A bird guide on the east coast of Australia had what is believed to be the first Beck’s Petrel sighting in 77 years. The guide managed to photograph the bird, according to Bird Life International.
The guide, Richard Baxter, was himself astonished to have taken what is believed to be the only photograph of the Beck’s Petrel. Baxter first believed the bird to be a more common bird, the Tahiti Petrel, but the size and coloration of the photographed bird has indicated the bird is the Beck’s.
The Beck’s Petrel is certainly rare, but Bird Life International lists the bird as threatened rather than extinct. The bird is known to nest on very remote atolls and islands, and the population is thought to be very small.
Source: Vogelsoort na 77 jaar waargenomen
An international research team will try to reconstruct the habitat of the extinct dodo bird during an upcoming expedition to Mauritius. The team wants to determine the cause of the dodo’s habitat destruction and ultimate extinction.
The team also hopes to find complete skeletons of adult and young dodo birds. In October 2005 researchers in the southeast of Mauritius found a large burial site with bones of dodos and other domestic animals.
The team will depart the Netherlands on Friday, 2 June and returns on Monday, 3 July. The team is maintaining a weblog of their adventures, which is available at www.dodo-expeditie.nl (in Dutch).
Source: Expeditie op zoek naar oorzaak verdwijnen dodo’s
Researchers in New Zealand say that analysis of the world’s oldest penguin fossils confirms that some birds survived the mass extinction that killed the dinosaurs 65 million years ago.
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In the Dutch province of Noord-Brabant a large collection of bird fossils has been found. The cache contained over 200 bones and fragments. It is the largest such grouping of bird fossils to be found in Europe.
The fossils were found in a layer of the earth believed to be of marine origin, which is reflected in the types of fossils found. Albatrosses, shearwaters, geese and ducks were the main bird species found. Some of the species were previously unknown to science. The fossils were used to compare with other, similar fossils in existence in North America and other parts of Europe.
The types of bird fossils discovered indicates a much warmer climate than today’s Noord-Brabant.
The fossils have been studied for over a year, in cooperation with both amateurs and researchers from several Dutch museums, including Naturalis in Leiden, Oertijdmuseum De Groene Poort in Boxtel and the Institute for Archaeology from the University of Groningen. The fossils were compared with bones from the east coast of the United States from the collection of the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C. It was the first time that fossils of birds from the Miocene and Pliocene periods from both sides of the Atlantic Ocean were compared.
The total number of sea bird species in the Pliocene period is much larger than what is now found in the Atlantic Ocean region.
A portion of the fossils are on display at the Oertijdmuseum in Boxtel, along with other exhibits demonstrating the changes to the climate of the Netherlands over the eons.
Source: Oeroude zeevogels ontdekt in Noord-Brabant
“Georgia wildlife biologists are getting federal funding to bushwhack their way into the Okefenokee Swamp in search of the elusive ivory-billed woodpecker, believed extinct until last year.” Read the full story Scientists to seek once presumed-extinct bird in the Macon Telegraph.
The scientific significance of the fossil is unquestioned and its monetary value thought to be in excess of $1 million; the fact that it is bound for a private museum has drawn scorn from some scientists.
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Florida Gulf Coast University ornithologist Jerome A. Jackson states, “Even a cursory comparison of this figure with [photographs and illustrations of real Ivory-billed Woodpeckers] shows that the white on the wing of the bird is too extensive to be that of an Ivory-billed Woodpecker.”
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The judge in the case of the environmentalists vs. the planned Grand Prairie Irrigation Project in Arkansas has recused himself, delaying the proceedings until 6 February. The judge had donated to the Audubon Society in the past and recused himself after learning they had filed a brief in the case. Read Rob Moritz’s story in the Arkansas News Bureau.
The National Wildlife Federation and the Arkansas Wildlife Federation will present oral arguments in Little Rock federal court this week to try and prevent the Army Corps of Engineers work on the Grand Prairie Irrigation Project. The environmentalists believe the project threatens the Ivory-Billed Woodpecker, thought to be extinct since 1944 but spotted in Arkansas’ Cache River National Wildlife Refuge in 2004. The refuge is 20 miles from the current Irrigation Project construction site.
The groups want the project halted so that scientists can study the project’s environmental effects. Two previous lawsuits filed by the groups were defeated, but both of those suits were filed before the rediscovery of the Ivory-Billed.
The Grand Prairie Irrigation Project plans to draw 158 billion gallons of water each year from the White River – 1.5% of the river’s annual flow – and distribute it to approximately 1,000 area rice farmers. Project leaders say that failure to complete the project will cost farmers as much as $46 million per year. The project will take 13 years to complete at a cost of $319 million.
Supporters of the National Wildlife Federation’s attempt to stop the Irrigation Project from continuing can visit the NWF’s campaign website.
Environmentalists say irrigation project would harm rare bird
Bird’s Advocates Challenge Corps
Woodpecker’s discovery brings call to stop irrigation project
“Scientists announced on Thursday they had definitive proof that the ‘Taung child‘, a 2-million year old apeman skull famed as one of the most dramatic human evolutionary finds, was killed and eaten by an eagle.”