This Sandhill crane is busy reinforcing the grassy tuft upon which its two eggs sit near the Pinedale Field Office in Wyoming. Egg laying usually occurs during April and May when the cranes return from their wintering grounds in the southern U.S. and South America.
Sandhill cranes share parenting responsibilities, both helping to incubate the eggs and brood and feed the chicks.
Nipped fingers and handfuls of guano will be the order of the day for wildlife rangers on the Farne Islands as they embark on an epic census on Friday to discover whether puffin numbers have plummeted after a year of extreme weather.
Dozens of images made it through to the final round of the Nature Photographer of the Year 2013 competition, organised by the Society of German Nature Photographers (GDT). Here’s our gallery of some of the best.
After dodging a few icebergs, the Earth Touch crew hits the rocky beaches of South Georgia … & they quickly discover what happens on an island that has no major land predators. Get ready for penguin overload & some extremely friendly (& photogenic) seals!
This weekend (February 15-17) marks the 16th annual Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC)!
The GBBC is a joint partnership between Audubon and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, with Bird Studies Canada as the official Canadian partner. It is open to birders of all ages and abilities, and helps provide researchers with citizen science data about where birds are each February.
Last year’s unseasonably warm weather and lack of snow and ice in some regions led to more than two million Snow Geese being reported in two counts at Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge, Missouri. In Ruskin, Florida, participants reported more than one million Tree Swallows, vaulting the species to the GBBC top-ten list of the most numerous birds for the first time ever.
Scientists use the GBBC information to get the “big picture” about what is happening to bird populations. The longer these data are collected, the more meaningful they become in helping scientists investigate far-reaching questions, like what kinds of population shifts and changes can be expected from future climate change.
The world’s oldest-known wild bird — a 62-year-old albatross on Midway Atoll in the Pacific Ocean — is also a new mother. The bird, a Laysan albatross whom biologists have named Wisdom, hatched a chick this week, her sixth in the past six years….
The chick, which scientists describe as healthy, hatched Sunday.
The mother, by now an old pro at the finer points of the birds and the bees, received her first identification band during the Eisenhower administration, in 1956. Back then, USGS scientist Chandler Robbins estimated she was 5 years old. Since then, she has worn out five ID bands, returning year after year to lay an egg at Midway, a remote island northwest of Hawaii that was the site of a famous 1942 naval battle. Today, it’s a U.S. national wildlife refuge where hundreds of thousands of albatrosses nest every year.
Albatrosses lay only one egg a year. Legendary long-distance marvels of the animal kingdom, they fly thousands of miles across the ocean, gliding on wind currents with their large wings. They feed on fish, squid and other marine life. Researchers estimate that if Wisdom flew typical routes, she quite probably has traveled 50,000 miles a year as an adult. That’s at least 2 million to 3 million miles since she was first banded, the equivalent of four to six trips from Earth to the moon and back.
Most Laysan albatrosses live between 12 and 40 years, although some have been documented surviving into their 50s. About 70 percent of the bird’s world population nests on Midway. Researchers estimate that Wisdom has hatched up to 35 chicks in the past half-century.