Bird Fact Friday: the Red-winged Blackbird (as seen on BirdGenie!)

This week’s Bird Fact Friday highlights the Red-winged Blackbird, as seen on BirdGenie. Here are some interesting facts about the bird:

  • The Red-winged Blackbird is a conspicuous, wetland-dwelling herald of spring.
  • These birds are abundant throughout the US year-round and into Canada in summer.
  • They prefer wetlands; can also be found in open areas and feeders during the winter and migration. They may from large mixed flocks in winter.
  • They are sleek, all black, with variable red and yellow shoulder patches. Female plumage is streaked brown and sparrow-like, with a conical bill.
  • In the spring, males sing territorial “conk-a-ree” songs throughout the day.
  • Diets mainly consist of insects in summer, seeds in winter.
  • They nest polygamously, with males having up to 15 female partners. Typically, they build their nests in low marsh vegetation.
  • They have a lifespan of up to 15years.
  • Population: 190 million and stable.

Have you seen (or heard) a Mallard?

 

BirdGenie

BirdGenie™ is a breakthrough app that helps anyone with an Apple® or Android® smartphone or tablet accurately identify birds in the backyard, local park, or on the nature trail—all with the tap of a button! Just hold up your phone, record the bird singing, and BirdGenie™ helps you identify the species. The app’s highly developed sound identification ability and expert matching system enable bird enthusiasts to achieve an accuracy unheard of in the birding field. It’s perfect for anyone who wants to learn more about the birds around them.

BirdGenie™ includes up to two hundred vocalization types for one hundred species: literally all of the birds likely to be encountered in a backyard or local park, or on a hike, in North America at any time of the year. And the app is easy to use. Just point your smartphone or tablet at a bird, and tap the screen when the bird starts singing. The app’s automatic pre-record feature ensures that you won’t miss the beginning of the song and BirdGenie’s™ patented, highly accurate expert system matches the recording to the closest species. The app’s sophisticated noise-reduction feature means that even in noisy environments, where there is conversation or traffic, you can discover what bird you’re listening to.

Beyond specifying a bird species, BirdGenie™ provides sample songs and spectrograms to compare with your own recording and to guarantee a confident match. The app also includes pictures of all plumages, information about habitat and behavior, and links to further reading. It even has 3-D models for some of the species so you can match different views of a bird. You can share your recordings, photos, and matches with friends and other users, and if you’re so inclined, you can anonymously share recordings to a scientific database to help researchers learn about birdsong variations. No internet connection is required for anything but sharing, making the program accessible everywhere.

Perfect for anyone who wants to know what birds are singing around them, BirdGenie™ takes bird identification to a whole new awesome level.

With BirdGenie™ you can:

  • Quickly identify most birds just by recording their songs
  • Look at vivid images of the bird—some in 3-D!
  • Listen to samples of the bird’s various songs and compare them with your recording
  • Keep a log of all your recordings
  • Share your recordings, matches, and photos with friends and family
  • Browse the built-in catalog to learn about local species, their other songs, their habits and diet, and much more
  • Use the app anywhere, as no internet connection is required!

Important features of BirdGenie™:

  • The matching expert system beats anything in the market today
  • Easy-to-use guided user interface
  • Effective noise-reduction system helps users make identifications in less-than-ideal environments
  • Complete species accounts with multiple photos for all plumage types (some with 3-D models)
  • Comprehensive spectrograms (voiceprints of songs)

Technical Specifications:

  • Requires iOS 10 or later. Compatible with all iPhones after iPhone 6 including 7, 8, X and iPad, iPad Mini, and iPod Touch.
  • Requires Android 5.0 and above. Compatible with most common Android phones and tablets.

Insect of the Week: Food Collection for Honey Bees

Adapted from pages 187-191 of The Lives of Bees:

Worker bee flying home bearing loads of yellow- green pollen on her hind legs and a load of nectar in her crop (honey stomach). That she is carrying a nectar load is indicated by the distension and translucence of her abdomen.

We generally think of a honey bee colony as a family of bees living inside a bee hive or a hollow tree. A moment’s reflection will disclose, however, the important fact that during the daytime many of the bees in a colony are dispersed far and wide over the surrounding countryside, where they toil to gather their colony’s food. To accomplish this, each forager bee flies as far as 14 kilometers (8.7 miles) to a patch of flowers, gathers a load of nectar or pollen, and then flies home, where she quickly off- loads her food and then heads out on her next collecting trip. On a typical day, a colony will field several thousand worker bees, or about one- third of its members, as foragers. Thus, in acquiring its food, a honey bee colony functions as a large, diffuse, amoeboid entity that can extend itself over great distances and in multiple directions simultaneously to exploit a vast array of food sources. To succeed in gathering the pollen and nectar it needs, a colony must closely monitor the food sources within its environment, and it must wisely deploy its foragers among these sources so that its food is gathered efficiently, in sufficient quantity, and with the correct nutritional mix. The colony must also properly apportion the food it gathers between present consumption and storage for future needs. Moreover, it must accomplish all these things in the face of constantly changing conditions, both outside the nest as foraging opportunities come and go, and inside the nest as the colony’s nutritional needs change with the seasons.

Pollen, nectar, and water are the substances most commonly gathered by a colony’s foragers. But during late summer and early fall, if you keep a close watch at a hive’s entrance, you will also spy a few bees returning home with shiny brown loads of tree resin stuck in their pollen baskets. As discussed in chapter 5, the bees jam this gluey material into cracks and small holes in the walls of their nest cavity, making their home more weathertight and easier to defend. We also saw that they use this resin to coat the walls of their nest cavity because it has antimicrobial properties that promote colony health. 

The Lives of Bees: The Untold Story of the Honey Bee in the Wild
By Tom Seeley

Humans have kept honey bees in hives for millennia, yet only in recent decades have biologists begun to investigate how these industrious insects live in the wild. The Lives of Bees is Thomas Seeley’s captivating story of what scientists are learning about the behavior, social life, and survival strategies of honey bees living outside the beekeeper’s hive—and how wild honey bees may hold the key to reversing the alarming die-off of the planet’s managed honey bee populations.

Seeley, a world authority on honey bees, sheds light on why wild honey bees are still thriving while those living in managed colonies are in crisis. Drawing on the latest science as well as insights from his own pioneering fieldwork, he describes in extraordinary detail how honey bees live in nature and shows how this differs significantly from their lives under the management of beekeepers. Seeley presents an entirely new approach to beekeeping—Darwinian Beekeeping—which enables honey bees to use the toolkit of survival skills their species has acquired over the past thirty million years, and to evolve solutions to the new challenges they face today. He shows beekeepers how to use the principles of natural selection to guide their practices, and he offers a new vision of how beekeeping can better align with the natural habits of honey bees.

Engagingly written and deeply personal, The Lives of Bees reveals how we can become better custodians of honey bees and make use of their resources in ways that enrich their lives as well as our own.

Dino Day: Bistahieversor sealeyi

Adapted from page 44:

The Bistahieversor sealeyi lived during the late Upper Cretaceous (Campanian, ca. 78–72.1 Ma) in western Laurasia (present-day New Mexico, USA). It was a sturdy carnivore with an appearance similar to tyrannosaurids, leading it to be known previously as Aublysodon cf. mirandus or Daspletosaurus. At the end of the Cretaceous in western North America (paleocontinent Laramidia), tyrannosauroid derivatives were replaced by tyrannosaurids. In the east (Appalachia), where there was no exchange of fauna with Asia.

From the late Lower Cretaceous (Valanginian, ca. 139.8–132.9 Ma) area of eastern Laurasia (present-day Mongolia). The incomplete remains of a maxillary tooth and a tibia and a fibula that are about 1 m long are attributed to Prodeinodon mongoliensis, although these remains can not be compared with this species.

Dinosaur Facts and Figures: The Theropods and Other Dinosauriformes
By Rubén Molina-Pérez and Asier Larramendi
Illustrations byAndrey Atuchin and Sante Mazzei

The theropod dinosaurs ruled the planet for millions of years, with species ranging from the mighty Tyrannosaurus rex to feathered raptors no bigger than turkeys. Dinosaur Facts and Figures is a stunningly illustrated book of records for these marvelous creatures—such as the biggest, the smallest, and the fastest theropods, as well as the ones with the most powerful bite.

This one-of-a-kind compendium features more than 3,000 records, covers some 750 theropod species, and includes a wealth of illustrations ranging from diagrams and technical drawings to full-color reconstructions of specimens. The book is divided into sections that put numerous amazing theropod facts at your fingertips. “Comparing Species” is organized by taxonomic group and gives comparisons of the size of species, how long ago they lived, and when they were discovered. “Mesozoic Calendar” includes spreads showing the positions of the continents at different geological time periods and reconstructions of creatures from each period. “Prehistoric Puzzle” compares bones, teeth, and feathers while “Theropod Life” uses vivid, user-friendly graphics to answer questions such as which dinosaur was the smartest and which had the most powerful bite. Other sections chart theropod distribution on the contemporary world map, provide comprehensive illustrated listings of footprints, compile the physical specifications of all known theropods and Mesozoic birds, and much more.

  • The essential illustrated record book for anyone interested in dinosaurs
  • Features thousands of records on everything from the smartest and fastest theropods to the largest theropod eggs
  • Includes more than 2,000 diagrams and drawings and more than 300 digital reconstructions
  • Covers more than 750 theropod species, including Mesozoic birds and other dinosauromorphs
  • Provides detailed listings of footprints, biometric specifications, and scholarly and popular references

Bird Fact Friday: the Mallard (as seen on BirdGenie!)

This week’s Bird Fact Friday highlights the Mallard, as seen on BirdGenie. Here are some interesting facts about the bird:

  • The Mallard is a classic dabbling duck found in parks and waterways.
  • These are widespread around North America in ponds, parks, wetlands and agricultural areas.
  • Mallards are large ducks with rounded heads and flat bills for dabbling.
  • Males have iridescent green heads, yellow bills, gray bodies, brown breasts, and black rears. Females are mottled brown with orange and brown bills.
  • Unsurprisingly, they “quack” frequently.
  • Typically, these ducks dabble for vegetation and aquatic life (rarely diving), or feed on agricultural grain; park birds often accept handouts.
  • Pair bonding begins in fall through winter; nests on ground near water.
  • They have a lifespan of up to 27 years.
  • Population: 11 million and stable.

Have you seen (or heard) a Mallard?

 

BirdGenie

BirdGenie™ is a breakthrough app that helps anyone with an Apple® or Android® smartphone or tablet accurately identify birds in the backyard, local park, or on the nature trail—all with the tap of a button! Just hold up your phone, record the bird singing, and BirdGenie™ helps you identify the species. The app’s highly developed sound identification ability and expert matching system enable bird enthusiasts to achieve an accuracy unheard of in the birding field. It’s perfect for anyone who wants to learn more about the birds around them.

BirdGenie™ includes up to two hundred vocalization types for one hundred species: literally all of the birds likely to be encountered in a backyard or local park, or on a hike, in North America at any time of the year. And the app is easy to use. Just point your smartphone or tablet at a bird, and tap the screen when the bird starts singing. The app’s automatic pre-record feature ensures that you won’t miss the beginning of the song and BirdGenie’s™ patented, highly accurate expert system matches the recording to the closest species. The app’s sophisticated noise-reduction feature means that even in noisy environments, where there is conversation or traffic, you can discover what bird you’re listening to.

Beyond specifying a bird species, BirdGenie™ provides sample songs and spectrograms to compare with your own recording and to guarantee a confident match. The app also includes pictures of all plumages, information about habitat and behavior, and links to further reading. It even has 3-D models for some of the species so you can match different views of a bird. You can share your recordings, photos, and matches with friends and other users, and if you’re so inclined, you can anonymously share recordings to a scientific database to help researchers learn about birdsong variations. No internet connection is required for anything but sharing, making the program accessible everywhere.

Perfect for anyone who wants to know what birds are singing around them, BirdGenie™ takes bird identification to a whole new awesome level.

With BirdGenie™ you can:

  • Quickly identify most birds just by recording their songs
  • Look at vivid images of the bird—some in 3-D!
  • Listen to samples of the bird’s various songs and compare them with your recording
  • Keep a log of all your recordings
  • Share your recordings, matches, and photos with friends and family
  • Browse the built-in catalog to learn about local species, their other songs, their habits and diet, and much more
  • Use the app anywhere, as no internet connection is required!

Important features of BirdGenie™:

  • The matching expert system beats anything in the market today
  • Easy-to-use guided user interface
  • Effective noise-reduction system helps users make identifications in less-than-ideal environments
  • Complete species accounts with multiple photos for all plumage types (some with 3-D models)
  • Comprehensive spectrograms (voiceprints of songs)

Technical Specifications:

  • Requires iOS 10 or later. Compatible with all iPhones after iPhone 6 including 7, 8, X and iPad, iPad Mini, and iPod Touch.
  • Requires Android 5.0 and above. Compatible with most common Android phones and tablets.

Insect of the Week: Bee Reproduction

Adapted from pages 156-157 of The Lives of Bees:

A honey bee swarm, with approximately 12,000 worker bees and one queen bee, resting safely inside the cluster.

Although reproductive success by a honey bee colony involves producing both fertile drones and big swarms, the two production processes do not unfold in perfect synchrony. Instead, a colony usually has a peak in its drone production approximately 30 days before the colonies in its neighborhood begin casting swarms and then sending forth virgin queens to be mated. The reason is simple. Drones have a 24- day developmental period, and they require another 12 or so days after emerging from their brood cells to reach sexual maturity. (Queens have much shorter times for development and sexual maturation: about 16 days and 6 days, respectively.) So, if a colony is to have a maximum number of sexually mature drones ready for active service at the time of year when virgin queens are most abundant—the swarming season—then it must start rearing its drones long before the seasonal peak of swarming.

The Lives of Bees: The Untold Story of the Honey Bee in the Wild
By Tom Seeley

Humans have kept honey bees in hives for millennia, yet only in recent decades have biologists begun to investigate how these industrious insects live in the wild. The Lives of Bees is Thomas Seeley’s captivating story of what scientists are learning about the behavior, social life, and survival strategies of honey bees living outside the beekeeper’s hive—and how wild honey bees may hold the key to reversing the alarming die-off of the planet’s managed honey bee populations.

Seeley, a world authority on honey bees, sheds light on why wild honey bees are still thriving while those living in managed colonies are in crisis. Drawing on the latest science as well as insights from his own pioneering fieldwork, he describes in extraordinary detail how honey bees live in nature and shows how this differs significantly from their lives under the management of beekeepers. Seeley presents an entirely new approach to beekeeping—Darwinian Beekeeping—which enables honey bees to use the toolkit of survival skills their species has acquired over the past thirty million years, and to evolve solutions to the new challenges they face today. He shows beekeepers how to use the principles of natural selection to guide their practices, and he offers a new vision of how beekeeping can better align with the natural habits of honey bees.

Engagingly written and deeply personal, The Lives of Bees reveals how we can become better custodians of honey bees and make use of their resources in ways that enrich their lives as well as our own.

Dino Day: Giganotosaurus carolinii

Adapted from page 38:

The Giganotosaurus carolinii (“southern giant lizard of Rubén Carolini”)  lived during the late Upper Cretaceous (lower Cenomanian, ca. 100.5–93.9 Ma) in southwestern Gondwana (present-day Argentina). It was one of the largest predators of all time, as long as an urban bus, and weighing as much as an African elephant and a white rhinoceros together. The largest specimen is based on a very incomplete tooth that turns out to be 6.5% larger than that of the MUCPvCh1 type specimen. This individual would be as heavy as the largest specimen of Tyrannosaurus rex. Giganotosaurus was longer than Tyrannosaurus, but its body was less sturdy.

One of the largest theropods that left its imprints was a carcharodontosaurid (this group of dinosaur) from the early Upper Cretaceous of southwestern Gondwana (present day Brazil).

Dinosaur Facts and Figures: The Theropods and Other Dinosauriformes
By Rubén Molina-Pérez and Asier Larramendi
Illustrations byAndrey Atuchin and Sante Mazzei

The theropod dinosaurs ruled the planet for millions of years, with species ranging from the mighty Tyrannosaurus rex to feathered raptors no bigger than turkeys. Dinosaur Facts and Figures is a stunningly illustrated book of records for these marvelous creatures—such as the biggest, the smallest, and the fastest theropods, as well as the ones with the most powerful bite.

This one-of-a-kind compendium features more than 3,000 records, covers some 750 theropod species, and includes a wealth of illustrations ranging from diagrams and technical drawings to full-color reconstructions of specimens. The book is divided into sections that put numerous amazing theropod facts at your fingertips. “Comparing Species” is organized by taxonomic group and gives comparisons of the size of species, how long ago they lived, and when they were discovered. “Mesozoic Calendar” includes spreads showing the positions of the continents at different geological time periods and reconstructions of creatures from each period. “Prehistoric Puzzle” compares bones, teeth, and feathers while “Theropod Life” uses vivid, user-friendly graphics to answer questions such as which dinosaur was the smartest and which had the most powerful bite. Other sections chart theropod distribution on the contemporary world map, provide comprehensive illustrated listings of footprints, compile the physical specifications of all known theropods and Mesozoic birds, and much more.

  • The essential illustrated record book for anyone interested in dinosaurs
  • Features thousands of records on everything from the smartest and fastest theropods to the largest theropod eggs
  • Includes more than 2,000 diagrams and drawings and more than 300 digital reconstructions
  • Covers more than 750 theropod species, including Mesozoic birds and other dinosauromorphs
  • Provides detailed listings of footprints, biometric specifications, and scholarly and popular references

Bird Fact Friday: the Summer Tanager (as seen on BirdGenie!)

This week’s Bird Fact Friday highlights the Summer Tanager, as seen on BirdGenie. Here are some interesting facts about the bird:

  • The Summer Tanager is a colorful bee-eater in the southern US.
  • During the summer, they are common in the the Southeast and Southwest US. They spend their winters in Central and Southern America.
  • These birds are medium-sized, stout-bodied songbirds with long tails and thick bills.
  • Males are solid red; females are mustard; young males are a patchy mix.
  • These birds prefer forest edges or riparian habitats, often high in canopies where they catch flying insects, especially bees and wasps.
  • They feed on  fruits.
  • They usually nest in trees overhanging an open area.
  • They have a lifespan of up to 7 years.
  • Population: 12 million and stable.

Have you seen (or heard) a Summer Tanager?

 

BirdGenie

BirdGenie™ is a breakthrough app that helps anyone with an Apple® or Android® smartphone or tablet accurately identify birds in the backyard, local park, or on the nature trail—all with the tap of a button! Just hold up your phone, record the bird singing, and BirdGenie™ helps you identify the species. The app’s highly developed sound identification ability and expert matching system enable bird enthusiasts to achieve an accuracy unheard of in the birding field. It’s perfect for anyone who wants to learn more about the birds around them.

BirdGenie™ includes up to two hundred vocalization types for one hundred species: literally all of the birds likely to be encountered in a backyard or local park, or on a hike, in North America at any time of the year. And the app is easy to use. Just point your smartphone or tablet at a bird, and tap the screen when the bird starts singing. The app’s automatic pre-record feature ensures that you won’t miss the beginning of the song and BirdGenie’s™ patented, highly accurate expert system matches the recording to the closest species. The app’s sophisticated noise-reduction feature means that even in noisy environments, where there is conversation or traffic, you can discover what bird you’re listening to.

Beyond specifying a bird species, BirdGenie™ provides sample songs and spectrograms to compare with your own recording and to guarantee a confident match. The app also includes pictures of all plumages, information about habitat and behavior, and links to further reading. It even has 3-D models for some of the species so you can match different views of a bird. You can share your recordings, photos, and matches with friends and other users, and if you’re so inclined, you can anonymously share recordings to a scientific database to help researchers learn about birdsong variations. No internet connection is required for anything but sharing, making the program accessible everywhere.

Perfect for anyone who wants to know what birds are singing around them, BirdGenie™ takes bird identification to a whole new awesome level.

With BirdGenie™ you can:

  • Quickly identify most birds just by recording their songs
  • Look at vivid images of the bird—some in 3-D!
  • Listen to samples of the bird’s various songs and compare them with your recording
  • Keep a log of all your recordings
  • Share your recordings, matches, and photos with friends and family
  • Browse the built-in catalog to learn about local species, their other songs, their habits and diet, and much more
  • Use the app anywhere, as no internet connection is required!

Important features of BirdGenie™:

  • The matching expert system beats anything in the market today
  • Easy-to-use guided user interface
  • Effective noise-reduction system helps users make identifications in less-than-ideal environments
  • Complete species accounts with multiple photos for all plumage types (some with 3-D models)
  • Comprehensive spectrograms (voiceprints of songs)

Technical Specifications:

  • Requires iOS 10 or later. Compatible with all iPhones after iPhone 6 including 7, 8, X and iPad, iPad Mini, and iPod Touch.
  • Requires Android 5.0 and above. Compatible with most common Android phones and tablets.

Dino Day: Spinosaurus aegyptiacus

Adapted from page 34:

The Spinosaurus aegyptiacus lived during the early Upper Cretaceous (Cenomanian, ca. 100.5–93.9 Ma) in north-central Gondwana (present-day Algeria, Egypt, and Morocco). It was a gigantic theropod and the longest of them all. It was as long as a bus and car lined up and weighed as much as an African elephant and a hippopotamus together. The traditional appearance of this dinosaur changed due to a new specimen that showed its true proportions: It had very short hind legs and a very long body.

Apparently, there are no differences between the footprints of primitive megalosauroids and those of their direct descendants, the spinosaurids. Nevertheless, the former are exclusively from the Jurassic, while the latter are characteristic of the Cretaceous, and so Chapus, Satapliasauropus, and similar specimens could be footprints of spinosaurids.

Dinosaur Facts and Figures: The Theropods and Other Dinosauriformes
By Rubén Molina-Pérez and Asier Larramendi
Illustrations byAndrey Atuchin and Sante Mazzei

The theropod dinosaurs ruled the planet for millions of years, with species ranging from the mighty Tyrannosaurus rex to feathered raptors no bigger than turkeys. Dinosaur Facts and Figures is a stunningly illustrated book of records for these marvelous creatures—such as the biggest, the smallest, and the fastest theropods, as well as the ones with the most powerful bite.

This one-of-a-kind compendium features more than 3,000 records, covers some 750 theropod species, and includes a wealth of illustrations ranging from diagrams and technical drawings to full-color reconstructions of specimens. The book is divided into sections that put numerous amazing theropod facts at your fingertips. “Comparing Species” is organized by taxonomic group and gives comparisons of the size of species, how long ago they lived, and when they were discovered. “Mesozoic Calendar” includes spreads showing the positions of the continents at different geological time periods and reconstructions of creatures from each period. “Prehistoric Puzzle” compares bones, teeth, and feathers while “Theropod Life” uses vivid, user-friendly graphics to answer questions such as which dinosaur was the smartest and which had the most powerful bite. Other sections chart theropod distribution on the contemporary world map, provide comprehensive illustrated listings of footprints, compile the physical specifications of all known theropods and Mesozoic birds, and much more.

  • The essential illustrated record book for anyone interested in dinosaurs
  • Features thousands of records on everything from the smartest and fastest theropods to the largest theropod eggs
  • Includes more than 2,000 diagrams and drawings and more than 300 digital reconstructions
  • Covers more than 750 theropod species, including Mesozoic birds and other dinosauromorphs
  • Provides detailed listings of footprints, biometric specifications, and scholarly and popular references

Bird Fact Friday: The Gray Catbird (as seen on BirdGenie!)

This week’s Bird Fact Friday highlights the Gray Catbird, as seen on BirdGenie. Here are some interesting facts about the bird:

  • The Gray Catbird is a secretive, thicket-dweling mimic.
  • They are common east of the Rockies in summer, and along the east coast int he winter.
  • These birds favor dense thickets and edge habitats.
  • They are medium-sized, all gray, with black cap and reddish-brown under tail.
  • Gray Catbirds have a distinct mewing call, as well as long, rambling songs that interweave other bird songs and can last for up to 10 minutes.
  • They feed on insects and berries, and are often attracted to native berry plants.
  • They usually nest in dense shrubs.
  • They have a lifespan of up to 17 years.
  • Population: 10 million.

Have you seen (or heard) a Gray Catbird?

 

BirdGenie

BirdGenie™ is a breakthrough app that helps anyone with an Apple® or Android® smartphone or tablet accurately identify birds in the backyard, local park, or on the nature trail—all with the tap of a button! Just hold up your phone, record the bird singing, and BirdGenie™ helps you identify the species. The app’s highly developed sound identification ability and expert matching system enable bird enthusiasts to achieve an accuracy unheard of in the birding field. It’s perfect for anyone who wants to learn more about the birds around them.

BirdGenie™ includes up to two hundred vocalization types for one hundred species: literally all of the birds likely to be encountered in a backyard or local park, or on a hike, in North America at any time of the year. And the app is easy to use. Just point your smartphone or tablet at a bird, and tap the screen when the bird starts singing. The app’s automatic pre-record feature ensures that you won’t miss the beginning of the song and BirdGenie’s™ patented, highly accurate expert system matches the recording to the closest species. The app’s sophisticated noise-reduction feature means that even in noisy environments, where there is conversation or traffic, you can discover what bird you’re listening to.

Beyond specifying a bird species, BirdGenie™ provides sample songs and spectrograms to compare with your own recording and to guarantee a confident match. The app also includes pictures of all plumages, information about habitat and behavior, and links to further reading. It even has 3-D models for some of the species so you can match different views of a bird. You can share your recordings, photos, and matches with friends and other users, and if you’re so inclined, you can anonymously share recordings to a scientific database to help researchers learn about birdsong variations. No internet connection is required for anything but sharing, making the program accessible everywhere.

Perfect for anyone who wants to know what birds are singing around them, BirdGenie™ takes bird identification to a whole new awesome level.

With BirdGenie™ you can:

  • Quickly identify most birds just by recording their songs
  • Look at vivid images of the bird—some in 3-D!
  • Listen to samples of the bird’s various songs and compare them with your recording
  • Keep a log of all your recordings
  • Share your recordings, matches, and photos with friends and family
  • Browse the built-in catalog to learn about local species, their other songs, their habits and diet, and much more
  • Use the app anywhere, as no internet connection is required!

Important features of BirdGenie™:

  • The matching expert system beats anything in the market today
  • Easy-to-use guided user interface
  • Effective noise-reduction system helps users make identifications in less-than-ideal environments
  • Complete species accounts with multiple photos for all plumage types (some with 3-D models)
  • Comprehensive spectrograms (voiceprints of songs)

Technical Specifications:

  • Requires iOS 10 or later. Compatible with all iPhones after iPhone 6 including 7, 8, X and iPad, iPad Mini, and iPod Touch.
  • Requires Android 5.0 and above. Compatible with most common Android phones and tablets.

Insect of the Week: Inside the Honey Bee Nest

Adapted from pages 109-111 of The Lives of Bees:

Combs in the nest of a honey bee colony living in a hollow tree.

The tree cavity or rock crevice that houses a wild colony’s nest is the center of the universe for its inhabitants. It is the spot where these bees have built their nest, the place they will defend with their lives, and the only site on earth to which they return from miles around bearing loads of nectar and pollen. Both the nesting site and the beeswax combs inside are parts of the colony’s set of survival tools that extend beyond the bodies of its members. It is obvious to anyone who has peered inside a wild colony’s nest and admired its combs that these labyrinthine structures are products of the bees living there. After all, the beeswax used to build each comb is a secretion of the bees’ bodies, and the marvelous hexagonal- cell structure of each comb is a product of the bees’ behavior. What is less obvious, though, is that the hollow tree or rock pile that shelters this intricate nest is also part of the colony’s extended tool kit for survival. Although honey bees do not build their nesting sites, they do carefully choose them, so the cavity that a colony occupies is also a product of its members’ behavior.

The honey bee’s process of choosing a dwelling place unfolds during colony reproduction (swarming), which occurs mainly in late spring and early summer (May–July) in the Ithaca area. The first step in this house- hunting process begins even before a swarm has left the parent nest. A few hundred of a colony’s oldest bees, its foragers, cease collecting food and turn instead to scouting for new living quarters. This requires a radical switch in behavior. These bees no longer visit brightly lit, sweet- scented sources of nectar and pollen; instead they investigate dark places—knotholes, cracks in tree limbs, gaps among roots, and crevices in rocks— always seeking a snug cavity suitable for housing a honey bee colony.

The Lives of Bees: The Untold Story of the Honey Bee in the Wild
By Tom Seeley

Humans have kept honey bees in hives for millennia, yet only in recent decades have biologists begun to investigate how these industrious insects live in the wild. The Lives of Bees is Thomas Seeley’s captivating story of what scientists are learning about the behavior, social life, and survival strategies of honey bees living outside the beekeeper’s hive—and how wild honey bees may hold the key to reversing the alarming die-off of the planet’s managed honey bee populations.

Seeley, a world authority on honey bees, sheds light on why wild honey bees are still thriving while those living in managed colonies are in crisis. Drawing on the latest science as well as insights from his own pioneering fieldwork, he describes in extraordinary detail how honey bees live in nature and shows how this differs significantly from their lives under the management of beekeepers. Seeley presents an entirely new approach to beekeeping—Darwinian Beekeeping—which enables honey bees to use the toolkit of survival skills their species has acquired over the past thirty million years, and to evolve solutions to the new challenges they face today. He shows beekeepers how to use the principles of natural selection to guide their practices, and he offers a new vision of how beekeeping can better align with the natural habits of honey bees.

Engagingly written and deeply personal, The Lives of Bees reveals how we can become better custodians of honey bees and make use of their resources in ways that enrich their lives as well as our own.

Dino Day: Dryptosauroides grandis

Adapted from page 28:

The Dryptosauroides grandis lived in the Upper Cretaceous (upper Maastrichtian, ca. 72.1–66 Ma) of Hindustan (present day India). It was an abelisauroid, as heavy as a hippopotamus and almost as long as a city bus. Due to its light build, it is possible that it captured small prey or took advantage of the carrion abandoned by the dominant hunters of its time, the abelisaurids.

These dinosaurs had an unusual footprint with a very elongated central finger compared to the lateral ones, which were similar to the impressions left by ornithomimosaurs and noasaurids. Both were very fast animals. Because it dates from the Middle Jurassic and lived in northcentral Neopangea (present-day Portugal), it is more likely that it was an abelisauroid.

It has been proposed that some fingerprints with a very developed middle finger could have been made by primitive abelisauroids, such as Deferrariischnium, Sarmientichnus and Zhengichnus.

Dinosaur Facts and Figures: The Theropods and Other Dinosauriformes
By Rubén Molina-Pérez and Asier Larramendi
Illustrations byAndrey Atuchin and Sante Mazzei

The theropod dinosaurs ruled the planet for millions of years, with species ranging from the mighty Tyrannosaurus rex to feathered raptors no bigger than turkeys. Dinosaur Facts and Figures is a stunningly illustrated book of records for these marvelous creatures—such as the biggest, the smallest, and the fastest theropods, as well as the ones with the most powerful bite.

This one-of-a-kind compendium features more than 3,000 records, covers some 750 theropod species, and includes a wealth of illustrations ranging from diagrams and technical drawings to full-color reconstructions of specimens. The book is divided into sections that put numerous amazing theropod facts at your fingertips. “Comparing Species” is organized by taxonomic group and gives comparisons of the size of species, how long ago they lived, and when they were discovered. “Mesozoic Calendar” includes spreads showing the positions of the continents at different geological time periods and reconstructions of creatures from each period. “Prehistoric Puzzle” compares bones, teeth, and feathers while “Theropod Life” uses vivid, user-friendly graphics to answer questions such as which dinosaur was the smartest and which had the most powerful bite. Other sections chart theropod distribution on the contemporary world map, provide comprehensive illustrated listings of footprints, compile the physical specifications of all known theropods and Mesozoic birds, and much more.

  • The essential illustrated record book for anyone interested in dinosaurs
  • Features thousands of records on everything from the smartest and fastest theropods to the largest theropod eggs
  • Includes more than 2,000 diagrams and drawings and more than 300 digital reconstructions
  • Covers more than 750 theropod species, including Mesozoic birds and other dinosauromorphs
  • Provides detailed listings of footprints, biometric specifications, and scholarly and popular references

Insect of the Week: Why do bees fill up on honey?

Adapted from 82-84 of The Lives of Bees:

Worker bees filling up on honey.

There are two distinct contexts in which it is adaptive for worker bees to stuff themselves with honey and become averse to stinging. One is when they are in a swarm. Swarming bees tank up with honey—indeed, they nearly double their body weight in doing so—before they leave their old home in order to be fully energized for the flight to their new dwelling place and for the work of fitting it out with beeswax combs. But why are these honey- laden bees so reluctant to sting? The answer is simple: the act of stinging is fatal for a worker honey bee, and a swarm needs as many worker bees as possible once it has moved into its new nest site. 

The second circumstance in which it is highly adaptive for worker bees to engorge on honey and then refrain from stinging is when their home is threatened by fire, a danger they sense by smelling smoke. A field study recently conducted by Geoff Tribe, Karin Sternberg, and Jenny Cullinan has revealed how colonies of the Cape honey bee (Apis mellifera capensis) in South Africa benefit from imbibing honey and becoming passive when they smell smoke. Seven days after a wildfire incinerated a 988- hectare (2,441- acre) swath of the Cape Point Nature Reserve, these investigators inspected 17 nesting sites within the charred landscape that they knew had been occupied by wild colonies before the fire. Each colony occupied a rock- walled cavity located either beneath a boulder or in a cleft within a rocky outcrop. The research team discovered that all 17 colonies were still alive, even though several had suffered partial destruction of their nests: some melting of the propolis “firewall” at the nest entrance and (less often) of the beeswax combs deeper in the nest cavity. Evidently, the bees had filled up with honey upon smelling the smoke, had retreated as deeply as possible into their fireproof nest cavities, had survived the wildfire, and were sustaining themselves on the honey they had cached in their bodies. A week or so later, plants known as fire- ephemerals would sprout and start to bloom, so soon these bees would be able to resume foraging.

This investigation of wild honey bee colonies surviving a wildfire shows us how the bees’ engorgement response to smoke is adaptive for the bees living in a fire- prone region of South Africa. What it reveals, however, is a bit different from the standard explanation for why honey bees fill up on honey and become quiet when they smell smoke: to prepare for abandoning the nest to escape the fire. I think the standard explanation is probably incorrect, for I suspect it is unlikely that a colony threatened by fire can successfully evacuate its nest site and fly off through flames and smoke, especially since its queen is apt to be gravid and therefore a perilously clumsy flier.

The Lives of Bees: The Untold Story of the Honey Bee in the Wild
By Tom Seeley

Humans have kept honey bees in hives for millennia, yet only in recent decades have biologists begun to investigate how these industrious insects live in the wild. The Lives of Bees is Thomas Seeley’s captivating story of what scientists are learning about the behavior, social life, and survival strategies of honey bees living outside the beekeeper’s hive—and how wild honey bees may hold the key to reversing the alarming die-off of the planet’s managed honey bee populations.

Seeley, a world authority on honey bees, sheds light on why wild honey bees are still thriving while those living in managed colonies are in crisis. Drawing on the latest science as well as insights from his own pioneering fieldwork, he describes in extraordinary detail how honey bees live in nature and shows how this differs significantly from their lives under the management of beekeepers. Seeley presents an entirely new approach to beekeeping—Darwinian Beekeeping—which enables honey bees to use the toolkit of survival skills their species has acquired over the past thirty million years, and to evolve solutions to the new challenges they face today. He shows beekeepers how to use the principles of natural selection to guide their practices, and he offers a new vision of how beekeeping can better align with the natural habits of honey bees.

Engagingly written and deeply personal, The Lives of Bees reveals how we can become better custodians of honey bees and make use of their resources in ways that enrich their lives as well as our own.