May 18, 2013
Written by Sally Sanders
Wednesday, 31 December 2008 11:11
Recently we mentioned the Calliope Hummingbird that showed up in Simsbury, Conn., after having traveled 3,000 miles to the east instead of to the south. It apparently was a fatal mistake.
Each fall, a few off-course hummingbirds from the West Coast wind up in New England, but usually they are Rufous Hummingbirds, not the Calliope, which at 0.07 to 0.11 ounce, is the smallest North American bird and the smallest bird migrant in the world.
The Simsbury Calliope hung on until mid-December but, as Southington wildlife rehabilitator Jayne Amico told the Connecticut bird hotline last week, it appears the bird succumbed to the cold.
“The bird was seen up until PM yesterday and not again. I had hoped that the bird would rally with my suggestions but it was obviously too late. I believe the bird went into torpor and did not have what it took to come back out this morning. I would love to think it moved on, but in my experience with these winter hums, they usually move after feeding heavily in the mornings.”
Ms. Amico, who takes in hundreds of birds a year for rehabilitation, said, “I truly wished I had taken that beautiful young bird into rehab yesterday or gotten involved much sooner so the bird would have had a better situation to survive the winter blast.”
“Torpor,” which Ms. Amico mentions above, is how many birds deal with cold overnight in the winter. It is a state of deep sleep with reduced heartbeat and body temperature.
For our local winter birds, torpor saves on energy consumption, but a hot-weather bird unaccustomed to our frigid nights, is not equipped with the feathers or body temperature regulation to deal with temperatures approaching zero.
Nature centers, naturalists and teachers may be interested in the new version of the Exploring Bird Behavior portion of BirdSleuth, a curriculum from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology that “taps into a child’s natural curiosity to answer scientific questions in a fun way.”
Exploring Bird Behavior has lessons, posters, and multimedia resources, including a stopwatch and tally counter. “Kids love to work with gadgets,” said Birdsleuth project leader Jennifer Fee. “Give them a stopwatch or put them in a lab coat, and they transform into little scientists. And then it becomes easier to explain tricky concepts, such as the difference between a behavioral event and a behavioral state.” (An event can be counted; a state can be timed.)
Like the other modules in the BirdSleuth series, Exploring Bird Behavior “engages students in inquiry by building lessons and activities around citizen-science projects from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology,” Ms. Fee said. “This module uses the Crows Count project. Students count crows and their relatives (ravens, magpies, and jays), observe their behaviors, and report what they see to the Cornell Lab where scientists are studying the dynamics of group behavior in crows.”
“BirdSleuth gets kids interested in nature, gets them outside, and teaches them to think more critically,” added Ms. Fee. “They ask questions, collect data, look for patterns and evidence, test ideas, make conclusions, and share results.”
For more information, visit www.birds.cornell.edu/BirdSleuth.
Demystifying Bird Photography: Pointers and Pitfalls, with Photographer Sean Sime, Wednesday, Jan. 14, 7:30 p.m., free, Bedford Audubon, at Katonah Memorial House, 71 Bedford Road, Katonah, bedfordaudubon.org, 914-232-1999
On Feathered Wings, trip to photo exhibit at American Museum of Natural History, Saturday, Jan. 17, all day, $75/$85, Connecticut Audubon, 860-767-0660, pwood @ ctaudubon.org
Winter Walk in the Meadowlands of New Jersey, with Biologist and Naturalist Michael Newhouse and Bedford Audubon Society Director John Askildsen, Saturday, Jan. 17, 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., carpool from Bylane Farm, 35 Todd Road, Katonah, bedfordaudubon.org, 914-232-1999.
Nature Hike at Croton Point Park, Croton-on-Hudson with Bedford Audubon Society Naturalist Tait Johansson, Thursday, Jan. 22, 9 to 11:30 a.m., carpool from Bylane Farm, 35 Todd Road, Katonah or join the group at Croton Point Park at 9:30, bedfordaudubon.org, 914-232-1999.
Birding Sachuest Point and Rhode Island Coast, with Andrew Griswold, Harlequins and other winter ducks, etc., Wednesday, Jan. 28, all day, $55/$65, Connecticut Audubon, 860-767-0660, pwood @ ctaudubon.org.
Bird walks with Luke Tiller, mostly Saturdays at 8 a.m., $10 each; to register, www. sunrisebirding. com/ walks.htm; 203-981-9924, luke.tiller @ gmail.com.
First Sundays, birding at Greenwich Point with Meredith Sampson of Wild Wings, and other guides, Jan. 4, Feb. 1, March 1, April 5, May 3, meet at the second concession stand, 203-637-9822.
Copyright (c) 2008 by Jack Sanders. Send sightings or comments to: jackfsanders [at sign] yahoo.com, or to Bird Notes, Box 1019, Ridgefield, CT 06877; or call 203-438-1183, extension BIRD (2473), and leave a message with your report, spelling your first and last names and telling us your town. If you need help identifying a bird, try your local nature center. If you find an injured bird, call wildlife rehabilitator Darlene Wimbrow of Redding, 203-438-0618, Wildlife in Crisis of Weston, 203-544-9913, or Wild Wings of Greenwich, 203-637-9822. The columnist’s website is www. sandersbooks. com.
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