Friday, January 15, 2010

Bits and Pieces

CyFair Campus
It was too wet on Wednesday and Thursday for me to do any birding around the campus. However, this morning I noticed that the five Lesser Scaup on our retention ponds have been joined by another 75 or so Scaup. This is by far the largest number of ducks I've ever seen on the campus.

It was too wet and dark to photograph the ducks, so here's a photo of one of the other visitors that I've seen on campus this week.

Lincoln's Sparrow

Longest Migration
Scientists have known for years that Arctic Terns migrate from the Arctic to the Antarctic and back every year. However, sophisticated tracking devices attached to some of the birds have revealed new details of their amazing annual journey. We now know that the birds don't use the same route to head south. As the yellow lines in the diagram below shows, some fly down along the coast of Africa while others hug the coastline of Latin America. However, all of the birds follow the same S-shaped route back to the Arctic.

With a roundtrip length of 44,000 miles the routes the birds take are not the shortest possible, but they take advantage of prevailing wind systems and so help the birds to conserve energy.

Tokyo Crows
Tokyo residents are having a problem with crows. Over 20,000 Jungle Crows now live in or commute to the city, attracted by improperly stored garbage. City-dwellers have been complaining that the birds attack them or poop on their heads. The city's answer has been to set out large traps in different areas. The birds that are caught are then gassed.

I am very surprised to learn that Tokyo residents are so undisciplined with their garbage. However, given the way Japanese treat whales and other sea mammals, I'm not surprised that they are killing crows.

Surviving the Cold
Birds in Britain have been having a tough time with the snow and unusually low temperatures that have now persisted for weeks. Some birds have even had problems leaving their overnight perches because their tail feathers have frozen to the branches.

Birdwatchers throughout the island have been putting extra food out in their gardens and have been reporting large numbers of visits by birds that normally are very rarely seen at feeders. They are also reporting that many of the visitors are being unusually aggressive because they are having to compete for the available food with so many other birds.


Birdwoman said...

Those Arctic Terns are absolutely amazing creatures, but then so are our tiny Ruby-throated Hummingbirds that fly 600 miles in migration, twice a year. Well, let's face it, BIRDS are amazing creatures.

Jeff said...

And just when you think you've learned the most amazing thing about them, you learn something even more amazing.