Last week there were a few stories of note regarding birds in the Netherlands.
In Friesland, 2010 was a great year for meadow- and field-breeding birds like the Northern Lapwing and Black-tailed Godwit. The number of breeding pairs doubled in some habitats, with huge numbers of young birds successfully fledged. The reason for this year’s huge breeding success may have been delayed mating after an unusually cold spring. (source)
Northern Lapwing, Zwaanenwater, April 2006
Another species, this time on one of the Wadden Islands, also had a record breeding season. Eurasian Spoonbills on the island of Texel had more offspring than ever previously recorded. 540 breeding pairs broke the previous record of 397 in 2009. 2010 was the third record-breaking season in a row, so the spoonbills continue to thrive on Texel. (source)
Eurasian Spoonbill, Texel, April 2007
On a less positive note, the number of captive birds of prey in the Netherlands is growing at an alarming rate. The number of permits given has increased ten-fold (anyone in the Netherlands may keep a bird of prey, so long as the bird was born in captivity). Along with this, the number of lost or escaped captive birds is a growing problem. So far in 2010, seventeen captive Eurasian Eagle-owls have escaped (that’s about the same number of wild eagle-owls currently living in the Netherlands!). The Dutch branch of BirdLife International is working towards restricting the number of captive birds being kept in the Netherlands. (source)
Yesterday, Arthur and I visited Raven Glen FP. Part of the loop trail overlooks Timber Lake. We saw several Barn Swallows, both adults and juveniles, flying about one of the fishing piers on the lake. As we approached, all of the birds flushed, except for these cute babies.
The sixth MAPS banding session at Rollins Savanna this season took place on Thursday, July 22. It was a bit birdier than last time, with several Common Yellowthroats, a pair of House Wrens, the first Eastern Phoebe of the season, a couple of Song Sparrows, one Field Sparrow, and one American Robin. It was a good, solid, somewhat routine day of banding. Again the skies threatened rain all morning, but this time it actually did rain eventually. Fortunately, we were able to keep the nets open long enough for a full MAPS session, although most station volunteers did end up drenched from taking the nets down.
Weighing a bird; photo by Janice Sweet
A House Wren pauses before leaving the banding area; photo by Janice Sweet
The seventh and final MAPS ‘regular season’ banding took place at Rollins Savanna on Thursday, August 5th.
On Sunday we walked a newly-accessible prairie trail at Fort Sheridan with Lake-Cook Audubon. Part of the former army property is managed by the Lake County Forest Preserve District, and the land is deeded to become a golf course. Locally, there is some opposition to the development, which has been on the books for years. It’s a complicated issue, and I urge local readers to learn about what’s happening at Fort Sheridan. You can also send a comment to be added to the public record by sending an email to Fort@LCFPD.org. Following our walk yesterday, I also strongly urge local birders and naturalists to visit this property before it is too late.
About 70 people, split into 4 or 5 groups, joined the bird club on the walk.
A group of birders enjoy Fort Sheridan’s newly-opened prairie
The highlight of the morning was seeing at least 10 Red-headed Woodpeckers, both adults and juveniles – easily the most RHWOs I’ve ever seen in one place.
Red-headed Woodpeckers were everywhere!
We also had great looks at a pair of American Kestrels. They were hunting huge numbers of dragonflies and being dive-bombed by Barn Swallows – what a show!
Kestrels had this view of Lake Michigan from Fort Sheridan’s prairie
There were also screaming Red-tailed Hawks, fly-catching Eastern Kingbirds and Eastern Wood-Pewees, and plenty of grassland species like Bobolinks, Savannah Sparrows and Eastern Meadowlarks.
The great birds, perfect company, sunny skies and break in the recent heat and humidity made it a fabulous morning out in the field!
During our visit to Chicago’s Lincoln Park Zoo earlier this month, we had a look at the bird enclosures. After viewing the penguins and seabirds, we headed to the McCormick Bird House, which is home to at least 28 species in several different exhibits.
A shorebird habitat housed a sunning American Avocet, a shy Red Knot and Piping Plover, and an extremely active Black-necked Stilt.
Separate enclosures housed more birds, including two endangered species which are part of breeding programs. The Guam Micronesia Kingfisher is extinct in the wild, with just 100 birds in zoos. The Lincoln Park zoo participates in a species survival plan in cooperation with other zoos.
The zoo also participates in a species survival plan for the critically endangered Bali Mynah, in cooperation with other zoos.
Many of the birds are housed in an open aviary, and visitors walk between the habitat with birds flying overhead or scurrying across paths.
We had fun watching an active Hamerkop gathering mud and debris for a humongous nest.
Before leaving the building, we stopped to peek inside the kitchen. What a complicated menu!
The fifth MAPS banding session at Rollins Savanna this season took place on Tuesday, July 13. We had 12 people working at the station – the most ever. And we had a total of 9 birds – the fewest ever. I didn’t lay hands on any birds, although I took a fair amount of data down. There was a bit of excitement came from a juvenile Common Yellowthroat who proved difficult to identify. Otherwise, there was a lot of butterfly-watching and sitting around.
Examining the wing of the Common Yellowthroat, photo by Janice Sweet
There are two main enclosures inside. One housed penguins: Chinstrap, King and Rockhopper. They were being fed by a zoo employee, who also looked to be recording data.
Next we stopped to look at the seabirds: Common Murre, Razorbill and Tufted Puffin. Their enclosure was being cleaned, so most birds were in the water. It was a lot of fun to watch them swimming – especially when they completely submerged, appearing to fly underwater.
Stay tuned for more birds of Lincoln Park Zoo, coming soon!
The fourth MAPS banding session at Rollins Savanna this season took place on Friday, July 2. We could not have asked for better weather! It was clear and remained relatively cool all morning, only reaching into the upper 70s just as we were finishing up.
Rollins Savanna banding station, photo by Janice Sweet
Unfortunately, we could have asked for better numbers of birds. On several net runs we came up empty or had just one or two birds. Once a single net caught 7 Song Sparrows; the rest of the day was extremely slow.
Juvenile (left) and adult Song Sparrows, photo by Janice Sweet
Cedar Waxwing reads from the Pyle guide, photo by blogger
I banded two male American Robins and one male Common Yellowthroat. Other than that, I did a lot of sitting around that morning. It certainly was a lovely day for it. 🙂
Skulling an American Robin, photo by Janice Sweet
We did have the first Blue-gray Gnatcatcher of the season, but the rest of the birds were the usual suspects.
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, photo by Janice Sweet
Black-capped Chickadee release, photo by Janice Sweet