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Coast Guard members work to clean an oil spill impacting Delaware beaches. U.S. Coast Guard District 5

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

This turtle dove is part of Operation Turtle Dove; the European Commission estimates there may be fewer than 5,000 pairs left in the UK. Ian / Flickr / CC by 2.0

By Naomi Larsson

For centuries, the delicate silver dove has been a symbol of love and fidelity.

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A MacGillivray's Warbler found dead in Fairplay, Colorado on Sept. 1, 2020. Southwest Avian Mortality Project

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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The Iberian lynx is one of the species saved from extinction due to conservation efforts, a new study shows. http://www.lynxexsitu.es / Wikimedia Commons / CC by 3.0
A study published in Conservation Letters Wednesday found that efforts to protect endangered species of birds and mammals had saved at least 28 of them from extinction since 1993.
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Female penguins Electra and Viola have been able to adopt, incubate and raise an egg from another couple. Oceanogràfic València

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 bald eagle flies over Lake Michigan. KURJANPHOTO / iStock / Getty Images Plus

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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A northern mockingbird on June 24, 2016. Renee Grayson / CC BY 2.0

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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Atlantic puffins courting at Maine Coastal Island National Wildlife Refuge in 2009. USFWS / Flickr

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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This July, wildlife advocates are celebrating the 30th anniversary of reintroducing red kites to the UK. Tony Hisgett / Wikimedia Commons / CC by 2.0

In July 1990, a British Airways plane flew from Spain to the UK carrying some very unique cargo: 13 red kites.

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A hummingbird feeds on a butterfly bush in Washington state on Aug. 18, 2017. Jim Culp / Flickr

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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A bald eagle chick inside a nest in Rutland, Massachusetts. Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife
A bald eagle nest with eggs has been discovered in Cape Cod for the first time in 115 years, according to the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (Mass Wildlife), as Newsweek reported.
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A mallard duck among plastic in polluted water in Cardiff Bay on Sept. 22, 2018 in Cardiff, United Kingdom. Matthew Horwood / Getty Images

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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Woman building a diy insect hotel outdoor. Guido Mieth / DigitalVision / Getty Images

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.

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