DNR weekend reading: Cranes, herons, ravens, bats, seabirds, and more

Sand hill cranes

Sand hill crane in flight. Wetlands at Klickitat Canyon NRCA provide habitat for the state endangered Greater Sandhill crane (Grus
canadensis tabida).Photo: Caleb Slemmons/University of Maine/Bugwood.org

It’s all about the birds this weekend as Ear to the Ground brings DNR Weekend Reading devoted to recent science news clips about birds.

Science Daily: Birds Cultivate Decorative Plants to Attract Mates
An international team of scientists has uncovered the first evidence of a non-human species cultivating plants for use other than as food. Instead, bowerbirds propagate fruits used as decorations in their sexual displays. The researchers discovered male bowerbirds had unusually high numbers of fruit-bearing plants growing around their bowers, and used these fruits in order to attract females.

AllAboutBirds.org: Nothing beats watching fluffy great blue herons hatching
Thousands of people watched live last weekend as a tiny great blue heron emerged from an egg in between its father’s gigantic feet. Through a web cam mounted on a large, dead white oak in the middle of Sapsucker Woods pond, just outside the Cornell Lab’s Johnson Center for Birds and Biodiversity, viewers around the world are now able to follow the surprising lives of these herons, including views still little known to science.

Green (New York Times blog): Mine Markers Threaten Birds Out West
Each year, millions of birds are likely to get trapped in hollow PVC pipes used as stakes to mark boundaries for mining claims, mostly in the West. The birds, many of them cavity nesters or migrants looking for a safe place to rest, often cannot scrabble their way out because the plastic walls are too slick. Collaborations among people and organizations like bird watchers, hikers and youth groups are seeking to remove the millions of hazardous pipes once widely used to mark mining claims in Western states.

Science Daily: Ravens Remember Relationships They Had With Others
Mammals have been shown to remember calls and faces of known individuals after a number of years. A recent article, published in Current Biology, presents a study indicating that ravens differentiate individuals based on familiarity. Researchers also discovered that ravens memorize the closeness of a relationship and affiliation. 

Science Daily: Early Spring Means More Bat Girls
A study on bats suggests that bats produce twice as many female babies as male ones in years when spring comes early. The earlier in the spring the births occur, the more likely the females are to survive and then reproduce a year later, as one-year olds.

Science Daily: Almost Seven Million Birds Perish at Communication Towers in North America Each Year
Every year nearly 7 million birds die as they migrate from the United States and Canada to Central and South America, according to estimates in a new study from the University of Southern California published in the journal PLoS ONE.

Science Daily: Seabirds, a Key Factor in the Dispersal of Parasites
Because they travel long distances, seabirds play an important role in the dispersal and biodiversity of parasites and of the infectious agents these may transmit.

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