocalizations.
- A study found that American Kestrels are at risk from the rodenticide diphacinone, which is coming into wider use due to restrictions on other rodenticides.
- 10,000 Birds: Beautiful Blue Backyard Bird
- Birding Dude: Banded Piping Plover back in the Bahamas
- ABA Blog: The Lowdown
- March of the Fossil Penguins: Meet the Tiniest Wing-Propelled Diver
- Sibley Guides: Birds species new to North American – a summary
- Birdchick: What's An Uptown Owl Eating?
- IBRRC: Natural Seep Oiled Birds Continue to Flood IBRRC
- The US Fish and Wildlife Service announced this week that the Mount Charleston Blue butterfly (Plebejus shasta charlestonensis), a subspecies of Shasta Blue that is endemic to Nevada, deserved to be listed as endangered but was precluded from listing by more deserving species. In the meantime, the Forest Service will manage its wilderness areas for the Mount Charleston Blue as if it were endangered.
- A fight over a bike lane near Prospect Park in Brooklyn is turning into a wider fight over New York City's transportation policies, which seek to provide safer space for pedestrians and cyclists.
- A visitor recounts a trip through the Sierra Nevada of Santa Marta in Colombia, which includes the tallest coastal mountain of the Caribbean.
- The eastern population of Monarch butterflies has already started moving north.
- Research into air pollution caused by the gulf oil spill discovered a previously unknown source of organic aerosols.
- Scientists found two new species of freshwater stingrays in the Amazon; unlike most stingrays, these do not have a dangerous barbed tail.
- LiveScience has a gallery of some of the worst invasive species.
Thursday, March 10, 2011
Ali Iyoob suggested Palmerworm Moth (Dichomeris ligulella), which seems to fit the shape of this moth pretty well. Sometimes it pays to revisit unsolved identification problems!
Wednesday, March 09, 2011
Tuesday, March 08, 2011
In late February, biologists returned with sobering news from their annual trip to the bird's wintering grounds in Tierra del Fuego, Chile.An online version of the state's proposal is here, for anyone who wants to read and comment on it. Comments must be received by March 19. It looks like comments have to be submitted by mail even though NJDEP asks for an electronic copy.
Immense flocks of red knots once swooped over the vast tidal mudflats, rich in tiny organisms that were a nonstop banquet. In recent years the number declined to 16,000, but remained stable.
Now, the count showed the population dropping again, to between 10,000 and 11,000.
"We're dismayed," said Larry Niles, former chief of the DEP endangered-species program, now a wildlife consultant. He has led red knot research for more than a decade.
The crew of more than a dozen international researchers had hoped for an uptick because conditions on Delaware Bay last spring were so favorable. The weather held, the crabs laid their eggs, the birds feasted.
Data from netted birds showed that nearly 80 percent were at or near ideal body weight, prime for breeding.
Monday, March 07, 2011
Wind energy holds some potential for reducing the amount of greenhouse gases emitted by our power sources, but this environmental benefit comes at a cost. Wind farms may harm birds and bats, either by creating obstacles for them to strike or by habitat degradation. The American Bird Conservancy is circulating a petition calling for mandatory standards for the wind industry to reduce the threat to birds and bats. The petition reads as follows:
Wind power is the fastest developing source of energy in the United States and can be an important part of the solution to climate change. However, wind farms can harm birds through collisions with turbines and associated structures, and through loss of habitat birds need for survival. These losses are largely avoidable. The solutions are within our reach.
I support bird-smart wind power that includes mandatory standards to minimize bird deaths and habitat impacts.
Bird-smart wind power:
1. Is carefully sited to avoid harm to birds
2. Uses best technology and best management practices to minimize harm to birds
3. Employs effective, federally reviewed and approved, site-specific, pre- and post-construction studies/assessments to assist with improved siting and operation, and to properly quantify impacts.
4. Compensates fully for unavoidable harm to birds caused by collisions with wind turbines or associated structures, and lost or degraded habitat.
If you agree with this, you can sign onto the petition here. The petition is a shortened version of ABC's policy statement on wind power, which provides more information about what they mean by each of those four points.
(via the ABA blog)
Sunday, March 06, 2011
I took a walk through Johnson Park yesterday afternoon. I was hoping to see some waterbirds on the ponds, which had been frozen over on my last visit to that park about a month ago. Aside from the usual Canada Geese and Mallards, the only waterfowl I saw were a few Common Mergansers that flew past and some distant Common Goldeneye. There was a large group of gulls on a sandbar across the river from the park. I made out one Lesser Black-backed Gull among the group. A few other dark-backed gulls looked like candidates for Lesser Black-backed Gulls based on size, but I couldn't quite tell if other field marks were also consistent. A blackbird flock at the horse track included one Rusty Blackbird. Most of the birds in the flock were European Starlings, with a few dozen each Red-winged Blackbirds and Common Grackles, as well as one Brown-headed Cowbird. The flock flushed pretty frequently, so it was difficult to make out anything more than that.
Saturday, March 05, 2011
While screech-owls are primarily nocturnal predators, they sometimes emerge from their roosting places during the day, especially the late afternoon. In the winter, sitting in an opening gives them the opportunity to bask in the afternoon sun and warm themselves after a cold day of sleeping. So if you happen to be out on a winter afternoon, it is worth checking openings in tree trunks for the characteristic shape of an owl.
If you do happen to find a roosting owl, be careful about how you share the sighting and do not post an exact roost or nest location publicly. Owls can be sensitive to disturbance, so frequent visits may push an owl to change roosts, possibly to a less favorable location.
Friday, March 04, 2011
- The American Bird Conservancy and Fundación ProAves secured 13 new conservation easements to protect the Cerulean Warbler and several other neotropical migrants on the wintering areas in Colombia.
- Three Yellow-billed Cotingas were captured for the first time in Costa Rica; they were fitted with radio transmitters and released to learn more about the activities of this rare bird. The species is endemic to the Pacific slope of Costa Rica and Panama.
- The flock of Whooping Cranes that winters at Aransas NWR in Texas was at its largest size ever this winter, with 279 cranes.
- A Ruddy Turnstone migrated 27,000 km (round trip) last year, traveling from Australia to Siberia via Taiwan and then returning to Australia via the central Pacific (with a stop at the Gilbert Islands). The bird was tracked with a geolocator for two years in a row.
- National Geographic has a gallery of the best rare bird photos from a photography competition.
- A cull of 4,400 Ruddy Ducks in the U.K. has reduced their population to 120 ducks. The North American species is being culled to protect Spain's population of White-headed Ducks, which has been in decline.
- Environmental groups in Malaysia are upset by the killing of a protected Great Pied Hornbill, a photo of which turned up on Facebook.
- A case of mass bird deaths in Pennsylvania was a result of European Starlings being poisoned with Starlicide.
- About 80% of fledgling Gray Catbirds in suburban habitats are killed by predators before they reach adulthood. About half of those deaths are caused by domestic cats left outdoors and most of the deaths occurred within the first week of a catbird leaving the nest.
- Sibley Guides: Identifying Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers by drumming sounds
- Coffee and Conservation: Know your coffee birds: Wilson’s Warbler
- The Drinking Bird: The Rarity Radius
- Great Auk or Greatest Auk: Oh No, Thoreau!
- Audubon Guides: Winter Owls
- Tetrapod Zoology: Walter Rothschild and the rise and fall of Sclater's cassowary
- BirdWatching Field of View: An interview with Richard Crossley, author of the new ID guide
- The Freiday Bird Blog: I.D. Tip: Winter Shorebirds
- The US Fish and Wildlife Service declared the eastern cougar subspecies extinct, after a study of scientific literature and reported sightings from the past century. The subspecies has probably been extinct since the 1930s due to hunting.
- The Desert Protective Council suggests 10 desert plants in California that ought to have endangered species protections.
- Since the start of 2011, 80 dead baby dolphins have washed up along the Gulf coast of the U.S. Scientists are investigating whether the deaths were caused by residual toxins from BP's oil spill or some other cause.
- An analysis of recent mammal extinctions concluded that the Earth is currently undergoing its sixth mass extinction event.
- A new study reports that warmer temperatures have stunted the growth of white spruce trees in Alaska's boreal forest. The spruces may end up shifting northward as the Earth continues to warm. Lodgepole pines in western forests may likewise disappear thanks to climate change and invasive beetles.
- The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences is starting a long-term study of how the oil spill affects the health of Gulf coast residents. They are contacting 100,000 people and hope at least 55,000 participate in the study.
- Meanwhile, the Interior Department has resumed issuing permits for deepwater drilling.
- What remains of Washington state's first wolf pack is unclear after several wolves were found dead under suspicious circumstances.
Thursday, March 03, 2011
mentioned previously has now started flowering. Red maples are usually one of the first trees to start blooming. I recently read Bernd Heinrich's Winter World, which discussed the early blooming of red maples and other trees in the context of bee survival. Early flowers like these provide an advantage to those bee colonies that can afford to sacrifice some scouts to cold snaps in order to find those flowers as soon as they bloom. I did not notice any bees on these flowers, but they were well above my head, so I may have missed some.