Saturday, April 22, 2006

Loose Feathers #41

News and links about birds, birding, and the environment.

  • Pale Male and Lola, two red-tailed hawks that nest on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, have failed to hatch any chicks this year. The reasons for this are unknown.
  • Pennsylvania is planning a cull of cormorants near Harrisburg. The Pennsylvania Game Commission is worried that the cormorants that recently began nesting on an island in the Susquehanna River will discourage nesting great egrets and black-crowned night-herons. This island is one of only two known great egret nesting sites in the state. (Cormorants are becoming a very unpopular species these days.)
  • Here is a description of birdwatching at David Gareji, a monastic settlement at the border of Georgia and Azerbaijan. (The settlement began in the sixth century and peaked in the eighth through thirteenth centuries.) The author seems most impressed by a lammergeier, also known as a bearded vulture.
  • A mallard is nesting in a planting box at the Ritz-Carlton in Georgetown.
  • Female house finches in Montana have been observed to mate with the brightest red males early in the breeding season, but later in the season will mate with males with the greatest genetic difference with themselves. How they sense genetic difference is unexplained.
  • Mason Neck State Park in Virginia held its annual Elizabeth Hartwell Eagle Festival in honor of Earth Day this year. Rain kept wild raptor sightings to a minimum, even though the park hosts at least six bald eagle nests. The festival included bird-banding demonstrations from volunteers who staff the migratory bird study at the refuge.
  • I found this post on Amtrak and the potential for rail service in America on BlogCritics. To me, the major obstacle to much better rail transportation is the lack of adequate funding. If the government spent anywhere near as much on railroads as it does on air travel and highways, rail transit would become much more reliable and much more attractive as an alternative for short and medium distance travel.