Environmental officials and members of the U.S. Coast Guard are racing to clean up a mysterious oil spill that has spread to 11 miles of Delaware coastline.
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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Naomi Larsson
For centuries, the delicate silver dove has been a symbol of love and fidelity.
Biodiversity and Habitat Loss<p>Their near extinction is a symbol of the <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/global-biodiversity-outlook-targets-extinction-summit-new-york-pledge/a-54932895" target="_blank">biodiversity crisis</a> in the UK, largely driven by habitat destruction. Britain is now one of the countries with the most <a href="https://www.wwf.org.uk/future-of-UK-nature#:~:text=The%20UK%20is%20one%20of,than%20half%20are%20in%20decline" target="_blank">depleted nature</a> in the world according to the World Wildlife Fund. Half its plant and animal species are in decline and more than <a href="https://www.rspb.org.uk/about-the-rspb/about-us/media-centre/press-releases/let-nature-sing-wales/#:~:text=a%20natural%20tragedy.-,Over%2040%20million%20birds%20have%20vanished%20from%20UK%20skies%20in,unaware%20of%20the%20impending%20danger" target="_blank">40 million birds</a> have vanished in just half a century.</p><p>"[Turtle doves] are the canary in the [coal] mine because there are all these other species before it and after it," said Tree. "It's an umbrella for all the other species that are heading that way."</p><p>Turtle doves migrate south through Europe to sub-Saharan Africa between July and September, ending up in dry woodland and farmland areas of countries like Mali and Senegal for winter. </p><p>Droughts in West Africa and the Sahel region are believed to have contributed to the fall in turtle dove species recorded in northern Europe, with low rainfall reducing supplies of the seeds and insects the birds rely on for energy for the long journey home.</p>
Conservation and Farming<p><a href="https://www.operationturtledove.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Operation Turtle Dove,</a> a partnership project of charities including the Essex Wildlife trust, works with landowners and farmers to actively build turtle dove habitat.</p><p>Outten works with <a href="https://www.ebws.org.uk/birdsites/blue-house-farm-ewt-north-fambridge" target="_blank">Blue House Farm</a>, a 660-acre nature reserve in the UK county of Essex, where they have replicated weedy fallow plots. </p><p>"We work on it every year to make sure it's in the condition it needs to be with plants such as clovers and black medic," Outten said. "These plants are native to the landscape and produce the seed the birds feed on." </p><p>The birds eat a wide range of seeds from various plants that would have been abundant 50 or 100 years ago, added Guy Anderson, program manager for species recovery with The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB). </p><p>"But it's simply true that with the gradual process of <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/farming-without-pesticides-how-can-we-make-agriculture-greener/a-52216796" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">intensifying our agricultural production</a>, the availability of those seeds has dropped and dropped," said Anderson.</p><p>Part of the project includes supplementary feeding — providing sources of food in the form of seed or grain. Under the Countryside Stewardship Scheme in England, farmers can receive financial support to create a turtle dove habitat. </p><p>Though they haven't recorded an increase in doves across the sites in the four years of working on the project, Outten said they are seeing improvements in how landowners and farmers manage habitat for the birds. </p>
A Turtle Dove Haven<p>The 3,500-acre Knepp Estate in West Sussex is another project taking a different approach and one of the few places where turtle dove numbers are increasing.</p><p>Isabella Tree and her husband Charlie Burrell converted their intensively farmed land into a rewilding project almost 20 years ago. They have let the land return to nature.</p><p>Just one year after they'd finished <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/uks-most-talented-architects-are-not-human/a-35952128" target="_blank">rewilding</a> the southern part of their property, they heard turtle doves for the first time. It's now a breeding hotspot for the birds with an estimated 19 pairs. Knepp is also home to <a href="https://www.rewildingbritain.org.uk/rewilding/rewilding-projects/knepp-estate" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">2% of the UK's population</a> of nightingales. </p><p>Tree is critical of supplementary feeding schemes that, in her view, are short term. She questions the chances of turtle doves getting to feed on scattered seeds before other mammals eat them first.</p>
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The American Southwest is witnessing a horrific and inexplicable phenomenon, likely due to the climate crisis: hundreds of thousands of migratory birds are dying off. The birds seem to be just "falling out of the sky," as The Guardian reported.
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An aquarium in Spain announced an adorable milestone this month when two female penguins adopted, incubated and hatched a chick for the first time at the institution.
The mothers, Electra and Viola, are one of three gentoo penguin couples to welcome a new chick at the Oceanogràfic València aquarium this breeding season so far, according to a press release. That is not a large number compared to other years, but the fact that one of those chicks will be raised by two moms makes this breeding season unique.
"Even though the formation of same sex partnerships is common in more than 450 animal species, both in captivity and in the wild, this is the first time it has happened at our aquarium," the Oceanogràfic València wrote in a Aug. 17 Facebook post announcing the birth. "So, welcome to the world, little one!"
Electra and Viola are two of the 25 gentoo penguins being cared for at the Valèncian aquarium. Their journey to motherhood began when the pair started to build a nest of stones together. Their caretakers then gave them a fertile egg from another pair to care for.
"Electra and Viola carried the entire reproduction process forward with success and now have their first baby," the aquarium wrote.
Gentoo penguins build nests out of pebbles that can be as large as 20 centimeters (approximately 8 inches) across. Couples usually take turns incubating the eggs, which hatch after around 38 days. The baby chicks then gain their independence 75 days after hatching.
While Electra and Viola are the first same-sex penguin pair to raise a baby together at the Oceanogràfic València, similar families have formed at other zoos and aquariums.
In 2018, two male gentoo penguins at Sea Life Sydney Aquarium in Australia began to build a nest together, as CBS News reported. Caretakers first gave the penguins, named Sphen and Magic, a practice egg to care for. When the pair proved themselves attentive fathers, their caretakers presented them with a real egg to hatch.
In September of 2019, a male gentoo pair at Sea Life London announced they would be raising their child without a gender, the New York Post reported.
"What makes us really proud at the aquarium is the success of Sea Life London's gentoo breeding program and the amazing job of same-sex penguins Rocky and Marama who took the chick under their wing and raised it as their own," the aquarium's general manager Graham McGrath said at the time.
It isn't only gentoo penguins who form same-sex parenting pairs in captivity. Two male African penguins at the DierenPark Amersfoort zoo in the Netherlands kidnapped another pair's egg in November to hatch and raise as their own, the New York Post reported at the time.
"Homosexuality is fairly common in penguins, but what makes this couple remarkable is that they have gotten hold of an egg," zookeeper Marc Belt said.
A Michigan bald eagle proved that nature can still triumph over machines when it attacked and drowned a nearly $1,000 government drone.
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Environmentalists and ornithologists found a friend in a federal court on Tuesday when a judge struck down a Trump administration attempt to allow polluters to kill birds without repercussions through rewriting the Migratory Treaty Bird Act (MBTA).
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When Europeans first arrived in North America, Atlantic puffins were common on islands in the Gulf of Maine. But hunters killed many of the birds for food or for feathers to adorn ladies' hats. By the 1800s, the population in Maine had plummeted.
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In July 1990, a British Airways plane flew from Spain to the UK carrying some very unique cargo: 13 red kites.
<div id="282f9" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="2f2563ff7da87eb5838f66cf3710fe82"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1285162496152801280" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">The UK is home to 10% of the world’s red kite population, but did you know that even just 30 years ago they were ne… https://t.co/rYOj159fgU</div> — RSPB (@RSPB)<a href="https://twitter.com/Natures_Voice/statuses/1285162496152801280">1595241590.0</a></blockquote></div><p>However, by the 20th century they had been driven to extinction in England and Scotland, <a href="https://www.independent.co.uk/environment/nature/red-kites-conservation-history-environment-birds-rspb-a9627216.html" target="_blank">The Independent reported</a>. They were killed because of their reputation as pests and their attractiveness to taxidermists. Their eggs were also preyed on by collectors. While a few remained in Wales, genetic testing linked them to only one female, according to RSPB.</p>
<div id="39742" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="cdfd1712259b5b84c2768786d4e58261"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1285162499462115328" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Sadly, attitudes towards birds of prey changed and red kites were driven to near extinction in England by the 1900'… https://t.co/XXwkKOQ8l3</div> — RSPB (@RSPB)<a href="https://twitter.com/Natures_Voice/statuses/1285162499462115328">1595241591.0</a></blockquote></div>
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Hummingbirds live a more colorful existence than humans do, a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Monday confirmed.
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The gruesome images of whales and deer dying after mistaking plastic for food has helped put into perspective just how severe the plastic waste crisis is. Now, a new study finds that it is not just land and sea animals eating our plastic trash. It turns out that birds are eating hundreds of bits of plastic every day through the food they eat.
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By Courtney Lindwall
If you're one of those people cooped up safely at home, with creative energy and free time to spare—count yourself lucky. Here, we've rounded up a list of two dozen environmental projects that can make your time indoors, or right outside, a little brighter. Whether you're ready to start rescuing more of your kitchen scraps, sewing your own cloth napkins, or documenting those backyard butterflies, we hope these simple green ideas will provide a calming means of coping during these unprecedented times. Have fun and stay safe.