More than two dozen albino ringneck doves were found clinging to life in a group of trees in a Queens, NY park. The non-native doves had presumably flown there after being released following a wedding. Volunteers from the Wild Bird Fund helped capture about 15 of the birds. About 25 doves remain, some too weak to fly back up into the trees after falling from branches. It’s believed that the doves were bred to be pets, and have no experience in foraging for food or living in the wild.
The only type of birds that should be used for dove releases are well trained white racing pigeons. These birds are trained by professionals to return home after being released.View full post
Populations of some bat species have plummeted more than 90 percent in Northeast caves impacted by “White Nose Syndrome,” according to an extensive investigation by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), Commissioner Pete Grannis announced today.
Surveying 23 caves at the epicenter of the bat die-off in early 2009, researchers found an alarming decline – 91 percent on average — in the number of hibernating bats. The study included 18 caves in eastern New York, four in western Massachusetts and one in Vermont.
“These steep declines are alarming and disheartening,” Commissioner Grannis said. “Researchers from around the country are focusing on the bat die-off and DEC will continue to work with a wide range of partners to try to get to the heart of the problem.”
The study showed that not all species have reacted the same to White Nose Syndrome (WNS). Species that prefer warmer, wetter roosting spots than other bats have been impacted most severely. For example, the Little Brown bat has declined by an average of 93 percent (Little Browns account for 85 percent of all the bats that hibernate in the Northeast).
A separate survey of the endangered Indiana bat showed it declined 53 percent on average. DEC bat specialist Alan Hicks said roost conditions may explain part but not all of the difference — Indiana bats prefer a colder, dryer hibernating spot than others.
Also, the survey of Indiana bats found stark contrasts between sites. For example, two former mines in Ulster County showed Indiana bat declines of 97 and 29 percent, respectively, with no obvious physical differences other than humidity.View full post
We had a strange visitor to the butterfly bushes at the Byam Learning Garden the other day. At first, it appeared as though a smaller than usual hummingbird had found our newly planted butterfly bushes. But after closer inspection we discovered the visitor was not a bird at all, but an insect – more specifically a hummingbird moth.View full post
If bluebirds visiting your backyard don’t seem as “blue” as before, researchers may have found the reason – feather eating bacteria. Birds with brightly colored feathers can carry bacteria which eats their feathers. This affects their health and dull their plumage, according to a BBC Earth Report.
Researchers at the Bird Behavior Studies Dept. of Biology at the College of William and Mary, Virginia, surveyed a population of Eastern bluebirds (Sialia sialis) living in Virginia. They found that 99% of all Eastern bluebirds surveyed were infected with feather-degrading bacteria. Furthermore, they found that the greater the concentration of the bacteria, the duller the bluebird’s feathers appeared. The feather-degrading bacteria decomposes the protein beta-keratin, which makes up over 90% of a feather’s mass. They also found that more bacteria equaled poorer body condition, and therby a reduction in the bird’s health, and also their reproductive success.View full post
Hiking on the hillside along the eastern leg of the main trail at the Mills Crooked Spring Reservation in Chelmsford, we found the showy flowers of the Pink Lady’s Slipper.
Pink lady’s slipper is a wildflower in the orchid family. It grows 6 – 15″ tall with two large basal leaves at the base of the plant. It is easily identifiable because of its bulbous flower hanging at the top of a tall leafless stalk. It generally flowers between May and July, is pink to whitish-pink, and sometimes all white. Another common name for this plant is moccasin flower.
Like most orchids, the lady’s slipper is symbiotic as it has a mutually beneficial relationship with a fungus. The pink lady’s slipper uses a fungus in the soil to break open their seeds and to draw food and nutrients to its seed. When the lady’s slipper plant is older, the fungus draws nutrients from the orchid’s roots. Pink lady’s slippers also require bees for pollination, luring them into the flower pouch through the front opening.
Pink lady’s slipper takes many years to mature, living twenty or more years. Pink lady’s slipper usually grows on a wet, acidic forest floor with mixed shade on the eastern United States. The plants should not be removed from the wild because of their rarity and the near impossibility of successfully transplanting and maintaining the plant. New plants are difficult to start because of the need for the symbiotic fungi and their particular growing conditions.View full post
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has completed a report recommending closing human access to caves and mines where bats with white-nose syndrome are hibernating in an area more than 250 miles from other WNS-affected caves and mines.View full post
Damage to bat wings from the fungus associated with white-nose syndrome (WNS) may cause catastrophic imbalance in life-support processes, according to newly published research. …View full post
When the weather warms, cat owners may be tempted to allow their feline friends to roam outdoors. For the sake of your wild neighbors—and for your cat’s safety and well-being—say “no” to this temptation. Not only are domestic cats vulnerable to the dangers of traffic, poisons, traps, disease, other animals, and cruel humans, but these domesticated predators also pose a serious threat to wildlife.
Free-roaming cats kill millions of wild animals each year. Studies show that most of the animals killed are small mammals such as chipmunks and field mice, and approximately 25 percent are birds. Well-fed house cats kill wildlife because of their instinct to hunt prey, not because they need the food. Domestic cats, which were introduced to North America via European colonists, are not a part of natural ecosystems, and their predation causes unnecessary suffering and death to wild animals. This can cause conflicts among neighbors, pitting gardeners and bird lovers against cat owners who allow their charges to roam.View full post
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The rule implements federal protections provided by the ESA for the Cantabrian capercaillie, Marquesan imperial pigeon, Eiao Marquesas reed-warbler, greater adjutant, Jerdon’s courser, and slender-billed curlew.
If the pair’s breeding effort is successful at Midway Atoll Refuge, it would mark the first confirmed hatching of a short-tailed albatross outside of Japan in modern history.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has completed a report recommending closing human access to caves and mines where bats with white-nose syndrome are hibernating in an area more than 250 miles from other WNS-affected caves and mines.
The oldest known U.S. wild bird – a coyly conservative 60 — is a new mother. The bird, a Laysan albatross named Wisdom, was …
Damage to bat wings from the fungus associated with white-nose syndrome (WNS) may cause catastrophic imbalance in life-support processes, according to newly published research. …
Researchers found that deforestation in the New England area at that time produced significant soil erosion, increasing sediment delivery rates — the natural flow of sand and soil in water systems. The large amounts of sediment traveling in rivers and streams to the coastline spurred a significant period of wetland growth, leading to marshes lining the coast of New England that today are abnormally large.