Blog Birding #330

One of the more extraordinary bird stories in recent years, Sarah Gilman at Cornell’s All About Birds writes about the re-discovery of a South American bird that had been unseen for decades.

Though deforestation was common around the Tchira Antpitta’s suspected home, some of the undisturbed forest was protected inside Venezuela’s El Tam National Park. There were also other explanations for the bird dropping off the radar besides extinction: That border had been nearly impossible to visit until recently because of guerilla activity in adjacent Colombia. And as a group, antpittas are legendarily difficult to spot, singing only in the narrow window before dawn and dusk and sticking to the thick undergrowth of steep, soupy woods at high elevations.

Laura Erickson shares her thoughts about how conservation stands to suffer in these polarized times.

Here in Minnesota, I requested the DNR to restrict the dove season in the northeastern corner of the state where American Kestrel migration is concentrated. It’s easy to mistake flying Killdeer and American Kestrels for doves, and kestrels perched on wires for doves, too. Even in states like Texas, with a long-standing dove-hunting culture, hunters occasionally mistake birds of other species for doves. It didn’t seem worth the risk to the already-declining kestrel, especially because the dove population up here is very small.

The Breeding Bird Survey, 50 years old this year, is one of the continent’s most impressive citizen science initiatives, and The AOS-COS Publications blog discusses how the venerable ornithological journal plans to celebrate it.

In 1966, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist named Chan Robbins launched an international program designed to measure changes in bird populations using volunteers recruited to count birds on pre-set routes along country roads. The result, the North American Breeding Bird Survey or BBS, is still going strong more than five decades later. This month The Condor: Ornithological Applications is publishing a special set of research papers to honor the program’s fiftieth anniversary.

At Feathered Photography, Ron Dudley spends time at the nest of a Red-naped Sapsucker, noting how long it takes to go from helpless chick to fledgling.

Recently I spent many hours over four consecutive days photographing (and attempting to photograph) nesting Red-naped Sapsuckers in Idaho’s Targhee National Forest. Surprisingly there was only one youngster in the nest cavity. I’ve photographed nesting sapsuckers on several previous occasions and one of the difficulties has always been predicting when the chicks would be old enough to poke their heads out of the nest cavity in anticipation of food. Obviously, getting both the adult and the youngster in the photo makes for a more interesting image and I’ve often wondered how long they do it before they fledge long drives to an already abandoned nest tree just aren’t very productive.

Tool use in animals has long been seen as a sign of intelligence, even as the behavior has been noted in an increasing number of species. Nonetheless, it’s still pretty impressive when young Brown-headed Nuthatches are observed doing it, as reported at BirdWatching Daily.

Recently, scientists from the Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy in Tallahassee, Florida, reported what they say are the first observations of tool usage by juvenile birds in the wild. In a paper in Southeastern Naturalist, Mary Mack Gray, Elliot W. Schunke, and James A. Cox describe five instances in which they saw juvenile Brown-headed Nuthatches using tools. The birds used pine needles, twigs, and a pine-bark scale to probe for food under bark scales and in a mass of pine needles stuck in the crotch of a limb.


Twirling Candy Colt Hangs On in Spa Debut

4th-SAR, $83,000, Msw, 7-29, 2yo, 5 1/2fT, 1:02.91, fm.

+EL DULCE (c, 2, Twirling CandyFigureta {Arg} {SW & GSP-Arg, $66,071}, by The Leopard) was picked up by these connections for $200,000 at the OBS March sale after breezing in :10 flat and was given a 9-2 chance in this unveiling. The bay broke on top and ticked off opening splits of :22.37 and :45.40. Ultima D (Scat Daddy) swept up on the Eclipse Thoroughbred runner’s outside in the stretch and briefly looked like he would roll right by, but El Dulce dug deep, gamely fending off that challenger for a neck success. It was the third win of the day for trainer Todd Pletcher and his second with an Eclipse Thoroughbred runner after taking the day’s second race with Hieroglyphics (Pioneerof the Nile). Breeder Clearsky Farms is also responsible for champion Arrogate (Unbridled’s Song) and MGISW Abel Tasman (Quality Road). El Dulce is the first foal to race out of Figureta, who produced a Power Broker colt last term. Her 2017 Malibu Moon foal died and she was bred back to Bodemeister this season. Sales history: $85,000 yrl ’16 KEESEP. Lifetime Record: 1-1-0-0, $49,800. Click for the chart or VIDEO, sponsored by Fasig-Tipton.

O-Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners; B-Clearsky Farms (KY); T-Todd Pletcher.

Forego Could be Next for Drefong

Eclipse champion Drefong (Gio Ponti), whose return to racing was upended when he took a left shortly after the start of Saturday’s GI Bing Crosby S. and lost jockey Mike Smith, came out of the incident apparently unscathed and could make his next start in the Aug. 26 GI Forego S. at Saratoga.

There’s a million reasons to get beat and that was one of them, trainer Bob Baffert said Sunday morning. He could just as easily have hit the rail and broken his shoulder. But everybody came out of it fine, and that’s all you can hope for.

Drefong continued the race without Smith, running among the frontrunners and forcing eventual runner-up Roy H. (More Than Ready) six paths wide turning into the stretch and creating an inside route that Ransom the Moon (Malibu Moon) and Flavien Prat took to victory.

I would have liked to have seen Drefong relax and rate himself behind horses, Baffert said. But he’s pretty light on his feet and he recovered and bulled his way through on the rail. He’s a competitor and he was still trying to win.

While Ransom the Moon came out of the race in good order, according to trainer Phil D’Amato, trainer Peter Miller said runner-up Roy H. got clipped.

I felt like we were much the best, we just got unlucky, Miller said. With a smooth trip, he wins by two lengths. But that’s racing.

Baffert, who watched his superstar Arrogate (Unbridled’s Song) come home a disappointing fourth in the GII San Diego H. last weekend at Del Mar, remained stoic about the two stakes disappointments at the seaside oval.

I don’t have any control of those things, Baffert said. As long as everybody is OK you just shake it off, laugh it off and go on to the next one.

Dr. Patty Hogan to Give Seminar on When to Retire Racehorse

Dr. Patty Hogan will present an educational seminar for horse owners and trainers entitled, Knowing When To Retire Your Racehorse, in Saratoga Springs Friday, Aug. 18. The 90-minute event, hosted by NYTHA, will be held at the Fasig-Tipton Pavilion, 415 East Ave., beginning at 11 a.m. Trainers and assistant trainers will earn 1.5 hours of CE credit for attending the seminar, which is free and open to the public.

I want to provide some understanding of the medical challenges that are common to the Thoroughbred racehorse, how they can be managed, and then determining when those challenges are no longer conducive to a racing career, Dr. Hogan said. The goal is to retire the horses while second careers are still an option. The many avenues available to owners and trainers to transition horses on to other careers will be discussed.

For more information, contact the NYTHA Office at (518) 581-1034.

War Front’s Roly Poly Battles to Rothschild Success

ROLY POLY, f, 3, War FrontMisty For Me (Ire) (Hwt. 2yo Filly-Ire & Fr, Hwt. 3yo-Ire at 9.5-11f, MG1SW-Ire, G1SW-Fr & GISP-US, $1,124,364), by Galileo (Ire). ($575,000 RNA Ylg ’15 KEESEP).

O-Michael Tabor, Derrick Smith & Susan Magnier; B-Misty For Me Syndicate (KY); T-Aidan O’Brien; J-Ryan Moore. 171,420. Lifetime Record: G1SW-Eng, GSW & G1SP-Ire, 14-5-4-0, 692,290. *Full to U S Navy Flag, GSP-Eng & SP-Ire, & 1/2 to Cover Song (Fastnet Rock {Aus}), GSW-US, $122,227.

Breaking her duck at this level last time in the G1 Falmouth S. at Newmarket July 14, TDN Rising Star Roly Poly (War Front) maintained the momentum to bring up a quick double with a tenacious display. Leading the group racing up the centre throughout the early stages, Michael Tabor’s bay joined the stand’s-side leader Usherette (Ire) (Shamardal) and began to assert from the quarter pole. Having to fight to ward off Siyoushake (Ire) (Siyouni {Fr}), the 3-1 shot hit the line with short neck to spare over the strong-closing Via Ravenna (Ire) (Raven’s Pass), who denied Siyoushake the runner’s-up spot by a short head. There was a further short neck back to the 19-10 favourite Qemah (Ire) (Danehill Dancer {Ire}), who had to make a daring run up the rail from rear.

Enable Among King George Sixteen

Khalid Abdullah’s dual Classic winning homebred Enable (GB) (Nathaniel {Ire}) may get the chance to emulate previous Oaks/King George winner Taghrooda (Ire) (Sea The Stars {Ire}) by lining up in Saturday’s G1 King George VI And Queen Elizabeth S. at Ascot. The filly is one of 16 horses left in the 1,000,000 race for which she is currently the market leader. She cantered this morning and seems fine in herself, and as she flew to Ireland and back she did not take that much out of herself, her trainer John Gosden said on Monday. As the Yorkshire Oaks is that much later this year it makes sense to have a look at Ascot while she’s in such good form and a final decision will be made on Wednesday when I discuss matters with the owner. With the ground currently on the soft side Gosden has also left in Godolphin’s Jack Hobbs (GB) (Halling) along with Maverick Wave (Elusive Quality) and he is confident Jack Hobbs can put his disappointing Royal Ascot effort behind him on Saturday. He’s run brilliantly twice in autumn ground there, but a mile and a half with cut in the ground is right up his street.

Last year’s winner Highland Reel (Ire) is on target along with his full-brother Idaho (Ire) and the pair could be joined by Ballydoyle stable-mates Johannes Vermeer (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}) and US Army Ranger (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}). The plan is to run both Highland Reel and Idaho, Aidan O’Brien told The Racing Post. They both came out of Ascot well and we’re happy with them. They’ll have bits to do over the next few days and, once all goes well, the two of them will run.

Godolphin are well represented in their bid to maintain their fine Group 1 record this summer and apart from the Gosden pair they could rely on the Charlie Appleby trained duo of Hawk Bill (Kitten’s Joy) and Frontiersman (GB) (Dubawi {Ire}), a recent 1-2 in the G2 Princess Of Wales’s Arqana Racing Club S. at Newmarket while Saeed Bin Suroor has left in G3 Hampton Court S. winner Benbatl (GB) (Dubawi {Ire}). Sir Michael Stoute’s G1 Coral Eclipse winner Ulysses (GB) (Galileo {Ire}) adds further depth to the race along with the likes of My Dream Boat (Ire) (Lord Shanakill) and Permian (Ire) (Teofilo {Ire}). David Simcock has left in his progressive pair Algometer (GB) (Archipenko) and Desert Encounter (GB) (Halling) while international interest is added by the South American challenger Sixties Song (Arg) (Sixties Icon {GB}).