Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Bird News

Here is another of my irregular series of posts linking to bird-related articles.

Hawk-watching is a popular topic this week as hawk migration is approaching its peak. The Toledo Blade has article on hawk migration that includes an explanation - via graphics - of how hawks use thermals on their way south. Hawk Mountain, one of the most famous raptor-counting sites on the east coast, is the subject of a profile by the Philadelphia Inquirer. Like Cape May, the mountain had been a favorite spot for hunting raptors until the land was purchased by a conservation organization to stop the killing. The Washington Post has also profiled Hawk Mountain.

Banding is being supplemented by new technologies for tracking bird migration. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources is using satellite transmitters to track the path of two osprey that nest in central Ohio. A map showing their progress is online. Other scientists are using deuterium isotopes to establish the relationship between summer breeding grounds and winter residences for songbirds.

The plain-tailed wren of Ecuador and Peru sings in small groups of both males and females to produce a single song, with diffferent birds singing different parts. In other words, the species forms avian choruses. It is thought that the purpose of this activity is either to time reproduction or defend against intruders.

Alabama recently opened a birding trail along the Tennessee River in the northern portion of the state. The local communities are banking on the trail bringing in lots of tourist money from birders. Advocates of the trail are pushing it as a way to combine economic development with conservation. Meanwhile, Louisiana is trying to bring birders back to the refuges in the state's southwestern corner, which is now itself subject to a hurricane threat.