Friday, July 08, 2016

Loose Feathers #553

Common Nighthawk / Photo by Tom Koerner/USFWS
Birds and birding news
  • The AOU has released its latest checklist supplement (pdf) that contains taxonomic changes from the past year. A summary of those affecting the US and Canada can be found at the ABA Blog. The supplement includes a major reordering of non-passerine orders, as well as splits to a few species such as the Western Scrub-Jay (now California Scrub-Jay and Woodhouse's Scrub-Jay).
  • The presence of campgrounds in Marbled Murrelet breeding territory changes the behavior of Steller's Jays and may put the endangered murrelets in danger of nest predation.
  • A huge colony of Macaroni and Chinstrap Penguins on Zavodovski Island is at risk from erupting volcano.
  • The first two Spoon-billed Sandpiper chicks hatched as part of a captive breeding program both died.
  • An extinct relative of ostriches once lived in North America. 
  • Genetic research is showing how hummingbirds and bees influence the shape of flowers in the genus Penstemon.
  • The caustic waters of Lake Natron support a population of around 1.5 million Lesser Flamingos.
Science and nature blogging
Environment and biodiversity
  • So-called "beneficial uses" for coal ash are largely unregulated and can release numerous toxins into the environment and poison drinking water.
  • A recent oil train derailment (and resulting spill) in Oregon was caused by broken lag bolts that inspectors had missed.
  • Canada's pipeline regulator is finally addressing problems with shoddy pipeline materials that were first identified eight years ago. 
  • Coal production has been on the decline, which is good for the environment, but western states are not prepared to deal with the economic fallout.
  • The Northern Oak Hairstreak may be more common than it seems because it spends its adult life feeding on oak galls high in the canopy.
  • Cape Cod National Seashore is rebuilding infrastructure like parking lots farther from the shoreline in anticipation of sea level rise (and in some cases erosion that is already happening).
  • During the last Ice Age, weakening of currents in the Atlantic caused rapid climate fluctuations.
  • A black bear in New Jersey lost the use of its forelegs, so it learned to walk upright and appears to be healthy.
  • Three former governors have joined a lawsuit to stop the planned Pine Barrens pipeline.