Thursday, September 10, 2009

Extremely Rare Fiji Petrel Spotted: Needs Protection

A sea-going bird that is has been seen about a dozen times in the past 150 years was seen recently signaling the need for protective action.

"Known for its elusiveness, it was first identified on Fiji's Gau island by British surveyors in 1855 and was not seen again for 130 years.Since 1984 there have been a handful of reports of petrels injured after crashing into village roofs on Gau but never have the birds been seen at sea until now."Finding this bird and capturing such images was a fantastic and exhilarating experience," Hadoram Shirihai, who led the two-week search by the British Ornithologists' Club, said. A paper published this week is the first ever to detail how the species behaves, with the team hoping it could hold the key to the bird's survival. 'The present evidence is that very few Fiji petrels survive and that immediate efforts to find the nest sites are needed,' expedition member Tony Pym said." See full article.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Twenty "Strange" Endangered Species That Need More Attention

Global warming is such a broad threat to the survival of wildlife that it helps to keep a broader view of what species need to be safeguarded. Here is a website that lists some fascinating creatures from around the world that are generally not getting high profile attention in the media.

The WebEcoist reports:

"The ugly redheaded stepchildren of the animal kingdom don’t get much attention compared to the perennial endangered animal favorites like pandas, polar bears, and owls. These are the cute, majestic, and otherwise emblematic creatures of the endangered species list. But there are hundreds more animal species on our wondrous planet that are critically threatened and need both publicity and support. From bats the size of bees to poison-slinging mammals, lizards that don’t eat for a decade to seals with giant inflatable faces, here are the 25 strangest, most bizarre, unusual and important endangered species living on the 'EDGE.'" See full listing.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Avoiding Airliner Bird Strikes Using Warning Lights

Keeping birds away from airliners may be getting some help from a model airplane.

Robert Benincasa at NPR reports:

"When US Airways Flight 1549 made an emergency landing in the Hudson River in January after hitting geese, it turned the spotlight on so-called bird strikes — a longstanding problem of aircraft colliding with birds in flight. Airports try a lot of tricks to keep birds away, but now some researchers are shining light on a possible solution. At Plum Brook Station, a 6,000-acre, high-security government campus near Sandusky, Ohio, scientists are literally flying a plane at groups of geese and watching how they react. It's a radio-controlled model plane — a 9-foot wingspan aircraft that looks like a miniature Cessna. The plane has white, pulsating LED lights mounted on the front, to test the idea that aircraft lighting can signal birds to get out of the way of an approaching plane." See full article.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Rare Swift Foxes Being Returned to Montana"s Fort Peck Reservation

In September, swift foxes will be returned to the Assiniboine and Sioux Fort Peck Reservation in Montana after a long absence.

The Missoulian reports:

"Declared extinct in Montana in 1969, the swift fox is already back on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation by way of an unusual reintroduction effort funded by the tribe and a private conservation group. Now the fox is bound for the Fort Peck Reservation as well. The smallest of the canids, swift foxes are no bigger than a house cat." (Photo: Defenders of Wildlife)

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Woodstorks Make Rare Appearance In Arkansas

Wood stork populations have been increasing in Florida and other gulf states but they also seem to be moving up to Arkansas these days.

Joe Mosby at the reports:

"The main levees along the Mississippi River and along the lower Arkansas take adventurers into areas off the beaten path, yet the exploring can be done in relative comfort – in your vehicle. For fans of levee drives, August is special because it brings some unusual visiting birds. Wood storks and roseate spoonbills are just two of the species that sometimes can be found. But there are no guarantees to seeing them." See full article.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Bird Travels 8,000 Miles -- One Way!

Some birds give new definition to the term "migration." reports:

"A bar-tailed godwit, a bird banded near Victoria, Australia, was found more than 8,000 miles away in the western Arctic area of Alaska, wildlife experts said. While tagged birds are sometimes seen in the region where they were released, it's rare to see them so far from a release site. Wildlife Conservation Society scientists [reported] 'While we know that birds from all over the world come to the Arctic to breed, to see a living example first hand is a powerful reminder of the importance of this region,' said biologist Steve Zack, who spotted the godwit with biologist Joe Liebezeit. The ... godwit, a shorebird, was sighted this year while Zack and Liebezeit were searching for dunlins and semipalmated sandpipers tagged three years ago in nearby Prudhoe Bay, Alaska." See full article.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Help For The Declining Bee Population -- New Plastic Beehive

In the UK they have launched a public program (using uniquely-designed boxes) to encourage homeowners and a gardeners to help raise bees to offset recent declines in their population numbers. reports:

"There's no reason why our towns and cities should exist as wildlife deserts -- wildlife can thrive when we design our urban areas with nature in mind and the 'beehaus' is a great example of how easy it is for anyone to bring the natural world closer to their doorstep." Its makers Omlet claim that at one metre wide and 0.5 metres high (three feet wide and one foot eight inches high), the 'beehaus' is twice as big as a traditional beehive, giving plenty of room for the colony to grow in comfort. See full article.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Unusual Bald Bird Discovered

A new species of bird has been discovered by scientists in Laos. The bird is Asia's first new species of bulbul, a songbird, in more than 100 years, reports:

"An odd songbird with a bald head living in a rugged region in Laos has been discovered by scientists from the Wildlife Conservation Society and University of Melbourne, as part of a project funded and managed by the mining company MMG (Minerals and Metals Group) that operates the Sepon copper and gold project in the region.

The thrush-sized bird is greenish-olive with a light-colored breast, a distinctive featherless, pink face with bluish skin around the eye extending to the bill and a narrow line of hair-like feathers down the centre of the crown." See full article:

Some Good News For Ocean Fisheries

A new study finds some signs of recovery from overfishing in several areas around the globe. reports:

Scientists have joined forces in a groundbreaking assessment on the status of marine fisheries and ecosystems. The two-year study, led by Boris Worm of Dalhousie University and Ray Hilborn of the University of Washington and including an international team of 19 co-authors, shows that steps taken to curb overfishing are beginning to succeed in five of the ten large marine ecosystems that they examined. The paper, which appears in the July 31 issue of the journal Science, provides new hope for rebuilding troubled fisheries. See full article.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Diving With Penguins

Some penguins prefer tropical waters. This BBC video shows a diver getting up close and personal with a group of Galapagos penquins. She really didn't expect what developed. Check it out. Photo from: Nothing But Penquins

From Wikepedia:

"The Galapagos Penguin is one of the smallest penguins. It is the only penguin to cross the Northern Hemisphere which means they live farther north than any other warm weather penguin. 90% of the Galapagos Penguins live among the western islands of Fernandina and Isabela" See the video.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Nearly Extinct Frog Is Rediscovered

It is always god news for wildlife lovers to learn that a lost species is not lost at all.


"For the first time in nearly 50 years, a population of a nearly extinct frog has been rediscovered in the San Bernardino National Forest. Biologists from the U.S. Geological Survey rediscovered the rare mountain yellow-legged frog in the San Jacinto Wilderness near Idyllwild. Researchers had estimated there were about 122 adult mountain yellow-legged frogs in the wild." See full article.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Meet The Giant Coconut Crab

On certain Pacific Islands there is a species of land crab that is quite large. They are slow moving, generally nocturnal and remain hidden during the day to emerge at night in search of food. reports:

"The coconut crab is the largest terrestial arthropod in the world and is known for its ability to crack coconuts with its pincers. They can weigh up to 4kg (Some reports claim up to 17kg) and leg span of 1m. It is eaten by the Pacific islanders and is considered a delicacy "

Learn more.

Monday, July 20, 2009

The American Crow Is One Smart Bird

Crows are interesting and smart. How much? Now there is a question.

Blane Klemek, of the Bemidji Pioneer reports:

"An interesting part of crows’ behavior is their sense of community with one another. It’s no mystery to anyone familiar with crows that these birds tend to form large and noisy flocks. But what might not be common knowledge is how cooperative some populations or “family groups” of crows tend to be when it comes to brood-rearing. For instance, research has shown that even though crows become reproductively mature at about 2 years of age, they don’t necessarily form pair-bonds, mate and raise their own offspring immediately. It turns out that some crows will help raise their own siblings, staying within their parents’ territory for five years or longer while assisting with parental duties such as feeding nestlings and acting as sentinels.

While the intelligence of crows is not disputed, it is difficult to study and learn just how intelligent wild crows really are. Reports exist that crows can distinguish between a man carrying a gun and a man carrying a stick. Such an incident is related by the late Ernest Thompson Seton, who, in his popular book “Wild Animals I Have Known,” wrote about “Silverspot, the Story of a Crow.”
In the story, Seton relates how Silverspot would fly above him and vocalize to his flock. To test Silverspot’s intelligence, Seton, during separate times while standing on a bridge that spanned a ravine, stood alone one day, took with him a stick on another day, and stood on the bridge holding a gun on the third day. When he held the gun, Seton wrote, “… at once (Silverspot) cried out, ‘Great danger — a gun.’ ‘ca-ca-ca-ca Caw!’ His lieutenant repeated the cry, and every crow in the troop began to tower and scatter from the rest." See full article.

Vampire Bats Near Amazon Development Are Biting People

When people move into the natural habitat of a wild creature, conflict can arise. We hope the creatures don't get the worst of it.

Brian Nelson at Eco-Worldly reports:

"The problem is most prevalent in Peru, where vampire bats are native and development is increasing at unprecedented levels. The leechlike flying mammals are already common in areas where agricultural development is high, and large colonies of bats thrive near cattle ranches. But despite the fact that rabies can be widespread among bats in these regions, few people are bitten here compared to the rates being seen in newly developed Amazonia. The reason for the difference is probably that vampire bats prefer large, docile mammals like cattle. Where development is destroying the habitat of the animals that the bats prefer, such as in the Amazon, the bats must turn to the next best thing: people." See full article.

Humpback Whale Inspires New Wind Turbine Design

A new design for wind turbine blades was inspired by a whale and a work of art.

T. Goodman at reports:

"Frank Fish (yes, it's his real name), whose field just happens to be biomechanics, actually came about his observations of the humpback whale serendipitously when he saw a sculpture of a humpback with what he thought were misplaced tubercles on the whale's flipper. The artist had placed them on the "leading" edge of the flipper, not on the underside of the flipper, where Fish "knew" they should be because of his study of fluid dynamics (i.e, smooth edges are most aerodynamic). The artist was correct, however, and Fish's further research indicated that at least part of the science of fluid dynamics was wrong. The tubercle placement on the humpback whale's flippers and tail is a major part of the reason the great mammal is so aerodynamic
This tubercle design operationally keeps air attached to the blades, thereby managing the flow of air and increasing the lift of the blade -- two areas of concern in the development of wind turbines." See full article.