Science: When COVID-19 silenced cities, birdsong recaptured its former glory. “White-crowned sparrows are tough birds, able to survive the hustle and bustle of many North American cities. But growing noise pollution has forced males to sing louder, less effective songs in order to be heard by rivals and mates. During the pandemic lockdown this spring, the background din quieted. A new study shows that, in just a matter of weeks, the sparrows’ songs recovered the acoustic quality of songs sung decades ago, when city life was less noisy.”
Savannah Business Journal: DNR launches updated Georgia Birding & Wildlife Trails website. “The Georgia Birding and Wildlife Trails website introduces each trail site with access tips, a map, a list of amenities, wildlife highlights and a link to eBird hotspots. Wildlife viewing resources include a printable species checklist with seasonality data, as well as information on birding basics, Georgia Audubon chapters, citizen science projects, bird curricula and conservation organizations. A new program logo showcases the great blue heron, a familiar species found throughout the state.”
Penn Live: Backyard bird feeding sales booming in pandemic. “Downloads of online bird-identification apps are up by orders of magnitude. Two of the most popular apps, the National Audubon Society’s Mobile Bird Guide and Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Merlin Bird ID, have each been downloaded at more than twice the rate as during the same period last year. Cornell’s bird-logging, citizen-science app, eBird, has seen nearly the same increase in activity this year.”
EurekAlert: Researchers build first AI tool capable of identifying individual birds. “New research demonstrates for the first time that artificial intelligence (AI) can be used to train computers to recognise individual birds, a task humans are unable to do. The research is published in the British Ecological Society journal Methods in Ecology and Evolution.”
EurekAlert: Community science birding data does not yet capture global bird trends. “Binoculars in hand, birders around the world contribute every day to a massive database of bird sightings worldwide. But while community science observations of birds can be useful data, it may not be enough to fill the data gaps in developing countries where professional bird surveys are insufficient or absent.”
XinhuaNet: China launches online birdwatching platform. “Chinese research institutions launched a birdwatching platform … for the study and protection of coastal wetlands and waterfowls. The platform is a cutting-edge system of bird identification and data collection, including a smartphone application, an online database, a mini-program for identifying bird species and a visual system for tracking bird migration routes.”
CGTN: Chinese researchers launch app to crowdsource data for bird conservation. “Chinese scientists and researchers are looking to big data and crowdsourcing to shore up bird conservation and interest along China’s coast. The Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research (IGSNRR) at the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) and Paulson Institute launched the iBirding app in Beijing on Friday, which will allow amateur birdwatchers and professional researchers alike to contribute to science by recording their bird sightings.”
Washington Post: Amid the pandemic, people are paying more attention to tweets. And not the Twitter kind.. “In a strange new world where the volume was suddenly turned down — empty sidewalks, less traffic and fewer early-morning leaf blowers — people stuck in their homes are tuning their ears to a sweet natural sound they’ve long taken for granted: bird songs. Across the country, scientists who study birds say they’re besieged by family members and friends asking the same question: Is the bird population exploding?” On the days I spend with my Granny we spend at least a couple of hours sitting on the porch, weather permitting. There are birds, lizards, and we even saw a rabbit the other day. That’s a secondary activity, though: Granny is the world expert at determining what clouds look like.
Audubon: The Joy of Birds. “Birds bring us happiness in so many ways—especially in trying times. Whether you’re just looking for a lift, unable to enjoy the outdoors, or in desperate need of distraction, look no further than this birdy care package, from Audubon to you.” Photography, humor, activities, virtual tours…
South Bend Tribune: The new Indiana Birding Trail leads you to hottest spots for nature. “The Indiana Audubon Society has created a new website… and printed booklet to help experienced birders plan trips in areas they hadn’t yet explored, with specific trails to try, maps and public amenities.”
Phys .org: Global database of all bird species shows how body shape predicts lifestyle. “A global team of researchers, led by Imperial College London and University College London, visited museums around the world to find specimens of nearly 10,000 species, covering more than 99 percent of all known bird species. Their results, and the database, are published today in Nature Ecology and Evolution. The link between body form of each animal species and aspects of their lifestyle, including diet, has previously been proposed, but this is the first time it has been confirmed at such a large scale and with such precise detail.”
The MIT Press Reader: A Complete History of Collecting and Imitating Birdsong. “Twenty-five years ago I sought for the first time to collect, sift, and standardize these wonderful, bizarre words with their anarchic spellings, absurd pronunciations, and uncertain meanings. That project culminated in ‘Aaaaw to Zzzzzd: The Words of Birds,’ the appendice to which is featured below. Here, we see the history of alternative attempts to collect bird songs and sounds, from musical composition through recording devices to duck calls, bird organs, singing bird automata, and varieties of bird clock.”
MEL Magazine: Inside the Outrageously Prestigious World of Falcon Influencers. “Falcon fever isn’t limited to the Middle East, though. Humanity’s fascination with the majestic, enigmatic birds has been resuscitated all over the globe. In the U.S. and U.K., a renewed interest in falcon hunting (not racing) has doubled the price of some raptors, increased the number of people applying for hard-to-get falconry licenses, and bizarrely, spawned the creation of a number of minor Instagram celebrities who drum up interest in the ancient pastime with flashy photos and heartwarming stories of interspecies friendship.” My jaw had dropped by the third paragraph of this article. I finally scraped it up and put it back on my face by the end. What a read. The last bit is somewhat icky and you should probably skip if you prefer rabbits to falcons.
Phys .org: New online, interactive atlas gives comprehensive view of Texas quail decline. “The Texas A&M Natural Resources Institute, or NRI, has recently published the Texas Quail Atlas, a free online resource and the newest ‘story map’ to be developed by the institute. The online atlas was developed as a collaborative effort of the Reversing the Decline of Quail in Texas Initiative and the NRI Geospatial Analysis Team.”
Phys .org: Roaming Russian eagles leave scientists broke. “Russian scientists tracking migrating eagles were forced to start a crowdfunding campaign after their birds wandered into Iran and foreign text messages from their tracking devices depleted the project’s budget.”