Saturday, March 25, 2006

Searching Questions

As I have mentioned before, the SiteMeter reports for my blog include information about internet searches that led people here. Sometimes these tend towards the silly, and believe me, I have some more of those coming up soon. But more often than not, the searches reflect information that people want to find. So in this post I will attempt to answer some of them.

How did wood warblers get their name?

This question is difficult to answer, because I am not sure if this person wanted information about the name of the entire family, or names of individual species. I will assume the former, since the latter would take too long to answer. "Warbler" is used to refer to two types of birds, Old World Warblers (Family Sylviidae) and New World, or Wood, Warblers (Family Parulidae). Very few Old World Warblers breed in the Americas; the only representative is the Arctic Warbler. Wood Warblers, on the other hand, are widespread throughout North and South America. There are 116 species overall, with 53 occurring in North America. Wood warblers do not really warble, which means singing with clear trills and sustained notes; their calls tend to be more buzzy and repetitive. The name "warbler" was most likely attached to the American species due to superficial resemblance to their Old World cousins, and "wood" is attached as a modifier to distinguish the two distinct families.

What types of animals are in Jamaica Bay?

There are, in fact, many types of animals in Jamaica Bay, New York. One place to start would be the Jamaica Bay Unit of the Gateway National Recreation Area. There you can find a list of the bird species recorded in Jamaica Bay (link opens pdf). That does not answer for all animals, but it is a start.

How dangerous is a hurricane?

It depends on the strength of the storm. See the NOAA website for an explanation of the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale and what sort of damage can be expected. Hurricane Katrina (pdf) was a Category 3 storm when it made landfall on the Louisiana-Mississippi border in 2005.

Does wind effect woodcock display?

The USFWS seems to think that wind may suppress woodcock activity, since it schedules woodcock counts on days without wind or other adverse weather conditions.

Why do my pigeons lose their feathers?

All birds molt every feather at least once a year. Feathers wear down from exposure to the weather and use in flight. Molting keeps them fresh and suitable for flight and insulation. Some captive birds engage in feather-plucking, in which the bird deliberately chews or plucks its feathers, much like we bite our fingernails. Sometimes this is the result of disease and other times it may be the result of boredom or frustration.

When do Washington, D.C., robins migrate?

Many robins have become nonmigratory in recent years due to two reasons. One is that winters have become warmer, making it easier to find worms and other invertebrates for food. Robins have also benefited from the surge in backyard bird feeding, which provides an alternate source of food during subfreezing snaps. There are, however, migratory movements of robins. Northward migration in this area starts in March, and southward migration peaks in September and October. For more information, see bootstrap analysis and the DC Audubon webpage.