Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

In wild winter, citizen scientists see where and why birds traveled

Date:
March 22, 2012
Source:
Cornell University
Summary:
When bird watchers joined this year’s Great Backyard Bird Count, they recorded the most unusual winter in the count’s 15-year history. With 17.4 million bird observations, participants reported 623 species, including an influx of Snowy Owls from the arctic, early-migrating Sandhill Cranes and Belted Kingfishers in northern areas normally frozen over.

When bird watchers joined this year's Great Backyard Bird Count, they recorded the most unusual winter for birds in the count's 15-year history. With 17.4 million bird observations on 104,000 checklists, this was the most detailed four-day snapshot ever recorded for birdlife in the U.S. and Canada. Participants reported 623 species, during Feb. 17-20, including an influx of Snowy Owls from the arctic, early-migrating Sandhill Cranes, and Belted Kingfishers in northern areas that might normally be frozen over.

"The maps on the GBBC website this year are absolutely stunning," said John Fitzpatrick, executive director of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. "Every bird species has a captivating story to tell, and we're certainly seeing many of them in larger numbers farther north than usual, no doubt because of this winter's record-breaking mild conditions."

Ironically, a few arctic species also moved farther south than usual as well. Participants recorded Snowy Owl sightings in record-breaking numbers throughout the Great Plains and Pacific Northwest of the United States. Canadian bird watchers saw four times the number of Snowy Owls they reported to the count last year. Experts believe that Snowy Owls move south from their usual arctic habitats in years when prey, such as lemmings, are scarce.

Warmer weather and lack of snow and ice in some regions set the stage for other spectacles, including more than 2 million Snow Geese reported on two counts at Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge, Missouri. In Ruskin, Florida, participants reported more than 1 million Tree Swallows, vaulting this species to the GBBC top-10 list of the most numerous birds for the first time ever.

Some northern locations recorded high numbers of waterbirds such as Mallards, Ring-necked Ducks, Hooded Mergansers, and American Coots, that either never left or came back early to lakes, rivers, and ponds that remained unfrozen.

"Citizen scientists are helping us document changes to birds, starting in our own backyards, which is also where the solution begins," said Audubon chief scientist Gary Langham. "My preschool-age daughter came out with me to count birds in the yard and around the neighborhood -- we're still talking about the experience weeks later."

To find out more about these and other trends from the 2012 count, visit www.birdcount.org. To report bird sightings all year, visit www.ebird.org.

The GBBC is a joint project of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society, with Canadian partner Bird Studies Canada. The event is sponsored in part by Wild Birds Unlimited.

Top 10 birds reported on the most checklists in the 2012 GBBC:

1) Northern Cardinal 2) Mourning Dove 3) Dark-eyed Junco 4) Downy Woodpecker 5) American Crow 6) House Finch 7) American Goldfinch 8) Blue Jay 9) Black-capped Chickadee 10) Tufted Titmouse


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Cornell University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Cornell University. "In wild winter, citizen scientists see where and why birds traveled." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 March 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/03/120322131345.htm>.
Cornell University. (2012, March 22). In wild winter, citizen scientists see where and why birds traveled. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/03/120322131345.htm
Cornell University. "In wild winter, citizen scientists see where and why birds traveled." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/03/120322131345.htm (accessed October 20, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Monday, October 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Rare Lion Cubs Make Debut at Belgrade Zoo

Raw: Rare Lion Cubs Make Debut at Belgrade Zoo

AP (Oct. 17, 2014) Two white lion cubs were born in Belgrade zoo three weeks ago. White lions are a rare mutation of a species found in South Africa and some cultures consider them divine. (Oct. 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Best Foods To Boost Your Mood

The Best Foods To Boost Your Mood

Buzz60 (Oct. 17, 2014) Feeling down? Reach for the refrigerator, not the medicine cabinet! TC Newman (@PurpleTCNewman) shares some of the best foods to boost your mood. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sweet Times for Hard Cider Makers

Sweet Times for Hard Cider Makers

AP (Oct. 16, 2014) With hard cider making a hardcore comeback across the country, craft makers are trying to keep up with demand and apple growers are tapping a juicy new revenue stream. (Oct. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Meet Garfi the Angry Cat

Meet Garfi the Angry Cat

Buzz60 (Oct. 16, 2014) Garfi is one frowny, feisty feline - downright angry! Ko Im (@koimtv) introduces us to the latest animal celebrity taking over the Internet. You can follow more of Garfi's adventures on Twitter (@MeetGarfi) and Facebook (Garfi). Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins