The arrival of warm, sunny conditions has come too late to help one of the UK’s most well-known summer birds, the swift, which has been hit by this year’s miserable weather. Flocks of swifts are already starting to head back to Africa, where they spend the winter, following a ‘disastrous’ breeding season, conservationists said.
It appears that most Blackpoll Warblers from both eastern and western breeding populations leave North America in fall along the Atlantic coast from Nova Scotia to North Carolina. They depart after cold fronts during periods of northwest winds in October, which help push them southeast over the ocean to the tropics south of Bermuda, where northeast trade winds deflect them south to South America. This entails a nonstop flight of up to 3,500 km (2,175 miles) and 88 hours. Studies have shown that this species has an exceptional ability to accumulate and retain fat, apparently an adaptation for such sustained flights. (via Boreal Songbird Initiative : Blackpoll Warbler)
ScienceDaily (Apr. 23, 2012) — An international team of scientists has uncovered the first evidence of a non-human species cultivating plants for use other than as food. Instead, bowerbirds propagate fruits used as decorations in their sexual displays. The researchers discovered male bowerbirds had unusually high numbers of fruit-bearing plants growing around their bowers, and used these fruits in order to attract females.
ScienceDaily (Apr. 5, 2012) — Smithsonian scientists and their colleagues have uncovered a new threat posed by invasive Burmese pythons in Florida and the Everglades: The snakes are not only eating the area’s birds, but also the birds’ eggs straight from the nest. The results of this research add a new challenge to the area’s already heavily taxed native wildlife. The team’s findings are published in the online journal Reptiles & Amphibians: Conservation and Natural History.
Burmese pythons, native to southern Asia, have taken up a comfortable residence in the state of Florida, especially in the Everglades. In addition to out-competing native wildlife for resources and habitat, the pythons are eating the native wildlife. Burmese pythons (Python molurus bivittatus) were first recorded in the Everglades in 1979 — thought to be escaped or discarded pets. Their numbers have since grown, with an estimated breeding population in Florida in the tens of thousands.