Young roe deer, video


This 8 May 2019 video shows a young roe deer at a camping ground in the Netherlands.

Martijn Postma made the video.

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Feral parrots in 23 US states


This July 2018 video from Florida in the USA says about itself:

Why Are Wild Parrots Disappearing in Miami? | Short Film Showcase

In Miami, conservationist Daria Feinstein is on a mission to save the beautiful Blue-and-yellow Macaw—before it’s too late.

From the University of Chicago Medical Center in the USA:

Escaped pet parrots are now naturalized in 23 US states, study finds

May 14, 2019

Summary: Research data on bird sightings finds that 56 different parrot species have been spotted in 43 states, and 25 of those species are now breeding in the wild in 23 different states.

When Stephen Pruett-Jones, PhD, an ecologist at the University of Chicago, first came to Chicago in 1988, he stumbled on a unique piece of the city’s history: the monk parakeets of Hyde Park.

The squat, bright-green birds aren’t native to Illinois, or the United States at all. The U.S. originally had two native parrot species: the Carolina parakeet and the thick-billed parrot. The Carolina parakeet is now extinct; the thick-billed parrot, a Mexican species that ranged into the southwestern states, was driven out of the U.S.

In the 1950s and 60s, tens of thousands of monk parakeets were imported from South America as pets. Inevitably, many of them escaped or were released. By 1968, they were found breeding in the wild across 10 states, including a colony in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago, home of the University of Chicago campus.

Pruett-Jones, who usually studies wrens and other wild birds in Australia, noticed a large group of the parakeets on his daily commute. He started sending students out to study the birds and eventually organized an annual lab project to count them.

“I have never actually held a wild parrot in the United States,” he said. “But indirectly I’ve become the spokesperson for parrot research here because when I saw the monk parakeets in Chicago, I realized nobody else was working on them.”

Those monk parakeets aren’t the only parrot species thriving in the U.S. as a result of the pet trade. In a recent study, Pruett-Jones teamed up with Jennifer Uehling, a former UChicago undergraduate student now working on a PhD at Cornell University, and Jason Tallant of the University of Michigan to research data on bird sightings from 2002 to 2016. They found that there were 56 different parrot species spotted in the wild in 43 states. Of these, 25 species are now breeding in 23 different states.

“Many of them were escaped pets, or their owners released them because they couldn’t train them or they made too much noise — all the reasons people let pets go,” Pruett-Jones said. “But many of these species are perfectly happy living here and they’ve established populations. Wild parrots are here to stay.”

A diverse new landscape for parrots

The study, published in the Journal of Ornithology, uses two different databases of bird sightings to track this diverse new landscape of naturalized parrot species. The first, the Christmas Bird Count, is an annual survey organized by the National Audubon Society that captures a snapshot of birds in the U.S. during a two-week period from December 14 to January 15 each year. The second resource, eBird, is an online database for bird watching enthusiasts to log all the birds they have seen.

Once Uehling, Tallant, and Pruett-Jones compiled the data, the most common species were monk parakeets, the Red-crowned Amazon, and the Nanday Parakeet. Most of these birds are concentrated in the warmer climates of Florida, Texas and California, but there are other large populations concentrated around cities like New York and Chicago. Pruett-Jones says there are now more Red-crowned Amazons living in California than there are in their original habitats in Mexico.

“The entire conservation focus for this species is now on a non-native, introduced, naturalized population,” he said. “The survival of the species is most likely going to come from efforts to save it someplace where it never existed before.”

Monk parakeets are reported to be agricultural pests in South America, but other than a few isolated examples, there is no evidence that any of the feral parrots in the U.S. are invasive or competing with native birds. Monk parakeets are the only species of parrot that build their own nests, however, and the bulky structures are known to damage utility lines.

Good luck talisman

The story of Chicago’s parakeets is one with the city, that of tenacious survival in spite of the elements. Most of the year they feed by foraging in parks and open grassy areas. They don’t migrate, but one of Pruett-Jones’ students discovered that they survive Chicago’s harsh winters by switching almost exclusively to backyard bird feeders from December to February.

Harold Washington, Chicago’s first African American mayor, lived across the street from one of the city’s best-known parakeet colonies and called them a “good luck talisman.” After he died in 1987, the USDA tried to remove the birds, but local residents threatened a lawsuit.

The parakeets stayed but their numbers have dwindled from a peak of about 400 birds to just 30 today. Some of the them have dispersed to greener areas in the suburbs, although the largest colony is now under the Skyway bridge connecting Illinois to Indiana. There are also signs of a nationwide decline in all birds, perhaps due to a disease or parasite.

Pruett-Jones may have become a national expert on parrots by accident, but he says this work is crucial to understand conservation of endangered species and how non-native or invasive species can spread.

“Because of human activity transporting these birds for our own pleasure, we have inadvertently created populations elsewhere,” he said. “Now for some of these parrots, they may become critical to the survival of the species.”

Trump attacks LGBTQ people’s children


This 10 November 2017 video from the USA says about itself:

Psychology Study Says Trump Voters Are More Homophobic, Islamaphobic, And Sexist

A new psychological study released this week shows that researchers were accurately able to predict a person’s voting patterns – specifically whether they voted for Trump or Clinton in 2016 – based on previous interviews that determined the level of sexism, homophobia, or Islamophobia that a person exhibited. This study helps to confirm claims that Trump voters are far more racist and sexist and that those traits helped push Trump into the White House, as Ring of Fire’s Farron Cousins explains.

TRUMP ADMINISTRATION: LGBTQ COUPLES’ KIDS AREN’T CITIZENS A government policy that de-recognizes parents’ marriage means that some immigrant children can lose automatic rights to American birthright citizenship, despite the fact that their parents are U.S. citizens. That policy poses a unique threat to LGBTQ families, and could change the decades-old legal understanding of what the word “family” even means. [Daily Beast]

NEW BILL WOULD HARM CHILDREN A new bill from Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) would harm undocumented immigrant children by detaining them longer and allowing officials to send them back to life-threatening situations in their home countries. Immigrant rights advocates argue it wouldn’t even deter undocumented families from coming to the U.S. [HuffPost]

The Washington Post reported Tuesday that the Trump administration is considering conducting a nationwide militarized sweep to arrest 10,000 immigrants: here.

Jurassic bird species discovery, second ever


Alcmonavis fossil

From the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München in Germany:

First birds: Archaeopteryx gets company

May 14, 2019

Summary: Researchers describe a hitherto unknown bird from the late Jurassic period. It is the second bird capable of flight, after the famous Archaeopteryx, to be identified from this era.

Archaeopteryx’s throne is tottering. Since the discovery of the first fossil of the primal bird in 1861, it had been considered the only bird from the Jurassic geological period. Today’s birds are thought to be direct descendants of carnivorous dinosaurs, with Archaeopteryx representing the oldest known flying representative of this lineage. All of the specimens that have been found up to now come from the region of the Solnhofen Archipelago, which during the Jurassic era spanned across what is today the Altmühl Valley, in the area between Pappenheim and Regensburg. Archaeopteryx lived here in a landscape of reef islands about 150 million years ago.

A team led by Professor Oliver Rauhut has taxonomically identified a bird unknown until now: Alcmonavis poeschli, the second bird from the era identified as capable of flight. “This suggests that the diversity of birds in the late Jurassic era was greater than previously thought,” says Rauhut, paleontologist at the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences as well as the Bavarian State Collection of Paleontology and Geology.

Only a wing of Alcmonavis poeschli was discovered. “At first, we assumed that this was another specimen of Archaeopteryx. There are similarities, but after detailed comparisons with Archaeopteryx and other, geologically younger birds, its fossil remains suggested that we were dealing with a somewhat more derived bird,” says Rauhut. According to the team’s taxonomic studies, which are currently featured in the scientific journal eLife, Alcmonavis poeschli was not merely somewhat larger than Archaeopteryx; apparently it could also fly better. “The wing muscles indicate a greater capacity for flying,” says Rauhut. Alcmonavis poeschli exhibits numerous traits lacking in Archaeopteryx but present in more recent birds. This suggests that it was adapted better to active, flapping flight.

The discovery of Alcmonavis poeschli has implications for the debate over whether active flapping birds arose from gliding birds. “Its adaptation shows that the evolution of flight must have progressed relatively quickly,” says Dr. Christian Foth from the University of Fribourg (Switzerland), one of the co-authors of the study.

The bird now being described for the first time derives its name from the old Celtic word for the river Altmühl, Alcmona, and its discoverer Roland Pöschl, who leads the excavation at the Schaudiberg quarry close to Mörnsheim. A fossil of Archaeopteryx was also discovered in the same unit of limestones. The two primal birds thus apparently lived at the same time in what was then a subtropical lagoon landscape in southern Germany.