Friday, August 18, 2017

Loose Feathers #609

Sage Thrasher / Photo by Tom Koerner/USFWS
Birds and birding news
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Friday, August 11, 2017

Loose Feathers #608

Greater Sage-Grouse / Photo by Tom Koerner/USFWS
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Friday, August 04, 2017

Loose Feathers #607

American Robin / Photo by Tom Koerner/USFWS
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Friday, July 28, 2017

Loose Feathers #606

Cedar Waxwing / Photo by Tom Koerner/USFWS
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Friday, July 21, 2017

Loose Feathers #605

Osprey / Photo by Tom Koerner/USFWS
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Friday, July 14, 2017

Loose Feathers #604

Sagebrush Sparrow / Photo by Tom Koerner/USFWS
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Friday, July 07, 2017

Loose Feathers #603

Nelson's Sparrow / Photo by Rick Bohn / USFWS
Birds and birding news
  • The AOS (formerly AOU) released the annual supplement to its North American checklist with taxonomic changes. Among other changes, the genus Anas is split into multiple genera (with no species-level splits), Northern Harrier and Northern Shrike are split from the European counterparts (and become Circus hudsonius and Lanius borealis, respectively), Thayer's Gull is merged with Iceland Gull, Cassia Crossbill (the long-rumored "South Hills Crossbill") is split from Red Crossbill, New World sparrows are now in their own family, Passerellidae, and several other new families are created, including Icteriidae for the Yellow-breasted Chat. Several proposed changes, including splits of Willet, Brown Creeper, and Yellow-rumped Warbler, and the redpoll merger, were not adopted. See also the discussion at the ABA Blog.
  • A Purple Gallinule was recorded via camera trap for first time on Oak Ridge Reservation in Tennessee. 
  • Where different populations of a species migrate appears to be linked to genetic differences.
  • Praying mantises have been photographed catching hummingbirds.
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Friday, June 30, 2017

Loose Feathers #602

Northern Harrier chicks / Photo by Tom Koerner/USFWS
Birds and birding news
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Environment and biodiversity
  • An Iranian city may have tied the record for the world's hottest recorded temperature as the Persian Gulf region remains stuck in an intense heat wave.
  • Meanwhile the climate action plan for the G20 summit has been weakened to mollify Donald Trump, though the Trump administration seems likely to reject or ignore the agreement anyway.
  • In the U.S., the economic effects of climate change are likely to be worse in the southeast than elsewhere in the country.
  • Even though greenhouse gas emissions have stabilized, carbon in the atmosphere is still rising, which raises the question of whether natural carbon sinks will continue to respond as we expect.
  • Budget cuts threaten progress in cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay. 
  • The public can now comment on the review of national marine monuments and sanctuaries. Leave comments here.
  • While marginal agricultural land offers the best opportunity for restoring butterfly populations (especially the Monarch), planting native plants is necessary in all landscape types, including suburban and urban ones.
  • After part of a coastal cliff collapsed in southwestern England in the 19th century, a remaining piece became an isolated haven for rare plants.
  • An intensive logging campaign is destroying the Białowieża forest in Poland, which has long been recognized as a key biodiversity hotspot.
  • The PennEast pipeline project, which would carry natural gas from Pennsylvania through western New Jersey, is stalled after its parent company did not submit required information for its application.
  • More Humpback Whales will be in New Jersey and New York waters this summer because of the rise in Atlantic Menhaden close to shore.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Loose Feathers #601

Yellow-headed Blackbird / Photo by Tom Koerner/USFWS
Birds and birding news
  • A proposed funding formula would direct federal conservation money towards endangered or threatened species with the best chance of recovery. Under that formula, species that continued to decline despite intervention, like the Northern Spotted Owl, would see their funding cut, while others like the Hawaiian Crow and Indiana Bat would get more.
  • Eggs come in a variety of shapes, from smoothly rounded eggs like a chicken's to ones that are much more pointed at one end. Pointier eggs are generally produced by stronger fliers, which may be a result of a bird's internal anatomy.
  • Analysis of carbon isotopes in Bobolinks' feathers shows that while they eat other grasses in the winter, they eat mostly rice just before they migrate north. This has the advantage of providing them more calories in preparation for migration, but also exposes them to more pesticides and possibly persecution by farmers.
  • Mangrove swamps in Indonesia are important stopover sites for migratory shorebirds but are being lost to palm oil plantations and agriculture. 
  • An expedition to the Atacama Desert in Chile found nesting grounds for the Ringed Storm-Petrel, whose breeding sites were previously unknown.
  • Birds following army ants cooperate when foraging
  • Gulls feeding at landfills may transport nutrients that cause algal blooms to nearby waterways.
Science and nature blogging
Environment and biodiversity

Friday, June 16, 2017

Loose Feathers #600

American Bittern / Photo by Krista Lundgren/USFWS
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