Friday, August 31, 2007

Loose Feathers #113

Snowy Egret / Photo by Ryan Hagerty (USFWS)

News and links about birds, birding, and the environment
  • rare bird sex ratioA recent study found that males outnumber females in most bird species. This seems to be a cost of sex; females are more likely to be killed on the nest by a predator. The finding has implications for conservation. Most population estimates for threatened species are based on counts of adult males; the estimates may be too high if males outnumber females. Rarer species are even more skewed than common species in this regard.
  • Male songbirds may use the songs of other males to judge habitat quality. For example, the song of one black-throated blue warbler will attract other males into the area.
  • juvenile blue titSongbirds that feed spiders to their young make their offspring bolder and improve their ability to learn. The key ingredient seems to be taurine, an amino acid also found in breast milk and energy drinks.
  • A rare red kite was found shot dead in Ireland. The species was recently reintroduced after a long absence.
  • The kakapo, a flightless parrot in New Zealand, is the beneficiary of a conservation program. Scientists provide the parrots with dietary supplements to help them reproduce in lean years.
  • Conservationists in the U.K. describe 1,149 species - including 59 bird species - as being in need of conservation action. The list includes house sparrow and starling.
  • Puffin chickPuffins are now thriving in Maine thanks to protection and a three-decade restoration program.
  • A nonprofit group recommends the restoration of 36,000 acres of wetland around San Francisco Bay.
  • The U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a sentence against a man for importing black sparrowhawks from Africa, an action that is illegal under the Wild Bird Conservation Act.
  • Grist covers how to get started with landscaping your yard to attract birds.
  • The Center for Biological Diversity is suing the Bush administration to force the restoration of designation critical habitat for 55 species to its size before recent reductions.
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