Thursday, January 12, 2006

Loose Feathers #16

News and links about birds, birding, and the environment

  • Nova's ScienceNOW aired a segment about the ivory-billed woodpecker on Tuesday night. The video can be seen here. The show did not cover any new ground, but featured video and audio recordings from the swamp, plus interviews with John Fitzpatrick, David Luneau, and Jerome Jackson.
  • A mutation has been detected in poultry flu samples from Turkey that may make it easier for the virus to penetrate cells in human respiratory systems. While this is a cause for concern, there is still no evidence that the virus is being passed from one human to another. (It is also important to note that the main vector for the spread of the disease remains domestic poultry and not migratory wild birds.) More information about avian influenza can be found at the CLO website.
  • Global warming has been linked to the extinction of many tropical frog species. Amphibians are particularly vulnerable to changes in climate and provide a warning of what may happen on a larger scale if current trends are not checked. Meanwhile, warming may reduce the waterfowl population in North America by drying up the ponds on their traditional breeding grounds.
  • A Christmas Bird Count in western North Carolina found a yellow-headed blackbird among its 77 species for the day. The Golden CBC in western Canada counted over 900 Bohemian waxwings.
  • Birders in Mississippi are worried about the effects of the many Gulf Coast hurricanes on the local populations of shore-nesting birds, especially least terns and pelicans. The worst damage to nesting colonies was done by Tropical Storm Cindy, not Hurricane Katrina.
  • The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds is hosting its annual Big Garden Birdwatch on the last weekend of January. Participants are asked to watch their garden or local park for an hour and make note of the birds.
  • See here for resources on the ivory-billed woodpeckers, including travel information and opportunities for birders in the Big Woods. There is plenty to see in the area aside from the ivory-billed woodpeckers. This article cites 18 sightings of the ivory-billed woodpecker since its rediscovery.
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