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Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life
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By John R. Platt

With the coronavirus continuing to spread and self-isolation becoming the norm, it feels more important than ever to embrace the power and beauty of nature. Sure, we can't travel as much these days, but the modern world can still bring the natural world to us.

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Scientists have discovered the oldest known modern bird fossil, dating back to one million years before the asteroid strike that drove the dinosaurs to extinction.

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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

The piece of amber measures only 1.25 inches (31.5 millimeters) in length. The skull is a mere 0.6 inches (11 millimeters). Xing Lida / CC BY-ND

By Lars Schmitz, Jingmai Kathleen O'Connor

In 2016, our colleague Xing Lida held up a small piece of polished, deeply yellow amber. As sunlight shone through the ancient resin, Lida saw the outline of a pristinely preserved, amazingly small skull. There was a prominent eye socket, a dome-shaped crown of the head, a long, tapering snout and even small teeth. It was bird-like, but in a strange and ancient way.

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Guam Rail. Dukas / Universal Images Group / Getty Images

By Jason Bittel

When you walk into the tropical rainforest room at the National Aviary in Pittsburgh, the first thing you'll probably notice are the hyacinth macaws perched in mango trees. The feathers of these massive parrots are so impossibly blue that the birds look like birthday party piñatas. And the first thing you'll likely hear is the trill of the much tinier laughing thrushes as they swoop from tall cacao plants to the indoor-jungle floor. But watch out for Gus! He's the blue-headed great argus pheasant who likes to commandeer the walkway while unfurling his four-foot-tall fan of feathers in an attempt to woo female pheasants.

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British conservationist and environmental activist Mya-Rose Craig, known as Birdgirl, addresses a "Youth Strike 4 Climate" protest in Bristol, England on Feb. 28, 2020. GEOFF CADDICK / AFP via Getty Images

By Naomi Larsson

Mya-Rose Craig was just nine days old when she spotted her first bird — a lesser kestrel. She doesn't remember it now, of course, but a grainy photo shows her looking through a telescope on the Isles of Scilly off the English coast.

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Researchers have found that kea (Nestor notabilis) parrots (seen above) can use probabilities to make choices. shirophoto / iStock / Getty Images

What is the probability that Polly will get a cracker?

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Costa's Hummingbirds are frequent visitors at feeders in Arizona and southern California. Julian Avery / CC BY-ND

By Julian Avery

Millions of Americans enjoy feeding and watching backyard birds. Many people make a point of putting food out in winter, when birds needs extra energy, and spring, when many species build nests and raise young.

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An ovenbird (Seiurus aurocapillus), one of the target species of a broadcast which hopes to attract various species. Grayson Smith / USFWS

By Lorraine Boissoneault

It's a quiet May morning on the Hawaiian island of Kauai. We're high on a cliff inside the fences of the Nihoku Ecosystem Restoration Project, with only the sound of the wind rushing past our ears and the crash of waves breaking on the shoreline far beneath. Only the slightest hints of animal cries reach our ears — until ecologist Lindsay Young turns on a loudspeaker. Then the air fills with the breathy squawks and raucous chirps of seabirds.

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Baby orangutan and mother orang utan seen walking in Jakarta, Indonesia. Aprison Photography / Moment / Getty Images

By Tara Lohan

To be a good wildlife photographer, you need an expertly trained eye. But good ears help, too.

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America's national bird is threatened by hunters. Not that hunters are taking aim at the iconic bald eagle, but bald eagles are dying after eating lead bullets, as CNN reported.

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The black-faced spoonbill (Platalea minor), a rare, large waterbird classified as endangered on the IUCN Red List. spaceaero2 via Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 3.0

A new airport under construction in a key wetland habitat just north of the Philippine capital is poised to impact dozens of migratory bird species, many of them already threatened, observers say.

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