In This Issue: Unhatched chick siblings communicate through egg vibration; Reducing communication tower bird collisions; Duck stamp available
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News in Birding. August 2019
News in Birding, August 2019

Jessica Melfi | Assistant Editor, Bird Watcher's DigestBy Jessica Melfi
Assistant Editor | Bird Watcher's Digest

If you’ve never bought a Federal Duck Stamp before, this issue of BirdWire shares how and why you should do so. Plus, learn how communication tower operators are doing their part to reduce migratory bird mortality with one simple change. And speaking of communication, a surprising new study reveals that unhatched chicks are able to “talk” to one another through vibration of their eggs.

Tuscon Audubon Southeast Arizona Birding Festial

Find Your Life Birds at the Southeast Arizona Birding Festival

Red-faced and rufous-capped warblers. Five-striped sparrow. Elegant trogon. Thirteen species of hummingbirds. Haven’t seen them? Find them and more in Tucson, August 7–11, 2019.
Study: Unhatched Chick Siblings Alert Each Other of Danger Through Egg Vibration
Study: Unhatched Chick Siblings Alert Each Other of Danger Through Egg Vibration
Gulls are one of a few bird species known to relay environmental cues to their unhatched young, but a surprising new study published in Nature Ecology & Evolution suggests that some embryo siblings communicate by vibrating their eggs to alert one another of danger. Researchers collected 90 yellow-legged gull eggs off the Spanish coast and exposed some of them to recordings of adult warning calls. The eggs shook at the sound and continued to shake when placed back in their nests. Unexposed eggs placed next to the vibrating eggs seemed to pick up on the cue and began nervously wriggling in their shells as well. Furthermore, the behavior of both the exposed and unexposed chicks upon hatching were similarly cautious; both groups were slower to shed their shells, were quieter, and crouched and hid more quickly than those in a control group (consisting of eggs that were not exposed to the recordings nor to siblings that were). Because the yellow-legged gull’s clutch typically consists of three eggs laid one day at a time, this research sheds important light on how the first, more developed egg is able to warn its younger siblings of impending danger.
Adjusting Communication Tower Lighting Reduces Migratory Bird Collisions
Adjusting Communication Tower Lighting Reduces Migratory Bird Collisions
The U.S. currently has around 13,900 communication towers taller than 350 feet, causing approximately seven million bird collisions each year. Migratory birds are attracted to and disoriented by the steady-burning red lights along the sides of the towers at night. A 2012 Federal Aviation Administration report confirmed that turning off the red lights does not impact aviation safety. (The flashing lights atop the towers continue to be required and pose little threat to birds). The American Bird Conservancy projects that the bird mortality rate could be reduced by up to 70 percent—and significantly reduce tower operators’ electricity expenses—simply by turning off the lights on these towers. The FAA and the Federal Communications Commission have facilitated a process for tower operators to receive permission to adjust their lighting, and the ABC has been working diligently the past two years to help tower operators embrace this change. More than 2,700 towers have complied in the past two years.
2019-2020 Federal Duck Stamp Available for Purchase
2019–2020 Federal Duck Stamp Available for Purchase
While the Federal Duck Stamp is required for hunters age 16 and older, many birders, photographers, and other nature enthusiasts also purchase the stamp to support wildlife habitat conservation. Since 1934, more than $1 billion has been raised by Federal Duck Stamp sales—funds that have been used to acquire and protect six million acres of wetlands habitat on national wildlife refuges. The stamp costs $25 and also serves as a pass for free admission to any refuge with an entry fee. This year’s stamp features a wood duck and is available for purchase through a variety of outdoor retailers, wildlife refuges, some post offices, and the American Birding Association.

Upcoming Festivals
Reader Rendezvous
Tawas Point Reader Rendezvous--May 15-19, 2020
Tawas Point Reader Rendezvous
May 15–19, 2020
The entire Great Lakes region offers fantastic birding each spring, but Tawas Point, on the eastern shores of Lake Huron, is a unique birding destination you won’t want to miss! Tawas Point, Michigan, is known as the “Cape Cod of the Midwest,” featuring the Victorian-era Tawas Point Lighthouse, beautiful sandy beaches, and most importantly, an outstanding array of birds! Less well-known than Magee Marsh, Tawas Bay attracts all of the wood warblers that pass the shores of Lake Erie, but with fewer crowds of people and more diverse habitat—which invites a wide range of species in mid- to late May.
This Birding Life Episode #89: An Interview with Jeff and Liz Gordon
This Birding Life Episode #89: An Interview with Jeff and Liz Gordon
In July and August, This Birding Life will feature two episodes that Bill Thompson, III, recorded before succumbing to pancreatic cancer on March 25, 2019. In this episode Bill interviews longtime friend Jeff Gordon, president of the American Birding Association, and his wife and ABA’s events coordinator, Liz Gordon. Bill’s guests discuss how they met, how their relationship evolved through their love of birds, the accomplishments that they value most in their work with the ABA, current trends in birding, and what the future holds for the hobby we all love.
On Newsstands Now:
Watching Backyard Birds: August 2019
If you love backyard birds, then you should be reading Watching Backyard Birds. It's the ONLY North American magazine devoted exclusively to backyard birds and the people who watch and enjoy them. Created by the friendly staff at Bird Watcher's Digest, every issue of Watching Backyard Birds is full of engaging, entertaining, and enlightening content and images.
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In Memory of Our Matriarch, Elsa Ekenstierna Thompson
Elsa Thompson, co-founder of Bird Watcher’s Digest, the company that publishes this magazine, passed away unexpectedly on May 25, 2019.
Robin and Cardinal Caught Co-nesting
A pair of robins, a pair of cardinals, and six babies sharing one nest? This innovative housing arrangement was not without tension, but perhaps humans could take a lesson in tolerance and cooperation from these cohabiting families.
Late Summer Brings Many Bird-Watching Delights
Hummingbirds in the house, a yellowthroat in the birdbath, a pair of scolding indigo buntings—these are just a few of the surprises columnist Julie Zickefoose has experienced during her favorite time of year for birding.
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