Naturalist David Mizejewski discusses options for providing places for animals to raise their young in your backyard, including dense plants, snags, nesting boxes, bat boxes, clean standing water, and host and nectar plants. For a list of recommended native plants for your state, please visit the Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center. Fifth of seven videos from the National Wildlife Federation about establishing a Certified Wildlife Habitat at your home or school.View full post
In the plains of northern Wyoming, a group of male Sharp Tailed Grouse dance to attract a mate. Extending their colorful eye combs, puffing out their purple air sacs, and spreading and dipping their wings the males all intently motor across the grassland then suddenly and intently freeze in place.
Their vibrant colors would seemingly expose them to prey from above. However, as if with a flip of a switch, their bold colors are deflated, broad tails are flattened and they seamlessly blend into the grassy floor.
A truly wonderful dance recorded by the Cornell Lab or Ornithology.View full post
What do flocks of birds have in common with trust, monogamy, and even the release of breast milk? According to a new report in the journal Science, they are regulated by virtually identical neurochemicals in the brain, known as oxytocin in mammals and mesotocin in birds.View full post
The population of the wood duck has increased a great deal in the last several years. This increase has been in large part due to the work of many people locating wood duck boxes and conserving vital habitat for the wood ducks to breed.
The following information is provided to help with the design, construction and placement of wood duck nest boxes. More free wood duck birdhouse plans can be downloaded here.View full post
Think of topiary and you may envision a whimsical ivy sculpture of a Mickey Mouse or Cinderella at Disneyworld. But the art of topiary has been around for ages and was actually practiced in early Roman and Greek gardens and courtyards. Shaped wire cages are sometimes employed in modern topiary to help guide pruning, whereas traditional topiary depends on a trained eye, skilled patience and a steady hand.
Latin for an ornamental landscape gardener, topiary is the art of creating sculptures using clipped trees, shrubs and plants. The shrubs and plants used in topiary are evergreen, have small leaves or needles, produce dense foliage, and have compact and columnar growth. Common plants used in topiary include boxwood, arborvitae, bay laurel, holly, myrtle, yew, and privet. Shaped wire cages or frames are used in modern topiary to guide plants. Wire frames can be homemade by bending wire to form shapes, or purchased commercially in many unique styles and sizes.
Using frames for topiary, or American Portable style topiary, was introduced to the US at Disneyland around 1962. Walt Disney helped bring this new medium into being – recreating his cartoon characters throughout his theme park in landscape shrubbery.View full post
There are more than 90 million pet cats in the U.S., the majority of which roam outside at least part of the time. In addition, millions of stray and feral cats roam our cities, suburbs, and rural areas. Scientists estimate that free-roaming cats kill hundreds of millions of birds, small mammals, reptiles and amphibians each year.
Cat predation is an added stress to wildlife populations already struggling to survive habitat loss, pollution, pesticides, and other human impacts (see: Domestic Cat Predation On Birds And Other Wildlife). Free-roaming cats are also exposed to injury, disease, parasites, getting hit by cars, or becoming lost, stolen, or poisoned. Millions of domestic cats are euthanized each year because there are not enough homes for them. Cats can also transmit diseases and parasites such as rabies, cat-scratch fever, and toxoplasmosis to other cats, wildlife or people (see: The Great Outdoors Is No Place For Cats).
In 1997, American Bird Conservancy (ABC) launched the Cats Indoors! Campaign for Safer Birds and Cats to educate cat owners, decision makers, and the general public that cats, wildlife and people all benefit when cats are kept indoors, in an outdoor enclosure, or trained to go outside on a harness and leash. ABC developed many education materials, including the popular brochure (recently revised), Cats, Birds, and You, and a Educator’s Guide for Grades K-6 including a coloring sheet.View full post
A three-year study of 1,500 North American citizen scientists shows that birds prefer tube and platform feeders, stocked with black oil sunflower, sunflower chips, nyjer, and white proso millet. The survey was led by ornithologist David Horn, as part of Millikin University’s Project Wildbird.
Some of the study’s conclusions include:
• Tube bird feeders and platform feeders have more visitors than hopper feeders. Tube feeders attract smaller birds while platform feeders are best for larger birds. Whether birds use hopper feeders depends on whether the perches are designed to accommodate birds easily.
• Different seed types attracted different kinds of birds. For example, white proso millet attracts native sparrows and mourning doves. Small finches, including gold finches, prefer nyjer or sunflower chips. Larger species, like cardinals, woodpeckers and house finches, like black oil sunflower seeds.
•Project Wildbird revealed the number of birds visiting feeders is about the same from season to season. What changes are the kinds of birds that appear at different times of the year.
•The 10 most common species visiting feeders were: American Goldfinch; Black-capped Chickadee; Brown-headed Cowbird; Common Grackle; House Finch; House Sparrow; Mourning Dove; Northern Cardinal; Pine Siskin; and Purple Finch.
From 2005-08, Project Wildbird recorded over 20,000 bird feeder observations from 174 individuals in 38 states and 3 Canadian provinces. They observed 106 species and nearly 1.3 million bird visits. Each participant created and monitored four bird feeding stations, with supplied feeders, poles, squirrel baffles and bird seed. Each feeding station was schedule to use a particular seed, with “scientists” making regular 45-minute observations.View full post
Most animals communicate by singing, howling, croaking, or speaking. Some animals use other sounds too- whistling, clapping, drumming, or rattling, for example. The rattlesnake sends a threatening message by rattling its tail, a Ruffed Grouse produces a dull thudding sound with its wings to court a mate, and a woodpecker drums out its territorial signal on a hollow tree.
Birds often use their wings and other body parts to make sounds, but Manakins are the planet’s preeminent wing-popping, clicking, snapping, and rattling birds. Found in the tropical forests from Mexico to Argentina., 20 species of manakin make nonvocal sounds, or sonations. Male manakins take the prize for the most diverse and interesting nonvocal sounds produced in the bird world.View full post
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The rule implements federal protections provided by the ESA for the Cantabrian capercaillie, Marquesan imperial pigeon, Eiao Marquesas reed-warbler, greater adjutant, Jerdon’s courser, and slender-billed curlew.
If the pair’s breeding effort is successful at Midway Atoll Refuge, it would mark the first confirmed hatching of a short-tailed albatross outside of Japan in modern history.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has completed a report recommending closing human access to caves and mines where bats with white-nose syndrome are hibernating in an area more than 250 miles from other WNS-affected caves and mines.
The oldest known U.S. wild bird – a coyly conservative 60 — is a new mother. The bird, a Laysan albatross named Wisdom, was …
Damage to bat wings from the fungus associated with white-nose syndrome (WNS) may cause catastrophic imbalance in life-support processes, according to newly published research. …
Researchers found that deforestation in the New England area at that time produced significant soil erosion, increasing sediment delivery rates — the natural flow of sand and soil in water systems. The large amounts of sediment traveling in rivers and streams to the coastline spurred a significant period of wetland growth, leading to marshes lining the coast of New England that today are abnormally large.