Friday, November 09, 2007

Loose Feathers #123

Brant / Photo by Tim Bowman (USFWS)

News and links about birds, birding, and the environment
  • According to a new study, birds' sense of direction is instinctual, but recovering after being blown off course requires experience. Adult and juvenile white-crowned sparrows were released farther east from their normal migration routes and tracked by satellite. Adults traveled southwest to correct for their displacement; juveniles headed straight south. This may explain why vagrant birds tend to be juveniles.
  • About 3,000 lesser scaup in Minnesota have died from eating snails. The snails carry a parasitic trematode that poisons the ducks.
  • A fuel oil spill in San Francisco Bay threatens hundreds of thousands of birds. The area covered by the 58,000-gallon slick includes a colony of 200,000 common murres, as well as wintering grounds for tens of thousands of scoters and scaup. (See commentary from Creek Running North.)
  • The House and Senate voted to override Bush's veto of the Water Resources Development Act. Among other things, the bill contained provisions to finance Everglades restoration and pollution reduction and habitat restoration in the Chesapeake Bay.
  • Cambodia has set aside over 20,000 acres of vital habitat as a preserve for Sarus Cranes. The Southeast Asian subspecies has been declining rapidly.
  • blue titsA cold and wet summer in the U.K. led to the worst breeding season on record for blue tits, great tits, reed warblers, whitethroats, willow warblers, treecreepers, and willow tits. British ornithologists believe that the wet weather made it more difficult to find caterpillars for food and easier for chicks to succumb to the cold.
  • A birder in the U.K. got stuck in the mud.
  • Maryland's state parks are hurting due to funding cuts.
  • New York City is turning a 55-acre wetland on the northern end of Staten Island into a nature preserve.
  • The green-breasted mango that had appeared at a feeder in Wisconsin was captured and taken to the Wisconsin Humane Society Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Milwaukee, where it will stay a few weeks before being taken to the Brookfield Zoo near Chicago for permanent housing. For commentary, see Mike McDowell (in comments) and The Drinking Bird.
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