Monday, November 17, 2008

Gypsy moths affect birds' migration

Scientists at University of Missouri St. Louis revealed last week that gypsy moths affect the post-migration activites of Yellow-billed Cuckoos and Black-billed Cuckoos. In an e-mailed press release, the university said

Both the yellow-billed and black-billed cuckoos live over most of the U.S., but can fly as far as 100 miles to reach bursts or outbreaks of the "hairy" gypsy moth caterpillars. These outbreaks occur about every 10 years.

After locating an outbreak, the cuckoos settle in and raise their young, but do not return the following year to breed as many birds do. It has been suggested the cuckoos enter a "post-migration wandering phase" during which they simply fly until they find a good food source.
A paper about the study appeared in the October issue of the Ecological Society of America's "Ecology" journal. It also discussed the negative effects of gypsy moths -- introduced in America in the 1860s -- on native flora.

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