Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Loose Feathers #55

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

  • The medium ground finch of the Galápagos Islands has evolved a smaller bill in response to competition from the large ground finch, introduced to Daphne Island in 1982. Most of the change occurred over a single generation, which is very short on the evolutionary time scale.
  • Duck populations on the western prairies appear to be up 14 percent this year, due to a warm winter and above-average precipitation. While most species had improved, a few lagged; American wigeon, both scaup, and northern pintail were all below their long-term averages. The USFWS estimates a total prairie waterfowl population of 36 million. To read the USFWS report, see here.
  • Not everyone is happy about increasing numbers of water birds. Canada geese, in particular, continue to present problems for local refuge and park managers. Greenwich, Connecticut, has hired a company to harrass geese with border collies. Such programs seem to be of limited usefulness in reducing goose populations; usually dogs and noisemakers just move the birds around. (And they do come back once the show is over.)
  • A proposed wind farm in Vermont was denied a permit due to a lack of data concerning what effect it would have on migratory birds.
  • The American Bird Conservancy has funded a conservation easement in northern Peru for the marvelous spatuletail.
  • In hot weather like this week's, remember to keep water in bird baths and hummingbird feeders fresh. Birds get stressed in this weather, too.
  • Several studies appeared recently on coming species extinctions, across many phyla. See bootstrap analysis for summaries and links.