Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Blogger Migration

As of today, I am no longer living in Washington, D.C., but in Central New Jersey. I moved yesterday with the help of my parents. It took longer than expected to load the truck and make the drive thanks to a series of problems that were mostly beyond our control (jammed doors, elevators out of service, etc.). I am going to miss D.C., but I think this will be a good move.

So now that I am not in DC anymore, this blog probably should have a new name. I have some ideas, but I have not settled on anything yet. Blogging will be light this week while I get settled.

In addition to writing this blog, I was on the Board of Directors for the DC Audubon Society and maintained their website. While some site administration can be done at a distance, it is preferable to have the site's administrator and writers working in close communication with the board. If any DC-area birders would be interested in writing for the DC Audubon website, please let me know.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Rat Poison on the Metro

The FBI is investigating bird deaths outside of several Metro stations. Dead birds were found at Branch Avenue (15), Takoma (16), Rhode Island Avenue (2), Greenbelt (20), College Park, Naylor Road, and Anacostia. Rat poison is the likely culprit:

Etter said fire officials have confirmed that the birds at Greenbelt died from a rat poison called d-CON. Dead birds were also found at the College Park, Naylor Road, Anacostia and Rhode Island stations, officials said.


The D.C. Department of Health will do a necropsy on several dead birds found at the Anacostia station Monday, he said. Metro officials said substances like "popcorn kernels" were found near the dead birds at the Takoma station.

Details are preliminary, but Etter said witnesses reported seeing a man in a black pickup truck spraying material at some of the stations.

Metro spokeswoman Asato said the transit agency was not aware of maintenance work involving rat poison. After reports of dead birds started coming in at around noon, station managers throughout the system began checking the areas outside the entrances.
Branch Avenue and Takoma stations are temporarily closed for investigation, so make alternate arrangements if you need to use them.

Update: The stations are open again. Apparently the poison was spread by a Metro contractor for pigeon control.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Update on House Sparrows and Bird Feeders

About a month ago, a reader asked for ways to discourage house sparrows from wasting the seed at her bird feeders. Several readers responded with suggestions. On Thursday, Laura in NWDC wrote an update on her situation:

I built my own "magic halo" a couple of weeks ago out of two wooden rings (about 4 inches wider in diameter than the feeder) and fishing line. I attached long pieces of fishing line to the first ring at 3-4 inch intervals, and then attached the other end of each piece to the second ring, making a cylinder. I hung the cylinder from the hook the feeder is on so the cylinder surrounds the feeder. That was after removing the feeder from the yard for about a week and washing it thoroughly.

It took a week or so for the birds to rediscover the feeder, but this morning vindication arrived. Finches, nuthatches, chickadees and juvenile cardinals all enjoyed the bounty, darting right in through the fishing lines. The house sparrows swarmed the feeder like usual, but backed up in the air as soon as they saw the fishing line. They were terrified! They watched the other birds jealously but couldn't bring themselves to breech that fishing line barrier. I don't know WHY, but as long as it works, I'm happy!
Thanks to all the readers who commented with suggestions!

Friday, July 27, 2007

Loose Feathers #108

Piping Plover (US Fish and Wildlife Photo)

News and links about birds, birding, and the environment
  • The Scotsman reports that removal of invasive tree mallow at a puffin colony has restored the colony after a series of disastrous breeding seasons. Tree mallow blocks the entrances to burrows where puffins nest.
  • If you live along a major migration route for purple martins, you may see massive flocks of them at this time of year.
  • Plover news: spring storms delayed the breeding season at Cape Cod; four nests on Long Island produced eleven chicks; a plover patrol volunteer from Massachusetts describes his work.
  • An article from Newburyport chronicles the changing abundance of grassland birds in Massachusetts.
  • Rescuers have pulled hundreds of penguins from oil slicks along the eastern coast of South America over the last few weeks. The slicks are due to spills and illegal dumping.
  • The Endangered Species Act continues to be a center of controversy after more than 30 years on the books. The latest fights have erupted over political meddling in listing decisions.
  • The red knot will not be listed as an endangered species despite clear evidence that it needs protection because other unlisted species are in greater need.
Birds in the blogosphere
Blog carnivals and newsletters

Thursday, July 26, 2007

I and the Bird

I and the Bird #54 is now available at The Egret's Nest.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Strange Sightings in Canada

An unusual bird appeared in Canada, courtesy of recent storms:

The red-billed tropicbird, or phaethon aethereus, was discovered in a driveway in Three Fathom Harbour in eastern Nova Scotia province last week, said Hope Swinimer, director of the Hope for Wildlife Society.

A local man had found the black-and-white striped sea bird with long tail feathers in his driveway. He bathed it, fed it, and brought it to the wildlife refuge, which briefly cared for the bird.


"In the last six or seven years, we've had more and more strange birds wash up on our shores, including a white pelican and a brown pelican, and 75 cuckoo birds last year, usually after big storms," she told AFP.
The rest of the article discusses the relationships among rare bird sightings, tropical storm systems, and climate change.

Red Knot Worthy of Protection, But Not Yet Listed

This week the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service released a report on the status of the red knot, a shorebird that has declined precipitously in the last decade. The report acknowledges that red knots are in serious trouble; the population has sunk from 100,000-150,000 birds in the early 1990s to 18,000-33,000 today. The decline has been driven by overharvesting of horseshoe crabs around the Delaware Bay, a crucial migration stopover, as well as disturbance on wintering grounds in southern South America. Despite the clear need for protection, the Service continues to reject listing the red knot under the Endangered Species Act because they conclude that other unlisted species are in greater need of help. Instead, the report advises conservation actions to be undertaken by federal and state agencies and nongovernmental organizations within the next three years.

You can read the full report (and other related documents) online here.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Dragonflies in Virginia

Watching and identifying dragonflies seems to be gaining adherents. Howard County, Maryland, has its own dragonfly count. There are even blogs devoted to it. As I have written on this blog before, I started paying attention to dragonflies as an antidote to the late summer birding doldrums.

An article in today's Washington Post describes a dragonfly count in Reston, Virginia, and some of the people who participate.

Hold them up in the light, and they'll come around. The people at Butler Pond know this already about dragonflies, about the way the sun revives them from the stunned dismay of captivity, but Kevin Munroe repeats the lesson anyway before letting go of the blue dasher feigning death between his gentle fingers. The insect darts away and the dozen intrepid hunters, long-poled nets in hand, well-worn field guides in cargo pockets, search the Reston wetlands for more.


Revered by some cultures, feared by others, dragonflies have never failed to capture human imagination. They can fly backward, do cartwheels across the sky, and mate midair, for starters. "They're amazing creatures," says Munroe, a 37-year-old naturalist who has been leading this expedition each July for more than a decade. Counting the dragonflies, determining whether species have abandoned polluted habitats, is a way to monitor the health of the streams and ponds and lakes where they live, he explains.
An interesting note from the article is that one of the dragonfly count organizers is working on a guide to northern Virginia's dragonflies. This would be a welcome addition since resources for dragonfly identification are relatively rare compared to those for birds (and even butterflies).

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Lotuses and Lilies at Kenilworth

During most of the year, Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens is one of the quietest spots in the District. Relatively few residents know about it, and even fewer visit, so one can spend an entire morning there and only meet a handful of people. Then for a brief period in the middle of summer, the park turns into a bustling hub of activity as people from around the area visit to see the waterlilies and lotuses at their peak.

The park was already full of people when we gathered this morning for DC Audubon's bird walk in honor of today's Waterlily Festival. Many serious photographers were already in attendance to catch lotuses in full morning light. This year's festival seemed better attended than last year's, perhaps due to the Post article earlier this week.

Sadly, we missed the yellow-crowned night heron that has been spotted in the Gardens over the past few weeks. We saw (or heard) most of the local breeding birds, especially eastern kingbirds, red-winged blackbirds, common yellowthroats, very young robins, and barn swallows. One flock of cedar waxwings flushed from within the aquatic vegetation in the marsh; usually I associate those with fruit trees but apparently they like marshes as well. A lone greater yellowlegs in the marsh marked the beginning of fall migration. We saw two raptors - the resident red-shouldered hawk chasing a crow (usually it's the other way around!) and an osprey carrying and then eating a fish.


Great Blue Heron
Canada Goose
Red-shouldered Hawk
Greater Yellowlegs
Mourning Dove
Yellow-billed Cuckoo
Chimney Swift
Downy Woodpecker
Pileated Woodpecker
Eastern Phoebe
Great Crested Flycatcher
Eastern Kingbird
Tree Swallow
Barn Swallow
Cedar Waxwing
Carolina Wren
Gray Catbird
Northern Mockingbird
Brown Thrasher
American Robin
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
European Starling
Red-eyed Vireo
Common Yellowthroat
Song Sparrow
Northern Cardinal
Blue Grosbeak
Indigo Bunting
Red-winged Blackbird
Common Grackle

What Kind of Pet Would You Be?

You Would Be a Pet Bird

You're intelligent and witty, yet surprisingly low maintenance.
You charm people easily, and they usually love you a lot more than you love them.
You resent anyone who tries to own or control you. You refuse to be fenced in.

Why you would make a great pet: You're very smart and entertaining

Why you would make a bad pet: You're not interested in being anyone's pet!

What you would love about being a bird: Flying, obviously

What you would hate about being a bird: Being caged

(via GrrlScientist)

USFWS Reconsidering ESA Designations

Remember Julie MacDonald, the Interior Department official who interfered with the work of her subordinates? The Fish and Wildlife Service has reopened the cases of 18 species that were removed from the Endangered Species List at her direction.

Fish and Wildlife Director H. Dale Hall told reporters in a conference call that decisions affecting the fate of the white-tailed prairie dog, Preble's meadow jumping mouse, arroyo toad, southwestern willow flycatcher, California red-legged frog, Canada lynx and 12 species of Hawaiian picture-wing flies will be reexamined.


First as a special assistant and later as deputy assistant secretary for fish, wildlife and parks, MacDonald was involved in more than 200 rulings on endangered species between 2002 and May 2007, when she resigned following an inspector general's report that found she had improperly leaked information to private organizations, bullied staff scientists and broken federal rules.

Interior's regional directors submitted a list of 11 decisions they believed were influenced by MacDonald, but three were struck off the list following further discussions with Hall.

Two of the decisions -- a ruling on a regional listing of the marbled murrelet seabird and the habitat of the bull trout -- were pulled from the list Thursday.


Boyles also noted that the agency chose not to review MacDonald's involvement in a decision to delist the Sacramento splittail, a species of fish that lives in waters on an 80-acre farm MacDonald owns within the species' limited habitat in California's Central Valley.
While I would have preferred to see consideration for the marbled murrelet, this is a step in the right direction. I hope that this time the decisions can be made based on evidence rather than the instructions of political appointees with industry ties. I also hope that some of the species denied listing - like the cerulean warbler, sage grouse, and red knot - will also get a second look.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Loose Feathers #107

Horned Grebe / Photo by Donna Dewhurst (USFWS)

News and links about birds, birding, and the blogosphere
Birds in the blogospere
Carnivals and newsletters

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Kenilworth's Lilies Near Their Peak

This week the Washington Post ran an article about one of Washington's hidden treasures, Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens. Kenilworth is the only site in the National Park Service that is dedicated to the propagation and display of aquatic plants. As such, it is a unique resource, but one that few DC residents seem to know about. The article describes the park's site and origins:

The gardens are nestled between the Anacostia River and the Anacostia Freeway, just south of New York Avenue traffic that drones like a guilty conscience. They're the creation of a one-armed Civil War veteran. Walter B. Shaw, who in the 1880s worked as a clerk at the U.S. Treasury Department, bought 30 acres along the Anacostia and planted a few wild waterlilies in an unused ice pond. Soon, he and his daughter were importing lilies from the Orient, Nile and South America and developing varieties. After the ugliness of war, he created a life of beauty.

By the 1920s, thousands of visitors were regularly stopping by to see the waxy blossoms and wide saucerlike lily pads. In 1938, the federal government bought the land and turned it into a park, preserved to this day pretty much as it was. It's a refuge for birders and weekend photographers, wetlands aficionados and college students who periodically come to study.
Aside from its spectacular aquatic plants, Kenilworth is also home to many bird species, which make it a DC hotspot. (I have written about bird walks in Kenilworth several times on this blog.) The Post reporter was impressed by the bird life she encountered:
Life and beauty teem here. Frequent summertime bird sightings include great blue herons and chimney swifts, Eastern phoebes and indigo buntings, song sparrows and gnatcatchers. Enter the gardens by foot, and the air both stills and turns loud: City sounds dim. Insects chirr and fiddle. Songbirds are a symphony. The resident beaver has dug a channel across the river to his dam.

Surely, paradise is like this, visitors must think.
I know that feeling of tranquility very well. While you are in those gardens, it is easy to forget that you are in a major city.

Summer tends to be a slow period for birding at the gardens; I generally find winter and spring to be the best for finding birds. However, this is a great time of year to visit (despite the heat) because the gardens will be at their peak blooming stage. This Saturday the Aquatic Gardens is holding its annual Waterlily and Founders Day Festival from 11-2. The event will be preceded by a DC Audubon bird walk at 8 am. For more details, see here.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Is Backyard Habitat Illegal?

Conservation organizations encourage homeowners to maintain their properties as if they were wildlife preserves. The National Wildlife Federation provides certification for qualified backyards as wildlife habitats. Audubon at Home also provides advice along similar lines. Other organizations, like the Maryland Native Plant Society, provide resources for finding and growing native plants.

While this is good for wildlife, it can create conflicts with the local community. In some cases, the municipality intervenes; in other cases, the trouble may come from a homeowners association. The latest case comes from Edgewater Park, New Jersey. A woman had planted her property with native plants to attract birds, butterflies, and other creatures.

Wozniak said she moved to the neighborhood six years ago and has made an effort to comply with repeated notices from the township to clean up her property.

She removed a garbage can that was filled with birdseed from her front porch. She took down a shed that the township believed was in disrepair. She raked up piles of pine needles in her back yard.

Last month, however, the municipal property-maintenance inspector, Charles Gant, sent her a warning letter.

“Your property has become (a) blight to your neighborhood, with its overgrown landscaping, bushes and weeds,” the letter states. “There is accumulated debris and is in an unsafe condition.”
She has to appear in court on charges of "obnoxious growth." The township cited two reasons for concern:
Dougherty said mosquitoes gather in areas that are “not kept up,” and those insects can carry West Nile virus....

Dougherty said Wozniak's yard would be better suited in a country setting, not in a residential community.

“We are very much concerned about the impact of this property on the community and the nonconformity of her property compared to the properties around her,” she said.
The issue of property conformity appears frequently in these types of cases. (For comparison, see this case from Utah in which a woman was arrested for not watering her lawn.) Townships may have some legitimate reasons for enacting and enforcing weed laws. True neglect of a property could result in health and safety problems or lead to the spread of invasive species such as kudzu or ailanthus.

However, too often weed laws seem to be enforced to impose arbitrary standards on properties that simply look different. These standards reflect an understanding of humans and nature as fundamentally antagonistic; any vegetation that is not carefully controlled is a weed and an eyesore. Natural landscaping does not pose the same problems foreseen in weed laws; the commonly-cited defenses of weed laws such as vermin, mosquitos, and allergenic pollen are more likely on a manicured lawn than in a natural garden. Instead, natural landscaping adds value to the neighborhood by increasing biodiversity in the midst of suburban monoculture. Weed laws and their enforcement ought to be reformed to account for a better understanding of ecology.

For a thorough explanation of natural landscaping and weed laws (and how to defend against prosecution), see this article on the EPA website. It refutes most of the common arguments against natural landscapes and describes their relation to Aldo Leopold's Land Ethic. See also this discussion of natural landscaping and urban planning.

Why Ethanol May Be Bad For The Chesapeake

Speaking of alternative fuels with problems, it appears that a boom in ethanol production may set back efforts to clean up the Chesapeake Bay and its watershed. Currently, the favored form of ethanol is produced from corn. The resulting rise in corn prices has led more farmers to plant more corn at the expense of other crops. A study of agriculture in the Chesapeake watershed found that corn production is already growing.

In the Chesapeake area, according to the study, the drawback to ethanol's boom is that more farmers have planted cornfields to take advantage of the prices. Corn harvests are expected to increase 12 percent in Maryland this year and 8 percent in Virginia, according to a forecast in March from the U.S. Agriculture Department.

Although the spike is expected to be greater in Mississippi, where forecasters predict a 179 percent jump, across the vast Chesapeake watershed -- extending from southern Virginia to Cooperstown, N.Y. -- smaller shifts can add up. The authors of the study released yesterday forecast that over the next five years, the area of land newly planted with corn could be as much as 1 million acres, four times the size of Fairfax County.


More cornfields could be trouble, the study warned, because corn generally requires more fertilizer than such crops as soybeans or hay. When it rains, some of this fertilizer washes downstream, and it brings such pollutants as nitrogen and phosphorus, which feed unnatural algae blooms in the bay. These algae consume the oxygen that fish, crabs and other creatures need to breathe, creating the Chesapeake's infamous dead zones.
The study argues for funding to create buffer zones to mitigate increased runoff. Local representatives are trying to get this into the agriculturual bill that will be voted through Congress in the next couple weeks.

Nuclear Waste Leak in Japan

Occasionally I see arguments in favor of nuclear power as a climate-friendly alternative to coal for the purpose of generating electricity. While I would not reject the idea out of hand, I am somewhat dubious for its prospects, mainly because of safety concerns. All it takes is one serious incident for a major humanitarian and environmental crisis.

The recent earthquake in Japan created a scare when radioactive water leaked from a power plant.

The quake triggered a fire in an electrical transformer and also caused a leak of radioactive water at the Kashiwazaki Kariwa nuclear power plant, the world's largest in terms of electricity output.

The leak was not announced until late Monday, about 12 hours after the quake. That fed fresh concerns about the safety of Japan's 55 nuclear reactors, which supply 30 percent of the quake-prone country's electricity and have suffered a long string of accidents and cover-ups.

About 315 gallons of slightly radioactive water apparently spilled from a tank at one of the sprawling power complex's seven reactors and entered a pipe that flushed it into the sea, said Jun Oshima, an executive at Tokyo Electric Power Co. He said it was not clear whether the tank was damaged or the water simply spilled out.
Luckily, in this case the spill appears to be fairly minor. Officials claim that the radioactivity is well below the legal limits. However, it is a reminder of the safety problems inherent in nuclear energy.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Carbon Cartoon

The latest from Toles:

Climate Change and Ice Sheets

The Washington Post considers one of the challenges in climate change modeling: how much can we expect sea level to rise? If the Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheets melted completely, sea level could rise about 39 feet. However, the current consensus predicts something well short of that. Most estimates range from several inches to several feet over the next century, with a few outliers.

The divergent predictions derive from the problems inherent in modeling glaciers. Most melting occurs on the edges of glaciers, where an ice flow meets the ocean. How quickly melting occurs depends on the interaction of sea, ice, and topography.

David Vaughan, a glaciologist with the British Antarctic Survey in Cambridge, said the terrain beneath the ice streams helps determine how they move, but the contours of the land are largely unknown because it is buried so far under the ice. The streams may run aground on elevated bedrock, slow down as they move past rocky fjord walls or speed up as they move over mud.


Researchers are also trying to measure the layer of water that lies under the ice sheets, as that also helps regulate ice stream flows.

"They're essentially afloat on their own sub-glacial water, even if there's not much water there," said Garry Clarke, a glaciology professor at the University of British Columbia. "We don't know very much about how water flows underneath ice sheets."

Another uncertainty is how much the oceans surrounding the ice sheets are warming, something that is difficult to measure because the areas are remote. Vaughan and his colleagues suspect that warmer waters around Antarctica have contributed to melting the Western Antarctic ice sheet, but there is little good data because few ships venture there.


Even with better data, scientists find it difficult to enter the information into computer models. Most models do not attempt to calculate what could happen to ice sheets at their edges.

Adding to the challenge, Oppenheimer said, is that models "are only good at explaining things that happen at a large scale. Ice sheets are very complex beasts, and the water moves at a very small scale."
The good news is that there seems to be more effort and funding to collect data on the edges of ice sheets and develop the computer models to interpret it. In the meantime, we will have continued uncertainty about what to expect.

Read the rest.

Update: Here is an explanation of why climate change science is sound (even if sea level predictions vary).

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Sunday Blog Blogging

The Wall Street Journal ran an article today to discuss the role of blogging, in honor of the upcoming ten-year anniversary of the first blog. The piece could use a bit more diversity. Of the twelve commentators, only three are actually bloggers. Most of the rest are political and media personalities, some of whom see blogs as competitors and emphasize the negatives of the medium. As a result, the commentary is dominated by talk of political activism and celebrity gossip. I am not sure why contributions were solicited from Newt Gingrich and Tom Wolfe, and the blogger selections could be much better.

In an accompanying article, two managers from Blogger.com, this site's platform, discuss changes in the medium since Blogger's debut in 1999. It provides a useful counterbalance to the overly politics-oriented discussion in the main article. Blogs are essentially communication tools. A relatively small number of bloggers use their sites to engage in high-level political activism, but most write for small audiences, either in specialized niches (like this one) or on highly personal sites. Every blog is different, because each reflects the interests and temperament of its writer (or writers, in the case of group blogs). As such, the blogosphere defies generalization - either in terms of content or quality.

(links via coturnix, who also recommends 55 essential articles about blogging)

Friday, July 13, 2007

Loose Feathers #106

Long-billed Curlew / Photo by Gary Kramer (USFWS)

News and links about birds, birding, and the environment
  • Brightly colored birds whose plumage depends on the consumption of carotenoids suffer more from the radiation around Chernobyl than drab species. Birds that lay large eggs or migrate long distances were also disproportionately affected. The authors of the study suggest that the results are due to the high levels of antioxidants required for those activities.
  • A recent study found that bird species can learn from each other. Collared and pied flycatchers will adjust their nesting preferences to match those of tits.
  • Migratory birds use the earth's magnetic field to orient themselves during migration. A new study found that the same ability to sense magnetic direction exists in domestic chickens, a nonmigratory species.
  • Raising water levels along the Missouri River to allow for tugboat operations is killing piping plover chicks on the river's sandbars.
  • Birds in the Shenandoah Valley have high levels of methylated mercury in their bodies; researchers are trying to determine the extent to which it affects the local population.
  • Many house sparrows (and other birds) have found new nesting habitats within the walls of big box stores with garden centers. The stores offer shelter, food supplies (from bird seed packages), and relative safety from predators. (A prominent bird blogger is quoted in the article.)
  • Mason's Neck in Virginia is a great spot for watching bald eagles.
  • A planned washing soda factory may threaten the African population of lesser flamingos.
  • Lisa de Moraes previews an upcoming installment of PBS's Nature on animal reproductive strategies. It includes a segment on duck genitals and forced copulation, discussed here previously.
  • Newsday reviews a new book of Thomas Bewick's woodcuts, many of which are birds.
  • Here is some advice for new birders on purchasing good birding binoculars.
  • The Delaware Valley Ornithological Club has started a new Rare Bird Alert for the Delaware Valley, including New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware. Currently the RBA is published only on the web, but eventually will be available in other forms.
  • The Cape May Bird Observatory has a new website called BirdCapeMay.org. The website includes a newsletter called Tigrina Times.
Birds in the blogosphere
Blog carnivals and newsletters

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Duck Stamps for 2007-2008

Federal Duck Stamps for 2007-2008 are now on sale at duckstamp.com and from the Postal Service. Ninety-eight percent of the funds raised from duck stamp sales goes directly to preserving habitat through the National Wildlife Refuge System. Beneficiaries include refuges such as the Great Swamp, Cape May, and Forsythe refuges in New Jersey; Montezuma in New York; John Heinz (Tinicum) in Pennsylvania; Bombay Hook in Delaware; Patuxent, Blackwater, and Eastern Neck in Maryland; and Chincoteague and Great Dismal Swamp in Virginia. There are many others, as well.

Purchased of the stamp is required for hunters. Birders are encouraged to purchase the stamp as well. The entrance fee at National Wildlife Refuges is waived for birders who possess a valid duck stamp.

I and the Bird #53

Today marks the second anniversary edition of I and the Bird, the biweekly blog carnival for writing about birds and birding. This carnival was founded shortly after I started this blog, and I have been contributing from the beginning. Each edition features a variety of sightings reports, amusing anecdotes, bird photography, book reviews, and news about birds - from an international group of contributors. If you are starting a new blog, participation in I and the Bird is a great way to gain exposure for your writing.

This week's anniversary edition is hosted by the carnival's founder at 10,000 Birds.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Wind Power Safety

KQED, a public television station in San Francisco, recently ran a program on bird mortality at the Altamont Pass called Fatal Attraction: Birds and Wind Turbines. You can view the segment below or at the station website.

Penguins to Have Endangered Species Review

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has announced that it will consider listing 10 species of penguins under the Endangered Species Act.

The 10 species under consideration for a protection ruling include the emperor penguin, the southern rockhopper penguin, the northern rockhopper penguin, the fiordland crested penguin, the erect-crested penguin, the macaroni penguin, the white-flippered penguin, the yellow-eyed penguin, the African penguin, and the Humboldt penguin.

They mostly inhabit the countries ringing or nearest to Antarctica, as well as the Antarctic continent itself.
Since penguins do not naturally occur within U.S. borders, the effects of such listing would be indirect. These ten penguin species are now among several that have been considered for listing due to threats from climate change.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

278 Candidates for the Endangered Species List

An editorial in today's Washington Post reports that the Interior Department has a backlog of candidates for the Endangered Species List. The current administration has approved candidates for listing at a far slower rate than previous administrations. Currently 278 species have been deemed worthy of protection but so far have not been listed.

The Bush administration has made far fewer additions to the endangered species list than its two predecessors. The Fish and Wildlife Service estimates that President Bush has added 60 species, compared with about 550 by President Bill Clinton and 256 by President George H.W. Bush.

"There are more species in the queue, so to speak, than they have the staff and budget to deal with," said Interior Department spokesman Hugh Vickery. "It's kind of like doing triage in the emergency room. You have all these species that come into the door, and you have to decide which species have coronaries and which can actually be dealt with later."
If you are curious about which species are considered candidates, you can find a list here. There are eleven species and one subspecies of birds waiting for listing.
  • Spotless Crake (American Samoa)
  • Kauai Creeper ('Akiki)
  • Yellow-billed Cuckoo
  • Friendly Ground-Dove (American Samoa)
  • Greater Sage Grouse
  • Horned Lark (strigata subspecies)
  • Red Knot
  • Kittlitz's Murrelet
  • Xantus's Murrelet
  • Lesser Prairie-chicken
  • Band-rumped Storm-petrel (Hawaii)
  • Elfin Woods Warbler (Puerto Rico)
In addition, conservation groups have petitioned the Fish and Wildlife Service to list other species not currently on the candidate list, such as the cerulean warbler.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Blogging Note

I will be out of town this week, so blogging will be light. There will not be a "Loose Feathers" post on Friday.

A few things to check out in the meantime:

Sunday, July 01, 2007

One That Got Away