Happy Feet but sad Rockhoppers

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Bird News , Conservation Issues
Image via Wikipedia For a great animated flick with a hint of conservation I would recommend the new movie, Happy Feet. The main theme is about a young Emperor Penguin who can’t sing the typical mate attracting song, but rather has a knack for dancing. The Independent in the UK recently had an article about the dramatic decline of the Rockhopper (Eudyptes chrysocome), one of the penguin species featured in the film. There has been almost a 30% decline of Rockhoppers on the Falkland Islands in the last five years according to RSPB (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds). And looking at figures from 1932, when there were approximately 1.5 million Rockhopper pairs, the decline is around 85%. The cause for the decline isn’t exactly clear but theories range from algae blooms linked to climate change to a massive shift in the ecology of the Southern Ocean.
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Hawk Mountain Sanctuary Record Setting Year

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Bird News , General News and Info
As an intern at Hawk Mountain this past fall I was privileged to be there for an excellent season. Records set included:-the 4th highest one-day Broad-winged Hawk count (7,508)-a tie for the one-day Northern Harrier record (36)–season record for Golden Eagles (164)-season record for Merlins (204)–tied for season record for Peregrine Falcons (62)-Mississippi Kite (1, 5th record) Also, Turkey and Black vultures, Sharp-shinned Hawks, Cooper’s Hawks, and Red-tailed Hawks, Bald Eagles, Osprey and Northern Harriers all had above average counts making this a great season not just for the 11,801 Broad-winged Hawks we counted, but 11 other raptor species as well. On December 6th at 11:40am Hawk Mountain reached another milestone with a Red-tailed Hawk being the 25,000th raptor of the season.
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and I missed the Thayer’s Gull

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Bird Sightings , Missed Birds , Rarities
Missed another good bird yesterday. There was a Thayer’s Gull reported at Memorial Lake State Park along with a first cycle Iceland Gull. Both are good for the area with Thayer’s being especially hard to find this far east. It was a second cycle bird that had been seen at least several nights coming in to roost. Due to the holiday schedule with UPS, I only had time in the morning so I thought I would give it a chance. I got there at dawn in order to scan the gull flock before it took off for the day. Great Black-backed Gulls and Lesser Black-backed Gulls were there in good numbers among the Herring and Ring-billed Gulls but nothing else. I had dipped on what I thought was almost a sure thing. Here is a shot showing the Thayer’s Gull.
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The day started at 4am with a couple productive hours of owling around Octorara Lake. Using calls from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s recent release, Voices of North American Owls, we managed to hear (but not see) 5 species of owls; 6 N. Saw-whet Owls, 6 E. Screech Owls, 2 Long-eared Owls, 2 Great Horned Owls and 1 Barn Owl. The new CD proved particularly useful in getting responses from the saw-whets which are often hard to find. The variety of calls, particularly one which we dubbed the pewp (or poop) call, were very good at eliciting responses. Once daylight arrived we walked a long loop through some conifer plantations and scrubby area and were quite pleased with the 18 dapper looking Fox Sparrows that we saw. Other highlights included both Cooper’s and Sharp-shinned Hawks, Killdeer, Eastern Towhee and several Winter Wrens.
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Thought you should all know that there are some excellent uses for the photo sharing site, Flickr.I just started two groups to document the variation of Song Sparrows and Fox Sparrows across North America. Because of the new mapping feature I hope to make it possible to quickly look at photos of all the different subspecies of these two sparrows. Its just starting so there are not many photos up now but if you see any, please invite them. I also have two longer running groups that have grown a lot. The first was to compile lots of pictures of hawks in flight to help ID them as you would from a watch site. The Flight: Raptors of N. America group now has 86 contributors and almost 300 pictures. The Confusing Fall Warblers was formed to compare all those fall plumaged warblers that can be so hard to identify.
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Funny birding video

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Uncategorized
I found this on youtube.com. Pretty interesting characters giving some not so good birding tips.
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Foggy Birding at Lake Ontelaunee

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Bird Sightings
It was wonderfully foggy yesterday but I decided I wanted to see what the lake held before the fog lifted and everything flew off. Unfortunately, the fog was so thick that I could barely see anything on the lake. There was a good flock of Canada Geese with one young Snow Goose mixed in as well as a Red-breasted Merganser. That was it for the lake. I walked around some of the brushy areas near the lake and managed to get a fine picture of the fog. Looks pretty haunted… Also got some good looks at a hyper Winter Wren(when aren’t they) and some Golden-crowned Kinglets. I really love the way the kinglets hang out in tall grassy areas and pop right up in front of you when you pish.The other highlight was the large flock of gulls that were pulling worms out of a nearby schools lawn.
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Good News for Whooping Cranes

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Bird News , Conservation Issues
Sometimes good news is hard to come by so I am happy to say that the first wild hatched Whooping Crane chick from the Operation Migration flock has successfully completed its fall migration to Florida. Currently the flock consists of 64 released cranes plus the 1 wild hatched chick. I was lucky enough to see a pair of Whooping Cranes last spring at Necedah NWR in Wisconsin among a flock of Sandhill Cranes and I can say that they are stunningly beautiful. Also check out Mike’s Birding and Digiscoping Blog for more on the story.
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So its been quite a problem for a while now but Cerulean Warblers are in a precipitous decline. Apparently, the populations have dropped 82% in 40 years which is pretty dismal but to make matters worse, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has decided not to list it as endangered. The National Audubon Society may follow up on this decision and fight it but it is very depressing when a bird can decline this rapidly and be ignored by the Endangered Species Act. Check out Fatbirder.com for the article.
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Well, first of all let’s look at my luck so far. There was a Rufous Hummingbird only 15 minutes from my house for over 3 weeks. As luck would have it I was busy working at Hawk Mountain Sanctuary and did not have time to chase this bird. When the season was over I went home and the (almost) first thing I did was head to the house where the Rufous had been seen daily. Every 15 minutes most mornings to be exact. Well, after 2 hours I realized that I was one day too late, the hummingbird had waited to make its last appearance when I could not make it. So that is my most recent dip. Then there is the Fork-tailed Flycatcher that was in Bucks County, Pennsylvania earlier this year. I managed, once again to go the day after the last day it was seen.
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