Post #54 of 100 Days of Blogging
Today’s post is a collection of facts that either never made it into previous posts or somehow didn’t quite fit into a listicle theme on their own. But they’re just too darn interesting to keep in a file somewhere on my computer!
Did you know?
#1. Scientists find it easy, if a bit smelly and messy, to study the diet of young Black-crowned Night-Herons—the nestlings often disgorge their stomach contents when approached.
#2. Black-billed cuckoos are known to lay their eggs in the nests of other birds. They lay eggs in the nests of other black-billed cuckoos (conspecific parasitism),as well as in the nests of other songbirds (interspecific parasitism). The females will usually parasitize nests in the afternoon because the nests are often unguarded at this time.
#3. Every autumn Black-capped Chickadees allow brain neurons containing old information to die, replacing them with new neurons so they can adapt to changes in their social flocks and environment even with their tiny brains. In order to withstand extremely cold temperatures, individuals lower their body temperature at night and enter regulated hypothermia, saving significant amounts of energy. Chickadees store food and have exceptional spatial memory to relocate cached items.
#4. The Black-bellied Plover is a migrant in our checklist area. It is the largest plover in North America and is also one of the fastest and most powerful flying shorebirds, which comes in handy in its long-distance migration. It is a very wary bird and quick to give an alarm call, making it a sentinel among any mixed flocks nearby. This trait helped to keep it out of the hands of 19th and early 20th century market hunters, unlike similar species whose populations were decimated.
#5. Black-and-white Warbler have an extra-long hind claw and heavier legs than other wood-warblers, which help them hold onto and move around on bark. They move up and down tree trunks like nuthatches.
#6. The song of the male The Blackpoll Warbler is one of the highest-pitched of all birds.
#7. The sexes of the Black-throated Blue Warbler look so different that they were originally described as two different species.
#8. The argument for and against caged birds has a long history. An interesting development involves a court case in India, where there is a huge trade in exotic birds. A judge is to rule whether or not caging birds impinges on birds’ fundamental right to fly and live free. This can have repercussions not only for the commercial aspect, but also as to what happens to currently caged birds. Will making their ownership illegal result in countless pet birds being set free to fend for themselves? Read more about this case here
#9. The invasive vs. native species battle rages on in northwestern California, where biologists are trying to save a population of endangered Barred Owls by “removing” the invasive Spotted Owls that have expanded westward into their territory. By shooting them. The project has even left the biologists directly involved feeling ambivalent even as evidence indicates the strategy is working. You can read more about this here.
#10. If you thought “collecting specimens” died out with the ornithologists of the 19th century, think again. Here’s an article recapping the recent controversy over the decision by a scientist to “collect” a Moustached Kingfisher on a remote Pacific island. His claiming to kill the rare bird in the name of scientific research after snapping its photo sparked outrage.