Birds in the News: Birds in Europe and Canada are migrating earlier, and the migration period is now longer. Also, read about a bald eagle trio!
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News in Birding, March 2019
Birds in the News, March 2019

Dawn Hewitt | Managing Editor, Bird Watcher's DigestBy Dawn Hewitt
Managing Editor | Bird Watcher's Digest

This month’s newsy issue of BirdWire brings a story documenting what are apparently two impacts of climate change on birds in Europe and Canada: earlier spring migration, and a lengthening of the migration period. Renewable energy as a replacement for fossil-fuel aims to combat climate change, but a second story spotlights the impacts of wind farms on birds. Both topics should be interesting and important to bird watchers, but let’s start with something fun: An avian ménage à trois!

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Bald Eagle Trio Paired for Life?
Bald Eagle Trio Paired for Life?
Three bald eagles—two males and a female—are nesting amicably at the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife Refuge near Fulton, Illinois—again. The three parents share incubation responsibilities for the eggs—three this year—as they have in previous years. Like their relationship, their history is complicated. Male Valor 1 was young when he was spotted at the nest site in 2012. He is presumed father of that year’s two eggs, but he wasn’t helpful at incubation or feeding the young, and both eaglets died. In 2013, two males hung out at the nest, but Valor 2 apparently replaced Valor 1, and produced two young with female Hope. The next year, vegetation obscured the nest, but three adults appeared to be tending the young.
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Researchers: European and Canadian Birds Are Migrating A Week Earlier Than in the 1960s
Researchers: European and Canadian Birds Are Migrating A Week Earlier Than in the 1960s
Researchers at the University of Helsinki looked at the migration of 195 bird species in Europe and Canada, and found that spring migration dates are, on average, a week earlier than they were 50 years ago. Moreover, the duration of migration has lengthened during the study period. The researchers say climate change is responsible for the timing shift. Short-distance migrants showed more of a response to changing climates (1.5 to 2 days per decade) than long-distance migrants (0.6 to 1.2 days per decade). Some species, such as whooper swans, arrive in Finland two weeks earlier than they did in the 1980s.

In general, early migrants have shifted their timing more than late migrants, and the earlier the warm temperatures, the earlier migration begins. The duration of migration increases with increasing temperature, the study showed. Geographical differences in climate change are attributed in regional differences in the changing timing of migration. "Birds advanced their migration dates more in Europe than in Canada, because spring temperatures have risen more quickly in Europe," said Andreas Lindén from Yrkeshögskolan Novia, Finland. The study will be published in the June 2019 issue of Ecological Indicators.
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Windfarms Displace Loons
Windfarms Displace Loons
Most birders are well aware of the physical threat wind turbines pose to birds, but a new study finds other, nonlethal, impacts of wind farms on birds: displacement. Researchers studied the distribution of loons before and after construction of four off-shore windfarms in the German North Sea. The turbines were built in or near an area designated in 2005 as protected loon spring foraging and resting habitat, but wind farms had already been approved for construction there. Loons usually fly well below the groundward-reach of turbine blades, so collisions were thought to be unlikely or rare, and that has proved to be true. But the loons were forced into a much smaller area than they occupied before the turbines were installed.

The researchers suspect that squeezing loons into a smaller space could lead to more competition for food and, potentially, increased mortality. Seventeen windfarms now generate power in the German North Sea, with two more under construction. Previous research has shown that some sea ducks have altered their migration routes to avoid windfarms. These indirect effects of windfarms might be less obvious than death by blunt force of a moving blade, but they may, ultimately, be as important at affecting bird populations. The study was published in the February 1, 2019 issue of the Journal of Environmental Management.
Wind power isn’t necessarily harmful to birds, though: The American Bird Conservancy offers guidance for bird-smart wind energy »
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Great Salt Lake Bird Festival, May 16-19, 2019
Lowa Boots: Extraordinary Quality and Comfort
Reader Rendezvous
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Fall Migration Rendezvous: Hog and Monhegan Islands
Fall Migration Rendezvous: Hog and Monhegan Islands—Only 9 Spots Left!
There are few American landscapes as iconic or as bird-rich as the island-studded coast of Maine, especially during autumn migration. Monhegan Island is the perfect distillation of both natural beauty and the Maine coast's remarkable tendency to concentrate migrants, sometimes in astounding numbers. Beloved Bird Watcher's Digest columnist and long-time Hog Island instructor Scott Weidensaul will be present on this Rendezvous along with your trusty BWD staffers Dawn Hewitt, Ben Lizdas, and Emily Jones.
Upcoming Festivals
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Podcasts
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Out There with the Birds #50: The Wild World of Bird Behavior
Out There with the Birds Episode #50: The Wild World of Bird Behavior
Ben and Alvaro discuss bird behavior in winter and how big birds, little birds, and vagrant birds cope with temperature extremes. Some birds fly away from the weather while others become zombie birds, preying on their fellow feathered friends! It’s looking like spring in Southern California while Alvaro braces for more winter as he discusses an upcoming birding tour in Japan. Grab your chopsticks and get ready to dig into episode 50 of Out There With the Birds!
Best of This Birding Life: Adventure on Rapa Nui with Alvaro Jaramillo
Best of This Birding Life: Adventure on Rapa Nui with Alvaro Jaramillo
TBL host Bill Thompson, III, will be away from the BWD home nest for a while. We hope soon to resume new episodes of the podcast we all know and love, but in the interim, we're taking a trip down memory lane and replaying some of the most popular episodes. In this episode from October 2017, tropical birding expert Alvaro Jaramillo recounts a side trip to Rapa Nui (Easter Island), which became one of the best experiences of his birding life.
On Newsstands Now:
Watching Backyard Birds: April 2019
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Watching Backyard Birds April 2019
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OUR COVER SPECIES
Barn Swallow Summers
A new rental house with a barn swallow nest on the front porch proved to provide years of entertainment and life lessons for WBB contributor Norman Lavers. Soon, this bird will be widespread and common across the lower 48 states and southern Canada.
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READERS WRITE
A Giant Among Birds
WBB contributor Hank Weber jealously watched as chickadees took seeds from a human hand at a nature center. He was determined to make this happen at home, and shares his success story and methods.
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THE BACKYARD
Home Improvement
Have you considered renovating your backyard to be more comfortable for birds? Elizabeth Bacher offers 11 ideas to make your property more appealing and safer for your feathered friends.
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