In this issue: Clues in the Bahamas lead to a new species; three ways to get answers to your questions about mystery sounds, gardening for wildlife, and birds & birding.

Cornell Lab eNews

August 2015

Bahama Woodstar and Inaguan Woodstar, side by side comparison
The Inaguan Woodstar, named as a new species (right), was formerly lumped with the Bahama Woodstar (left). Differences in the tail feathers produce distinctive sounds and visual displays. Photo by Anand Varma. 

A New Hummingbird Species Revealed 

The American Ornithologists’ Union has named a new hummingbird species, the Inaguan Woodstar. A member of the Bee Hummingbird group, it was formerly lumped with the similar-looking Bahama Woodstar. Scientists from Yale, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, and the University of California, Riverside, found differences in song, behavior, physical measurements, and DNA sequences suggesting that the species have been separated genetically for half a million years. Learn more about these dazzling Caribbean hummingbirds and the backyard clues that led to a new species.
bird watchers listening for songs and calls
Photo by Susan Spear.

Heard a Mystery Sound? Ask the Cornell Lab on NPR 

If you’ve heard a sound in nature that you can’t identify, capture a recording and send it in to NPR’s new series, Decoding Nature. If your sound is selected, experts at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology will identify it for the radio segment. Hear the first mystery solved and find out how to send in your recording.
native wildflowers: goldenrod and joe pye weed
Goldenrod and Joe Pye weed by Liz West.

Gardening for Wildlife? Submit Your Photo for Advice

With gardens at their peak, it’s a great time to pause, admire, and take stock of your yard. Where are you finding birds? Do you have a planting that just isn't right? A newly cleared corner of your property you are dreaming about planting for wildlife next year? YardMap invites you to send in photos of the areas of your yard you'd like to improve. If your photo is selected, landscaping experts and the online community will offer advice. Head over to the YardMap advice page to find out how to submit your photo or to learn more about landscaping for wildlife. 
Northern Cardinal challenging reflection in car mirror
What is this Northern Cardinal doing? Photo by Gil Eckrich/GBBC.

Ask an Ornithologist

Do you have questions about birds? Don’t miss a special 90-minute live streaming Q&A webinar with the Cornell Lab's Dr. Kevin McGowan. Dr. McGowan welcomes all questions about wild birds and will answer as many as possible starting at 8:30 P.M. Eastern Time on August 26, 2015. The fee, $9.99 for Lab members ($12.99 for non-members), will help our Education department continue creating lifelong learning opportunities such as online courses, K-12 curricula, and the All About Bird Biology website. Click here to purchase access to the live session and the recording.
giant hornbill artwork by Jane Kim
A Great Hornbill by Jane Kim, one of more than 250 life-sized species to be painted in an epic mural for the Lab’s Visitor Center. Photo courtesy of Ink Dwell.

Vote for Your Mural Favorite

Help us celebrate the diversity of birds by telling us which ones are your favorites. To commemorate the Cornell Lab’s centennial year, artist Jane Kim from Ink Dwell studio is bringing an ambitious mural to life in the Lab’s Visitor Center, painting more than 250 species in life-sized detail. Join us each week in August by voting for the species to be featured in the mural—from the weirdest to the most beautiful. At the end of the week, you can download the winning bird as a digital wallpaper. Vote now

See the Mural—Live. Join us on Wednesday, August 12, for a live streaming tour of the mural with artist Jane Kim and Lab director John Fitzpatrick. See sidebar for details.
An extreme close-up of a mystery bird painted on the mural at the Cornell Lab. Photo courtesy of Ink Dwell.

Which Species Is This? 

Hero and villain, mascot and movie star, this bird captures the imagination unlike any other. Topping 4 feet and 100 pounds, it can stay underwater for nearly 20 minutes, dive to depths of 1,800 feet, and endure temperatures of minus 40 degrees Fahrenheit. This regal species has been painted by Jane Kim on the Cornell Lab’s mural depicting the world’s awe-inspiring diversity of birds. Check your answer and read the story featured by National Geographic.
Birds-of-Paradise Come to Life in Jazz
Grammy-award-winning jazz composer Maria Schneider has released a new album featuring the sounds of birds-of-paradise competing for mates. Listen to the story on NPR

Take the August eBirder of the Month Challenge
Enter at least 31 eBird checklists in the month of August and you'll be eligible to win a pair of binoculars courtesy of eBird's sponsor, Zeiss

Bird Events, Near and Far 
Looking for an opportunity to combine birds and travel? Choose your destination from our Bird Festivals webpage. Come to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology on September 12 for our Migration Celebration and Centennial Open House. Travel with the Cornell Lab’s Scott Taylor to Hawaii or the Arctic in 2016. Or introduce someone new to birding at your favorite destination or at a Pledge to Fledge event this summer. Read our blog post by Dave Magpiong, cofounder of the Pledge to Fledge movement, about why and how to inspire new birders.

Enhance Your Enjoyment with Living Bird

living bird summer 2015 cover

The summer 2016 issue of our award-winning magazine is on its way to mailboxes—and you can get it, too, by joining the Cornell Lab at a special rate. The new issue features an update on raptors and rat poison, a conservation story about birds and the boreal forest, and an up-close look at Arctic-breeding birds.
Members receive this beautiful magazine four times a year. If you aren’t a member, don't miss out! You’ll receive Living Bird, discounts on bird courses and merchandise, and more as part of your Cornell Lab membership. Save $5 when you join today.
Jane Kim painting a Saddle-billed Stork. Photo courtesy of Ink Dwell.

Watch Live from the Cornell Lab 

Join us at 4:00 P.M. Eastern Time on Wednesday, August 12, for a live streamed tour of the mural in progress at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Artist Jane Kim from Ink Dwell studio and Cornell Lab director John Fitzpatrick will blend art and science as they share their perspectives on the fascinating species representing the world’s bird families and 375 million years of evolution. Click this link for the live stream page and bookmark it to watch on August 12. If you miss the live stream, you can watch the recorded video, which we'll post in our video archive later this week.

Attention Educators: Check Out These Resources

Free Download--Investigating Evidence: Inspire investigations through outdoor observations and citizen science. BirdSleuth's Investigating Evidence curriculum has just been revitalized and updated to be in line with Common Core and NGSS Standards. From curious questions to evidence-based conclusions, these lessons will support you as you guide students through scientific investigations. Thanks to a generous sponsor, this amazing resource is available as a free download for a limited time!
BirdSleuth Summer Fun Pack: Help kids enjoy the outdoors with BirdSleuth's Summer Fun Pack. Have a scavenger hunt in a nearby park, search for nesting birds, or draw and write in the included Bird Log journal. For rainy-day fun, kids can learn about and color birds with our popular Birds of Sapsucker Woods coloring book. Purchase for $29.95
Last Chance for Nature Investigators Contest! It's your last chance to submit work by youth and your own photography to our Nature Investigators Contest. Kids ages 5-18 can submit any form of art or writing, and educators are invited to share images of kids outside engaging with the environment. Submissions are due Friday, August 14. Win a prize for selected entries!
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The Cornell Lab of Ornithology is a membership institution dedicated to interpreting and conserving the earth’s biological diversity through research, education, and citizen science focused on birds. Visit the Cornell Lab’s website at

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