Friday, March 26, 2021

Loose Feathers #794

Song Sparrow / by me

Birds and birding news

  • A Ring-billed Gull in Cleveland turned out to be the oldest Ring-billed Gull ever recorded after a partial band number was determined from photographs. It was 28 years old and had been banded at Tommy Thompson Park in Toronto.
  • A new species of mihirung, Dromornis stirtoni, was found in Australia. The new species is the largest member of the extinct family Dromornithidae, which is related to modern waterfowl or gamebirds.
  • Atlantic Puffins are in decline because of a lack of prey, which causes chicks to starve.
  • Ornithologists split two new species, the Xingu Screech-Owl and Alagoas Screech-Owl, out of the Tawny-bellied Screech-Owl complex in Brazil. Both have small ranges and are threatened by fires and forest fragmentation.
  • The Bald Eagle population in the Lower 48 states has quadrupled since 2009, with 316,700 individuals and 71,400 nesting pairs as of 2019.
  • However, some Bald Eagles have been dying of a neurodegenerative disease caused by cyanobacteria growing on invasive Hydrilla. Herbicides used to control Hydrilla may contribute to the problem if they contain bromide.
  • Three species were added to the ABA Checklist recently: Hooded Crane, Northern Giant-Petrel, and Mitred Parakeet.
  • Irregular water releases from upstream dams along the Mekong River threaten birds that nest along the river, especially ground-nesting birds.
  • The Iberá Seedeater does not interbreed with closely related species even though they share most of their neighbors' genomes and live in the same area.

Science and nature blogging

Biodiversity and conservation

  • An update to the IUCN Red List classifies the African Forest Elephant as critically endangered and the African Savanna Elephant as endangered. Both had previously been considered vulnerable in the previous update. The ivory trade is a major threat to both species.
  • Patagonia is one of the most important breeding grounds for Blue Whales, but the whales there have to dodge numerous boats that tend the area's salmon industry.
  • A survey in Hawaii found 13 new moth species as well as one that had been considered extinct.
  • A pair of dolphins was filmed swimming in the East River in New York City.
  • Every invasive tree in North America was introduced as an ornamental and many harm insects and the wildlife that depend on them.
  • The history of whaling restrictions shows how empathy can be a motivating force for conservation even when it is seen as extreme or at odds with scientific standards.

Climate change and environmental politics