Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Loose Feathers #51

Happy Solstice, everyone! Right on time, DC has delivered a classic week of summer weather: high heat and high humidity. On Monday the temperatures got close to 90°F, and then a late-day thunderstorm brought the humidity level above 90%. It makes me long for winter.

And now on to the regularly-scheduled news and links about birds, birding, and the environment.

  • The Army Corps of Engineers has suspended permits for mountaintop removal mining to determine whether or not the permits are legal. The practice threatens water supplies for residents in the Appalachians and destroys valuable habitat for birds, including the declining cerulean warbler.
  • There is evidence that increased coal-bed methane development is hurting sage grouse populations in Wyoming and Montana. So far, the federal government has resisted putting the sage grouse on the Endangered Species List.
  • Minnesota is asking that landowners wait until August to mow roadside ditches to protect ground nesting birds.
  • A Dutch researcher has found that bird parents respond more to some offspring than others, and that males and females will sometimes split duties based on the individuals they prefer. One parent will occasionally abandon the brood. The study (published in Animal Behaviour) focused on black redstarts. Some other species use cooperative parenting arrangements.
  • Aydin has the news that this coming weekend will feature the Potomac Gorge Bioblitz. There is serious research underway, but some programs are open to the public, so check out the link if you are interested.
  • The second red-tailed hawk nestling at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in Manhattan finally fledged this weekend.