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Codependent evolution gave rise to long-tubed flowers and hummingbirds

October 21st, 2014 · by Daniela Ogden

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Species often repeat each other when in the same geography. This is called codependent evolution and it is the reason, scientists believe, that hummingbirds have long bills and the flowers they feed on nectar from have long corrollas (the inner whorl of floral leaves of a flower). Researchers from Ludwig Maximilian University  examined the DNA of Sword-billed Hummingbirds, a South American species that is the only species known to have a bill longer than the length of its body, and the DNA of passionflowers, a striking species that comes in hundreds of varieties. Scientists discovered passionflowers evolved after the hummingbird,10.7 million years ago. From that point on the two evolved together and could be found in the same geographic locations.  [Read more →]

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Categories: Science

Our failed promise to Central Valley birds

October 20th, 2014 · by Garrison Frost

We spoken many times in this space about the 1992 Central Valley Project Improvement Act and the need to provide water for these vital wetland habitats. We took a closer look at how well these refuges have fared this year, and it doesn’t look good. We simply haven’t delivered the water we’ve promised.

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Categories: Audubon California · Water issues

Baltimore Orioles and global warming

October 20th, 2014 · by Garrison Frost

In this video, Diego Zapata talks about how the Baltimore Oriole launched his love of birds, and how he intends to help the bird survive the challenges of global warming where he lives in Los Angeles. Zapata is a member of the Audubon Center at Debs Park Arroyo Green Team, a group of young people who learn about their local environment and volunteer on a variety of teaching and conservation activities.

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Categories: Audubon California · Audubon Center at Debs Park · Bird L.A. · Birding · Climate Change · Global Warming · Nature education and activities

The birds need you to vote for them

October 20th, 2014 · by Garrison Frost

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Tell us that you’re voting for the birds this Election Day.

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Categories: Audubon California · State Policy · Water issues

Audubon Bobcat Ranch slowly making its way back from July 4 fire

October 19th, 2014 · by Garrison Frost

Above is a short video report from Cari Koopman Rivers, who manages the Audubon Bobcat Ranch, just outside of Winters. The fire she is talking about is the Monticello Fire that swept over more than half of the ranch’s 6,800 acres on July 4 of this year. Since then, Koopman Rivers has not only been working hard to get the property back in the business (it is a working ranch, after all), but also monitoring how the property’s flora and fauna bounce back from the fire. It was amazing how quickly plants started coming back within days of the fire, particularly the native grasses.

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Categories: Audubon California · Audubon California Bobcat Ranch · Bird Habitat · Working lands conservation

It’s Time for Arctic Refuge Wilderness

October 17th, 2014 · by Beth Peluso

American Golden-Plover and Nest by Thomas Rothe, US Fish & Wildlife ServiceThis year, we are celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act, which has protected millions of acres of our most cherished landscapes. Yet one of the most wild and astonishing places in America is still in desperate need of the Act’s protection – the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

The Arctic Refuge is a haven for birds. More than 150 species, including the American Golden-Plover, from six continents and all fifty states travel thousands of miles to nest on the Arctic Refuge coastal plain to take advantage of the pristine habitat and bountiful foraging. But oil and gas interests continue to push to drill in the heart of the Refuge. Drilling would eliminate and damage nesting habitat while worsening climate change, which threatens to upend the fragile Arctic ecosystem.

Send a letter to President Obama and ask him to help permanently protect the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

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Categories: Arctic · Audubon Alaska · Climate Change · How to help birds

The captain has turned on the fasten your seatbelt sign

October 15th, 2014 · by Daniela Ogden

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How do birds navigate the skies when they encounter turbulence? A new study from Oxford University poses an answer to this question. Researchers gave a captive steppe eagle its own flight recorder backpack – a 75g black box incorporating GPS that also measured acceleration, rotation rate, and airspeed – and recorded it soaring over the Brecon Beacons in Wales.

An analysis of data from 45 flights revealed that in windy conditions the eagle would collapse its wings in response to particularly strong gusts rather than hold them out stiffly as an aircraft would. During these ‘wing tucks’, the bird’s wings were briefly (for around 0.35 seconds) folded beneath its body so that it was effectively ‘falling’. The results suggest that these ‘wing tucks’ may occur up to three times a minute in some conditions. [Read more →]

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Categories: Science

Another illustration of drought’s impact on birds

October 15th, 2014 · by Garrison Frost

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Categories: Audubon California · Bird Habitat · State Policy · Water issues

Prop. 1 will help us keep our promise to Central Valley birds

October 14th, 2014 · by Garrison Frost

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If you’ve been reading this blog for any amount of time, you will have seen us talk about the failed promise of water to the 19 Central Valley refuges identified in the Central Valley Project Improvement Act. Put simply, in 1992, Congress recognized that the conversion of the Central Valley into the agricultural engine that it is had implications for wildlife habitat that needed to be addressed. So it passed the Central Valley Project Improvement Act that year which, among other things, required that 19 state and federal wildlife refuges get the minimum amount of water to support birds and other wildlife.

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Since 1992, however, we have failed to keep that promise year after year. The graph above tells the story. Not only is that water taken for other priorities, but in many cases, the infrastructure doesn’t exist to transport the water where we need it. Proposition 1 on the Nov. 4 ballot will provide funding not only for water, but also fund the creation of some infrastructure to get water where the birds need it. Vote for the birds this Election Day.

photo at top is of the San Luis National Wildlife Refuge by USFWS

 

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Categories: Audubon California · Bird conservation · Bird Habitat · State Policy · Water issues

Hawk > Drone

October 10th, 2014 · by Garrison Frost

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Categories: Audubon California · Bird videos · Birding · Video

Growing Tricolored Blackbirds in Kern County

October 10th, 2014 · by Brigid McCormack

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With the turn of a wrench, the first water is let loose. Only a trickle right now, one day it will lure flocks of Tricolored Blackbirds and create a riparian area in an otherwise very dry environment.

Building surrogate habitats, that’s what the Audubon network is doing in Kern County. I had the pleasure of visiting Kern Audubon and Kerncrest Audubon at the Bob Powers Gateway Preserve. The chapters are joining forces to create a place for Tricolored Blackbirds to call home. Through the help of an Audubon California grant, two ponds are being created. When it’s complete, the restored site will produce seven acres of bird habitat.  [Read more →]

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Categories: Bird conservation · Bird Habitat · Brigid McCormack · Kern River Preserve · State Policy · Tricolored Blackbird

Vote for Birds this Election Day

October 8th, 2014 · by Garrison Frost

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You may not see the Allen’s Hummingbird, Long-billed Curlew, or Brown Pelican on your ballot Nov. 5 – but that doesn’t mean you can’t vote for them. This November, tell our leaders that birds matter to you.

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Categories: Audubon California · Federal Policy · State Policy · Water issues

World’s first falcon cataract surgery a success

October 8th, 2014 · by Daniela Ogden

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Doctors have performed the first cataract surgery on a falcon. The patient is a domesticated female Lanner Falcon named Banner who lives at the New Hampshire School of Falconry. She suffered from cataracts for two years, cataracts so debilitating that she couldn’t fly. A veterinary team at Caves Animal Hospital performed the operation where they removed the cataracts and inserted new lenses on the bird’s corneas. From a Discovery News article:

It took a worldwide team of specialists to design the artificial lenses that would be placed in Banner’s eyes. Canadian opthalmology equipment manufacturer I-Med made the lenses and donated them to the surgical team in New Hampshire. The lenses themselves are only about 6 millimeters wide.

Banner is expected to make a full recovery.

Via Discovery News

Photo of Lanner Falcon by Dave Rogers

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Categories: Science

If only we cared about the environment like we care about sports

October 7th, 2014 · by Daniela Ogden

Thanks Buzzfeed!

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Categories: Bird videos · stupid bird humor

Birds over Broadway 2014

October 6th, 2014 · by Daniela Ogden

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Who would’ve thought that in the middle of downtown Los Angeles you can see one of the most fascinating natural spectacles around? This past Friday, Audubon Center at Debs Park continued the tradition of gathering on the roof of Joe’s Auto Park at 5th and Broadway to be with fellow nature lovers and watch the roosting swifts. It is an incredible scene, at dusk the birds gathered in the air above the chimney, then circled in a giant tornado. Finally, they dove into the chimney for the night. Thank you to everyone who came out and celebrated with us. Here is video from a previous year:

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Categories: Audubon Center at Debs Park · Bird L.A. · Bird videos · Birding · urban conservation