Friday, April 06, 2007

Loose Feathers #93

Green-winged Teal / Photo by Jesse Achtenberg (USFWS)

News and links about birds, birding, and the environment.
  • A new report from the IPCC examines the effects of climate change on natural ecosystems. For humans, the biggest issues will be availability of fresh drinking water and changes in precipitation. Warming could result in the extinction of one-third of current species. The American Southwest is likely to become drier. Ten of the world's prominent natural wonders may disappear: "They include the: Amazon; Great Barrier Reef and other coral reefs; Chihuahua Desert in Mexico and the US; hawksbill turtles in the Caribbean; Valdivian temperate rainforests in Chile; tigers and people in the Indian Sundarbans; Upper Yangtze River in China; wild salmon in the Bering Sea; melting glaciers in the Himalayas; and East African coastal forests."
  • Also on the climate change beat, the maximum extent of Arctic sea ice in winter 2007 was the second-lowest recorded by satellites. The record low was in winter 2006.
  • There is a new update in the story of the Wilson Bridge eagles. As you may remember, George and Martha had raised eaglets next to the Beltway for years until Martha was attacked by another eagle and later died from unrelated injuries. Now George has a new mate, apparently the same female eagle that attacked Martha last year.
  • A bar-tailed godwit fitted with a tracking device covered over 6,000 miles in a seven-day nonstop flight, from New Zealand to North Korea.
  • King penguins may be a good indicator species for monitoring the effects of climate change and overfishing. They forage over a wide area and breed in areas accessible to researchers.
  • Female green woodhoopoes that start breeding later in life produce more offspring than those that start breeding earlier, partly because the younger females have a higher mortality rate.
  • Healthy coastal wetlands should be able to survive rising sea levels; however, land-use changes that reduce the delivery of sediment downstream would lead to deterioration.
  • Owls communicate information about their weight (and therefore fighting ability) through the pitch of their calls.
  • The courtship display of the marvelous spatuletail, a rare hummingbird, has been filmed for the first time. You can watch the video here.
  • Central Park in New York City is using border collies to scare geese off the park's lawns.
  • Middlesex County, NJ, has recorded over 250 species of birds in spite of being densely populated and developed.
Birds in the blogosphere.
Carnivals and links.