Friday, December 14, 2007

Loose Feathers #128

Greater Sage Grouse / Photo by Dave Menke (USFWS)

News and links about birds, birding, and the environment
  • Range maps for threatened species may overestimate their geographic ranges, especially for those species with specialized habitat needs. The finding implies that some species may be more vulnerable to extinction than commonly thought.
  • In the 1980s, New Zealand eliminated cats from Little Barrier Island to protect the breeding population of Cook's petrels. Unfortunately, the loss of the cat population allowed the rat population to soar and caused a further decline in the Cook's petrel population. Recently biologists managed to wipe out the rat population as well. The petrel population has been recovering since then. The story shows the importance of understanding an ecological system completely before attempting major modifications.
  • A leaky pipe at an transfer station in the North Sea dumped 25,000 barrels of crude oil into the ocean. The oil slick, now covering eight square kilometers, threatens thousands of seabirds that winter in the area. (These seabirds already had enough trouble without the oil.)
  • Law enforcement in Bolivia is failing to stop the trade in vulnerable wild birds. Recent visits to a pet market in Bolivia turned up 31 species of wild parrot species; four of them were threatened species such as Lear's Macaw and Hyacinth Macaw.
  • The News-Press in SW Florida pictures the 66 "birds of Christmas."
  • Some westerners are coordinating voluntary conservation efforts to forestall federal listing of the greater sage grouse.
  • Piping plover pairs in New Jersey produced fewer chicks than expected, thanks in part to increased flooding along the coast. Pairs raised 0.67 chicks per nest, rather than the 1.25 necessary to maintain the population.
  • Proper landscaping is as important as providing bird feeders to attract birds to your property.
  • Interesting local sightings have included a lesser nighthawk in Cape May and Townsend's solitaire at Sandy Hook. The birds have been carried to New Jersey by prevailing southwest winds over the past several weeks.
  • The eleven warmest years on record have all occurred in the last thirteen years, and 1998-2007 is the warmest decade on record.
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