Anna SandersDuring a childhood trip to Cornwall's scenic Land's End in England, a seagull lunged itself at Anna's ice cream cone, getting away with almost an entire scoop of vanilla. Despite that fated meeting, Anna has learned to love the earth's winged creatures, and enjoys cooing at pigeons in Washington Square Park between classes at New York University, where she is a journalism and environmental studies major. As an intern for Audubon, Anna writes about birds and the environment while avoiding any more food altercations.
Anna Sanders's blog
Each year, millions of live poultry are shipped nationwide to supply a growing backyard farming culture, represented by everyday Americans who want fresh eggs and meat on the table. Come spring, many families also buy chicks as Easter gifts for children from the same mail-order hatcheries. However, a multi-state report is a harsh reminder that animal care should never be taken on lightly. A New England Journal of Medicine article reveals that live poultry from mail-order hatcheries can be linked to hundreds of cases of salmonella from 2004 to 2011.!--/end tags-->
For songbirds, practice makes perfect. To learn the melody that will one day woo mates, male songbirds repeat their fathers’ tune over and over again—sometimes hundreds of times a day—making slight adjustments in pitch. These trial-and-error voice lessons take about 50 days for male society finches to complete, when when the finches are three months old and sexually mature. But achieving the ideal tune to impress the ladies is no easy task. Luckily, the finch’s brain is equipped with the basal ganglia, a cluster of interconnected brain regions that act as a learning hub, receiving information from other regions of the brain in order to improve the bird’s song.!--/end tags-->
Avian authorities and bird beginners will all agree that puffins are among the cutest creatures around. But the bird’s charisma is just one of the many reasons why Audubon’s Project Puffin is so successful: With hard work and enthusiasm, the project has helped restore and sustain puffin and other seabird populations in Maine for almost four decades. To do so, Project Puffin’s small annual staff relies on the help and knowledge of volunteers and interns during the seabird breeding season. This summer, come rain or shine, 26 bright interns will hole up in tents and cabins on seven islands in Maine to conduct conservation work and research. But this work can’t continue without your help.
Key to the success of the island internship program is the annual Birdathon, now in its 24th year. On May 31, along with volunteers and staff, Project Puffin’s 26 interns will set out to tally as many puffin and bird species they can in 24 hours. Supporters can make single donations or pledge a dollar amount based on the number of species found by a specific team, either online or by mailing this form. Money raised will cover the costs of supporting summer interns on the islands next year.!--/end tags-->
The North American eastern screech owl is a particularly small and cute ball of fluff. Found in most of North America’s dense deciduous forests, these little guys boast large heads, striking ear tufts, and golden eyes. Though most of the owls’ intricately patterned plumage is a rusty red, a pale grey variation is also common in parts of western Canada and the north-central United States. Side by side, the so-called red and grey “morphs” look like completely different species—and that might be what Mother Nature intended. A new study shows bird species that exhibit such color-polymorphism evolve into new species faster, suggesting the characteristic plays an active role in accelerating speciation.!--/end tags-->
The queen angelfish moves swiftly in an endless pool of pure, blue ocean. The creature’s magenta body passes gracefully over gardens of lush thong weed, bursts of yellow cluster anemone, and fierce spouts of pinkish-colored black coral in a vibrant Caribbean reef. Her caudal fin sways with the current as a colossal striped marlin rushes by. And, in the distance, a pair of black ocellaris clownfish dive past a monstrous barracuda. While witnessing these sights usually requires a plane ticket and scuba gear, with the new social media and graphic art app, theBlu, all you need is a computer.
Launched May 4, theBlu is a global art and entertainment social media application where users can explore miles of digitized ocean. Like the queen angelfish I’ve been following, every species in theBlu is an original work created by an international group of artists, animators, and developers—including Academy Award winners Andy Jones (Avatar) and Kevin Mack (What Dreams May Come). As if the breathtaking graphics weren’t enough, theBlu is also dedicated to saving the same environments it depicts, collaborating with Mission Blue, Ocean Elders, Oceanic Preservation Society, Scripps Institution of Oceanography and WildAid.!--/end tags-->
From human pick-up lines to the peacock’s flashy feathers, males have a multitude of techniques for impressing the ladies. Though traditional sexual selection theory suggests females prefer the most passionate courtship display a guy can muster, shy brown-headed cowbirds may be in luck. A new study shows lady cowbirds prefer less intense male courtship displays, suggesting manly shows of physical prowess are just intended to intimidate rivals.
“Threatening the female during courtship, it makes sense you wouldn’t get a lot of success,” explains Adrian O'Loghlen, lead author of the study published May 2 in PLoS ONE.!--/end tags-->
With melting sea ice, thawing permafrost, and disappearing glaciers, the Arctic is one of the most vulnerable regions to anthropogenic climate change. The area’s annual average temperature has increased at almost twice the rate of the rest of the world in the last few decades and, as the Arctic climate warms and snow cover shrinks, less heat is reflected back into the atmosphere, hastening the process. Arctic creatures like the caribou, horned puffins, and the polar bear will have to adapt to this widespread warming. While scientists previously believed polar bears were an example of a rapid adaptation to temperature changes, a new genetic analysis shows the species diverged from their closest relatives about 600,000 years ago — suggesting it will be more difficult for polar bears to adjust to climate change.!--/end tags-->
Thousands of species make their home in coral reefs, relying on them for food, shelter, and protection. But unlike most habitats, coral reefs can die. With rising water temperatures brought on by global climate change, the corals’ food can become heat-stressed and perish. In this process, entire reefs turn white and grey, their vibrant hues faded. While climate change may mean the demise of some reefs through this “bleaching,” a new study suggests that a few corals will succeed in warmer temperatures — at the other species’ expense.!--/end tags-->