Friday, June 30, 2017

Loose Feathers #602

Northern Harrier chicks / Photo by Tom Koerner/USFWS
Birds and birding news
Science and nature blogging
Environment and biodiversity
  • An Iranian city may have tied the record for the world's hottest recorded temperature as the Persian Gulf region remains stuck in an intense heat wave.
  • Meanwhile the climate action plan for the G20 summit has been weakened to mollify Donald Trump, though the Trump administration seems likely to reject or ignore the agreement anyway.
  • In the U.S., the economic effects of climate change are likely to be worse in the southeast than elsewhere in the country.
  • Even though greenhouse gas emissions have stabilized, carbon in the atmosphere is still rising, which raises the question of whether natural carbon sinks will continue to respond as we expect.
  • Budget cuts threaten progress in cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay. 
  • The public can now comment on the review of national marine monuments and sanctuaries. Leave comments here.
  • While marginal agricultural land offers the best opportunity for restoring butterfly populations (especially the Monarch), planting native plants is necessary in all landscape types, including suburban and urban ones.
  • After part of a coastal cliff collapsed in southwestern England in the 19th century, a remaining piece became an isolated haven for rare plants.
  • An intensive logging campaign is destroying the Białowieża forest in Poland, which has long been recognized as a key biodiversity hotspot.
  • The PennEast pipeline project, which would carry natural gas from Pennsylvania through western New Jersey, is stalled after its parent company did not submit required information for its application.
  • More Humpback Whales will be in New Jersey and New York waters this summer because of the rise in Atlantic Menhaden close to shore.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Loose Feathers #601

Yellow-headed Blackbird / Photo by Tom Koerner/USFWS
Birds and birding news
  • A proposed funding formula would direct federal conservation money towards endangered or threatened species with the best chance of recovery. Under that formula, species that continued to decline despite intervention, like the Northern Spotted Owl, would see their funding cut, while others like the Hawaiian Crow and Indiana Bat would get more.
  • Eggs come in a variety of shapes, from smoothly rounded eggs like a chicken's to ones that are much more pointed at one end. Pointier eggs are generally produced by stronger fliers, which may be a result of a bird's internal anatomy.
  • Analysis of carbon isotopes in Bobolinks' feathers shows that while they eat other grasses in the winter, they eat mostly rice just before they migrate north. This has the advantage of providing them more calories in preparation for migration, but also exposes them to more pesticides and possibly persecution by farmers.
  • Mangrove swamps in Indonesia are important stopover sites for migratory shorebirds but are being lost to palm oil plantations and agriculture. 
  • An expedition to the Atacama Desert in Chile found nesting grounds for the Ringed Storm-Petrel, whose breeding sites were previously unknown.
  • Birds following army ants cooperate when foraging
  • Gulls feeding at landfills may transport nutrients that cause algal blooms to nearby waterways.
Science and nature blogging
Environment and biodiversity

Friday, June 16, 2017

Loose Feathers #600

American Bittern / Photo by Krista Lundgren/USFWS
Birds and birding news
Science and nature blogging
Environment and biodiversity

Friday, June 09, 2017

Loose Feathers #599

Brewer's Sparrow / Photo by Tom Koerner/USFWS
Birds and birding news
Science and nature blogging
Environment and biodiversity
  • The Whitebark Pine is likely to go extinct because of a combination of threats (including invasive species, climate change, and fire suppression), but so far it has not been listed as endangered because of politics and funding. 
  • Another tree species threatened by climate change is the Atlantic White Cedar, which struggling to survive in coastal wetlands made more brackish by sea level rise.
  • Genetic analysis shows that the extinct Palaeoloxodon antiquus is more closely related to the African Forest Elephant than the latter is to the African Savanna Elephant. This should help conservation efforts since it provides additional evidence that the forest and savanna elephants are separate species.
  • Beavers have been documented on the tundra as woody plants advance northward.
  • NJ DEP has revised its rules for development near wetlands in ways that will probably result in the loss of more wetlands.

Friday, June 02, 2017

Loose Feathers #598

Ovenbird / Photo by Nate Rathbun/USFWS
Birds and birding news
Science and nature blogging
Environment and biodiversity