Friday, May 14, 2010

Loose Feathers #238

Brown pelican perches on Pelican Island refuge boundary sign / USFWS Photo

Birds and birding news
  • A new fossil analysis concludes that the earliest birds probably glided rather than flew because their feathers were too weak for powered flight.
  • "Vulture restaurants" may prevent smaller scavengers from getting their meals.
  • The prosecution and defense wrapped up their arguments this week in the Syncrude trial, in which the company is accused of violating environmental laws by allowing 1600 birds to die in its oil tailings ponds. A verdict is expected on June 25. 
  • A New York artist sculpts the skeletons of extinct birds from chicken bones.
  • Increased deer browsing can drive nightingales out of a wooded area.
  • The U.K. is known for having a lot of enthusiastic bird watchers, and birding is more prominent there than in the U.S. Unfortunately, egg collecting remains a popular hobby, too, even though it is illegal.
  • Swedish scientists have tried to protect declining wader populations by surrounding their nests with cages and laying out fake eggs that will make predators feel sick. The goal of the fake eggs was to make predators think that the waders' eggs are inedible.
  • A study tagged lambs to see if sea eagles preyed on them, but 60% of the tags fell off. Results from the other lambs suggest that less than 2% of lamb deaths could be attributed to sea eagles.
  • Partners in Flight published a conservation assessment for 1,150 bird species in Canada, the United States, and Mexico.
  • New York City is mapping its potential for solar power, areas vulnerable to flooding, and neighborhoods in need of more trees. The maps, created by airplane flyovers, will help the city meet its environmental goals.
Birds in the blogosphere
Environment and biodiversity