Birds of SouthEast Texas

Red Cockaded Woodpecker

I’m lucky enough to live by Jones State Forest which has a population of the endangered Red Cockaded Woodpeckers. It was too cold today to go out to try to catch some photos but I learned quite a bit about them today.

They carve out holes in live pines to build nests. Mom and dad mate for life and split the childrearing. The rangers at the forest help them with prefab nests inserted into holes in trees. Notice the flashing around the hole to maintain the size and the screening underneath to give wayward chicks something to hang onto.

Red Cockaded nest inside

Red Cockaded nest inside

Red cockaded nest outside

Red cockaded nest outside

Red Cockaded Woodpecker photos

Also The Heartwood Chapter of the Texas Master Naturalists are starting a class so you can learn to be a Texas Master Naturalist. Orientation is March 8, 2014 830-2 pm, contact them for more information.

Robins see magnetic fields

Some birds can see magnetic fields like we see colors. Those with sharp vision see the field clearly, those with impaired vision have trouble same as we might reading small print in our later years.

Some birds can sense the Earth’s magnetic field and orientate themselves with the ease of a compass needle. This ability is a massive boon for migrating birds, keeping frequent flyers on the straight and narrow. But this incredible sense is closely tied to a more mundane one – vision. Thanks to special molecules in their retinas, birds like the European robins can literally see magnetic fields. The fields appear as patterns of light and shade, or even colour, superimposed onto what they normally see.
Katrin Stapput from Goethe University has shown that this ‘magnetoreception’ ability depends on a clear image from the right eye. If the eye is covered by a translucent frosted goggle, the birds become disorientated; if the left eye is covered, they can navigate just fine. So the robin’s vision acts as a gate for its magnetic sense. Darkness (or even murkiness) keeps the gate shut, but light opens it, allowing the internal compass to work. Read more Robins can literally see magnetic fields, but only if their vision is sharp

More information:
Robins can see magnetic fields, but only in one eye
Magnetoreception of Directional Information in Birds Requires Nondegraded Vision (paper $)

Looks like the Russian birds have more fun than ours


Young female cardinal 9/2013

Young female cardinal 9/2013


Backyard photo, The Woodlands, TX