Monday, May 4, 2009

New at The Cornell Lab: Inside Birding and A New Neighbor

Something new on the revamped All About Birds website: Inside Birding, a video series hosted by renowned birders, and Cornell Lab staffers, Chris Wood and Jessie Barry.

Whether you’re new to birding or a seasoned expert, interested in sharpening your identification skills or wondering how to clean your binoculars, you’ve come to the right place.


On Inside Birding, hosts Chris Wood and Jessie Barry share all of the tools, tips, and techniques that will allow you to start birding like the pros. From where and when to find birds, to the clues that will help you identify them, Inside Birding provides the information that you need to make the most of your birding experience. So check it out and take your birding to the next level.


Check out the first few episodes on the Inside Birding website.

Jumping out the virtual world and back into the real one, we have new residents moving into the Sapsucker Woods neighborhood. A pair of Great Blue Herons spent much of today fashioning a stick nest in the middle of Sapsucker Woods. The snag sits in the middle of Sapsucker Woods Pond and often serves as a perch for Osprey, hawks, Red-winged Blackbirds . . . too many to list, really. It even hosted a Western Kingbird, nearly a decade ago when I first started working at the Lab.

Friday morning a pair of herons was observed "being amorous" on the snag, the male offering the female a long, multi-pronged branch, which she placed on the snag. Today, Monday, the birds were in full nest-building mode, it seemed the male flying in with a new stick every few minutes. He transferred them to the female who placed it on what seems as stable as a deck of cards: one wrong move, the whole thing comes tumbling down.

The male watches as the female places a stick. I'm no
architect, but I'm thinking vertical isn't the best orientation.


I spent a few minutes towards the end of the day watching what promises to be a fascinating breeding season. Here is a sequence of shots of a stick transfer, click on an image for a larger image to see the details.

The male heron arrives with a suitable stick for the nest. In the
background USAir flight 4685 arrives (early) from LaGuardia.



The male heron transfers the stick to the
female, who accepts it in a bowing posture.



The female heron places the stick in the nest as the male watches, then . . .


. . . the male is off to find yet another stick.

To be continued . . . .

-

7 comments:

Laura said...

Great to see the Lab keeping their technological edge! These are exciting times all around. And it's just the tip of the iceberg.

Laura said...

And that airplane, by the way, freaked me out! Had to duck!

Larry said...

Great sequence of Heron photos and that was really cook having the plane in the background.-I'm glad that cornell didn't change the url on the all about birds or my blog would be in bad shape-I use them so muchas a link.

deejbrown said...

I volunteered with NJ Fish & Wildlife Nongame Commission this year to survey GBH & was fascinated by nest building. Today I watched one return to the nest to join with his mate. He tilted his head back, then both birds touched bills, like a kiss, before the female (who usually is the one who is on nest in the AM) flew off.

noflickster said...

Behind on reply to comments, apologies, all!

@Laura and @Larry - I didn't see that plane until it came into the viewfinder. I'd like to say it was all planned, but really my first thoughts were, "Crap, that'll ruin the shot" and "Maybe I'll win a Pulitzer!"

Reality is always in between.

@Larry - I am extremely glad those URLs stayed for exactly the same reason. I think we look even more cutting edge, having linked to the site before the improvements. Kind of liking a band before they make it. ;-)

@deejbrown - What an amazing behavior to witness! I wish I had an office window overlooking the snag (sheesh, I wish I had an office window . . .) so I could observe the nest more often.

I imagine you're observing some great things by volunteering for the GBH project!

Thanks, all, for dropping by!
-Mike

Priscilla said...

Love the herons nesting (and the plane)! I'm a big Cornell lab fan too. The new All About Birds site is terrific; I gave it some tweet time on Twitter. My blog at This Lively Earth records a few of my adventures with birds (and trees, rocks, dirt--oh, humans too), so feel free to stop by when you've got a minute. Thanks for your great photos and educational work!

noflickster said...

@Priscilla - thank you for dropping by and your kind words, and especially the support of the Cornell Lab. I've subscribed to This Lively Earth, I look forward to catching up on your past posts and reading your thoughts on environmentalism and living in harmony.

I lived in Boulder for two years in my "what do I do now?" post-college phase: two of best years of my life!

Best,
Mike

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