Tag Archive: bird

Apr 20 2014

Great Lakes Piping Plover Maze

Great Lakes Piping Plover Maze

Great Lakes Piping Plover Maze

Original Artwork and paper copyright 2014 by Rob Hughes.

The Endangered Great Lakes Piping Plover.

The Great Lakes Piping Plover is a migratory bird that made summer nests on the shores of the Great Lakes.  Records from the 1890s show about 680 breeding pairs on sandy beaches from New York to Wisconsin.  During the 20th century almost all of the Great Lakes Piping Plovers were killed and their territory greatly diminished.  In 1984 there were only 12 breeding pairs and they all lived on the shore of Lake Michigan.

There are two subspecies of Piping Plover.  The Great lakes Piping Plover is part of the subspecies that also nests in the Great Plains area (from Oklahoma to south central Canada).  The other distinct subspecies nests along the Atlantic Ocean (from North Carolina to Newfoundland).

In the late 19th century and early 20th century many bird species, including the Piping Plover, were hunted: their feathers used to adorn women’s hats.  As a result many birds were killed, and in 1918 the Migratory Bird Treaty Act was enacted as federal law.  This law protects over 800 migratory bird species, crosses state lines, and is still in effect today.  Both species of the Piping Plover are on this list.

It is not known what drove the Great Lakes Piping Plover to the edge of extinction in the 20th century.  Aside from killing them for feathers, we have other pursuits that are lethal to plovers.  One of these is property development.  The beachfront property these birds need for survival is often used for recreation, residential and commercial development.  Pedestrians and all terrain vehicles sometimes crush the eggs.  Garbage left on the beach attracts raccoons, foxes, cats and other animals that in turn prey on the Plover or its eggs.  Off leash dogs pose another threat.  Another culprit is the use of DDT (a pesticide used on fields until 1972 when it was banned).  DDT washes off the cropland and into the lakes and rivers where it poisons the small invertebrates the Piping Plover eats.  It may be that some pesticides used today pose a similar, if less pronounced, threat.  Industrial pollution is yet another problem.  There are likely other hazards (resulting from our society) in the plovers’ winter or summer home; or along its migratory path, which caused the Great Lakes Piping Plover to nearly go extinct.  The Piping Plovers that were common on the Atlantic Coast and inland on the Great Plains suffered a similar – if less drastic – fate.  Now the Atlantic population is about 1750 pairs; and the Great Plains has about 2200 pairs.  These plovers are currently listed as threatened in the United States, and endangered in Canada.

In 1986 the Great Lakes Piping Plover was listed as an endangered species.  All of the know breeding pairs, nineteen in total, nested on Michigan shorelines.  Starting in 1990 people determined to help protect the Plover in its native habitat from predators, developers and tourists.  Over the next two decades, the Plover population increased almost every year.  At last count, in 2012, there were nearly 60 nesting pairs; about 1/3 of those reside in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.

Little is known about the Piping Plovers’ winter habits.  Regardless of their summer homes they migrate to spend the winter on beaches from southern North Carolina to Florida where they congregate together.  In 2011 a previously unknown outpost of 1000 Piping Plovers was discovered wintering in the Bahamas.  In total there are about 8000 Piping Plovers alive today.

Characteristics of the Piping Plover.

The Piping Plover is named for its distinctive bell like call.  The adult female and male birds look very similar.  They are about 5” – 7” long, with a wingspan of about 14”.  Their bodies are sandy colored, with yellow-orange legs, and a beak that is orange with a black tip.  During the spring and summer these birds have distinctive black marking on their forehead and about the neck.  They camouflage well with their surroundings.

In general, the Piping Plover prefers sandy flat beaches with some gravel to nest on.  The male bird scratches a nest, called a scrape, in the sand just big enough for a plover to sit in.  Then, with an impressive diving flight display he attracts a female to the scrape.  This courting behavior occurs immediately upon migratory arrival in the early spring.

The males reach the nesting grounds in early April just a few days before the females arrive.  After mating the eggs incubate for about 28 days.  When the eggs hatch the chicks begin foraging within a few hours.  In another 30 days or so they learn how to fly.  The first nest of the season almost always has 4 eggs.  The short incubation time and early arrival allow this species as many as 4 nests during the spring and summer.  The male and female share the incubation duty, taking turns sitting on the eggs.  After the first brood, other nests that year will usually only have 2 or 3 eggs each.

Less than half of the fledgling will survive the migratory journey of about 2000 miles.  Adults generally fare better, and are known to live as long as 14 years in the wild.  The average lifespan of an adult is 5 years.

The Great Lakes Piping Plover is a very rare bird making a comeback from the brink of extinction.  It is a small bird that blends in with its surroundings.  Every year it flies close to 4000 miles along its migratory path.  It is susceptible to various hazards throughout the year.  As we grow in harmony with the natural environment, so too do the numbers of the Piping Plover.

Original artwork is copyright 2014 by Rob Hughes.  Drawn with india ink on 9″ x 12″ Bristol white vellum surface paper.  Made in Michigan.  Built to last.

This design is available as a greeting card.

Download a PDF of the Great Lakes Piping Plover Maze here!

Here is the solution to the Great Lakes Piping Plover Maze.

 Resources: link takes you to referenced article.

United States Fish and Wildlife Service.
All About Birds.
Defenders of Wildlife.
State of Connecticut.
National Park Service.
University of Michigan.
University of Michigan.
Wildlife Preservation Canada.
National Park Service.
State of New York.
State of Michigan.
State of New Hampshire.
Center for Biological Diversity: On Time, On Target.

Permanent link to this article: http://heretoamaze.com/2014/04/20/great-lakes-piping-plover-maze/

Feb 26 2014

Florida Scrub Jay Maze

Florida Scrub Jay Maze

Florida Scrub Jay Maze

Enjoy solving the Florida Scrub Jay Maze.  It’s an easy maze!

Part of my series focusing on endangered animals, the Florida Scrub Jay is a representative for the whole sandy scrub habitat unique to Florida.  There are about a total of 90 plants and animals that rely on this particular mix of sandy dry soil, and the shrubs and dwarf oaks that grow there for their existence.  This ecosystem is unique on the face of the planet!  The land here needs to be protected, and it also needs to be managed, for wildfires help to encourage the life it supports.

The Florida Scrub Jay has a wingspan of about 13 inches, and can weigh as much as 2.5 ounces.  They typically live in small groups, with the monogamous parents’ young helping with territorial duties for the first year of life.  In the wild a Florida Scrub Jay will live about 4 years on average, though some specimens have lived as long as 11 years old.

The natural scrub habitat is under ongoing threat from development of subdivisions and citrus groves.  The birds will not fly much further than 3 miles to inhabit new territories, so it is essential that small patches within a few miles of each other are left alone so that the Florida Scrub Jay has somewhere to nest.

This original artwork is copyright 2014 by Rob Hughes.  Drawn with india ink on 9″ x 12″ Bristol white vellum surface paper.  Made in Michigan.  Built to last.

To find out more about the Florida Scrub Jay please visit this link.

Download a PDF of the Florida Scrub Jay Maze here!

You can purchase a greeting card with the Florida Scrub Jay Maze design here.

Here is the solution to the Florida Scrub Jay Maze.

Permanent link to this article: http://heretoamaze.com/2014/02/26/florida-scrub-jay-maze/

Jan 01 2014

Vulture Maze

Vulture Maze

Vulture Maze

Vultures eat dead animals and prefer fresh meat. They are large birds, with an ungainly walk and elegant flight. New World and Old World vultures are slightly different birds; they evolved independently to fill the same biological niche. There are 23 vulture species.

  • Old World vultures are closely related to raptors; New World vultures have more in common with storks.

  • Vultures are bald and have featherless legs, so they can stay clean while eating a messy meal.

  • While many birds cannot smell anything, vultures can smell their next meal from a mile away, and so they are able to find things completely hidden from view.

  • Vultures’ stomach acid is extremely powerful and it helps protect them from bacteria found in decaying meat.

  • By eating meat other animals avoid, vultures play an important role in the environment.

  • The largest vulture, the Andean condor, has a wingspan of 10 – 11 feet.

  • The hooded vulture lives south of the Sahara Desert in Africa and has a wingspan of about 5 feet. It is the smallest vulture.

  • The oldest known living vulture is a turkey vulture living at the Lindsay Wildlife Museum in California; he turned 40 in 2014.

  • A group of vultures feeding is called a wake; while in flight they are called a kettle.

  • Vultures may fly over a hundred miles a day looking for food.

  • Some vultures make yearly migrations of over 2500 miles; others live in the same location year-round.

You can see the solution to the vulture maze here.

Download a PDF of the Vulture maze here!

Know someone who would like a Vulture Maze greeting card?  You can buy it here!

The original artwork was drawn by Rob Hughes with archival inks on 7″ x 10″ Canson mix media acid-free archival paper.

Permanent link to this article: http://heretoamaze.com/2014/01/01/vulture-maze-in-the-tribal-art-style/

Dec 11 2013

Peacock Maze

Peacock Maze in the tribal art style!

Peacock Maze in the tribal art style!

         The peacock lives throughout India, Sri Lanka and the surrounding areas. They are one of the largest birds that still can fly. The male peacock is well known for its showy iridescent feathers of blue, green and black. Peacocks are prized possessions, and have been kept as pets for thousands of years. In India they are a symbol of royalty.

  • Informally both sexes are referred to as peacocks, but it is more precise to call them peafowl. Males are called peacocks, females peahens. Juveniles are termed peachicks.

  • Peahens lay, on average, five eggs a year. These eggs will all be in the same brood, even though they are laid a day apart.

  • Peachicks fledge in about a week, and are completely independent from their mother in about 2 months. They are fully grown after about 3 years.

  • A fully grown peacock is about five feet long, including its tail feathers, which make up about 60 percent of the total length. Such a bird will weigh about 10 to 12 pounds.

  • Peahens are slightly smaller than peacocks, and only have brownish feathers.

  • The Sanskrit word for peacock translates to mean “cobra killer”. Peacocks will kill various snakes including cobras.

  • An extract of peacock feathers and water will treat the venomous bites from cobras and vipers.

  • In January of every year the peacock molts all of its feathers. He then regrows them all by June in time for much of the mating season. They help him attract peahens.

  • Peafowl also make various raucous calls. These harsh shrieking sounds are used to attract mates, to help warn nearby peafowl of predators, and during territorial disputes.

Download a PDF of the Peacock maze here!

Here is the solution to the peacock maze.

Think this design would make a nice greeting card?  You can find it here!

Original artwork by Rob Hughes available.  7″ x 10″ Canson mix media acid free archival paper and Faber-Castell black ink.

Permanent link to this article: http://heretoamaze.com/2013/12/11/peacock-maze-in-the-tribal-art-style/

Dec 07 2013

Hummingbird and flowers maze

Hummingbirds and flowers maze.

Hummingbirds and flowers maze.

Hummingbirds and flowers make up the silhouettes in this maze.  According to tradition, the hummingbird brings joy; and flowers love.  Find your way through the maze!

The original artwork was penned by Rob Hughes on 11″ x 14″ acid free dry media Strathmore paper.  Archival and non-archival inks were used.

Download a PDF of the Hummingbirds maze here!

You can see the solution to the hummingbird maze here.

This design is available as a greeting card.

This design is available as a t-shirt also.

Permanent link to this article: http://heretoamaze.com/2013/12/07/hummingbird-and-flowers-maze/

Older posts «