Blogs & Videos: Birds

Illinois to remove Peregrine Falcon from [state] Threatened Species List

Illinois to remove Peregrine Falcon from [state] Threatened Species List I read the above statement on the internet today (14 March 2015) so it must be true – right?!  Actually, it is.  During the 163rd meeting of the Illinois’ Endangered Species Protection Board (ESPB), on 15 August 2014, the board reviewed and approved the final draft for amendments to the Endangered & Threatened Species List.  Within these amendments was the delisting of the Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus).

Peregrine Shot

My approach to working with Peregrines has always been to try and do what is best for the birds but still help people affected by the falcons’ presence.  I strive to walk the middle of road and see both sides of a situation. It is understandable that someone may not want a Peregrine family living on their balcony.  It also understandable the need to preserve each Peregrine eyrie no matter where it is.  If I can find a way to resolve an individuals’ concerns yet ensure that in the long run the Peregrines can continue to breed, then I’ve done my work right. 

Who's your daddy? A hybrid duck in Glenview

Museums such as the Field are deeply involved with describing and understanding the natural world. Hybrids can confuse that understanding, even to the point that they get described as new species. Many hybrids have English names that reflect that history, like Brewer's Duck (Gadwall x Mallard) and Brewster's and Lawrence's Warblers (variations of Golden-winged x Blue-winged Warbler hybrids).

What are the feathers in those Amazonian headdresses?

Working at The Field Museum, I get to see some pretty special things. Whether it's because of rarity, antiquity, or something that's just plain weird, the museum provides surprises in abundance. Today was one of those days where routine gave way to surprise when Dylan Lott, a graduate student in Anthropology at the University of Illinois-Chicago (UIC), showed up needing help identifying feathers. These weren't just any feathers, they were feathers attached to incredible artifacts that a UIC professor had collected from an Amazonian tribe called the Parintintin in the late 1960s.

Things seen in the Bird Division #8 (or: A once-sacred ibis)

This taxidermied specimen of Sacred Ibis (Threskiornis aethiopicus) has been on display the Field Museum's Ancient Egypt exhibit for about 27 years. Indeed, its name derives from the fact that ancient Egyptians considered the birds sacred (ironically, Sacred Ibis no longer occurs in Egypt). The exhibit's department decided it was time to do some repairs. It needs some clever work to make it look just right again; that's the job of Chief Preparator Tom Gnoske.

New paper published about bird migration in Africa

During each of my last two expeditions to Africa with the Field Museum--April-May 2012 to the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo and March-April 2013 to western Uganda--I've made observations of northbound migrating birds. While visible migration ("vizmig" to the Brits) is extremely well known in places like the United States and Europe, where bird observatories have been set up to monitor just such migrations, it is virtually unknown in Africa, or at least seldom published on. So I decided to write up my observations, including migrating raptors, bee-eaters, and swallows.