Yellow-shouldered Blackbird / Photo by Mike Morel (USFWS)
Birds and birding news
- The bird-related story of the week has been the mass deaths of birds at multiple locations. Aside from the deaths in Arkansas and Louisiana that I mentioned earlier in the week, flocks of dead birds were found in Sweden, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Texas. Here is more on the fireworks explanation for the Arkansas deaths. Wildlife biologists on the upper Mississippi River see such mass deaths regularly. Audubon is monitoring the situation. Several blog posts related to the bird death reports are linked below. These stories – especially if some of the events were caused by fireworks – ought to make us think more carefully about how our activities affect birds. As several bloggers pointed out, birds hit things like buildings, power lines, radio towers, etc. all the time, but their deaths usually go unnoticed because they happen one at a time instead of all at once.
- Discounts are available for eBird users who want to subscribe to Birds of North America, the CLO's comprehensive encyclopedia of North American birds.
- Harpy Eagles are nesting in Belize for the first time in 60 years. The species was mostly extirpated from Central America due to habitat degradation and hunting, but conservation efforts are bringing it back.
- Yellow-eared Parrots, once considered extinct, have reached their highest population level since the species was rediscovered in 1998. The parrots live in a mountainous area of Colombia.
- Black-legged Kittiwakes winter on the eastern side of the Atlantic if they have successful breeding seasons, but poor breeding seasons bring them to the western Atlantic.
- Feathers and Flowers: Blackbirds in the Dead of Night [Mortality]
- Birdchick: Bird Die Offs
- Peregrine's Bird Blog: Dead Birds Falling from the Sky and Fireworks
- Round Robin: Radio Interview About Dead Blackbirds
- Laelaps: The Fightin' Ibis: Xenicibis and Evolution's Arrow
- 10,000 Birds: Dreaming of a White CBC
- View from the Cape: Le Conte's Sparrow I.D. (!)
- Most of the methane released during BP's gulf oil spill was eaten by bacteria.
- A report concludes that the Deepwater Horizon explosion and subsequent spill could have been prevented, but that cost-cutting shortcuts used by the companies decreased the safety of the drilling operation. The safety problems are likely to recur without serious reform of the drilling industry.
- U.S. bumble bee populations have declined significantly in recent decades. The declines appear to be related to a pathogen transferred from captive to wild populations.
- Pennsylvania's fracking industry could threaten water supplies; the state allows the industry to dump its toxic wastewater into nearby streams and rivers that supply water to millions of people. Fracking is a method for extracting natural gas from shale.
- Very few coal mines are redeveloped or restored, contrary to the claims of mountaintop removal mining supporters.