DNA Study of Birds, Extinction, and Demography

This paper by Smith, Gehara, and Harvey was released earlier this year (currently behind a paywall): The demography of extinction in eastern North American birds. Supplementary material can be viewed here. The DNA study included passenger pigeon and four other extinct bird species. From the abstract: We found extinct species harboured lower genetic diversity and…… Continue reading DNA Study of Birds, Extinction, and Demography

The California Condor Genome

An interesting article on the California Condor (Gymnogyps californianus), which faced extinction but has so far survived. Analysis of its genome implies a relatively large population about 1 million years ago followed by a decline in population around 10,000 years ago (or very roughly, the end of the Pleistocene). Note that the techniques used do…… Continue reading The California Condor Genome

That Bald Cardinal is Back…

…and he brought his family. The female Northern Cardinal also appears to be losing the feathers on her head. So I learned that every year people report seeing these balding cardinals. I now like to think of them as vulture cardinals, but some people call them lizard-heads. Ornithologists generally think this is normal yearly molting,…… Continue reading That Bald Cardinal is Back…

Birdfeeder Birds

Pandemic-related photo opportunity; all seen within about 20 minutes. Not shown: nuthatch, chipping sparrow (?), lurking gray squirrels. Red-bellied WoodpeckerBlue JayBlue JayMale House Sparrow and male Northern CardinalMale Northern CardinalRaggedy-looking Male Northern CardinalFemale House FinchMale House FinchGrackle looking for a landing spotGrackle getting closerGray CatbirdDowny WoodpeckerDowny Woodpecker and female House Sparrow

New Jersey’s State Bird

https://youtu.be/vJgV2FYuuKk In association with the Fine Feathered Friends exhibit, here’s history behind how the Eastern Goldfinch became New Jersey’s official state bird. Anthony Kuser, who is introduced late in the video, was also a sponsor of the search for a surviving passenger pigeon. In 1909, he offered a $300 reward for proof of an undisturbed…… Continue reading New Jersey’s State Bird