Cornell Lab eNews: Feathers As You’ve Never Seen Them Before

Cornell Lab eNews  – March 2014

New course offers great resources for learners and teachers

Get Fascinated by Feathers With New All About Bird Biology Site

Feathers are amazing: they’re light, aerodynamic, beautifully patterned, colorful, waterproof, and warm. To help curious minds of all ages learn about these impressive structures, we’ve just launched an in-depth, immersive website. It’s the first stage of our new All About Bird Biology project, with more to come. Try out All About Feathers, including these great elements:

Magnolia Warbler, part of warbler-identification video

Watch the video for tips on finding great sights this spring, like this brilliant Magnolia Warbler.

If Spring Is Here, Can Warblers Be Far Behind?

We’re on the verge of perhaps the most glorious birding season. As spring blooms around us, dozens of warbler species are on their way back to North America. These birds are small and frenetic, but they reward your patience with brilliant colors, patterns, and songs. Here are a few ways to make the most of them:

Do you know the name of this not-entirely-black bird?

Do you know the names of these tiny but colorful shorebirds? Photo by Michelle Maani via Birdshare.

Which Species Are These?

We’ll give you a hint: this is not a parent escorting a group of youngsters. Though shorebirds have a reputation for being confusing, there’s no better time to appreciate them than now, when they’re in their spring colors and moving across much of North America. Later this month, Dr. Kevin McGowan will offer a 4-part series of shorebird webinars (sponsored by Celestron) to help you answer questions like this one. Packed with photos, quizzes, and live Q&A, you won’t want to miss them! So, do you know which species these are? Check your guess and get more details.

Eastern Bluebird feeding young at nest box

Eastern Bluebird by Lindell Dillon via Birdshare.

First Recorded Bluebird Twins Found by NestWatch Volunteer

Last year an Eastern Bluebird laid three normal eggs and one large egg in one of NestWatcher Gerald Clark’s nest boxes. A few weeks later he had five nestlings in the box, and his finding became a scientific paper on the first recorded instance of twins in bluebirds. (The Lab’s Dr. Caren Cooper tackled just how rare an event this is in a blog post for the journal PLOS.) The finding is a direct example of how citizen scientists contribute to scientific discovery each time they participate. Try NestWatch this season!

Barn Owls on newest livestreaming Bird Cams offering

Who? Who? Two New Owl Cams Join Hawks, Herons, Albatrosses

We can scarcely keep up with all the developments at Bird Cams—especially our TWO new owl cams: a Barn Owl in Texas and a Wild Birds Unlimited Barred Owl cam in Indiana. Plus, the Cornell hawks are incubating three eggs, a Great Blue Heron has returned to the pond, and Kaloakulua, the young Laysan Albatross, is starting to show her first white feathers. Watch the cams.

Take the April eBird Challenge: Enter at least one 1-hr stationary count in eBird this month and qualify to win a pair of Conquest HD binoculars from Zeiss.Not So Lucky: In Burma, the ancient Buddhist custom of “luck birds” may carry a hidden toll.

Congratulations to the Northern Saw-whet Owl, winner of the 2014 March Migration Madness tournament.

On the Lookout for Rusties: Birders in northern states and Canadian provinces can still join in the Rusty Blackbird Spring Migration Blitz.

A Birder’s Guide to Everything, a movie about a group of teens chasing a rare bird, has garnered great reviews across the board (here’s our review). It’s in theaters and available on demand.

Free Seminar Live Online: Our next livestreamed seminar will be on Monday, April 21. Drs. Kevin McGowan and Anne Clark will talk about the unusual lives of crows. Bookmark this page and join us at 7:30 p.m. EDT.

Take a Road Trip: Our Upcoming Bird Festivals webpage makes it easy to plan your next birding destination. You can look through listings by calendar or on a map, so you can start planning your road trip right from the page.

Attention Educators: Check Out These Resources

Free Bird Cams webinar for teachers
Webinar: Bird Cams in the Classroom. Bring incredible views of nesting life into your classroom, with birds including Great Blue Herons, Red-tailed Hawks, and Laysan Albatrosses. In this free webinar we’ll share facts about nesting birds, take you on a tour of the cams, and give you lessons and resources to use with your students. April 9 and 15, 8:00 p.m. EDT.

Free.Sign Up for Summer Educator’s Retreat. Join us August 13–15 for a 3-day workshop packed with new ideas and resources, and a chance to connect with other educators.

Soar Through the Standards is a 5-part webinar series that combines bird biology with Next Generation Science Standards. Participants who take all five have the option to earn a professional development credit. There’s a spring session on Mondays beginning April 21, and summer sessions offered both July 17 and August 21. Get the details.

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