|Great Horned Owl / Photo by Bill Moses/USFWS|
Birds and birding news
- This weekend is the Great Backyard Bird Count. Here is an explanation of how to participate.
- New genetic evidence suggests that Northwestern and American Crows were split by the last ice age but have been merging through interbreeding since then. This raises the question of whether they should be considered separate species.
- Chinstrap Penguins are in decline, much like Adelie Penguins but unlike Gentoo Penguins, and the decline seems to be linked to climate change.
- The Trump administration plans to expand the killing of cormorants when they come into conflict with the aquaculture and fishing industries and delegate the authority to decide whether culling is appropriate to state governments.
- The Blue-bearded Helmetcrest is a rare hummingbird whose range is mostly within the territory of the indigenous Kogi people in Colombia.
- Birders in Wisconsin have been seeing a leucistic Pileated Woodpecker along the Milwaukee River.
- A project in Borneo is building nest boxes for Rhinoceros Hornbills.
- A New York birder and photographer was deported to Yemen last month.
Science and nature blogging
- The Freiday Bird Blog: Threats to NJ Birds: the Next Three Dishonorable Mentions
- MaghrebOrnitho: Northern Bald Ibis in Morocco since 1900: Analysis of ecological requirements
- Feathered Photography: Pied-billed Grebe With A Crayfish (or whatever you wanna call it) For Dinner
- Bug Eric: Avoiding Despair in the Age of the “Insect Apocalypse”
- Avian Hybrids: The variable beak of the finch: How hybridization increases variation in beak morphology
- Sibley Guides: The head shape of Herring Gulls seems to change seasonally
- Arachnofiles: Arachnews: February 10, 2020
- Seabirding: Expedition Diablotin May 2019 - by Brian Patteson
Biodiversity and conservation
- An area of Sri Lanka that had been off-limits because of civil war turned out to be a haven for reptiles and amphibians, including at least 84 species.
- Recovery and survival of the longleaf pine in the Southeast will depend on generations of private landowners being willing to plant and maintain stands of it. Longleaf pine forests are home to a high level of biodiversity, including Red-cockaded Woodpeckers.
- The disappearance of frogs due to Bd. seems to be reducing the number of snakes that used to feed on them.
- Grizzly bear death rates are rising, mainly because of the roads and railroads that slice through the territory.
- Many wildlife in addition to bears are threatened because of roads that intersect their migration or dispersal paths.
- The Tongass and Chugach National Forests provide breeding habitat that produces 48 million salmon per year.
- Government agencies are trying to reduce the number of invasive carp in the Mississippi watershed. Carp were introduced to North America in the 1960s and 1970s.
- Pangolins may be an intermediate host for the coronavirus, which originated in bats. Pangolins are one of the most highly-trafficked animals and are often found in animal markets like the one in Wuhan.
Climate change and environmental politics
- Oil released in the Deepwater Horizon disaster in 2010 covered a much larger area than estimated at the time because some of the oil was not visible on satellite imagery. Safety regulations intended to prevent a similar disaster have since been removed by the Trump administration.
- The Trump administration's changes to enforcement of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act would eliminate the fines that BP received for killing birds with the Deepwater Horizon spill.
- Last month was the hottest January on record worldwide, and this month looks likely to continue that trend.
- Officials in Alberta have no idea how to clean up the toxic tailings ponds that result from tar sands mining. Meanwhile, the ponds are a death trap for waterbirds and contribute to air and groundwater pollution.
- A climate change plan for South Florida involves building miles of massive sea walls and tidal barriers.
- The person running the Bureau of Land Management has devoted his life to privatizing public land, even if that means collaborating with dangerous conspiracy theorists.
- Border wall construction is blasting through Native American burial grounds and other sites of historical and ecological importance.