This news release issued today by the University of Massachusetts Amherst reports on the discovery that a South American finch nests on ice. Way cool! — M.M.
AMHERST, Mass. — In an unusual research collaboration, a University of Massachusetts Amherst geoscientist, Douglas Hardy, and his son Spencer, 14, recently reported what is believed to be the first well documented evidence of a bird other than a penguin nesting directly on ice, in the Andes Mountains.
The elder Hardy, a glacier specialist with the university's Climate Systems Research Center, found evidence over the past four seasons of studying climate on the Quelccaya Ice Cap high above Cuzco that a bird species was nesting on the glacier. Spencer, an accomplished amateur student of birds and their nesting habits, was in sixth grade at the time he identified White-winged Diuca Finches from photographs and began helping to interpret evidence that they were responsible for the nests. He is now a freshman at Hanover High School, New Hampshire, near the family's home in Norwich, Vt. The jointly authored father-son paper appears in the September issue of the Wilson Journal of Ornithology.
Douglas Hardy says, "I never would have tackled this without his interest. But it's been stimulating and enjoyable working on this puzzle with Spencer." The researcher attributes their discovery to his son's scientific curiosity. "I'm really delighted that Spencer followed his passion and his desire for knowledge about this, which motivated me as well. I was lucky enough to be on the glacier in Peru doing the fieldwork, but he was a full partner in putting the paper together."