Friday, September 29, 2006

Loose Feathers #68

News and links about birds, birding, and the environment.

  • Some pollution regulators are starting to look at wildlife as significant sources of bacteria in the Potomac and Anacostia Rivers. Overpopulation by certain groups of mammals and birds leaves behind a tremendous amount of waste, just like human overpopulation leaves waste. This has been one justification given for Canada goose control in the District.
  • Smog has been reduced in the Washington area during the past 3 years; the number of Code Orange, Red, or Purple days fell from 114 in 1999-2002 to 63 in 2003-2006. That is the good news. Unfortunately for Washington residents, this is still well above what federal regulations mandate. Continued violation of clean air regulations could lead to sanctions and a loss of federal transportation funding. (If public transportation is included among the cuts, the sanctions could be counterproductive.)
  • Building a massive security fence across the southern U.S. border could disrupt the migrations of birds and mammals, especially ones whose northern range limit is in the U.S. Southwest. Birds that migrate at night could be disoriented by the bright floodlights planned for the fence.
  • More crowded nests lead to higher nestling mortality rates. When a nest is overcrowded, nestlings tend to fight for space and some end up falling out.
  • The Jamaica Environment Trust is looking to save Jamaica's remaining endemic species through the creation of 47 Important Bird Areas on the island.
  • Like it or not, wind power is probably here to stay. Demand for wind power as an alternative to coal has been growing in India and China.
  • A state judge in Connecticut ruled that monk parakeets are protected by law from capture and killing by power companies unless they have already tried nonlethal means of control. Monk parakeets cause problems for power companies by nesting on utility poles.
  • Here are some tips for distinguishing downy and hairy woodpeckers. I would add that the downy's trill goes down while the hairy's stays relatively level in pitch. Also check for spots on the tail; downies have them, but hairies do not.
  • Some teens in Montana are in trouble for smashing bluebird boxes.
  • Grace's Poppies, another DC blogger, has a post on the beauty of the National Arboretum.