The week in bird news, August 15
• The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is seeking to protect over a half-million acres across the western United States as critical habitat for the Western Yellow-billed Cuckoo, whose population has been decimated by dams, livestock grazing and other environmental factors.
“The designation of critical habitat is an important step in recovering the western yellow-billed cuckoo,” said Jennifer Norris, Field Supervisor for the Service’s Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office. “Critical habitat identifies areas with essential nesting and fledgling sites where conservation actions are needed to protect and recover this imperiled songbird.”
Comments on the proposed habitat rule are being accepted through October 14. Read the full USFWS press release here.
• Big game poachers are poisoning African White-backed Vultures (pictured right) because their circling behavior above slaughtered elephant carcasses often tips off authorities. [Yale Environment 360]
• Marine biologist and National Geographic explorer-in-residence Sylvia Earle’s Netflix documentary Mission Blue premieres today. [Grist]
• CNN offers up some glorious clickbait with this round-up of summer aquatic bird photographs, including a wonderful White Tern. [CNN.com]
• How the California drought is crushing the Tricolored Blackbird population. [Audubon]
• Oy. Federal wildlife officials are trying to keep people and pets off Passage Key, a four-acre barrier island near Tampa Bay that’s become a weekend hotspot for beachgoers, some of them nude. The sandbar is a protected nesting spot, officials say.
“We want visitors to understand the ecological importance of this island,” said Ivan Vicente, visitor services specialist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “There aren’t many sandbars left for seabirds and shorebirds to nest and rest. As long as visitors remain in the water around the island, the seabirds and shorebirds will successfully continue to nest in Passage Key.” [Fox 13 News-Tampa]
• At SeaWorld, the world’s first “test-tube penguin.” [Daily Mail]
Tweets of the week:
— BirdRescue.org (@IntBirdRescue) August 14, 2014
— Monterey Aquarium (@MontereyAq) August 14, 2014
In the wake of massive B.C. mine tailings spill, Alaskans worry impacts of nearby Canadian mines: http://t.co/p3apxmtXWt
— Alaska Dispatch News (@adndotcom) August 13, 2014
— Elizabeth Kolbert (@ElizKolbert) August 12, 2014
— Sacramento Office (@UsfwsSacArea) August 15, 2014