Ep. 40 - Put a Ring On It, Part 2 - How Safe is Bird Banding?

Ep. 40 - Put a Ring On It, Part 2 - How Safe is Bird Banding?

Welcome to part 2 of our episode on bird banding! In this part, we look at what the research has to say about how birds fare during and after the banding process. All research that involves capturing and handling wildlife poses some level of risk for the target species. So, what about bird banding? Are injures rare? Do injured birds fare worse than birds that are banded without injury?

Join Steve and Bill for a deep dive into a question that many bird banders have wondered about over the years: how safe is bird banding?

Ep. 40 - Put a Ring On It, Part 1 - All About Bird Banding

Ep. 40 - Put a Ring On It, Part 1 - All About Bird Banding

A bird alights on a nearby branch, and, for a brief moment, a flash of silver on the bird’s leg catches your eye. If you’re fortunate enough to get a closer look, you might notice that the reflection comes from a tiny, silver bracelet wrapped around the bird’s leg – a bird band.

Bird banding (or bird ringing, for our European listeners) has been used for over a century to better understand the life histories of our avian neighbors. But that’s just one of many reasons why bird banding has been so valuable to researchers. In this episode, Bill and Steve delve into the details of what banding is all about. Part one covers the history and basics of how bird banding works, and part two provides an overview of research that looks into how harmful bird banding might be to the birds involved. 

Ep. 37 - Bill and Steve Go Timberdoodlin'

Ep. 37 - Bill and Steve Go Timberdoodlin'

In spring, a naturalist’s fancy turns to thoughts of Timberdoodlin’, and that means heading out into the spring twilight, finding a brushy meadow, and listening for the buzzy “Peent!” of the American Woodcock (Scolopax minor) . AKA the Timberdoodle, this odd bird (it’s a shorebird that doesn’t live near the shore) performs a strange and stunning sky dance that is a must-see for any wildlife lover.

Join the guys as they focus on the fascinating natural history of this bird and head out on a cold March evening to see if they can witness the Woodcock in action.

Ep. 34 - The Downy-Hairy Game

Ep. 34 - The Downy-Hairy Game

Did you ever wonder why Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers look so much alike? No? Neither did we, but it was because we always assumed they were simply closely related species. Maybe you did, too, but thanks to the wonders of DNA analysis, we now know that these two look-alikes are not even in the same genus. So, what gives?

Researchers recently looked into this stumper-of-a-problem, and, in this episode, Bill and Steve break down what might be the cause.

Oh, and Bill talks about how he might have Lyme disease.

Enjoy!

This episode was recorded at the Owens Falls Sanctuary in East Aurora, NY on January 6, 2019.

Ep. 21 - A Pain in the Grass: Restoring Grassland Bird Habitat

Ep. 21 - A Pain in the Grass: Restoring Grassland Bird Habitat

Grasslands birds and the habitats they depend on are some of the most threatened components of our North American landscape. But take heart! Because people like this month's guest co-host, Kyle Webster, are working to restore and maintain grasslands for the birds (and other organisms) that require them. As a member of New York State Park's environmental field team, Kyle works to use the latest research to understand and improve the management of these critical habitats. Join Bill and Kyle (Steve's still in Illinois) as they discuss birds, burns, and conservation biology.

Ep. 13 - What the Flock is a Murmuration of Starlings?

Ep. 13 - What the Flock is a Murmuration of Starlings?

What the flock is up with murmurations? And what's the difference between a swarm, a herd, a school, and a flock? In this first of a two-part episode, Bill and Steve explore the world of collective behavior, and take a specific look at murmurations of the European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris). This species gathers in large flocks (sometimes numbering into the tens of thousands!) that dive and swoop across the sky, creating beautiful, shifting forms that delight, amaze, and mystify. Researchers from numerous fields study these formations, and this month, the Field Guides share the latest research into this stunning natural phenomenon.

Ep. 11 - Spruce Grouse in the House

Ep. 11 - Spruce Grouse in the House

Have you ever heard of a Fool's Hen? It’s just one of the many nicknames of the Spruce Grouse (Falcipennis canadensis), a bird of extremes and paradoxical behaviors. It often allows people to come within just a few feet before taking flight (hence the “fool” part of its nickname), but it can also be notoriously difficult to find. In addition, this species is adapted to survive on food that few other animals eat. Join Steve and Bill (and their friend, Rich) as they head into the wilds of Ontario Canada to search for this elusive critter, share the fascinating stories of its natural history, and shed light on some recent Spruce Grouse research. This episode was recorded in March of 2016 in Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada.