Blogs & Videos: Birds

Hermon Bumpus and House Sparrows

" ... on February 1 of the present year (1898), when, after an uncommonly severe storm of snow, rain, and sleet, a number of English sparrows [= House Sparrows, Passer domesticus] were brought to the Anatomical Laboratory of Brown University [, Providence, Rhode Island]. Seventy-two of these birds revived; sixty-four perished; ... " (p. 209). "... the storm was of long duration, and the birds were picked up, not in one locality, but in several localities; ... " (p. 212).

Book of Eggs

Field Museum scientists and colleagues have just released a new book, entitled The Book of Eggs. The book is a lifesize guide that introduces readers to six hundred bird species from around the world, whose eggs are housed mostly at The Field Museum. Readers will embark on a journey told through individual stories that highlight the strategies employed by birds to successfully reproduce through the fragile but colorful structure that is the egg.

Fossil Fish, Pt. II: A History

Join us for Part II in our quest to uncover the tropical world of ancient Fossil Lake! Palm trees in Wyoming! Sex in the fossil record! Check out "Lost World of Fossil Lake: Snapshots from Deep Time," by Lance Grande http://bit.ly/1p79CXv Gems and Gemstones: Timeless Natural Beauty of the Mineral World, by Lance Grande: http://bit.ly/1dr59GM

North American Ornithology: Past, present, and future comes to Chicago

The Field Museum and the Palmer House served as the meeting sites for 650 ornithologists from August 13-17.  These were joint meetings of the two largest North American ornithological societies, the American Ornithologists’ Union and the Cooper Ornithological Society.  

Ornithologists of the Field Museum play major role in discovery and discription of new species

I adopted the following from something I submitted to the museum's Science and Education News several weeks ago.  The photo is one of only a handful of specimens of the recently described Tsingy Rail (Canirallus beankaensis) in the world (see below).  It is a roadkilled bird that was obtained by Steve Goodman (given to him in Madagascar) and it will eventually be given to our dermestid beetles for the cleaning necessary for it to be what is probably the only skeleton of this species in the world's museums. 

Remembering Ted Parker

Several weeks ago, a colleague (and former graduate school roommate), Kevin Burns, asked me about a pdf of a paper I wrote back in 1992.  Here is the citation: Bates, J. M., T. A. Parker, III, A. P. Capparella and T. J. Davis.  1992.  Observations on the campo, cerrado, and forest avifaunas of eastern Dpto. Santa Cruz, Bolivia, including 21 species new to the country.  Bull. Brit. Orn. Club 112:86-98.

What do researchers want?

Nina Cummings, who ably heads our photo archives in the museum shared with me an interesting blog post she saw recently.  It was from The Library of Congress and was written by Bill LeFurgy, their digital initiatives manager of the National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program.  The title of the blog post was “What do researchers want from institutions that preserve digital content?”  Here at the museum we are working through our digital initiatives so the post resonated on several fronts.  The opening statement included this: “User expectations influence so much of what stewardship organizations do. We collect and preserve all content primarily to support use.” 

Thoughts on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD)

Friday before last, Camila Duarte and I spent the day down at the University of Chicago.  Camila is a visiting Brazilian student who has worked with colleague Camila Ribas in Manaus, Brazil.  She will be gathering molecular data on several species of birds that inhabit white sand forests in the Amazon Basin over the next five months.  Camila and I were attending a all-day symposium entitled “Conserving more than carbon: valuing biodiversity in a changing world” at the Gordon Center for Integrative Science that was sponsored by the U of C Program on the Global Environment.  Four expert panelists presented perspectives related to the symposium topic and then there was a discussion period at the end

Video: The Birds and the Trees

Are condors more closely related to hawks or to storks?  New research constantly changes our understanding of how birds are related to each other.  At the Field Museum, Shannon Hackett, John Bates, and Dave Willard keep close eyes on avian systematics, the study of evolutionary relationships among birds.  In the past few years, Shannon has collaborated with researchers from other institutions on the Early Bird project to ask big-picture question of how all birds fit on the avian tree of life.

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