Friday, March 30, 2007

Loose Feathers #92

Yellow-headed Blackbird (USFWS)

News and links about birds, birding, and the environment.
  • A study of great tits and pied flycatchers near Chernobyl found that the birds preferred nest sites with low background radioactivity. While lower radioactivity is clearly an advantage, the study did not establish how birds are able to tell the difference.
  • The European Union has set aside € 785 million to preserve Europe's most vulnerable species, such as gyrfalcon and lammergeier, and their habitats.
  • California Fish and Game will hold a public hearing on banning lead shot on April 13. Lead shot is believed to poison endangered California condors, which ingest the shot via animal carcasses. The ban would apply within the condors' range.
  • Sunflower growers in North Dakota are considering the use of poisoned baits to kill blackbirds that feed on sunflower seeds. The need for higher production of sunflower seeds is a result of the decision of some companies to use sunflower oil as a replacement for oils high in saturated fat or trans-fats.
  • Workers are attempting to retrieve eggs laid by a pair of peregrine falcons on San Francisco's Bay Bridge. The eggs will be placed with captive foster parents. Fledglings in bridge nests are vulnerable to falling into the water or onto the busy roadway.
  • The planned Navy Outlying Landing Field (OLF) on the Outer Banks continues to stir controversy. North Carolina Governor Mike Easley and U.S. Representative David Price both registered their opposition this week, with the latter threatening to block funding for the project. The proposed OLF site is close to Pocosin Lakes NWR, a major wintering site for waterfowl. The navy has managed to unite National Audubon and the National Rifle Association in opposition to the project.
  • Predation at parrot nests can be reduced by trimming vines and the outer branches of nest trees.
  • With the political changes in the last election, Annapolis has become a much friendlier place for environmental legislation and regulation. Part of the change is also due to new alliances among previously antagonistic factions.
  • The inspector general of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service reports that the deputy assistant secretary for fish, wildlife, and parks frequently overrode the recommendations of the agency's scientists and shared internal documents with industry representatives. (Update: There are some eye-popping examples of the interference here and here.)
  • Wondering about collective names for various bird species? You can find some here, along with a report of sighting a convocation of eagles.
  • Forsythe NWR in New Jersey will purchase an extra 85 acres.
  • New York readers may be interested in an exhibition of John James Audubon's paintings of North American mammals at the American Museum of Natural History. The New York Historical Society has its own Audubon exhibit underway; the exhibition website includes bird song recordings. (The NY Times has reviewed them.)
  • Stephen Colbert has some ideas for taking advantage of global warming. (I believe he refers to this article.)
Birds in the blogosphere.
Carnivals and links.