Friday, January 14, 2011

Loose Feathers #273

American Oystercatcher / USFWS photo

Birds and birding news
  • Yesterday a Red-tailed Hawk hit a window on the New York Times building in Manhattan. Colliding with windows is a major form of avian mortality in the U.S.; for raptors it is the third-highest human-induced cause of death after being hit by cars and rat poison.
  • Three endangered Whooping Cranes were shot and killed while they were migrating through Tennessee in December. The three cranes were migrating separately from the ultralight-led flock.
  • Winter recreation and alpine sports threaten the survival of European mountain birds such as the Capercaillie.
  • A new study looked at how seabirds at a breeding colony in the Falkland Islands vary their feeding habits to avoid conflicts with other species.
  • Great Tits with access to bird feeders start their dawn chorus 20 minutes later than they otherwise would.
  • The El Paujil Bird Reserve in Colombia will cover an additional 1,480 acres to protect habitat for five threatened bird species (Blue-billed Curassow, Cerulean Warbler, White-mantled Barbet, Antioquia Bristle-Tyrant, and Turquoise Dacnis) and three threatened mammals (Magdalena spider monkey, spectacled bear, and Colombian tapir).
  • Snowy Owls use their bright plumage to impress rivals and defend their territory from encroachment.
Birds in the blogosphere
Oil spills
  • The official oil spill commission concluded that the Deepwater Horizon explosion and subsequent spill were preventable. It recommends the creation of a safety board and an independent monitoring office to oversee safety at future drilling operations.
  • The National Wildlife Federation found that new tar balls continue to wash up on the beaches at Grand Isle in Louisiana.
  • The Brown Pelican population in the Gulf of Mexico is still strong despite being hit hard by the oil spill.
Environment and biodiversity
  • 2010 tied 2005 as the hottest year on record, and it also was the wettest year on record. It was the 34th consecutive year that global temperatures were above the 20th century average, and 9 of the 10 hottest years on record have occurred since 2001. The year was not as unusually warm in the United States as in the rest of the world; in the U.S., the summer was the fourth-hottest on record, and the entire year was the 23rd warmest.
  • The EPA revoked the permit for a massive mountaintop-removal coal mine in West Virginia. The agency made the move on the basis of Clean Water Act violations.
  • Changes in the climate of western Europe may have contributed to the decline of the Roman Empire and the outbreak of the Black Death. A study of European climate over the past 2,500 years identified a period of unpredictable weather from 250-550 C.E. and prolonged cold snaps during the early 14th century and early 17th century.
  • Six frog species considered extinct were rediscovered in Haiti.
  • According to new projections, even if humans stop producing excess greenhouse gases by 2100 the world will be a much hotter place by 3000 with much different effects in the northern and southern hemispheres.
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