Bird Migration and Global Change

i-53d2477d3792558673d2f033be9ffa65-migrationandglobalchange-thumb-300x476-65215.jpgI'm going to have more to say about this topic and this book at a later time, but I wanted to get a notice of it out for Migration Week. Bird Migration and Global Change by George W. Cox addresses the issue of impact on bird populations under conditions of global warming.

This is an authoritative and scholarly book that is totally accessible to the interested bird-oriented or climate/conservation-oriented audience. After several very important context and theory chapters, the author divides the world's migratory birds into major categories (such as "Northern Hemisphere Land Birds: Short-distance Migrants" and "Land Birds of the Temperate Souther Hemisphere" etc. etc. and treats each group separately. Each treatment is a review of scholarly work and data, and presents arguments about the way bird populations will be affected that range from concerning to downright alarming. Yet, this is not an alarmist book, simply a fair treatment of the problem.

Each chapter will give you something to think about, some data to play with, and a list of source material in case you need more.

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The stellar distances travelled by several tracked feathered flyers are truly astonishing and inspirational . In my trips to the Antarctic, I would marvel for hours at the albatrosses that effortlessly glided on the winds generated by the ceaselessly turbulent southern ocean, following in our shipâs wake. Maybe we are seen as fishing vessels with the prospects of discarded fish and squid. To add import to the flying feat of birds, it is worthwhile mentioning that albatrosses have also been tracked to fly the phenomenal distances . Their continuous journeys have been without respite at any intervening land mass in the circumpolar southern ocean, a feat aided by expertly using the updrafts generated by stormy ocean waves. I wonder whether smaller non sea going birds are similarly attuned in using jet streams to aid their gargantuan journeys-to physiological adaptation for marathon flights add attunement to, and intelligence in using, natureâs helping hand.

By Joseph Ting (not verified) on 10 May 2012 #permalink

I read this in a Swedish newspaper today, maybe you will find it interesting:

Three Swedish birds have set a new record in long-haul flight. The birds, three Snipe, started their autumn migration at Ãnnsjön in Jämtland and then flew with an average speed of 90 km / h non-stop to West Africa.
The total flight distance was about 6000 kilometers. According to the researchers, who followed snipe with so-called position gauges, are known to the other cases where an animal traveled so quickly across such a long stretch.
Ake Lindstrom, researchers at Lund University, says that the birds could well rest during the flight down to Africa, since there are plenty of suitable resting places on the way down. But by all appearances, the snipe "chosen" a different approach - although the non-stop flight must be extremely expensive and involve a huge energy consumption.
The advantages of flight quickly in one go may be to avoid birds of prey and predators during the journey.
Having landed in Nigeria since the birds flew to the rainforest in Congo-Kinshasa, where they spent the winter. This was also a surprise. Previously, snipe wintering areas were unknown, but no one believed that their final destination was the rainforest belt.
Snipe were once a very common breeding bird in Sweden, but it exists now almost entirely in the mountains.

By Lars Karlsson (not verified) on 25 May 2011 #permalink

According to the researchers, who followed snipe with so-called position gauges, are known to the other cases where an animal traveled so quickly across such a long stretch.

Probably a GPS unit with satellite transmitter. I've worked with these and red-tailed hawks and golden eagles. For migratory work, typically one programs them to transmit a location once a day, and they also are programmed to call home if they don't detect movement for a certain amount of time (which indicates a likely dead subject). Snipe are small so the battery would have to be much smaller than those we've used for larger raptors, but it's possible transmitters have been further minaturized (it's been about 10 years since I've worked with them).

For a long time researchers in the Ituri Forest in the Congo thought that a certain call heard at night was a snipe. The locals insisted it was a chameleon. But scientists knew that chameleons never made any noise and assume the locals were wrong.

But the locals there are very rarely wrong about the wildlife. It was a chameleon. The first noisy one on record.

Damn it! It's not available in Kindle. I have no more room on shelves in the house. I have an 8x10 storage shed with milk crates lining one entire wall to the roof (7'), all filled with text and reference books, and I'm out of room there too. I 'stole' another milk crate for more storage, but nowhere to put it. But I will have to order this book anyway as I can justify it as being work-related.

By Daniel J. Andrews (not verified) on 02 Dec 2011 #permalink