Friday, August 12, 2011

Loose Feathers #303

Roseate Tern / Photo by Kirk Rogers (USFWS)
Birds and birding news
  • Swarms of black flies may be hampering the efforts to establish a second migratory flock of breeding Whooping Cranes. The flies may discourage the cranes from mating, staying on their nests, and rearing their young. 
  • The breeding population of Black Skimmers in Texas has declined, most likely due to human disturbance.
  • Wind turbines pose a significant threat to birds and bats, especially the latter since bats can be killed by air pressure changes without striking the turbine. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working on guidelines to reduce the impacts of wind development. The best solution may be to place wind farms away from known migration corridors.
  • This summer, California Common Murre chicks hatched on the Channel Islands for the first time since 1912.
  • Nazca Boobies that are abused as chicks tend to bully other chicks once they reach adulthood themselves.
  • Computer models suggest that the changing shapes of pigeon and starling flocks are due to birds in the flock turning individually and maintaining a constant speed, among other factors. 
  • The Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey is creating online range maps for the state's species of special concern.
Nature blogging
Environment and biodiversity
  • Continued oil sands development is likely to negate any gains Canada makes in reducing its greenhouse gas emissions elsewhere.
  • The Obama administration has started approving leases for Arctic offshore drilling even though the Coast Guard lacks the infrastructure to respond to a spill. Royal Dutch Shell gained drilling rights to a site in the Beaufort Sea 20 miles offshore from the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. 
  • Conservationists in Texas worry that this year's drought will do long-term damage to the state's wildlife habitat.
  • High atmospheric oxygen levels may explain why insects (especially dragonflies) of the Carboniferous Period grew so large. Larvae may have been forced to grow large to avoid oxygen poisoning.