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Columns : Bird Talk - Erika Gates Last Updated: Apr 19, 2019 - 6:47:09 PM
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Columns : Bird Talk - Erika Gates
Can we save The Bahamas’ Rarest Bird? - Oct 14, 2008 - 9:31:15 PM

The Bahama Nuthatch (Sitta pusilla insularis) is the rarest bird in the Bahamas occurring only in the Caribbean Pineforest of Grand Bahama. It is threatened with extinction as only 1000 individuals are thought to survive, and these are at risk from accelerated development, invasive species (snakes, cats, raccoons) and storm damage. The sites where the Nuthatch occurs, called Important Bird Areas - due to their international importance for bird conservation – need protection if this unique Bahamian bird is to survive long-term.

James Bond, the famous West Indies ornithologist and actual namesake for Ian Fleming’s spy character, first described this bird in the 1930’s and believed that it was a subspecies of the Brown-headed Nuthatch of the United States. The term “subspecies” is not some derogatory term for a certain bird it simply means a bird does not differ enough in structural characteristics - like bill, color or even voice - to form a species of its own...

Columns : Bird Talk - Erika Gates
The Mystery of Migration - Dec 29, 2007 - 9:12:10 AM

Blackpoll Warbler
Fall is an exciting time for birdwatchers on Grand Bahama because many of our feathered winter visitors arrive from their breeding grounds up north. In fact, some of the songbirds, the tiny warblers, travel over 3000 miles to get here.

Scientists don’t know exactly how the migrating birds find their way over long distances, but they are discovering that birds use a variety of navigational aids. They use mountain ranges and coastlines. They set their flight path by the sun and the stars and possibly by the lines of force in the earth’s magnetic field. How the tiny bird brains process these cues is a marvel of nature!...

Columns : Bird Talk - Erika Gates
Scientific Explanation for dead birds on our beaches - Aug 11, 2007 - 3:17:19 AM
I have received many phone calls and inquiries from concerned persons on Grand Bahama Island with regards to re-occurring finds of dead birds on our beaches. I want to share with residents and visitors who have expressed concern and fear that the birds did not die from toxins, chemicals or avian flu.

Mr. Tony White, a board member of the American Birding Association who also conducts the annual Christmas Bird Count in Nassau and Grand Bahama, has provided me with an explanation which he received from a highly acclaimed seabird biologist in the United States, Dr. David Lee.

Columns : Bird Talk - Erika Gates
Proud to be Bahamian - Jun 30, 2007 - 2:38:39 PM
Summertime is a great time to get to know our Bahamian Bird Species. It is a time when spring migrants have passed through on their way to their North American or Canadian breeding grounds and fall migrants on their way to their wintering grounds have not arrived yet. So we can concentrate on the “locals”...
Columns : Bird Talk - Erika Gates
Bahamian King rules over Florida’s southernmost City - May 20, 2007 - 9:06:07 PM
In a recent edition of The Miami Herald the arrival of a special Bahamian bird was reported in Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park at Key West. The unexpected sighting was a Loggerhead Kingbird
(Tyrannus caudifasciatus bahamensis) which until then had never been seen in the United States!
Columns : Bird Talk - Erika Gates
The challenge of raising a family - Apr 26, 2007 - 3:22:46 PM
Just a couple of weeks ago all our migratory birds have left us to hurry back up north to get on territory and find suitable mates so that the annual process of raising new families can begin. This is the time of year when many of our Grand Bahama birds raise their families also...
Columns : Bird Talk - Erika Gates
Landscaping for Birds – and People - Mar 9, 2007 - 9:55:08 AM

Creating a bird garden does not take an expert gardener! Believe it or not, you can actually make life easier for yourself when you decide to devote your property to birds. Here’s why: traditional, high-maintenance landscapes like large manicured lawns that require mowing, fertilizer, weed killer and pesticides surrounded by shrubs that need to be pruned and fertilized, take more effort than a more natural “birdscape”.

Columns : Bird Talk - Erika Gates
Why Birds? - Feb 5, 2007 - 9:11:23 PM

Do you ne’er think what wondrous beings these?

Do you ne’er think who made them, and who taught

The dialect they speak, where melodies

Alone are the interpreters of thought?

Whose household words are songs in many keys?

Sweeter than instrument of man e’er caught!

H. W. Longfellow – American Poet


Columns : Bird Talk - Erika Gates
Welcome to Bird Talk - Jan 18, 2007 - 2:01:13 PM
The 7th annual Christmas Bird Count took place on Grand Bahama Island on Friday, December 15th. Weather conditions on that day were less than ideal and windy weather caused many small bird species to hide in dense underbrush and retreat far into the pine forest. However, the teams were able to observe and record an amazing number of birds from sunrise to sunset within a 7 mile radius – 93 different species in total!
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