White-crowned Sparrow / Photo by Dave Menke
Birds and birding news
- The wild, free-flying population of California Condors in California reached 100 birds this fall, the highest it has been in many decades. The world population is still low, only 400 condors.
- Documents released through a FOIA request revealed the areas covered by the USDA's plan for eliminating Canada Geese near New York City airports. The seven-mile radius around LGA and JFK covers most of Queens, the Bronx, and Manhattan, as well as half of Brooklyn. Oddly, it only covers a tiny portion of Prospect Park.
- Cultivating additional acreage of bioenergy crops could effect land bird populations in the Midwest. Increasing the acreage of corn would significantly reduce bird numbers, while planting more perennial grasses could increase some species.
- New DNA analysis reveals that Passenger Pigeons were more closely related to North and South American pigeons than to the Mourning Dove and belong in their own genus, Ectopistes.
- A Red Knot wearing a geo-locating band flew nonstop from southern Brazil to North Carolina this spring – a distance of 5,000 miles.
- Delaware has seen declines among grassland birds such as the Northern Bobwhite.
- Some vultures may be able to change the color of their bare heads quickly for dominance displays and other types of communication.
- Guano from an island seabird colony in Peru is a valuable source of fertilizer.
Birds in the blogosphere
- Deep Sea News: Penguins Immediately Benefit From MPA
- Tetrapod Zoology: Condors and vultures: their postures, their 'bald heads' and their sheer ecological importance
- Sibley Guides: You too can record and identify Crossbill call types
- According to a report from the oil spill commission, the Obama administration failed to act on the worst case scenarios that its scientists knew were possible. It also vastly underestimate the oil flow in its public statements.
- In the aftermath of an oil spill off the Spanish coast in 2002, European storm petrels skipped their breeding season and moved to other areas for feeding. This allowed them to prevent population losses from contact with the oil and resume breeding in subsequent years.
- This week, the Obama administration announced that it would add solar panels to the White House, a move long encouraged by environmentalists as a symbolic measure.
- Unfortunately, the administration also approved several desert solar projects. The projects have generated mixed feelings among environmentalists, especially among desert and wildlife conservationists. See also the Nature Conservancy's assessment of the Mojave.
- An expedition to New Guinea found 200 new species; you can see photos of some of them at Mongabay.com and National Geographic.
- Newsweek has a graphic of sustainability in New York City.
- A report by the San Francisco Estuary Institute blames cities and suburbs for much of the fertilizer and pesticide runoff into San Francisco Bay.
- New Jersey is looking to limit runoff by banning fertilizers containing phosphorus and restricting the amounts and application of nitrogen. The restrictions are intended to improve the health of Barnegat Bay and other estuaries.
- Scientia Pro Publica #41
- Festival of the Trees #52
- Scientia Pro Publica #40
- Carnival of Evolution #28