Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Nevada Bird Count 2012, in Photos

Ok, I had a few folks ask me about photos of the Nevada Bird Count (NBC), since they'd had a look inside the Lower Colorado River project.  So I made a quick look into last year's photo files and came up with some that represent fairly well the gamut of conditions we get to survey, from low elevation Mojave to high-elevation Great Basin.  Happy exploring!

-- Jen

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Watch for Color-Banded Burrowing Owls

Burrowing Owls at the Port Kells site, showing off their color bands
In January, I visited the Burrowing Owl Conservation Society of British Columbia's Port Kells breeding program site. The BOCS captive breeding program aims to reestablish a self-sustaining Burrowing Owl population within the interior of BC. All birds within the program are banded, and they are now experimenting with GPS backpacks, to try to determine their migration routes and/or dispersal.  So far, BC birds have been recorded in Oregon and California, as far south as San Diego. If you spot a Burrowing Owl with green-over-black color bands on its right leg, you're looking at a BC bird!, and I'm sure they'd love to hear about it (and if you luck out, and can actually read the color bands, even better).  The BOCS can be reached here, and if you spotted it in/near Nevada, we'd love to hear about it too!

-- Jen

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Feeling a little beaky today . . .

Vermilion Flycatcher with mildly deformed beak, Muddy River, Clark Co., NV, June 2012
You may have read about an epidemic of beak deformities in Alaska and the Pacific Northwest.  Researchers at the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS, Alaska) are attempting to determine what factors are causing these deformities. Among the potential causes are: contaminants, nutrition, disease /parasites, and/or genetics.

The prevalence is mindboggling - they are reporting within their study area an approximate 6.5% of adult Black-capped Chickadees and 17% of adult Northwestern Crows that have some degree of beak deformity.  And it's not just Alaska - Britain has been reporting higher rates of beak disorders as well.

What you may not have heard is that USGS is also attempting to track potential spread of these deformities, and is accepting records from across North America.  If you find any such individuals, you may report them here.  Useful information to include with your sighting includes: location, date, habitat, any other physical or behavioral abnormalitieis - and a photo if you've got one!  The British Trust for Ornithology is collecting similar information on their side of the pond, listing some of the types of beak deformities.  If you find any birds with these deformities, please report them to USGS - and if you're in/near Nevada, please send that information GBBO's way, as well!

Happy birding!
-- Jen