Friday, November 30, 2012

Loose Feathers #369

Chestnut-collared Longspur / WCS Photo
Birds and birding
  • Birds in areas that are brightly lit by artificial lights are able to forage longer into the evening, which may be an advantage for overwintering birds. (Of course, artificial lights have well-known detriments for birds in the process of migrating.)
  • A student at Berkeley replicated bird surveys that were done a century ago and turned up similar numbers of species.
  • Injuries to swans' hips may be more common than thought and probably result from landing on hard surfaces.
  • A dead carrier pigeon from World War I was found in a British chimney. It had a coded message attached to one leg, which has proven resistant to interpretation.
  • A rat eradication program is continuing on South Georgia Island to rid the island of invasive rats that threaten the island's breeding birds.
  • The American Bird Conservancy wants Congress to ban five species of constrictor snakes from importation. The release of constrictor snakes in Florida is having significant effects on its native wildlife.
  • The Manumea still exists in Samoa but faces threats from habitat destruction and hunting.
Nature blogging
Environment and biodiversity
  • Sea levels are rising 60% faster than the IPCC predicted. Along with temperature data, this suggests that climate change is likely to be worse than the consensus forecasts. Here are some interactive maps showing what portions of major metropolitan areas could flood under several sea level forecasts. Meanwhile, Arctic sea ice melted over an area larger than the continental United States in 2012 and set a record 20% lower than the previous record.
  • A newly-approved natural gas pipeline will go through the New York portion of Gateway National Recreation Area, particularly Jacob Riis Park and Floyd Bennett Field.
  • Recent studies suggest that the animals and especially plants of US urban areas are homogenizing, to the extent that there are now large differences between the fauna and flora of cities and the surrounding rural areas. (I am not sure why they chose to put a Blue Tit on the Empire State Building, though.)
  • Eastern wolves (formely Canis lupus lycaon) are now considered a separate species from gray wolves.
  • Also in wolf news, hunting caused the deaths of seven tagged research wolves from Yellowstone. The deaths of those wolves pose a significant setback for the research program.