From 1851 to 1858, Henry David Thoreau noted a number of natural occurrences in detail, including the first flowering dates for over 500 species of wildflowers in Concord. Additionally, Alfred Hosmer, a botanist in the same area, had recorded the flowering dates of over 600 species of wild plants in 1878 and from 1888 to 1902. With that data, Richard Primack, a biology professor at Boston University, and fellow researcher Abraham Miller-Rushing spent years aligning old plant names with current names to study the change flowering patterns from the recorded past to present. Their phenological study concluded that plants in Concord, on average, are now flowering 10 days earlier than they were in Thoreau's time (full article for the journal BioScience). [more inside]
"I had heard about this film through various channels off and on through the years. It had gotten to the point where it was almost apocryphal in my mind.... Nobody knew where it was, nobody had ever seen it, but I was aware it existed. It was like the holy grail." said Wayne Petersen, director of the Massachusetts Important Bird Areas program for Mass. Audubon on the archival footage of the extinct heath hen discovered, restored and premiering at the Mass Audubon Birders Meeting this month. [more inside]
Next weekend, February 17-20, is the 2012 Great Backyard Bird Count, sponsored by the National Audubon Society, the Cornell Lab for Ornithology, and Bird Studies Canada. [more inside]
In 1998 three birders--Sandy Komito, Al Levantin and Greg Miller--had their big year attempt chronicled in 2004 in a book of the same name by Mark Obmascik. Due to a few fortuitous circumstances including some spectacular fallout on Attu, a remote Alaskan Island, Komito's 1998 record of 745 species has never been surpassed. Their friendly yearlong rivalry is being documented further in a motion picture featuring Owen Wilson, Steve Martin and Jack Black coming out later this year. [more inside]
"[Irruption] is the term birders use to describe an unusual mass movement of birds into an area. But even that big word fails to capture what happened last winter when thousands of owls descended on northern Minnesota." [more inside]
The male Superb Bird of Paradise has an unusual courtship routine. First he sings. Then he hops. Finally, he busts out a spectacular finishing move, which the female finds attractive and/or totally scary. [more inside]
Bird Watchers Guide on Flickr. "Linked list of species submitted; find all photos of a species here".