Re: Birds in Weather Forecasting

Tue, 8 Oct 1996 15:19:42 ECT

Why predict the weather at all? To make plans, to predict resources,
to get enough to eat, to move camp, etc., etc.

Here is a neat article about the early arrival of seabirds over early
spring open water ice leads off Barrow Alaska, where sea mammals would
be located. Even if the folks on shore couldn't see the open water
itself, they could see the hundreds of thousands of ducks/gulls/etc.
and thereby know that the lead had opened up. (Yes, 100's of 1000's!
When the weather turns, it can turn real good or real bad).

Douglas A. Woodby and George J. Divoky, 1982, Spring Migration of
Eiders and Other Waterbirds at Point Barrow, Alaska. ARCTIC

This is very much in the vein of Schlederman's work identifying the
cultural importance of open water polynyas in the Canadian arctic.
These polynyas harbor (reliable) concentrations of bird and sea
mammals when much of the rest of the ocean surface is frozen up.
See for instance:

Peter Schledermann, 1980, Polynyas and Prehistoric Settlement
Patterns. ARCTIC 33(2):292-302.

He also wrote an archaeological overview of Greenland with quite alot
of polynya discussion in it:

Peter Schledermann, 1990, Crossroads to Greenland: 3000 Years of
Prehistory in the Eastern High Arctic. Arctic Institute of North
America. Komatik Series 2. University of Calgary. Calgary.

Another fun one might be the Max:

Maxwell J. Dunbar, 1987, Arctic seas that never freeze: when ice locks
up most of the water in the far north, bears, birds, and seals head
for aquatic oases known as polynyas. NATURAL HISTORY 96:50-53.

Good stuff. Good luck. Regards, JK

John Kilmarx, Dept. Anthropology, SUNY Binghamton, NY 13902 Tel 607-777-4943 Fax 607-777-4900