Spring Creek Greenway

If you have a chance to hear Al Barr talk on snakes or birds you’ll want to go hear him, he is a fascinating speaker. Right now he is with the Spring Creek Greenway which you can visit and join him on a bird walk 2nd Saturdays at 730 am.

Tips and interesting notes from the talk:
If you put a twig on your feeder for birds to land on you can capture photos of the birds on a branch rather than the feeder.

English sparrows are invading and you have to keep them out of your blue bird and purple martin houses, they will kill them and take over the houses.

Ruby throated hummingbirds fly 650 miles across the Gulf of Mexico in one night during their migration.

Yaupon berries are high in sugar and can ferment and you may wind up with drunk birds after they’ve fed on them.

Family tree for 10,000 birds completed

A Yale-led scientific team has produced the most comprehensive family tree for birds to date, connecting all living bird species — nearly 10,000 in total — and revealing surprising new details about their evolutionary history and its geographic context.

Analysis of the family tree shows when and where birds diversified — and that birds’ diversification rate has increased over the last 50 million years, challenging the conventional wisdom of biodiversity experts.

“It’s the first time that we have — for such a large group of species and with such a high degree of confidence — the full global picture of diversification in time and space,” said biologist Walter Jetz of Yale, lead author of the team’s research paper, published Oct. 31 online in the journal Nature.

read full press release

The Global Diversity of Birds in Space and Time

The Map of Life ( explore 46,000 species )

Gouldian finches lose preference for matching mate when right eye is covered

Gouldian finches have different colored caps, most of the time they prefer to mate with a mate who has a matching colored head (red, yellow or black).

But if you cover the right eye of the brunette male finch he will flirt with red heads and blonds. He also made much less of an attempt to woo the female with whom he was flirting.

Birds have less of a connection between sight and the right and left brain, each eye strongly links to the opposite side of the brain. We are finding creatures that have strong eye separation also have a stronger separation between what each hemisphere of the brain performs.

In the eye of the beholder: visual mate choice lateralization in a polymorphic songbird
Male Gouldian finches select mates using only left side of brain, study finds

Scrub Jays react to their dead

I’ve noticed this behavior in back yard birds when a cat catches a bird, but not when a hawk catches a bird.

Western scrub jays summon others to screech over the body of a dead jay, according to new research from the University of California, Davis. The birds’ cacophonous “funerals” can last for up to half an hour.

Western scrub jays live in breeding pairs and are not particularly social birds.

“They’re really territorial and not at all friendly with other scrub-jays,” Iglesias said.

Working in the backyards of homes in Davis, Calif., Iglesias set up feeding tables to encourage visits from the jays. Then she videotaped their behavior when she placed a dead jay on the ground. She compared these reactions with the birds’ behavior when confronted with a dead jay that had been stuffed and mounted on a perch, a stuffed horned owl, and wood painted to represent jay feathers.

On encountering a dead jay, prostrate on the ground, jays flew into a tree and began a series of loud, screeching calls that attracted other jays. The summoned birds perched on trees and fences around the body and joined in the calling. These cacophonous gatherings could last from a few seconds to as long as 30 minutes.

Full story and video