Once common, Whip-poor-wills (Caprimulgus vociferus) and other nocturnal nightjar (Caprimulgus europaeus) species are disappearing from Illinois forests as their habitats shrink and change, according to data from the Illinois Natural History Survey (INHS), a division of the University of Illinois’ Prairie Research Institute. “Because they are nocturnal, monitoring for nightjars can be challenging, but we suspect that they are declining,” said Tara Beveroth, an INHS avian researcher.
Sharp-tailed grouse and prairie chicken hunters can again this year voluntarily submit samples for study by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. Ongoing DNR research is assessing prairie grouse exposure to chemicals called neonicotinoids. These are pesticides that, once applied, can move throughout a plant. Neonicotinoids are commonly applied to seeds before planting.
“We’re into our third year of this study assessing whether prairie grouse have been exposed to neonicotinoids by eating treated seeds or other ways,” said Charlotte Roy, DNR grouse project leader.
The Living Planet Report Canada, published today, is the most comprehensive synthesis of Canadian wildlife population trends ever conducted. It shows that on average from 1970 to 2014, half of monitored vertebrate wildlife species in the study suffered population declines. Of those, average decline is 83 per cent since 1970. The picture is also worrisome for Canada’s federally protected species. Since 2002, when the Species at Risk Act became law, federally listed at-risk wildlife populations declined by 28 per cent, the report shows.
The red-headed woodpecker (Melanerpes erythocephalus) was once a very common woodpecker. These birds fly to catch insects in the air or on the ground, forage on trees or gather and store nuts. They are omnivorous, eating insects, seeds, fruits, berries, nuts, and occasionally even the eggs of other birds. In the mid-1800s, John James Audubon stated that the red-headed woodpecker was the most common woodpecker in North America. He called them semi-domesticated because they weren’t afraid of people. He stated that they were camp robbers and also a pest.
The goal of this research was to investigate the effects of the neonicotinoid imidacloprid on the morphological and physiological development of northern bobwhite quail (Colinus virginianus). Bobwhite eggs (n = 390) were injected with imidacloprid concentrations of 0 (sham), 10, 50, 100, and 150 mg/kg of egg mass, which was administered at day 0 (pre-incubation), 3, 6, 9, or 12 of growth. Embryos were dissected, weighed, staged, and examined for any overt structural deformities after 19 days of incubation. The mass of the embryonic heart, liver, lungs and kidneys was also recorded.
Sage grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) are iconic birds in the West — including in Washington, Oregon and Idaho. But their numbers in 11 states have dramatically declined with their loss of habitat. It’s difficult to know exact sage grouse population numbers. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimates somewhere between 200,000 to 500,000 sage grouse live across the range — a number conservation groups worry will now continue to decline.
When Ashtabula County Master Gardeners speak to local groups about creating bird-friendly landscapes, the volunteers are often asked why certain bird species are disappearing from backyard feeders. At times the answer is simply that some birds, like goldfinches (Carduelis carduelis), move from place to place within their territory to ensure a food source isn’t depleted. Another reason is not quite so benign. Many native bird populations are in serious decline because of the loss of habitat and subsequent food sources.
For generations of Missouri farmers, an enjoyable sign that spring was transitioning into summer was the crisp, clear call of a meadowlark perched on a nearby fencepost. However, that call is becoming alarmingly less common throughout the region. Many people are familiar with the decrease of the greater prairie-chicken throughout much of the central U.S. and most have also heard about the steadily worsening quail situation for the same area. However, unless you’re a birding enthusiast, you’re likely unaware of the downward spiral of eastern meadowlark numbers.
The greater prairie chicken (Tympanuchus cupido) once dominated the American Midwest, but today the bird is in trouble in many parts of its historic range. It is no longer found in Arkansas, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, Tennessee, Texas or Wyoming, states where it once flourished. And in Illinois, an estimated 186 birds remain in two adjoining counties in the southern part of the state. "They used to be all over the state," said Illinois Natural History Survey conservation biologist Mark Davis, who participated in a genetic analysis of the Illinois birds.
Many birders and bird-watchers in western and central Nebraska have noticed the unfortunate absence in recent years of a distinctive, entertaining and familiar bird species, the black-billed magpie (Pica hudsonia). In the late 1990s, black-billed magpies were found over most of the state, except the extreme east and southeast. They occurred as far east as western Lancaster and Saunders counties during that time. In other areas, especially the west, magpies were fairly common and could be reliably seen with little effort. Since about 2000, black-billed magpies have declined sharply.