Friday, October 15, 2010

Loose Feathers #260

Western Flycatcher / Photo by Dave Menke (USFWS)

Birds and birding news
  • Endangered Southwestern Willow Flycatchers are at the center of a dispute over whether and how to control invasive Eurasian tamarisks. Land managers had introduced beetles as a biocontrol for tamarisks, which push out native trees and reduce biodiversity – and the beetles have largely been successful at reversing the tree's spread. However, the beetles tend to strip trees of foliage at a bad time for nesting flycatchers, which often nest in tamarisk trees.
  • Biologists are trying to determine the number and types of birds that migrate through the Gulf of Maine region each fall. The researchers are combining a variety of techniques, including radar, passive acoustic observation, and banding. 
  • Hatch year Whooping Cranes have begun their migration from Wisconsin to Florida guided by an ultralight aircraft.
  • Two new species have been found in Nepal: Grey-necked Bunting and Long-billed Wren Babbler.
  • Scienceray has a list of what it considers the 20 most brilliantly colored birds in the world.
  • Birds are dying from type-e botulism along Lake Michigan.
  • The songs of 20 birds that are rarely heard on the streets of Brooklyn are going to be broadcast from loudspeakers in various Brooklyn neighborhoods. You can read more about the project at Birds of Brooklyn.
  • A study of outdoor domestic cats in New Zealand claims that belled collars reduce the amount of predation but does not eliminate it. (Keeping cats indoors is still more effective.)
Birds in the blogosphere
Oil Spill
  • According to an Audubon report, birds in Important Bird Areas along the Gulf Coast are rebounding, but threats remain from residual oil and chemicals. Major concerns include oil that has seeped into the sand and tar mats just below the tide line. Even birds that look healthy now could suffer health effects from residual oil in the future. You can read the short version or the full report (pdf).
  • Many migratory water birds have been using wetlands created by flooding farm fields as an alternate habitat to oiled marshes along the Gulf Coast.
Environment and biodiversity