Friday, February 25, 2011

Loose Feathers #279

Birds and birding news
  • Scientists have found and described a new bird species, Mentocrex beankaensis, from the Beanka Forest of Madagascar. It probably will not surprise birders that the bird that eluded scientists for so long is a rail.
  • As the climate warms and winters become milder, gray-feathered Tawny Owls are likely to decline and be replaced with brown-feathered Tawny Owls. Brown-feathered owls have more trouble surviving severe winters, possibly because they are more visible to potential predators.
  • Individual gulls adjust their wakefulness to match what neighboring gulls are doing. This helps explain why gulls seem to sleep in waves.
  • An essay in The New York Times considers the fictional and real careers of ornithologists doubling as spies.
  • Several dozen Canada Geese have been found dead or disoriented without motor skills along the south shore of Lake Erie. Unlike a lot of other cases, the cause of their illness is so far unknown.
  • Connecticut plans to euthanize 16 white-tailed deer to protect the birds nesting on a 14-acre island. The deer wandered onto the island at low tide; the island has a large heron rookery that includes egret species listed by the state as threatened.
  • Some Bald Eagles in British Columbia are so weak from starvation that they are unable to fly. The birds have had little to eat because of low chum salmon runs, which are caused by a combination of overfishing and habitat degradation.
  • Yet another dead Whooping Crane was found at the Alabama-Georgia border. It was most likely shot around the same time as another crane found there previously.
  • Ten Whooping Cranes were released in Louisiana last week as part of an attempt to rebuild the state's crane population. So far the birds seem to be doing well.
  • About 200 birds were oiled as a result of a spill from a cargo ship.
Birds in the blogosphere

Environment and biodiversity