Friday, October 18, 2019

Loose Feathers #719

Common Yellowthroat / Photo by Kyle Chelius/USFWS
Birds and birding news
Science and nature blogging
Biodiversity and conservation
Climate change and environmental politics

Friday, October 11, 2019

Loose Feathers #718

Sanderling / Photo by Peter Pearsall/USFWS
Birds and birding news
Science and nature blogging
Biodiversity and conservation
  • A new species of tarsier was reported from Sulawesi, a biodiversity hotspot in Indonesia.
  • Kangaroos are a major cause of overgrazing in Australia's preserves
  • Stick and leaf insects probably evolved their camouflage to hide from birds and mammals.
  • Florida's Python Action Team recently removed its 900th invasive python, which is in addition to the 2,567 pythons captured by another agency. However, the python population in Florida is probably still in the tens of thousands.
  • Three of the nineteen wolves translocated to Isle Royale have died, and one crossed the ice back to the mainland.
Climate change and environmental politics

Friday, October 04, 2019

Loose Feathers #717

Surfbird / Photo by Peter Pearsall/USFWS
Birds and birding news
Science and nature blogging
Biodiversity and conservation
  • The invasive Spotted Lanternfly has a large potential range in the US, especially in the Mid-Atlantic (where its range is still expanding), Midwest, and central and coastal California. 
  • Biologists identified three genetic mutations that allow Monarch caterpillars to feed on milkweed.
  • A project aims to restore a coastal prairie that was habitat for the Oregon Silverspot, an endangered butterfly.
  • Chitons roll up in a ball when threatened, possibly to get a better footing when they land somewhere else.
Climate change and environmental politics
  • Despite revoking California's right to set stricter air pollution standards (and that of other states to follow California's lead), the EPA is threatening to withhold federal funding from California because of its air and water pollution.
  • Climate threatens many historic and cultural sites with severe storms and rising sea levels; sites important for African American culture and history tend to have fewer resources to deal with these new climate-related problems.
  • Pumping too much groundwater in arid regions is killing rivers like the San Pedro River in Arizona.

Friday, September 27, 2019

Loose Feathers #716

Carolina Wren (my photo)
Birds and birding news
Science and nature blogging
Biodiversity and conservation
Climate change and environmental politics

Friday, September 20, 2019

Loose Feathers #715

Bristle-thighed Curlew / USFWS Photo
Birds and birding news
Science and nature blogging
Biodiversity and conservation
Climate change and environmental politics

Friday, September 13, 2019

Loose Feathers #714

American White Pelicans / Photo by Tom Koerner/USFWS
Birds and birding news
Science and nature blogging
Biodiversity and conservation
Climate change and environmental politics

Friday, September 06, 2019

Loose Feathers #713

Indigo Bunting / Photo by Michael Schramm/USFWS
Birds and birding news
Science and nature blogging
Biodiversity and conservation
Climate change and environmental politics

Friday, August 30, 2019

Loose Feathers #712

Western Kingbird / Photo by Kari Cieszkiewicz/USFWS
Birds and birding news
Science and nature blogging
Biodiversity and conservation
Climate change and environmental politics

Friday, August 23, 2019

Loose Feathers #711

Barred Owl (my photo)
Birds and birding news
Science and nature blogging
Biodiviersity and conservation
Climate change and environmental politics
  • The big environmental story this week has been the burning of the Amazon, where fires have increased by 85% since the beginning of the year. Brazil's president blames NGOs, but most likely the fires are part of a deliberate strategy of deforestation. The extent of the fires can be seen in satellite imagery
  • The Democratic National Committee voted down a proposal for a debate focused on climate change despite pressure from activists. 
  • Parts of the border wall extension will cross floodplains and put people in danger from flooding on both sides of the Rio Grande.
  • The regulatory changes regarding enforcement of the Endangered Species Act could affect conservation in Canada as well, especially as some provincial governments are making similar changes.
  • Washington, DC, is about 5% more humid than in 1970 and 10% more humid than in 1950. The reason seems to be climate change, since warmer air can hold more moisture.

Friday, August 16, 2019

Loose Feathers #710

Canada Goose / Photo by Tom Koerner/USFWS
Birds and birding news
Science and nature blogging
Biodiversity and conservation
Climate change and environmental politics
  • The Interior Department changed the regulations governing how it implements the Endangered Species Act, by raising the bar for listing, adding economic criteria, and weakening protections for threatened species. Here is an evaluation of how the rule changes could affect the Northern Spotted Owl, the Wolverine, and the American Burying Beetle. Another species that could be affected is the Monarch, since the department will no longer consider climate change in whether to list a species. The changes were written by opponents of the Endangered Species Act and appear to cater to business interests.
  • After making those regulatory changes, the administration denied endangered listing for several species, including Joshua Trees, which are threatened by climate change,
  • The Northeast is among the fastest-warming parts of the U.S., with Rhode Island already past the 2°C mark and New Jersey not far behind. Parts of New Jersey have already warmed as much as 2.7°C, which contributes to the closure of Lake Hopatcong and a longer mosquito season.
  • The Adani mine in Australia (which directly threatens an endangered bird) is an example of how capitalists keep the world stuck on coal despite the threat it poses to the climate and public health.
  • The Anthropocene may be better seen as an event than an epoch considering how brief it will likely be on a geological timescale. 
  • Mitigating climate change will require changes in land use, with more protection for natural habitats and sustainable agriculture.
  • A study found microplastics in the snow in isolated places like the Alps and Svalbard, which is a sign of how much plastic is present in the air we breathe. The most common sources of microplastic in that study were varnish and rubber.
  • The Bolsonaro administration approved 290 pesticides for use in Brazil. This mirrors the Trump administration's willingness to reinstate pesticides that been banned under previous administrations.