News roundup, March 28

Grasshopper Sparrow, photo by Luke Seitz via American Bird Conservancy

What’s new?

—Mother Jones takes a look at a class of widely used insecticides called neonicotinoids and research on their effect on birds, including one recent study by Dr. Pierre Mineau and Cynthia Palmer published by the American Bird Conservancy:

Their conclusion: Neonics are highly mobile and persistent once they’re unleashed into ecosystems, and they pose a serious threat to birds and the insects they feed on. The EPA, they continue, has in some cases severely underestimated the danger and in other cases simply ignored it. The underestimation, they argue, mainly stems from the widespread use of two bird species to judge toxicity, mallards and bobwhites. [Mother Jones]

—An estimated 1,000 ducks have been found dead in the Nanhe River of China’s Sichuan Province. This is the same region that saw a staggering 16,000 dead pigs in the Huangpu River and tributaries over the past month. [Huffington Post]

—In Florida, nearly 200 endangered manatees have fallen victim to the toxins produced in “red tide” algal blooms, which cause damage to the central RedTideRescuenervous system of affected animals (photo courtesy Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission). [Wired]

—Via NatGeo, Close encounters with Emperor Penguins in Antarctica. [National Geographic]

—Wonderful video on a long-term project to eradicate nonnative rats from California’s Anacapa Island, home to the Scripps’s Murrelet and other seabirds.


—Bird fact of the week, via @intbirdrescue on Twitter:

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IBR-oystercatcher by Jackie Wollner
Oystercatcher photo by Jackie Wollner