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Tag Archive: birds

  1. US desert songbirds at risk in a warming climate

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    Posted: 08 Mar 2017 05:11 AM PST  ScienceDaily full article here

    Rising temperatures and heatwaves are putting songbirds at greater risk for death by dehydration and mass die-offs, report scientists. Projected increases in the frequency, intensity and duration of heatwaves in the desert of the southwestern United States are putting songbirds at greater risk for death by dehydration and mass die-offs, according to a new study.

    Researchers used hourly temperature maps and other data produced by the North American Land Data Assimilation System (NLDAS) — a land-surface modeling effort maintained by NASA and other organizations — a long with physiological data to investigate how rates of evaporative water loss in response to high temperatures varied among five bird species with differing body masses. Using this data, they were able to map the potential effects of current and future heat waves on lethal dehydration risk for songbirds in the Southwest and how rapidly dehydration can occur in each species. Researchers homed in on five songbird species commonly found in the desert southwest: lesser goldfinch, house finch, cactus wren, Abert’s towhee and the curve-billed thrasher…

    Thomas P. Albright, Denis Mutiibwa, Alexander. R. Gerson, Eric Krabbe Smith, William A. Talbot, Jacqueline J. O’Neill, Andrew E. McKechnie, Blair O. Wolf. Mapping evaporative water loss in desert passerines reveals an expanding threat of lethal dehydration. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2017; 114 (9): 2283 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1613625114

  2. Monitoring birds by drone

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    15 Feb 2017 Science Daily  full story here

    Forget delivering packages or taking aerial photographs — drones can even count small birds. A new study tests this new approach to wildlife monitoring and concludes that despite some drawbacks, the method has the potential to become an important tool for ecologists and land managers….

    Andrew M. Wilson, Janine Barr, and Megan Zagorski. The feasibility of counting songbirds using unmanned aerial vehicles. The Auk: Ornithological Advances, February 2017 DOI: 10.1642/AUK-16-216.1

  3. Songbirds divorce, flee, fail to reproduce due to suburban sprawl

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    January 3, 2017  see full article here

    Suburban development is forcing some songbirds to divorce, pack up and leave and miss their best chances for successful reproduction.

    … for one group of songbirds — called “avoiders” — urban sprawl is kicking them out of their territory, forcing divorce and stunting their ability to find new mates and reproduce successfully, even after relocating…

    John M. Marzluff, Jack H. Delap, M. David Oleyar, Kara A. Whittaker, Beth Gardner. Breeding Dispersal by Birds in a Dynamic Urban Ecosystem. PLOS, December 28, 2016 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0167829

  4. Big-billed birds spend more time snuggling in against the cold, study shows

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    January 4, 2017 British Ecological Society (BES) ScienceDaily see full article here

    Bigger isn’t always better — at least not in the bird kingdom, with new Deakin University research finding that the larger a bird’s bill the longer they spend trying to snuggle it in against the cold….the study examined the “backrest” behaviour of birds — where they turn their heads to the back and tuck their beaks underneath their feathers when they are resting.

    “While people have long assumed that birds exhibited this behaviour to protect themselves against the cold, no one had actually rigorously studied it. We found that they were indeed using backrest to try to keep warm, because they do it more when it gets colder,” Dr Symonds said.

    But the surprising thing we discovered was that the birds with bigger bills used this behaviour more, and over noticeably longer periods. In fact, they continued to use the behaviour more even as the weather warmed.” The study looked at nine species of shorebirds ranging from the largest comparative beak size, 9.2cm, found on the red-necked avocet, to the smallest, 3.4cm, found on the masked lapwing….

    Julia Ryeland, Michael A. Weston, Matthew R.E. Symonds. Bill size mediates behavioural thermoregulation in birds. Functional Ecology, 2016; DOI: 10.1111/1365-2435.12814

  5. Climate change has mixed effects on migratory geese

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    Posted: 05 Jan 2017 05:27 AM PST Science Daily see full article here

    Climate change improves the breeding chances of migratory geese in the Arctic — but puts mother geese at more risk of death, according to a new study.  Warmer conditions at breeding grounds in north-east Canada help light-bellied Brent geese produce more young… But in years when productivity is highest, the death rate among mothers also increases. The researchers believe this happens because mothers use extra energy laying eggs and face more risk from predators while sitting on their nests, which they make on the ground…..in warmer years mothers breed more successfully — so more of them remain sitting on nests or waiting on the ground until their offspring are ready to fly.

    Light-bellied Brent geese are shown. Credit: Kendrew Colhoun
    We tend to think of climate change as being all one way, but here we’ve got a population being affected in conflicting ways,” said Dr Ian Cleasby, of the Centre for Ecology and Conservation on the University of Exeter’s Penryn Campus in Cornwall.”This population is sensitive to changes in adult survival, so the increased breeding may not be enough to offset the loss of more adult females….we have to understand how animal populations will respond to the changing climate if we want to make decisions about protecting biodiversity.“…

    Ian R. Cleasby, Thomas W. Bodey, Freydis Vigfusdottir, Jenni L. McDonald, Graham McElwaine, Kerry Mackie, Kendrew Colhoun, Stuart Bearhop. Climatic conditions produce contrasting influences on demographic traits in a long distance Arctic migrant. Journal of Animal Ecology, 2016; DOI: 10.1111/1365-2656.12623

  6. Songbirds divorce, flee, fail to reproduce due to suburban sprawl

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    see full article here

    ScienceDaily Posted: 03 Jan 2017 07:26 PM PST

    ….New research published Dec. 28 in the journal PLOS ONE finds that for one group of songbirds — called “avoiders” — urban sprawl is kicking them out of their territory, forcing divorce and stunting their ability to find new mates and reproduce successfully, even after relocating.

    “The hidden cost of suburban development for these birds is that we force them to do things that natural selection wouldn’t have them do otherwise,” said lead author John Marzluff, a professor of wildlife science in the University of Washington’s School of Environmental and Forest Sciences. “Because development requires that these birds move, we force them to abandon the places they selected and go elsewhere, which often entails finding new mates when they wouldn’t have otherwise.”…

    John M. Marzluff, Jack H. Delap, M. David Oleyar, Kara A. Whittaker, Beth Gardner. Breeding Dispersal by Birds in a Dynamic Urban Ecosystem. PLOS, December 28, 2016 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0167829

  7. America’s First Offshore Wind Farm Spins to Life

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    By TATIANA SCHLOSSBERG NY Times December 14 2016 see full article here

    The Block Island Wind Farm, consisting of five turbines off Rhode Island, sets up the possibility for offshore wind projects elsewhere along the coast…

    …the Block Island Wind Farm is …made up of five turbines, which were built by a division of General Electric, and capable of powering about 17,000 homes — it is the first successful offshore wind development in the United States, and it sets up the possibility for offshore wind projects elsewhere along the coast.

    …Mr. Trump has expressed skepticism of wind power, saying in an interview with The New York Times that “the wind is a very deceiving thing.” And an email written by Thomas J. Pyle, who is running the Department of Energy transition for the president-elect, said that the Trump administration may be looking to get rid of all energy subsidies.

    Mr. Trump has also been accused of exaggerating the harmful effects of wind turbines on bird populations, which Mr. Pyle also addressed in the email, writing, “Unlike before, wind energy will rightfully face increasing scrutiny from the federal government.”

  8. IUCN Red List: Devastating decline for the giraffe and bird threats

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    from Science Daily

    Posted: 08 Dec 2016 01:24 PM PST

    Over 700 newly recognized bird species have been assessed for the latest update of The IUCN Red List of Threatened SpeciesTM, and 11% of them are threatened with extinction. The update also reveals a devastating decline for the giraffe, driven by habitat loss, civil unrest and illegal hunting. The global giraffe population has plummeted by up to 40% over the last 30 years, and the species has been listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List….

    Materials provided by International Union for Conservation of Nature.

  9. New WWF Report on Grasslands Loss in US Great Plains

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    The Plowprint Report: https://www.worldwildlife.org/projects/plowprint-report

    And summary news article:

    Goodbye Grasslands. Goodbye Birds. Goodbye Carbon Sink.

    America’s Great Plains are being plowed under at an alarming rate  Nov 30 2016

    Much attention has been given to the deforestation in the Amazon and the environmental impacts that go with it. But in 2014, the American Great Plains—an area stretching from Texas into Canada—actually lost more acreage of grasslands than Brazil lost to deforestation, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) says. In fact, said Martha Kauffman, WWF’s managing director of the Northern Great Plains program, “America’s Great Plains are being plowed under at an alarming rate.”….