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Loose Feathers #629

Trumpeter Swan / Photo by Tom Koerner/USFWS
Birds and birding news
  • The blackest birds in the world are the birds-of-paradise, whose black feathers absorb almost all light that hits them (unlike North American blackbirds, which reflect a small amount to produce iridescent colors). The secret seems to be in the structure of the feathers.
  • Engineered sandbars do not provide the same benefits to Piping Plovers that natural sandbars do. Part of the problem with engineered sandbars is that their relatively small size leads to too much population density.
  • Noise pollution from energy operations in western deserts is causing Western Bluebirds to have fewer chicks.
  • Here is a guide to studying bird tracks in the snow.
  • Rat poison used on marijuana plantations could put endangered Northern Spotted Owls (and other predators) in further danger.
  • Meanwhile, a federal appeals court is allowing the US Fish and Wildlife Service to kill Barred Owls to reduce competition with Spotted Owls in northwestern forests.
  • Here is a follow-up on conditions in the Saemangeum Estuary since much of it was enclosed by a seawall in 2006.
  • Westerly winds during the recent nor'easter worked to the benefit of Snowy Owls wintering on the New Jersey coast.
  • An Ivory Gull was discovered in Illinois last week.
  • Botulism deaths among waterfowl in the Great Lakes are linked to warm waters and algae.
  • Emperor Penguins that breed near the coast may shorten their fast by taking short foraging swims before eggs are laid.
Science and nature blogging
  • Rigor Vitae: Life Unyielding: Poorwills: A Novel Strategy For Surviving Winter's Cold
  • Avian Hybrids: Hybrid Bird Species: A Big Bird on the Galapagos Islands and a Small Manakin in the Amazon Basin
  • The Prairie Ecologist: The Diversity, Beauty, and Secret Lives of Grasshoppers
  • awkward botany: What Bugs Can Tell Us About the Value of Vacant Urban Land
  • The Afternoon Birder: Join Me on a Big Year of Bird Reading  
  • ABA Blog: 2018 AOS Classification Committee Proposals, Part 1
  • sunshinecoastbirds: Captive Breeding Programs for Endangered Species Under Scrutiny
  • The Bruce Mactavish Newfoundland Birding Blog: Bald Eagle on The Run
  • 10,000 Birds: Bird Litigation: Sonoran Desert Bald Eagle
  • The Meadowlands Nature Blog: Good Morning From A Fish Crow  
  • Anything Larus: Slaty-backed Here. Slaty-backed There.
  • Feathered Photography: Peregrine Falcon Coming At Me
Environment and biodiversity
  • Last year was the third-warmest year ever in the US and set temperature records in five states. The year also was the most expensive in terms of natural disasters.
  • If you think the Trump administration is following a blueprint from the coal industry, you are correct. A coal executive sent the administration a wishlist with 14 desired regulatory changes last spring, and most of those changes have been implemented. 
  • Florida received an unexpected exemption from offshore drilling, which led other states to wonder why they were not exempted too. 
  • The Endangered Species Act may be in danger of repeal or weakening, even though it has worked well for most of its existence.
  • The deputy director of the National Park Service will be the employee who helped Daniel Snyder cut down trees in C&O Canal NHP so that his mansion would have a better view.
  • Scientists have found evidence that proboscis-bearing moths and butterflies, or something like them, existed as early as 200 million years ago, before the rise of flowering plants.
  • Freshwater waterways are becoming saltier thanks to heavy use of road salt, which washes off roads as the snow melts. Excess salt makes water more basic and more corrosive and harms ecosystems in nearby wetlands.
  • Cold snaps like the one that recently struck the eastern US are becoming rarer as global temperatures rise.
  • Hydropower dams are altering the flood pulses that are ecologically important for parts of the Amazon watershed.
  • Even moderate levels of pollution can cause alarming drops in the mayfly population. 
  • Too many Florida Panthers are dying from being hit by cars for births to replenish the population loss.
  • Ohio is banning 38 species of invasive plants from being sold in plant nurseries.
  • New Jersey's DEP has restarted a plan to create wildlife habitat in a contaminated section of Liberty State Park and open it to the public.


This post first appeared on A DC Birding, please read the originial post: here

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Loose Feathers #629

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