Friday, February 26, 2021

Loose Feathers #790

Ferruginous Hawk / Photo by Rick Bohn/USFWS

Birds and birding news

Science and nature blogging

Biodiversity and climate change

Climate change and environmental politics

Friday, February 19, 2021

Loose Feathers #789

Greater Sage-Grouse / Photo by Tom Koerner/USFWS

Birds and birding news

Science and nature blogging

Biodiversity and conservation

  • The Fishing Cat is vulnerable to habitat loss, but a new conservation project is raising awareness and working to protect them.
  • The discovery of an extinct spruce in Louisiana suggests that there may be more extinct plants than scientists know about and that plants are more vulnerable to climate change then currently predicted.
  • Research on the invasive Spotted Lanternfly predicts a large potential range and possible host plants.
  • The South Padre Island Convention Center has been home to over 3,500 sea turtles that were rescued from unusually cold waters this week. The turtles will be released once the water warms sufficiently.

Climate change and environmental politics

Friday, February 12, 2021

Loose Feathers #788

Red-winged Blackbird / Photo by Courtney Celley/USFWS

Birds and birding news

Science and nature blogging

Biodiversity and conservation

Climate change and environmental politics

  • Social media companies have gotten better at removing misinformation about COVID-19 and the 2020 election but need to apply the same standards to misinformation about climate change.
  • The Biden administration will need to decide what to do about the border wall. Recently the flood gates at the San Pedro River were found to be welded shut.
  • A Republican congressman from Idaho suggested breaching four dams on the Lower Snake River as part of a program to restore salmon runs and boost ecotourism.
  • Younger activists are using the term "intersectional environmentalism" in place of "environental justice," but the practical differences are unclear.
  • Water affordability and quality is also a part of the environmental justice agenda.
  • A glacier collapse in India started a landslide that broke a dam and caused flash flooding. Over 200 people were missing in its aftermath. The incident raises questions about the safety and sustainability of hydropower.
  • The pandemic caused a drop in the demand for energy from coal, and that drop could be maintained if more coal plants are retired.
  • Climate change is reducing yields from wild rice grown by the Ojibwe in Minnesota.
  • Half of a wetland in Staten Island is going to be paved over for a shopping mall even though the wetland protected the nearby neighborhood from Sandy.
  • The Trillion Trees Act would plant trees on public lands to absorb carbon emissions. The downsides are that the plantations would probably be monocultures and would be logged regularly which would reduce the benefit of carbon sequestration.

Friday, February 05, 2021

Loose Feathers #787

Bald Eagle / Photo by Tom Koerner/USFWS

Birds and birding news

  • Neoptropical songbirds molt rapidly prior to migration and replace multiple feather tracts simultaneously.
  • Animals that burrow fare better than birds in hotter and drier conditions in the Mojave Desert. The study compared current populations to data collected by Joseph Grinnell and his assistants. Many desert birds will likely disappear as the climate warms.
  • Birders are no more likely to find additional rarities where a rare bird has been reported than by looking in other area, which suggests that the Patagonia Picnic Table Effect does not exist as a general rule.
  • Extermination of invasive rodents on Lord Howe Island is helping endemic species like the Lord Howe Rail bounce back.
  • Here are rules for antiracist birding.
  • The Biden administration is delaying implementation of a rule change meant to weaken the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. The rule is one of many from the Trump administration that attack environmental laws.

Science and nature blogging

Biodiversity and conservation

  • A quarter of known bee species have not been seen since 1990 despite increasing interest in wild pollinators and citizen science efforts. Some families like the Melittidae have declined more than others. 
  • One way to help pollinators (in this case wasps) is to plant native plants.
  • The bee study adds to the evidence that many insect populations are crashing as they face multiple threats, including habitat loss, overuse of insecticides, and climate change.
  • Half of the world's vertebrate species have been reported to iNaturalist, including 90% of the world's birds. Fish and sharks have the lowest percentages.
  • A new baleen whale species discovered in the Gulf of Mexico has a population under 100 individuals.
  • Barnegat Light is getting habitat restoration work this winter.
  • Here is a piece on animals that thrive in cities. Among other things, urban coyotes prey on rodents and Canada Goose nests.

Climate change and environmental politics

Friday, January 29, 2021

Loose Feathers #786

Rough-legged Hawk / Photo by Tom Koerner/USFWS

Birds and birding news

Science and nature blogging

Biodiversity and conservation

  • Many shark and ray populations have crashed over the past 50 years, mainly due to overfishing and bycatch.
  • Swinhoe’s softshell turtle, the world's rarest turtle, may still escape extinction since a female survives in captivity and more of the species may exist in the wild.
  • The Fish and Wildlife Service is failing to protect Florida panther habitat from development even though habitat protection is necessary for the panther's survival. This is an example of a larger problem of the agency letting politics and money guide its decisions.
  • Here is a sample of species that were declared extinct in 2020.

Climate change and environmental politics