Birds in Mythology

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According to the Audubon Society, there are over 47 million birders in the United States alone (i). While each birder has their own reasons for why they do it, bird watching is not a new hobby. Humans have long been fascinated with our feathered friends. Almost every culture and civilization has looked toward the skies and been amazed at a bird’s ability to soar to great heights, migrate to lands once unattainable, and adapt to some ...

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Too Cold? Fly South! Or…

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Recently, we focused on avian metabolism and thermoregulation, but some birds have additional mechanisms to cope with more extreme, colder temperatures. Most commonly, birds migrate south during the winter to seek warmer environments with more food. We can easily observe this phenomenon in the Keys; during the fall, thousands of migratory birds ranging from tiny warblers to large raptors fly overhead on their way to warmer points further south.

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Avian Metabolism and Thermoregulation

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Having just recently moved to the Keys from Pennsylvania, I’ve spent the past few weeks adjusting to this unusually warm “winter.” After sweating buckets from just a few hours at the beach (in December!), I began to ponder how animals, such as birds, live outside all day every day and manage to maintain a stable body temperature. Knowing how often injured and ill birds come to the Wild Bird Center with low temperatures and how imperative it is ...

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What More than Wings?

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Have you ever wondered what tools birds use to fly besides wings and feathers? The answer lies within a bird’s respiration system and skeleton.

An easy way to understand avian respiration is to compare it to our own. When humans breathe the flow of air makes a U shape, flowing into the lungs then directly out. When we breathe there is a bit of air left behind, as our lungs do not contract completely when we exhale ...

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Owl Adaptations

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My favorite animal has always been the owl. I had never worked with birds at all until I came here to the Florida Keys Wild Bird Center, and upon getting an internship here I figured that could very well change after getting to interact and learn about all of the other awesome birds that we have here. I have to say after three months of working with all sorts of raptors, songbirds and shorebirds I was given a ...

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Raptor Identification Tips

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Which species of raptors have you been able to identify this migration season? Identifying raptors can be easy when they’re sitting on a fence post or power line, but identifying them while they are in flight can be a difficult task, even for the most seasoned veterans. Hawks, falcons, and eagles come in all different shapes and sizes. With that in mind, we’d like to offer some expert tips for identifying raptors.

First, lets cover some basic ...

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Celebrating Migration!

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October is the month when we consider ourselves to be in full fall migration mode. It is a spectacular time for bird-watching – watch for different species of hawks such as Cooper’s, broad-winged, and red-shoulders; falcons such as peregrines, merlins, and kestrels; and songbirds such as vireos, thrushes, and warblers.  With this huge influx of additional birds to our neighborhoods, we also increase the likelihood of direct human/bird interactions, sometimes resulting in injury to the birds if we ...

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Bird Spotlight: Peregrine Falcon

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Right now, hundreds of thousands of birds are migrating south, through the Florida Keys. So far our team has rescued, rehabilitated, and released a handful of migratory birds of prey, including a Cooper’s Hawk (Accipiter cooperii) that is currently being treated in our hospital for head trauma. One of the most iconic species of the migrating raptors that we see in the Florida Keys is the Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus). In fact, their name is quite literally from ...

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Invasive Species and Their Impact

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One of the biggest problems facing wildlife in South Florida, including the coastal marine ecosystems that surround it’s terrestrial ecosystems, is the presence of invasive species. Invasive species are most commonly introduced to new ecosystems thanks to human activity, both intentionally and accidentally/unknowingly, and they can be absolutely devastating to the environment. This week’s blog entry will focus on the concept of invasive species, some of the more notorious invasive species in South Florida, and what everyone can ...

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Migration and Habitat Loss

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Birds have been migrating great distances for thousands of years, but over the last few centuries these feathered travelers have run into a great number of perils previously unknown by their ancestors. The world of today, specifically our human societies, is evolving faster and faster each day. This can create huge problems for birds and other wildlife that may not be able to adapt and change their behaviors to fit the needs of their environments. Thus when humans ...

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