Ornithologi

A studio for bird study

Tag: american

American Ornithological Society Conference 2019 Logo

by Bryce W. Robinson

AOS2019-Logo-draft I-01

I am privileged to share the logo that I created for the American Ornithological Society’s 2019 conference. The logo features three Bar-tailed Godwit (Limosa lapponica baueri), a flagship bird for Alaska and a focal species for some of Alaska’s most influential ornithologists.

I worked closely with the conference planning chair, Colleen Handel of the USGS Alaska Science Center. We created a logo that ties in closely with the theme of the meeting – Birds on the Edge: Dynamic Boundaries. Colleen is part of a team of researchers headed by her husband, Robert E. Gill (also of USGS), that are responsible for discovering the incredible, sometimes 9 day non-stop flight of Alaska’s Bar-tailed Godwits as they return to Alaska from their wintering grounds in southeast Australia and New Zealand (see Gill et al. 2008). As such, one can see why the species is a great choice to celebrate the AOS meeting being held in Anchorage.

To register for the meeting or learn more, visit the AOS 2019 Conference website. Also, be sure to check out the merchandise that features this logo.

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Short-tailed Shearwater

by Bryce W. Robinson

I’ve seen a lot of North America’s birdlife, but there are certain bird groups where my exposure is lacking. One area is birds of the sea, or what we refer to as pelagic species. I haven’t seen many of these birds, particularly those that belong to the order Procellariiformes. In fact, I can count on one hand the number of species from this group that I’ve seen. So understandably I’d be interested in gaining more exposure in any way.

The other day I was birding the western Alaska coastline with my friends Neil Paprocki and Ellen Whittle. We were paying a lot of attention to the sea because we were looking to see puffins and a few loon species. I myself have spent a great deal of time watching the sea from the Alaskan coast, and I’ve never seen anything from the order Procellariiformes. On this day I had a first. We noticed a dark bird floating along the shoreline, maybe 100 m out. After scoping the bird, I knew that it was a Short-tailed Shearwater, a lifer for me and a long awaited bird. I was, to understate it entirely, excited.

The sight raised one thought in my mind, that the bird was obviously ill in some manner. It seemed to be sleepy, unconcerned by our presence, and very near shore (uncommon among these types of birds). So, something was likely wrong with the bird. Still, I took the proper satisfaction from studying the bird and enjoying its subdued behaviors.

I took some video (above) using my Zeiss Victory Diascope 65 F* TL that show the bird at a peak in its activity while we were watching. Notice the bird take a drink at the end of the video. If we drank seawater we’d in effect die of dehydration due to the high salt concentration. But, seabirds can drink saltwater. They excrete the excess salt through their nostrils. Observing this bird drinking the saltwater, and recalling their adaption for surviving life on the ocean was another moment where I saw something in real time that I had read about previously. Such an incredible experience, and behavior birding at its best.

Singing American Tree Sparrow

by Bryce W. Robinson

I’ve made it a goal to get footage of as many singing birds in western Alaska as possible. I made out one morning in early May to film what was around. Not many birds are in Alaska in early May, but tree sparrows are the early birds in preparing for the breeding season, busy setting up territories. This bird was tirelessly singing, chasing away intruders, and conducting himself in the way any sparrow should in order to be a successful breeder. I took advantage of his focus and took this recording using my Zeiss Diascope.

Female American Kestrel Illustration- A Symbol to Spread Research and Conservation

by Bryce W. Robinson

Female American Kestrel- Falco sparverius. 11x17" prismacolor on bristol

Female American Kestrel- Falco sparverius. 11×17″ prismacolor on bristol

I’ve been on an American Kestrel binge lately, as I’ve illustrated three birds this winter. I’d like to utilize this binge to promote some great work happening concerning this species here in the western U.S. I illustrated the female Kestrel shown above for one of my peers, Alexandra Anderson, who just completed her master’s project studying the wintering habits of this common falcon. Congratulations on a great project well done Allie.

Here in Boise, Idaho, there is no shortage of research being conducted on our local sparverius population. Dr. Julie Heath at Boise State University has been researching this population for the past 15 years. She has multiple students working on various projects detailing the effects of system change on the kestrel, and for good reason. A recent publication from Dr. Heath’s research reports shorter migration distances resulting in an advancement in timing of nesting due to rises in average winter temperatures (Heath et al. 2012). The game is changing for the kestrel in the west, lets just hope we can understand this change, and how we can manage any negative implications.

The Peregrine Fund, also located here in Boise, has a project devoted to American Kestrel conservation. The American Kestrel Partnership is a network program focused on nest box establishment and rehabilitation to help facilitate a future for this colorful bird. I encourage those interested to get involved by first visiting their website here. On the homepage, you’ll see a revolving screen featuring many incredible Kestrel photos, including images by my friend Mia Mcpherson. She takes amazing photographs of kestrels, and more. Take a look at her website as well.

HawkWatch International in Salt Lake City, Utah has a Kestrel Nest box program, which contributes to The Peregrine Fund’s American Kestrel Partnership, with some added angles. I appreciate HWI, as they involve the public through their citizen science program. Their kestrel project is a great place to get involved, and be a part of an important movement to further our understanding and the future of the colorful and charasmatic American Kestrel.

Literature:

Heath, J. A., K. Steenhof, and M.A. Foster. 2012. Shorter migration distances associated with higher winter temperatures suggest a mechanism for advancing nesting phenology of American Kestrels Falco sparverius. Journal of Avian Biology 43(4) 376-384

Websites:

http://kestrel.peregrinefund.org

http://www.hawkwatch.org/news-and-events/latest-news/405-american-kestrel-citizen-science-project

http://onthewingphotography.com/wings/