Friday, May 09, 2008

Loose Feathers #149

House Wren / Photo by Dave Menke (USFWS)

Bird news and links
  • Great tits are adjusting to climate change by nesting earlier. Tits at Wytham Woods near Oxford have been banded and their nests monitored since 1947. On average, they now lay eggs two weeks earlier than in 1961. The earlier nest date allows birds to take advantage of an earlier peak in caterpillar availability due to the warming climate. It appears that the British great tits, unlike continental great tits and North American wood warblers, are able to adjust their breeding dates based on ambient temperature and food availability.
  • Other birds have not adjusted as successfully; 41 percent of Europe's 522 migratory waterbird populations are declining.
  • Scientists discovered a new bird ancestor, Eoconfuciusornis zhengi, in northern China. Its feathers are fairly well-preserved compared to other fossils. The new specimen was probably better able to fly than Archaeopteryx, as it had a skeletal and muscular structure closer to modern birds.
  • Audubon California worked out a deal to protect a colony of 80,000 tricolored blackbirds, one of the largest remaining in the world.
  • Towns in Japan are trying to discourage crows from nesting on utility poles since the nests cause power outages. Crow populations have soared there in recent years. (link via Aydin)
  • Male herring gull embryos appear to be more sensitive to their environment than female embryos, leading to delayed hatching and poorer fledging condition.
  • Beauty the Bald EagleWildlife rehabilitators in Idaho are preparing to attach an artificial bill to a bald eagle. Its original bill was shot off by a hunter. (The "bird recovery center in Anchorage" mentioned in the article is Bird TLC.)
  • Also, via Bird TLC, an eagle that survived the Exxon Valdez spill died this week, twenty years after it was rescued.
  • The San Bernardino County Museum and National Forest Service have launched a study of the endangered southwestern willow flycatcher to determine the causes of its decline and its habitat needs.
  • Environmentalists near Edmonton are trying to relocate a power line that causes numerous bird deaths from collisions.
Birds in the blogosphere
Environmental news
  • According to a recent National Geographic survey, U.S. consumers rank last in following green habits. Here is a simplified Greendex if you want to test your own habits.
  • You can reduce your impact by producing and discarding less waste. Many products can and should be recycled. Food waste can be turned into compost for gardens or houseplants.
  • Electronic waste is being dumped illegally in west Africa, where people (often children) break it up for scrap without taking proper safety precautions. As a result they are exposed a host of dangerous toxins.
  • Tropical insects may suffer the worst effects of climate change, since they have more difficulty regulating their body temperature than other organisms.
  • A new report shows that the EU's biofuels policy is likely to cause environmental harm around the planet. Clearing land for biofuel feed stocks represents a threat to natural habitats.
  • The Lieberman-Warner climate bill appears moribund.
  • Enviroblog: Cheatsheet: Phthalates
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