Bird

Burned Birds Become New Environmental Victim of the Energy Quest

Publication: NBC News   Date: August 20, 2014   View Article

Birds singed in midair by a solar thermal power plant in the Mojave Desert — known as “streamers” for the smoke plume they emit — viscerally highlight the reality that the quest for energy almost always causes some form of environmental harm, even through technologies considered green and clean.

The same power plant that’s creating streamers was nearly derailed due to concerns about its potential impact on habitat for rare desert tortoise, for example. Wind power projects routinely kill birds and ruffle residents within their eyesight with concerns about visual blight. Geothermal energy projects have rattled nerves over elevated earthquake risks. Hydroelectric dams drove salmon runs to extinction.

“There are sacrifices that every technology has and the question is how visible those are,” Nathan Lee, a graduate student and researcher with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Energy Initiative who is developing a course on the ethics of energy policy with his adviser Lucas Stanczyk, told NBC News. “In the case of the birds getting singed by giant towers, it’s pretty visible and understandably it is therefore probably more upsetting than the quieter ways in which energy technologies cause a lot of harm.”

Neonicotinoid Pesticide Linked to Decline of Birds (and Bees)

Publication: NBC News   Date: July 9, 2014   View Article

A controversial agricultural insecticide that has been implicated in the collapse of bee colonies around the world also appears to be causing bird populations to drop, according to a new study. The insecticides known as neonicotinoids are designed to attack the central nervous system of insects that devour crops, but only about 5 percent of the chemical compound stays on the plant. The rest leaches into the soil and water, where it does its magic on other bugs, the researchers said.

Old whooping cranes keep the young ones on course, study shows

Publication:   Date: NBC News   View Article

When endangered whooping cranes fly their routes to summer breeding grounds, the old birds play a crucial role in showing the young birds where to go.

“This learning takes place over many years,” Thomas Mueller, an expert on animal migration at the University of Maryland and lead author of a study on the cranes’ migration habits, told NBC News. “It is a long-term process.”

Before dinosaurs could fly, some had flight-ready brains

Publication: NBC News   Date: July 31, 2013   View Article

Dinosaurs evolved the brain power necessary for flight well before they took to the air as birds, according to a new study. The finding suggests that Archaeopteryx, often considered a transitional species between dinosaurs and living birds, wasn’t all that special.

“The same neurological capacity that Archaeopteryx has is also in these other non-avian dinosaurs,” Amy Balanoff, a paleontologist at the American Museum of Natural History in New York and the study’s lead author, told NBC News.

Swallows evolve shorter wings to avoid cars, study suggests

Publication: NBC News   Date: March 18, 2013   View Article

Cars and trucks thundering down the road in southwestern Nebraska stand a much lower chance today of smacking a cliff swallow than they did in the 1980s, according to a new study that suggests the birds have evolved shorter wings to pivot away from oncoming traffic.

The adaptation is important for the birds’ survival given that they nest by the thousands under bridges and overpasses there, noted Charles Brown, a biologist at the University of Tulsa in Oklahoma who regularly drives those same roads to and from a nearby research station.

Birders tally ‘huge’ numbers in global count

Publication: NBC News   Date: February 21, 2013   View Article

Birdwatchers counted more than 25.5 million birds during the largest worldwide bird count ever conducted, according to preliminary results streaming in from the four-day event held earlier this month.

The global Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) builds on the success of the program run for 15 years in the U.S. and Canada. More than 120,000 checklists have been reported, accounting for 3,144 species. That’s a third of the world’s birds, and results will flow in until March 1.

Radar is game changer in saving endangered birds

Publication: msnbc.com   Date: March 20, 2012   View Article

A portable radar system combined with night vision goggles and thermal imaging cameras are helping scientists find and protect a rare bird in the Caribbean, a conservation group explained Monday.

While none of these technologies are new, they are now inexpensive enough to do more than track airplanes and find thugs hiding behind enemy lines.

© 2008-2010 Collected Writings By John Roach