Friday, July 29, 2005

Anacosta Strategery This Weekend

The District of Columbia Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy Planning Workshop

The workshop is a progress update on the District of Columbia Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy and a chance to solicit input on necessary conservation actions.

The District of Columbia Fisheries and Wildlife Division is developing a comprehensive Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy for the District to guide the actions of the Division and their partners in the conservation of wildlife species of Greatest Conservation Need over the next 10 years. These species of Greatest Conservation Need include 150+ species at risk in the District of Columbia and are primarily declining nongame wildlife, threatened or endangered species, and rare species.

The DC Fisheries and Wildlife identified the key 14 habitats that support these 150+ species. These key wildlife habitats form the basis of the District of Columbia’s Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy. Fourteen key wildlife habitats have been described and mapped. The wildlife species of Greatest Conservation Need supported by each key habitat have been identified. The major threats to these habitats have been identified and a draft list of conservation actions has been made. These conservation actions are the core functions that are to be implemented to conserve the species of Greatest Conservation Need.

Saturday, July 30, 2005 (1:00 pm – 4:00 pm)
Aquatic Resources Education Center
Anacostia Park
2600 Anacostia Drive, SE
Washington, DC 20020(202) 581-2560

Shuttle Hits Bird

N. Wayne Hale, the deputy manager of the shuttle program after fielding questions about the Shuttle was asked about the fate of the bird that was struck by the shuttle's external tank during liftoff.

``We've never see a bird strike in the program before,'' Hale said.

The nose cone of the orange external tank struck the large bird just 2.5 seconds after launch. Luckily, Mr. Hale said, the bird slid off of the side of the tank opposite the shuttle and posed no hazard to the Discovery. He said that the incident was especially surprising because the shuttle program had always assumed that the roar of launching would scare birds away, but "this guy didn't clear the area."

Mr. Hale added that some NASA employees wondered what kind of bird it was and have searched for the remnants on the launch pad, but have found nothing. In the launching pictures, he said, "We pretty clearly see him going into the plume - and I don't know if we'll ever know." And he grimaced.

NASA also is studying whether anything can be done to prevent collisions with wildlife.(Reuters/New York Times)

What kind of bird was it? The New Scientist says it may have been an osprey or a turkey buzzard.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Those Philandering Finches

National Geographic

Researchers found that about 25 percent of the black rosy-finch hatchlings found in this and two other nests were not sired by the male feeding and guarding them—proof that the female had not been monogamous.

Blood samples were taken from the nestlings and the male parent and then using microsatellite DNA fingerprinting—a method used to determine paternity in animals—researchers determined that the samples suggested the female had been visiting neighboring males for sneaky copulations.

This behavior was supported by samples later taken from other black rosy-finch nests, with around 25 percent of chicks sired by males other than the female's nesting mate. For the first time this bracketed female rosy-finches with a range of other birds, from flamingoes to sparrows, that also "play" away from home. Read more from National Geographic.

Biologists Counter Woodpecker Hopes

A sketch from 2004 of what was believed to be an ivory-billed woodpecker

Three biologists are questioning the evidence used by a team of bird experts who made the electrifying claim in April that they had sighted an ivory-billed woodpecker, a bird presumed to have vanished from the United States more than 60 years ago, in the swampy forests of southeast Arkansas.

If the challenge holds up, it would undermine not only a scientific triumph - the rediscovery of a resplendent bird that had been exhaustively sought for years - but also significant new conservation expenditures in the region.

The paper questioning the discovery has been submitted to a peer-reviewed journal, which could post the analysis online within a few weeks. But the paper will be accompanied by a fierce rebuttal by the team that announced the discovery, and a response to that rebuttal by the challengers.

But only the video was potentially solid enough to confirm for the wider ornithological community the existence of the bird, the authors said in various statements at the time.

Everyone agrees that the bird that appears on the tape is either an ivory-billed woodpecker or a pileated woodpecker, a slightly smaller bird that is relatively common. Both species have a mix of white and black plumage. However, the ivory-billed woodpecker has a white trailing edge to its wings while the pileated woodpecker has a black trailing edge.

The team that conducted the original search for the bird ran extensive tests, including recreating the scene captured in video using flapping, hand-held models of the two types of woodpecker. They concluded that the plumage patterns seen in the grainy image could only be that of the ivory-billed woodpecker.

The authors of the new paper disagree.

* New York Times Story
* Video of what is thought to be Ivory-Billed Woodpecker
* Cornell Lab of Ornithology Interactive on Ivory-Billed Woodpecker

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Droppings Blamed For "Contamination"

A major source of chemical contamination in the Arctic turns out to be bird droppings. Wind currents and human activities long have been blamed for fouling the pristine Arctic. But a study by a group of Canadian researchers found that the chemical pollution in areas frequented by seabirds can be many times higher than in nearby regions.

Scientists report in Friday's issue of the journal Science that the ponds, which receive falling guano from a colony of northern fulmars that nest on the cliffs, have highly elevated amounts of chemicals. More from the Washington Post.

Least Terns Opt For Maine Island Life

Hog Island, Maine, July 18, 2005 – For the first time in Maine’s recorded history, Audubon biologists have discovered endangered Least Terns nesting on an island rather than their historic preference of nesting on mainland sandy beaches. Eighteen nests are confirmed and several additional pairs of terns are setting up territories on Stratton Island, in Saco Bay, an Audubon-owned property protected by the Society’s Seabird Restoration Program. Stratton Island was already notable for providing habitat for the greatest diversity of waterbird species in Maine, and this event only confirms the island’s significance as an Important Bird Area.

More from Audubon.