Friday, July 10, 2020

Loose Feathers #757

Brewer's Blackbird / Photo by Tom Koerner/USFWS
Birds and birding news
  • In response to calls to drop objectionable honorific bird names, the American Ornithological Society announced that they are drafting a proposal to change the McCown's Longspur's name and will consider proposals for changing other names.
  • The US Fish and Wildlife Service designated critical habitat for the Elfin-woods Warbler, which is endemic to Puerto Rico.
  • California Condors were recorded in Sequoia National Park for the first time in 50 years, a sign of their increasing population.
  • All birds are at risk of hitting buildings, but glass walls are most dangerous for insect-eating and forest birds. The Bird-Safe Buildings Act could help reduce the number of window collisions.
  • A breeding colony of endangered New Zealand Shore Plovers disappeared, and it is unclear whether they were killed or returned to the mainland.
  • During Australia's COVID-19 lockdown earlier this year, the use of a birding app increased ten times over the same period last year.
  • While eBird provides good data within the U.S., global coverage is still too limited to establish population trends. In particular, traveling birders seek out rarities, which makes them appear more common than they really are in eBird's data.
  • A new project is trying to determine whether Australia's Little Penguins can switch prey when their preferred food is scarce. 
  • A Piping Plover nest enclosure was destroyed and at least one chick killed in Maine. 
  • A couple in Trinidad turned their garden into a haven for hummingbirds.
Science and nature blogging
Biodiversity and conservation
  • A federal judge reinstated endangered species protections for grizzly bears in the Yellowstone region because the administration failed to consider how delisting the Yellowstone grizzlies would affect the overall grizzly population in the Lower 48.
  • The amount of roadkill has dropped since the beginning of the pandemic, and the reduction could improve the outlook for some wildlife populations.
  • A group of scientists is attempting to reconcile the many taxonomic frameworks into a single tree of life. A unified taxonomy could improve conservation by clarifying which populations are unique and in need of protection.
  • Last year's bushfires in Australia melted camera traps meant for a frog study, but the memory cards still worked and showed how the landscape changed during the fires and subsequent floods.
  • The "nature is healing" meme has lived on during the coronavirus shutdowns even though many of the early posts were faked.
  • The effects of the pandemic on citizen science have been mixed: public events like bioblitzes have been canceled, but there is increased participation in projects that can be done close to home or online.
  • Restrictions on fishing off New England may be necessary to save the North Atlantic Right Whale.
  • Earlier this year, scientists released 200 Northeastern Beach Tiger Beetles at Sandy Hook to re-establish a population of this threatened species.
  • Conservationists are petitioning California to add the Quino Checkerspot to its list of endangered species.
  • Entomologists created a new key for identifying gall wasps.
Climate change and environmental politics