Friday, January 15, 2021

Loose Feathers #784

Bald Eagles / Photo by Tom Koerner/USFWS

Birds and birding news

  • The Trump administration is removing protections from 3.4 million acres of critical habitat for the Northern Spotted Owl. The move is to benefit the timber industry.
  • A small group of King Penguins has established itself on Martillo Island in Argentina. Scientists are trying to figure out where they came from and whether the new colony will survive.
  • Emus will probably survive climate change, but their eastern population is threatened by development and introduced predators.
  • Cleaning feeders helps keep winter finches from getting sick.
  • Eastern Black Rails have been designated as threatened after a 25-year campaign to stop their decline.
  • Sand dredged from the Intracoastal Waterway is being used to restore saltmarshes to provide habitat for coastal birds like the Saltmarsh Sparrow.

Science and nature blogging

Biodiversity and conservation

Climate change and environmental politics

Friday, January 08, 2021

Loose Feathers #783

Ferruginous Hawk / Photo by Tom Koerner/USFWS

Birds and birding news

  • The Trump administration finalized its rule to allow fossil fuel companies and others to kill migratory birds without fines or prosecution. If this rule had been in place in 2010, there would have been no penalty for the birds killed in the Deepwater Horizon explosion. The regulatory change was made despite widespread opposition, including from within the Interior Department.
  • A Painted Bunting has been attracting attention in Maryland along the C&O Canal. Among the birders was the Swiss ambassador.
  • A Little Stint that was banded in Sweden was discovered during a Christmas Bird Count in North Carolina.
  • A study of Eurasian Eagle-Owl diets found a hidden population of bush-crickets in Bulgaria.
  • Last year there were 220 Bald Eagle nests in New Jersey that produced 307 eaglets. Thirty-six of the nests were new, and there were another 28 pairs that did not lay eggs.
  • Birders are asking Chicago to include the Piping Plover nesting site in the adjacent natural dunes area.
  • There are a number of foods better than bread for feeding ducks (and other wild birds).
  • Avian influenza is killing thousands of birds in India this winter.

Science and nature blogging

Biodiversity and conservation

Climate change and environmental politics

  • The Trump administration issued a rule banning public health studies that use anonymized data for regulating pollution. This rule change has been promoted by businesses to avoid enforcement of pollution restrictions.
  • The administration auctioned drilling leases in the Arctic NWR this week, and the main bidder was the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority because major energy corporations are having trouble financing drilling there.
  • Here are some other things the administration has been up to in its waning days.
  • The riot at the US Capitol this week reminded some of the Malheur NWR occupation, and how its participants faced few consequences. The police response was noticeably lax compared to the frequent mass arrests at social justice or environmental protests.
  • National flood insurance rules will need to be revised to address the threats of sea-level rise and flooding from climate-driven storms.
  • Climate disasters caused $95 billion in damage last year, which is the third-highest total from the past decade. 
  • There is already enough carbon in the atmosphere to raise temperatures by 2.3°C, but immediate reduction in carbon emissions could slow down the warming trend.
  • The beef industry in Brazil is not only harmful to the environment but also a human-rights problem.
  • Satellite data show the decline of Arctic sea ice.
  • Reducing plastic pollution requires holding producers accountable for the waste they create.

Friday, January 01, 2021

Loose Feathers #782

Bald Eagles / Photo by Tom Koerner/USFWS

Birds and birding news

  • Some of the owls banded by Project SNOW are starting to return data logged over the summer as they come back into transmission range.
  • Controlling invasive grasses could help California's declining Greater Sage-Grouse population rebound.
  • This summer a pair of Red-shouldered Hawks nested in a publicly-visible spot along the Klingle Valley Trail in DC.
  • EBird suggests some birding challenges for 2021.

Science and nature blogging

Biodiversity and conservation

Climate change and environmental politics

  • The Trump administration is rushing to sell oil drilling leases in Arctic NWR, but so far there is little demand from fossil fuel companies. So Alaska's state development corporation might buy the leases instead.
  • New international rules will make it harder for wealthy countries to dump their plastic waste on developing countries.
  • Scientific American lists the top climate stories of 2020, when climate-fueled droughts, fires, and storms became increasingly visible.
  • The removal of four dams along the Klamath River would be the largest dam removal in American history and open 400 miles of migratory salmon habitat.