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2016 AOU Brewster Medal awarded to Dr. Patricia Parker
The William Brewster Memorial Award, bestowed each year by the American Ornithologists' Union (AOU) to the author or co-authors of an exceptional body of work on the birds of the Western Hemisphere, has been given to Dr. Patricia Parker of the University of Missouri-Saint Louis and the Saint Louis Zoo.

Volunteers Wanted for BC Coast Waterbird Survey
Bird Studies Canada reports that the 18th season of the British Columbia Coastal Waterbird Survey begins Sept. 11, and volunteers are being sought for several sites in Vancouver, Tofino, and Ucluelet.
BSC Young Ornithologists' Workshop 2016
Six young field biologists joined Bird Studies Canada and Long Point Bird Observatory for its 2016 Doug Tarry Young Ornithologists' Workshop.

'Snapshot Wisconsin' Volunteers Sought
Snapshot Wisconsin is a citizen science effort using trail cameras to capture images of all types of wildlife that inhabit Wisconsin, including deer, elk, bears, fox, bobcats, whooping cranes and more.

Montana: Fish Disease Results in Closure of Yellowstone River
An extensive fish kill has resulted in an unprecedented complete water-based recreational closure of miles of the Yellowstone River in Montana, one of America's greatest cold water fisheries.

22 Grants to Restore Monarch Butterfly Habitat
The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) on Aug. 23 announced more than $3 million in grants from its Monarch Butterfly Conservation Fund (MBCF) to support the restoration of approximately 16,000 acres of habitat in areas identified by experts as key to the recovery of monarch butterfly populations.

Tour Commemorates NPS 100th Anniversary
U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, Deputy Secretary Mike Connor and other senior Obama Administration officials are on on a nationwide tour to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service (NPS) – often called "America's Best Idea."
Delmarva Paddling Weekend Registration Underway
Birding Paddlers, and Paddling Birders: Registrations are open for the inaugural Delmarva Paddling Weekend, which will be held Sept. 30 - Oct. 2, 2016.
Swallow Spectacular on the Connecticut River
Join the Connecticut Audubon Society naturalists aboard Essex Steam Train and Riverboat's Becky Thatcher as we journey first by train and then by boat to see the spectacular, awe-inspiring display as thousands of Tree Swallows congregate on the lower Connecticut River and settle in on a giant communal roost each evening at sunset.
Rally for Rails
Lakeside, Ohio will be the gathering grounds on October 1, 2016 for birdwatchers keen on rails and wanting to learn more about the area's most productive wetlands.

Genomes of Golden-Winged and Blue-Winged Warblers 99.97% Alike
New research out of the Cor­nell Lab of Ornithology's Fuller Evo­lutionary Biology Program shows that, genetically speaking, Blue-winged and Golden-winged warblers are almost identical.

Zeiss Introduces New Victory SF Binoculars
Carl Zeiss Sports Optics announces the new Victory SF binoculars, available in 8x42 and 10x42, with high transmission of 92 percent and an extremely large field of view of 360 ft. yards at 10x, and 444 ft. at 8x.
The Leica NOCTIVID Ultimate Performance Binocular
In creating the new NOCTIVID series of performance binoculars, Leica's designers and engineers have matched the highest performance optical system with a rugged, compact body that is "pure" Leica in style and elegance.

Mass Audubon Develops Accessible Trails Manual
Based on its years of experience in designing trails to engage people with disabilities, regional conservation leader Mass Audubon has been chosen to develop guidelines to assist like-minded organizations nationwide in building accessible pathways.

American Ornithologists' Union Welcomes 2016 Class of New Fellows
At the opening of the 134th stated meeting of the American Ornithologists' Union (AOU) in Washington, D.C., this week, the society welcomed 21 new Fellows, each selected by their peers for their outstanding contributions to the field of ornithology and their service to the AOU.

FWS Chief Will Direct Zoo Association
The Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Board of Directors announced the selection of current U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Daniel M. Ashe as the next President and Chief Executive Officer of its 233-member organization beginning in January 2017.

American Ornithologists' Union Honors 2016 Awardees
The American Ornithologists' Union (AOU), the Western Hemisphere's premier ornithological society, announced its 2016 awardees at this year's landmark North American Ornithological Conference in Washington, D.C.
Black Swamp Bird Observatory Honors Volunteers
Three outstanding volunteers received BSBO's most prestigious awards at its annual Volunteer Appreciation Picnic.

Wee Woodpecker: 
Tawny Piculet
The tiny, agile Tawny Piculet of northeastern Brazil is not even 4 inches long—more than an inch smaller than the familiar Downy Woodpecker.

BOLO Issued for Displaced Birds, Wildlife Due to Louisiana Flooding
With widespread flooding in southern Louisiana, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries biologists said the public should be on the lookout for wildlife such as deer, snakes, alligators or any displaced animal.

Smithsonian Channel Celebrates 100th Anniversary of NPS
Smithsonian Channel will celebrate the centennial with AMERICA'S NATIONAL PARKS AT 100 premiering Sunday, August 28 at 8 p.m. ET/PT. The one-hour special tells the story of how this radical idea evolved into an enduring mission shaped by the creativity, resourcefulness and passion of individual Americans.
Nature Returns Oct. 12 Showcasing Dazzling Hummingbirds
Season 35 of NATURE kicks off with Super Hummingbirds, airing Wed., Oct. 12 at 8/7c on PBS. Actress Patricia Clarkson narrates the season opener, which presents new scientific discoveries about the dazzling hummers.

Audubon Weighs-in on Reclamation's Colorado River Report
The Audubon Society this week issued a statement after the the Bureau of Reclamation announced that a shortage of the Colorado River will not be declared as water levels at Lake Mead are projected to remain above a critical 1075-acre-foot threshold.

Inaugural Illinois Young Birders Symposium Aug. 27
The inaugural Illinois Young Birders Symposium, sponsored by the Illinois Ornithological Society, is set for Saturday, Aug. 27, at Brushwood Center at Ryerson Woods in Riverwoods, Ill.

The Birding Wire Photo Gallery

In just a few short weeks, hummingbird lovers across much of the country — many whom have painstakingly mixed and served countless gallons of sugar-based elixir to their visitors in the past fews months -- will bid a fond farewell to their delightful friends for another season. Such is the case for Birding Wire editor J.R. Absher, whose summertime daily routine included preparing upwards of two gallons of "one-to-four" for this Rufous hummingbird and many others frequenting his Sierra County, New Mexico feeders. Technical: Canon 7D with Canon EF 75-300 f/4-5.6, ISO 1000, f.16 @ 1/800 sec.


Birding Wire readers, if you have a favorite or interesting bird and nature photograph, we urge you to share it with thousands of our subscribers. Please send submissions to birdingwire@gmail.com, and be sure to include details about the location, species and technical data.

Distinguishing Florida Mottled Ducks
The following feature was provided by The Wildlife Society.

A pair of mottled ducks swim in a Florida pond. ©Ron Bielefeld
Following the introduction of mallards in Florida in the 1960s as a favorite in backyard ponds and other landscaped areas, the ducks took a liking to Florida mottled ducks. Now, nearly 60 years later, hybridization and introgression is threatening the native species.

In a study published in the Wildlife Society Bulletin, researchers developed plumage keys that serve as a field guide to distinguishing mottled ducks (A. fulvigula fulvigula) from mallards (Anas platyrhynchos) and hybrids of the two species. The new tool could have major implications for managing the Florida mottled duck, according to Ron Bielefeld, an associate research scientist with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the lead author of the study.

"It became obvious to us many years ago that we needed to have some way in the field to determine in real time if we had a pure mottled duck, a hybrid, or a mallard in our hands," said Bielefeld. The problem became apparent about 20 years ago, he says, but genetic techniques weren't good enough to distinguish the different duck species from one another and work on a key could go no further. However, as genetic techniques advanced, the biologists took another look.

Bielefeld and his team began by visiting the U.S. National Museum and Harvard's Museum of Comparative Zoology to view specimens of Florida mottled duck and mallard collected before 1950. This information gave them the basis to identify the distinguishing characteristics of pure mottled ducks.

"Step two was to take that information and develop a scorecard to apply to modern birds," said Andrew Engilis, a curator at the Museum of Wildlife and Fish Biology and a coauthor in the study. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission then obtained about 170 specimens of frozen birds that were collected mostly at hunter check stations. Then, using the scorecard developed from historic specimens, the research team scored and assigned the identity of the specimens: mottled, hybrids or mallards.

Next, they took a small sample of breast muscles tissue from each bird to obtain a genetic signature for the ducks. "This helped confirm the identification of each frozen bird and to assess helpful character traits vetted by each bird's genetic makeup," said Engilis, who is working on a similar hybridization issue in Hawaiian ducks (Anas wyvilliana).

With the genetic and morphological information, the team developed four keys using the best traits to distinguish females and five to distinguish males. After testing the keys on more than 300 contemporary birds, they collected genetic material from each bird. "We found that the keys worked really well," Engilis said. "The strongest key was 96 percent accurate. In my estimation, the field test and key validation was what made this paper so strong."

Bielefeld says information collected by using these keys will be helpful in conserving mottled ducks in Florida. They also plan to use the keys in a new study that will assess Florida's mottled duck population.

"We can use the keys to estimate the number of pure mottled ducks still out there," he said. As part of this assessment, they want to determine how many pure birds remain compared to other similar-looking brown ducks. In addition, the team will look at the geographical distribution to identify areas where hybridization and introgression are most prevalent now. Bielefeld says the information they have to this point shows that there's more hybridization occurring in urban and suburban areas than in rural locations within the mottled duck range in Florida.

This hybridization problem can potentially be solved, especially since genetic work seems to indicate that "mottled ducks want to stay mottled ducks," Bielefeld said. So far, management practices to minimize the mottled duck and mallard hybridization problem have included putting out education material about how mallards do not make good pets and contribute to mottled duck hybridization. Florida also has put in place regulations that prohibit people from releasing mallards into the wild or keeping mallards in a way that allows them to come into contact with wild waterfowl.

"Even though regulations exist, they do not appear to be very effective," he said. Bielefeld says a better conservation action may be to limit the varieties of mallards that are allowed to be imported into and kept in the state.

Bielefeld says this type of action would be easier to enforce and could be effective in stopping hybridization.

"Without management changes, all of the work that has been done up to this time could be a wasted effort," he said. "We have support in the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission and also the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Ducks Unlimited. They've all been on board with the idea that Florida mottled ducks hybridizing with feral mallards is a serious problem. Our goal is to see the years of work culminate in conservation action that makes a positive difference for the Florida mottled duck in the end."


Aug. 25
All About Hummingbirds
Rotary Botanical Gardens, Janesville, Wis.
Aug. 25 - Aug. 27
Big Bend Nature Fest
Big Bend Nat'l Park, Tex.
Aug. 27
Young Birder's Symposium
Brushwood Center, Riverwoods, Ill.
Sept. 9 - Sept. 10
2016 Federal Duck Stamp Art Contest
Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia, Pa.
Sept. 9 - Sept. 11
Puget Sound Bird Fest
Edmonds, Wash.
Sept. 10
Feliciana Hummingbird Festival
St. Francisville, La.
Sept. 15 - Sept. 17
Awendaw, SC
Sept. 16 - Sept. 18
American Birding Expo
Grange Insurance Audubon Center, Columbus, Ohio
Sept. 17
Chelan Ridge Raptor Migration Festival
Pateros, Wash.
Sept. 22 - Sept. 29
Fall Birding Days
Little St. Simons Island, Ga.
Sept. 23 - Sept. 25
Monterey Bay Birding Festival
Watsonville, Calif.
Sept. 24 - Sept. 25
Sept. 28 - Oct. 2
41st Annual Western Field Ornithologists' Conference
River Lodge Center, Fortuna, Calif.
Sept. 30 - Oct. 2
Delmarva Paddling Weekend
Laurel, Del. and Snow Hill, Md.
Oct. 1
Oct. 6 - Oct. 9
Nov. 2 - Nov. 6
Nov. 2 - Nov. 6
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