Short-tailed Albatross / USFWS
Birds and birding news
- The photo at the top of this post shows a female Short-tailed Albatross incubating her egg in a colony of Laysan Albatrosses on Eastern Island of Midway Atoll NWR. If the egg hatches it will be the first hatch of this species outside Japan in recent history. Update: Here is a little more background information about Short-tailed Albatrosses from BirdLife and USA Today.
- Fossil remains of a giant stork were found on the Indonesian island of Flores. The storks, named Leptoptilos robustus, stood about 6 feet tall and lived about 20,000 to 50,000 years ago. In prehistoric times, the island featured many dwarf and giant species, including some very small hominins.
- This week a new database of bird sounds, the Avian Vocalizations Center (AVoCet), became available to the public.
- NextEra Energy Resources plans to replace 2,400 of the older turbines and shut down some others at the infamous Altamont Pass wind farm. The new turbines should generate power more efficiently and (hopefully) kill fewer migratory birds and bats.
- A copy of John James Audubon's Birds of America sold at auction this week for $11,542,683. The BBC has a video with a look inside the book.
- At least some small birds, like European Bee-eaters (Merops apiaster), are able to soar while on migration; this technique allows them to travel quickly with less energy expenditure than flapping.
- A Purple Sandpiper was spotted in Utah for the first time. Normally the species sticks to the East Coast in winter.
- New Jersey's Bald Eagle population is thriving enough to move into less attractive nesting grounds in the middle of the state. Meanwhile, Pennsylvania is trying to add protections to two eagle nests in the Philadelphia area.
- Juncos are a welcome sight on cold winter days.
- Conservationists in Indonesia have succeeded in protecting key nesting grounds and stopping egg poaching to save the endangered Maleo (Macrocephalon maleo).
- Australians recently found two albino Blue-winged Kookaburras.
- eBird Birding News and Features: eBird animated occurrence maps
- Punctuated Equilibrium: The World Parrot Count
- 10,000 Birds: New York State's First Hermit Warbler
- Sibley Guides: A perplexing shrike
- A government environmental commissioner reported that Canada would not be able to respond effectively to a major oil spill. It also needs to monitor the effect of tar sands oil mining on local water supplies.
Environment and biodiversity
- Blue whales can capture up to 500 kg of krill, good for 457,000 calories, in a single mouthful. This makes it the most efficient eater among sea mammals.
- New Jersey's Oyster Creek nuclear reactor will stop operating by 2019, ten years earlier than planned. The reactor is the oldest operating nuclear power plant in the United States and would have had to build a cooling tower to stop pumping hot water into Barnegat Bay if it did not close. WolfeNotes has a roundup of the rest of the environmental news out of Trenton yesterday, including progress on new restoration plans for Barnegat Bay.
- This week there has been more vocal criticism from scientists of the NASA study that reported bacteria subsisting on arsenic.
- The Obama administration decided to further delay implementation of new environmental regulations for reducing smog and for industrial boilers.
- Four people and four businesses were charged with dumping raw sewage and restaurant waste into Shell Bank Creek in Brooklyn, New York.
- Scientists have been monitoring a former open-pit coal mine in Germany to see what sort of ecosystem develops there. The site was covered in sediments and graded, but it was otherwise untouched. Development and succession have occurred faster than expected, with the first trees appearing in five years.