Received from Cornell:
Secret Lives of Backyard Birds
Where is that titmouse going with all your sunflower seeds? How far will a chickadee travel for food in a day, or a month? Is "your" favorite nuthatch also a regular at someone else's feeders? We know surprisingly little about the habits of our most familiar birds, but a new banding technology is letting Project FeederWatch leader David Bonter get in on their secrets.
This post was modified from its original form on 10 Sep, 7:10
Over the past weekend, almost 60,000 people from 34 European countries enthusiastically took part in EuroBirdwatch 2010, BirdLife’s event to observe the fascinating migration of birds flying south for the winter.
Many BirdLife Partners across Europe, from Portugal to Turkey, from Malta to Finland, participated organising over 1,000 national events.
This year’s bird observations were collected in each country and referred to the European Centre, coordinated by SOS/BirdLife Slovakia. “The birds didn’t disappoint: attendees counted exactly 2,731,155 of them in total”, said Ján Gúgh from SOS/BirdLife Slovakia.
Rest of article: click here.
The world’s cutest furry sea creature, the California sea otter, has been making a slow recovery since it was nearly wiped off the map by 150 years of hunting for it’s ultra-soft, waterproof fur. But despite being federally protected, the creature’s numbers are going down again, and no one is sure why.
Annual surveys of the California sea otter population, which are averaged over three years to compensate for variability in observation conditions, show the overall population has declined by nearly 4 percent compared to estimates in 2009, and the number of sea otter pups has declined by 11 percent. The otter’s range along the central California coastline has also shrunk by nearly 30 miles.
“Right now we don’t know the specific causes of the decline,” said biologist Tim Tinker of the U.S. Geological Survey, lead scientist of the annual otter survey. “All our data point to a combination of factors, both natural and human caused.”
The sea otters have been getting thinner and smaller relative to otters of the same age and sex in past years, says Tinker, which means they are having a harder time finding food. The number of shark attacks has also gone up, as have the number of bacterial and viral infections found in the otters.
“Diseases that come from terrestrial sources are one of the factors that are also contributing to increased mortality,” Tinker added.
One of those diseases is Toxoplasma gondii, which is spread to otters when the fecal matter of infected cats gets washed out to sea, says Tinker, but there are other diseases as well.
To understand how to most effectively help the otters recover, Tinker says they plan to compare different sea otter populations along the California coast and populations of the northern sea otter, which lives on the coast from Alaska to Washington. By measuring the factors that could be leading to the sea otter decline in these various regions and comparing that to the relative health of their otter populations, scientists can analyze the relative impact of the different factors.
“Sea otters are a really good indication in the health of the coastal ocean,” said Tinker. “And what they’re telling us right now is that it’s not doing so well.“
Read More http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2010/08/sea-otter-decline/#ixzz0veaJnV3E
Received fron ONTBIRDS:
To maximise our chances of tracking juvenile captive-reared EASTERN LOGGERHEAD SHRIKES after release we have coloured an extensive area of their breast in either green or blue, to denote release site. Releases have just begun, so please be on the lookout for these colourful shrikes! Our hope is that the novel colouring will make them more easily detected by the public.
All released birds, and a large proportion of the wild population, are also colour banded. If you see a shrike with a coloured breast and/or wearing bands, please report it to Wildlife Preservation Canada at (email) email@example.com, (phone) 1-800-956-6608, or (fax) 519-836-8840. We will need details about specific location (GPS coordinates are ideal, but not essential) and any colour(s) (breast and/or bands) seen.
Thank you for your assistance.
21 April 2010 – The Green Budget Coalition has denounced a move by the government to weaken the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA). Proposed changes to the CEAA are contained in the 2010 budget bill, the Jobs and Economic Growth Act. Many of the proposed changes were not outlined in the Speech from the Throne, or in the text of the 2010 Budget. However, because they are included in the budget implementation bill, they are implicitly backed by the threat of an election.
“The budget should not be used as a mechanism for weakening Canada’s environmental protection laws,” explained Barry Turner, Green Budget Coalition Chair. “These environmental laws are essential for improving Canadians’ well-being and achieving sustainability, by reconciling economic, social, and environmental elements of development projects. Any proposed changes to these laws should be thoroughly reviewed by the House of Commons Environment Committee, and separately voted upon by parliamentarians, without an election hanging in the balance.”
Bird Studies Canada is a member of the Green Budget Coalition (GBC), a group comprised of 21 of Canada’s leading environmental and conservation organizations. Visit the GBC website to learn more, and to read the GBC’s detailed 2010 budget recommendations.
There's something irresistible about unlikely pairs of animal friends, isn't there? These two -- both residents of Arnold's Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Okeechobee, Fla. -- are among the most irresistible pairs we've seen yet.
Success Story: Baby skunk reunited with family
A few weeks ago, TWC (Toronto Wildlife Center) rescue staff member Andrew responded to a call about two baby skunks that had wandered away from their parents and become caught in a hockey net left out on someone’s driveway. Andrew untangled the first baby and after a giving it an examination was able to release it right way. The skunk made a quick beeline across the yard and straight back to the safety of its den. Unfortunately, the other baby wasn’t so lucky. It was weak and disoriented and had raw-looking red marks around its neck—a sign that the baby’s struggles had only served to tighten the net.
Drifting in and out of consciousness, the baby skunk was brought back to the centre, put in an oxygen cage and given essential fluids to aid rehydration. The baby made a quick recovery and was ready to be released after only a few days. Andrew brought the baby back to where it had been found and watched as it ran along the same path to the den that its sibling had taken days before.
Last Updated: 26th June 2009, 9:35am
JOHNSON CITY, N.Y. — A baby opossum’s instinct to play dead evidently didn’t help matters after it got wedged inside a soda machine at an upstate New York fitness club.
The animal ran into the Court Jester Athletic Club in Johnson City, N.Y., near Binghamton, and scurried behind a soda machine in the front vestibule Wednesday evening.
The club’s assistant manager called police realizing the critter was stuck inside, hanging upside down in a compartment below the soda dispenser.
A police officer tried to pull the animal from the bottom of the machine, but it was lodged in place and making no apparent move to escape. About a half hour later, an employee arrived with a key for the machine, the front panel was opened and the animal rescued. The officer released it in a nearby cemetery.
Information from: The Press and Sun-Bulletin of Binghamton, http://www.pressconnects.com/
Despite these results, sleepers and hiders shouldn't be viewed as evolutionary "winners," the authors say.
"Sleep-or-hide species survive longer, but in a changing world they run the risk of eventually becoming seriously obsolete," says Mikael Fortelius of the University of Helsinki, one of the study's authors. "Species that don't sleep or hide are short-lived, but they may be more likely to leave successful descendants.
"In a way it's the classic choice between security and progress.""
This post was modified from its original form on 03 Feb, 8:43
A previously unknown population of vampire moths has been found in Siberia. And in a twist worthy of a Halloween horror movie, entomologists say the bloodsuckers may have evolved from a purely fruit-eating species.
Only slight variations in wing patterns distinguish the Russian population from a widely distributed moth species, Calyptra thalictri, in central and southern Europe known to feed only on fruit.
When the Russian moths were experimentally offered human hands this summer, the insects drilled their hook-and-barb-lined tongues under the skin and sucked blood.
Entomologist Jennifer Zaspel at the University of Florida in Gainesville said the discovery suggests the moth population could be on an "evolutionary trajectory" away from other C. thalictri populations.
In January, she will compare the Russian population's DNA to that of other populations and other species to confirm her suspicions.
"Based on geography, based on behavior, and based on a phenotypic variation we saw in the wing pattern, we can speculate that this represents something different, something new," Zaspel said.
"But it is really difficult to say without knowing genetic differences between individuals in that population, and among individuals from other populations, how different this group is going to be."
Dead deer in yard a sad lesson about wildlife
A small deer found dead in a Winnipeg yard with a leash tight around its neck may have been taken in by someone as a pet, Manitoba Conservation officials said yesterday.
The young deer was found in the backyard of Bernie Tarbet's riverfront home, and its death appears to be a tragic example of why wild animals should be left alone in their natural habitats.
"Don't feed them, don't take them in, don't treat them as pets," said Tarbet, who found the deer next to a bush behind her Assiniboine Avenue home Wednesday at 3 p.m.
Conservation spokesman Blair McTavish said the department got two calls last week from people who saw a deer with a rope around its neck in Assiniboia, but Conservation officers were unable to find it.
Tarbet said the part around the deer's neck was insulated with rubber and the end of the rope had a loop like a dog leash.
For more on this story:
YUCCA VALLEY, Calif. (AP) An endangered tortoise has been found burned to death in a fire grate at Black Rock campground in the Yucca Valley area.
Joe Zarki, information officer for Joshua Tree National Park, says rangers are seeking information from anyone who knows anything related to the dead desert tortoise found Aug. 4. He estimates the tortoise was 45 years old.
Desert tortoises are a threatened species, protected by the federal Endangered Species Act as well as state wildlife laws. The desert tortoise also is California's official state reptile.
Information from: KCDZ-FM, http://www.kcdzfm.com/
August 18, 2008An apparently injured humpback whale calf in waters near Sydney, Australia, is behaving with a yacht in ways the whale would normally behave with its mother.
Of the hundreds of insect species that rely on air bubbles to dive underwater, some can use the bubbles like external lungs to stay submerged for long periods, according to new research that describes how insects manage the feat.
Scientists have known since the 19th century that when aquatic insects dive underwater, they trap an air layer similar to a thin bubble around their bodies and use this air supply to breathe.
The new study is the first to describe exactly how the insects' air layers work, said Steven Vogel, a biology professor at Duke University who was not involved with the paper.
"You might say, with only mild hyperbole, that our understanding [of the bubbles] is now complete," Vogel said.
Article Plus Video: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2008/08/080813-bugs-bubble.html
Humans Worsen Spread Of Deadly Emerging Infectious Disease
ScienceDaily (Aug. 12, 2008) Amphibians, reigning survivors of past mass extinctions, are sending a clear, unequivocal signal that something is wrong, as their extinction rates rise to unprecedented levels, according to a paper published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS ). Humans are exacerbating two key natural threats climate change and a deadly disease that is jumping from one species to another.
The authors confront the question of whether Earth is experiencing its sixth mass extinction and suggest that amphibians, as a case study for terrestrial life, provide a clear answer. "A general message from amphibians is that we may have little time to stave off a potential mass extinction," write co-authors Vance T. Vredenburg, assistant professor of biology at San Francisco State University, and David B. Wake, curator of herpetology in the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology at University of California, Berkeley, in the August 12 issue of PNAS.
Amphibians are among the oldest organisms on earth, having survived the last four mass extinctions. The current extinction rate of amphibians is cause for alarm, according to biologists.
"An ancient organism, which has survived past extinctions, is telling us that something is wrong right now" Vredenburg said. "We -- humans -- may be doing fine right now, but they are doing poorly. The question, really, is whether we'll listen before it's too late."
While many factors have been cited for the profound change in global amphibian populations, a new emerging infectious disease, chytridiomycosis, is thought to be directly responsible for wiping out more than 200 species. It poses the greatest threat to biodiversity of any known disease. An aquatic fungus of unknown origin, it's the first of its kind to infect vertebrates, and only amphibians.
Understanding the ecology of chytridiomycosis may not only help amphibians, but human health. Scientists seek to map how the pathogen is transmitted from one species to another to develop ways to prevent or control outbreaks.
The Sierra Nevada Yellow-legged Frog is an example of a species under threat of extinction. In 2001, chytridiomycosis was detected in the mountains of the Sierra Nevada, and subsequently the authors have documented mass die-offs and the collapse of populations because of outbreaks. The fungus is surprisingly virulent, according to authors, and how it causes death is not yet known.
"It's important for people to understand what's infecting and killing these frogs," Vredenburg said. "This disease is a remarkable example of a pathogen jumping boundaries and causing havoc. If we can understand how it is able to do so, we may be able to help the frogs as well as ourselves."
David B. Wake served as the director of the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology (MVZ) for 27 years and is now curator of herpetology and professor of the Graduate School at the University of California, Berkeley. MVZ is a center for research and education in the biology of amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals. Founded in 1908, the Museum's mission is to document and increase understanding of the diversity of terrestrial vertebrates, with particular emphasis on western North America.
Vance T. Vredenburg is an assistant professor at San Francisco State University. His research focuses broadly on the ecology, evolution and conservation of amphibians and incorporates elements of population, community and behavioral ecology to investigate the impacts of emerging infectious disease, introduced predators, and habitat loss on threatened amphibians. He is the co-founder of AmphibiaWeb.org (http://amphibiaweb.org) an online bioinformatics project promoting science and conservation of the world's amphibians.
- 38 minutes ago - sciencedaily.com
July 14, 2008Having mastered some of the world's most grating soundssirens, cell phone ringtonesa blackbird is irritating Britons with its powers of mimicry.
Conservationists hope bees will repel the crows, based on the insects' tendency to attack anything dark-colored that approaches their hives
This year beehives from rural areas were relocated to the top of a large water-treatment facility near Tokyo's international airport, where as many as 4,000 birds known as little terns nest after a long migration from Australia, New Zealand, and Papua New Guinea.
Although they are not endangered internationally, little terns are listed as "vulnerable" in Japan's Red Data Book of threatened species.
That's because the terns' nesting sites in the country are being destroyed by construction work and other human activities, so the birds are considered potentially at risk in the future.
The terns near the airport have long been victims of Tokyo's crows.
In a single prolonged attack five years ago, about 60 crows picked off roughly 300 eggs and 160 young birds, and fewer terns have come to the nesting site since then.
"The young can't defend themselves against the crows, so we tried to find ways to protect them at the nesting site," said Naoya Masuda, a member of the nonprofit Little Tern Project.
"One thing we tried was putting netting in the trees and stringing up fishing lines, but nothing worked."
Read the Full Article: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2008/07/080714-birds-bees.html
July 3, 2008 Every year a Vermont researcher follows another of the state's residents to the Caribbean: the Bicknell thrush, a small migratory bird.
CHICO, Calif. (AP) State Department of Fish and Game crews have rounded up more than 300 stray salmon and returned them to their rightful spawning path.
The migrating spring-run salmon are supposed to swim up Butte Creek Canyon to find cold water in which to spawn in the fall.
But the threatened fish got stuck in two pools just west of Highway 99. Rescue crews on Wednesday used nets to capture the fish one-by-one and drive them to the canyon.
Department of Fish and Game officials say the cold water fish probably would have died in the pools when the water got too warm.
Authorities say they rescued the fish because there are fewer salmon returning to the Central Valley this year.
Information from: Chico Enterprise-Record, http://www.chicoer.com