Friday, December 22, 2006

Loose Feathers #79

News and links about birds, birding, and the natural world.

  • Seventeen first-year whooping cranes finally reached their wintering grounds at the Halpata Tastanaki Preserve in central Florida this week. This flock of cranes was led south by Operation Migration, the group that is attempting to restore wild flocks of whooping cranes through a captive breeding program. Now that they know the route, these cranes will be able to follow it on future migrations.
  • There are many articles this week about Christmas Bird Counts. Here is a note about one of the oldest, the CBC in Central Park. This one explains the century-old tradition. I have reports from last weekend's counts in and near DC here and here.
  • Recent budget cuts and stagnant budgets in the National Wildlife Refuge system have put many refuges in danger. Low budgets have meant cutting or re-assigning personnel, so that many refuges cannot be maintained except through active volunteer organizations. Several refuges have no staff at all.
  • Some moths in Madagascar suck the tears from under the eyelids of sleeping birds.
  • Here is a profile of a bird rehabilitation center called the Raptor Trust near the Great Swamp NWR in New Jersey. The trust deals with a variety of bird injuries; some birds are released after treatment and some need to be kept for educational activities.
  • Here is a tribute to a bird of spring and summer in southern swamps, the prothonotary warbler. As warm as it has been, one could almost imagine one turning up on a CBC.
  • Florida has had major problems with imported pythons threatening birds and other wildlife. Officials are trying to restrict sales to smaller pythons and embed the snakes with computer chips that would identify the owner in case the python escaped into the wild.
  • European birdwatchers are finding that migration is occurring much more slowly, or not at all, due to mild weather. This matches the experience of many here in North America.
  • Fishermen are appealing Delaware's moratorium on harvesting horseshoe crabs.
  • Cindy of the wonderful Woodsong blog recently lost all of her archives. That is a good warning for all of us to keep our work backed up. I have been using a free program called HTTrack to do this. It is worth the download.