Friday, July 22, 2016

Loose Feathers #555

Greater Sage-Grouse / Photo by Tom Koerner/USFWS
Birds and birding news
Science and nature blogging
Environment and biodiversity

Friday, July 15, 2016

Loose Feathers #554

Vesper Sparrow / Photo by Ryan Moehring / USFWS
Birds and birding
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Environment and biodiversity

Friday, July 08, 2016

Loose Feathers #553

Common Nighthawk / Photo by Tom Koerner/USFWS
Birds and birding news
  • The AOU has released its latest checklist supplement (pdf) that contains taxonomic changes from the past year. A summary of those affecting the US and Canada can be found at the ABA Blog. The supplement includes a major reordering of non-passerine orders, as well as splits to a few species such as the Western Scrub-Jay (now California Scrub-Jay and Woodhouse's Scrub-Jay).
  • The presence of campgrounds in Marbled Murrelet breeding territory changes the behavior of Steller's Jays and may put the endangered murrelets in danger of nest predation.
  • A huge colony of Macaroni and Chinstrap Penguins on Zavodovski Island is at risk from erupting volcano.
  • The first two Spoon-billed Sandpiper chicks hatched as part of a captive breeding program both died.
  • An extinct relative of ostriches once lived in North America. 
  • Genetic research is showing how hummingbirds and bees influence the shape of flowers in the genus Penstemon.
  • The caustic waters of Lake Natron support a population of around 1.5 million Lesser Flamingos.
Science and nature blogging
Environment and biodiversity
  • So-called "beneficial uses" for coal ash are largely unregulated and can release numerous toxins into the environment and poison drinking water.
  • A recent oil train derailment (and resulting spill) in Oregon was caused by broken lag bolts that inspectors had missed.
  • Canada's pipeline regulator is finally addressing problems with shoddy pipeline materials that were first identified eight years ago. 
  • Coal production has been on the decline, which is good for the environment, but western states are not prepared to deal with the economic fallout.
  • The Northern Oak Hairstreak may be more common than it seems because it spends its adult life feeding on oak galls high in the canopy.
  • Cape Cod National Seashore is rebuilding infrastructure like parking lots farther from the shoreline in anticipation of sea level rise (and in some cases erosion that is already happening).
  • During the last Ice Age, weakening of currents in the Atlantic caused rapid climate fluctuations.
  • A black bear in New Jersey lost the use of its forelegs, so it learned to walk upright and appears to be healthy.
  • Three former governors have joined a lawsuit to stop the planned Pine Barrens pipeline.

Friday, July 01, 2016

Loose Feathers #552

Elfin-woods Warbler / Photo by Mike Morel/USFWS
Birds and birding news
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Environment and biodiversity

Friday, June 24, 2016

Loose Feathers #551

Piping Plover in flight / Photo by Joel Trick (USFWS)
Birds and birding news
Science and nature blogging
Environment and biodiversity

Friday, June 17, 2016

Loose Feathers #550

Nelson's Sparrow / Photo by Rick Bohn/USFWS
Birds and birding news
Science and nature blogging
Environment and biodiversity
  • The carbon dioxide monitoring station in Antarctic exceeded 400 parts per million for the first time in 4 million years. Meanwhile a new study shows that atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide are unlikely to drop below 400 ppm again within our lifetimes.
  • Satellite imagery revealed that there was illegal logging in Mexico's Sierra Chincua, one of the wintering sites for Monarchs.
  • Removal of a dam has brought river herring back to the Wynants Kill in the Hudson River watershed for the first time in 85 years.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Loose Feathers #549

Ruddy Turnstone and Red Knot / Photo by Gregory Breese/USFWS
Birds and birding news
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Friday, June 03, 2016

Loose Feathers #548

Piping Plover chick / Photo by Sarah Fensmore/USFWS
Birds and birding news
Science and nature blogging
Environment and biodiversity

Friday, May 27, 2016

Loose Feathers #547

Cinnamon Teal / Photo by Tom Koerner/USFWS
Birds and birding news
Science and nature blogging
Environment and biodiversity

Friday, May 20, 2016

Loose Feathers #546

Virginia Rail / Photo by K. Theule / USFWS
Birds and birding news
  • The latest State of the Birds report assesses the conservation status of all 1,154 species native to the United States, Canada, and Mexico. Of those, 432 qualified for the watch list, indicating that they are at risk of extinction. The most severe declines were found among birds of oceans and tropical forests.
  • Last Saturday was the World Series of Birding in New Jersey. My team, the Middlesex Merlins, placed third in the LGA (county-level) category. See the full standings here (pdf).
  • Studies of canaries and zebra finches found one of the genes that allows birds to turn carotenoids into red plumage.
  • The first chicks hatched in the Florida Grasshopper Sparrow captive-breeding program. The subspecies breeds only in southern Florida and has been in rapid decline.
  • The drying of the Salton Sea poses a threat to migratory birds as well as the local economy. 
  • A study of Seychelles Warblers found that inbreeding is linked to a shorter lifespan.
  • Here is an interview with Heather Wolf, a birder who has been watching and photographing the birds of Brooklyn Bridge Park. 
  • Hornbills in the Kalahari Desert pass heat through their beaks to keep from overheating in much the same way as toucans do.
Science and nature blogging
Environment and biodiversity