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The ship MV Marathassa was acquitted of all charges Thursday relating to an oil spill that released 2,700 liters (approximately 713.3 gallons) of fuel into Vancouver, B.C.'s English Bay and coated four migratory birds with oil.

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Guillemots on Bear Island, the southernmost island of the Norwegian Svalbard archipelago. Gary Bembridge / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

About 20,000 guillemots, a black-and-white seabird of the northern seas, have mysteriously washed up dead on Dutch beaches in recent weeks, according to public broadcaster NOS.

Scientists in the Netherlands now are trying to understand the reason behind the deaths.

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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A great tit family and nest. Bak GiSeok / 500px / Getty Images

By Marlene Cimons

Most Europeans know the great tit as an adorable, likeable yellow-and-black songbird that shows up to their feeders in the winter. But there may be one thing they don't know. That cute, fluffy bird can be a relentless killer.

The great tit's aggression can emerge in gruesome ways when it feels threatened by the pied flycatcher, a bird that spends most of the year in Africa, but migrates to Europe in the spring to breed. When flycatchers arrive at their European breeding grounds, they head for great tit territory, knowing that great tits—being year-round European residents—know the best nesting sites.

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Snowy owls are native to Arctic regions. Maxpixel

For birders and fans of Hedwig from the Harry Potter series, spotting a snowy owl in the wild is a special treat as these great white raptors spend most of their lives in the Arctic.

But sightings further south have become more common in North America in recent winters. As the Ottawa Citizen reported this week, sightings of the charismatic owl have soared in Eastern Ontario for the last six years.

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Swift parrot. Dejan Stojanovic / ANU

Tasmania's swift parrots can't catch a break. Logging has reduced their preferred blue gum breeding habitat by a third in the past 20 years. Sugar gliders, a kind of nocturnal possum introduced in the 1800s, are gobbling up female parrots at an alarming rate. And now, The Guardian reported Tuesday, scientists have found that the skewed male-to-female ratio is changing the mating habits of the endangered species in a way that puts its survival further at risk.

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Beau Considine / Flickr / CC BY-NC 2.0

By David Mizejewski

The holiday season (or any time of the year) is a great time to give gifts that help out your local wild birds. Even if it's a gift for yourself!

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As more studies affirm the health benefits of nature, doctors are writing it into their prescriptions. Michael H / Getty Images

Birdwatch for long-tailed ducks. Search for shells. Sketch some snowdrops.

These are some of the prescriptions you might receive if you go to a doctor in the Shetland Islands of Scotland and say that you are suffering from stress, heart disease, diabetes, mental health problems or other chronic conditions.

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Giant Petrel flying over the South Atlantic. Liam Quinn / CC BY-SA 2.0

On a remote island in the South Atlantic, a evolutionary battle is playing out between giant mice and rare sea birds. So far, the mice are winning.

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An Ecuadoran ornithologist with rare images of the blue-throated hillstar. Rodrigo Buendia / AFP / Getty Images

By Jason Bittel

Somehow the striking blue-throated hillstar, a hummingbird with an emerald-feathered head and sapphire splash across its neck, managed to elude us for a very long time. Scientists just recently discovered Oreotrochilus cyanolaemus, describing the species for the first time in The Auk: Ornithological Advances.

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A seagull pecks at a plastic bag on Jan. 30, 2017, in Venice Beach, California. Bruce Bennett / Getty Images Entertainment / Getty Images

By Lorraine Chow

The world's plastic problem may seem vast and incalculable, but its footprint has actually been measured. In a sweeping 2015 study, researchers calculated that 9 billion tons of the material have been made, distributed and disposed in fewer than 70 years. That's an astonishing figure, but it's also one that's hard to picture. Perhaps a better way to illustrate the problem of plastics is by looking at the damage that can be caused by a single drinking straw.

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Artist impression of the largest bird that ever lived. Jaime Chirinos / Zoological Society of London

The largest bird that ever stalked Earth's surface is officially the "Vorombe titan," a previously unidentified species of elephant bird that once roamed the island of Madagascar.

Literally meaning "big bird" in Malagasy and Greek, the giant creature could weigh more than 1,700 pounds and stood nearly 10 feet tall, a new study published Wednesday in Royal Society Open Science has revealed.

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