Blogs & Videos: Birds

A tropical wanderer visits the Midwest

Photo © Nathan Goldberg, taken in St. Joseph, Berrien Co., Michigan, on 11 July 2015. I was riding south on the lakefront bike path, like I do most mornings, on my way to the museum. It was a lovely morning, cool, overcast, and with a nice tailwind. I passed the construction fence at Fullerton Avenue and glanced towards the water, as I do frequently during my ride. Then I nearly fell off my bike. A frigatebird was flying over!

Peregrine Falcons Removed from IL Endangered List

Peregrine Falcons have their share of claims to fame—with a diving speed of over 200 miles per hour, they’re the fastest animals in the world, and they’ve adapted from living on rocky cliffs to a different kind of “mountain”: Chicago’s skyscrapers.  But in 1951, there were none left in Illinois, and it looked as if the species would be wiped out of North America entirely. Today, thanks largely to the Chicago Peregrine Program headed by The Field Museum’s Mary Hennen, Peregrines are flourishing to the point that they’re no longer in immediate danger.

Peregrine Removed from Illinois' Endangered List

Illinois officially removed Peregrine Falcons from the state Endangered & Threatened Species List. What does this means for our state population of Peregrine Falcons? First, it is an affirmation of the recovery of the species in Illinois.  This is due in part to the long-term stewardship and dedicated effort of numerous individuals and organizations that have supported and assisted in looking after Illinois’ Peregrines. 

History and birds come together: "Spring Migration Notes" from 1920 and its famous authors

This little booklet has so much history, it's hard to know even where to begin. Let's start with the fact that the first author, James D. Watson, is the father of one of the most famous scientists of the 20th century, also named James D. Watson, who along with Francis Crick is credited with the discovery of the structure of DNA. But that's the least of it. The third author is even more intriguing.

Birds get malaria, too

Just like people, birds have the misfortune of being visited by a variety of blood-sucking insects, insects that can transmit all manner of parasites through their bites. Some of those parasites, including ones related to human malaria, come in the form of haemosporidia--single-celled protozoans that take up residence in their host's bloodstream. Using modern lab techniques, scientists are now able to discover the diversity of these parasites living in the bloodstream of wild birds by isolating their DNA from the blood of infected birds.

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