Friday, May 20, 2016

Loose Feathers #546

Virginia Rail / Photo by K. Theule / USFWS
Birds and birding news
  • The latest State of the Birds report assesses the conservation status of all 1,154 species native to the United States, Canada, and Mexico. Of those, 432 qualified for the watch list, indicating that they are at risk of extinction. The most severe declines were found among birds of oceans and tropical forests.
  • Last Saturday was the World Series of Birding in New Jersey. My team, the Middlesex Merlins, placed third in the LGA (county-level) category. See the full standings here (pdf).
  • Studies of canaries and zebra finches found one of the genes that allows birds to turn carotenoids into red plumage.
  • The first chicks hatched in the Florida Grasshopper Sparrow captive-breeding program. The subspecies breeds only in southern Florida and has been in rapid decline.
  • The drying of the Salton Sea poses a threat to migratory birds as well as the local economy. 
  • A study of Seychelles Warblers found that inbreeding is linked to a shorter lifespan.
  • Here is an interview with Heather Wolf, a birder who has been watching and photographing the birds of Brooklyn Bridge Park. 
  • Hornbills in the Kalahari Desert pass heat through their beaks to keep from overheating in much the same way as toucans do.
Science and nature blogging
Environment and biodiversity