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Weekly bird news roundup (July 30)

Here are this week’s top stories about birds that we couldn’t get to during the week.

Fossil of earliest known bird might not be a bird after all

On its 150th year of discovery, Chinese scientists are suggesting that what was believed to be the earliest known bird is actually another type of dinosaur.

The ex-early bird had feathers, but it also had teeth, a tail bone and other dinosaur-like features.

Although it’s being reclassified (on admittedly shaky evidence), it’s only being moved over slightly on the lineage.

Here’s what an ABC article said about it:

Anyway, moving it “a couple of branches” isn’t a huge change, and whether it’s considered a bird or not is mostly a semantic issue that doesn’t greatly affect larger questions about the origin of flight, she said.

Luis Chiappe, an expert in early bird evolution at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County who wasn’t part of the new study, said he doesn’t think the evidence is very solid.

“I feel this needs to be reassessed by other people, and I’m sure it will be,” he said.

We’ll have to wait and see what scientists end up agreeing on.

Controversy over wind farms and birds continue

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service released new guidelines for building wind farms, but bat and bird conservancy groups are still claiming it’s not enough. They’re seeking long-term studies on a wind farm’s effect on birds and would like to put in a range of guidelines to minimize bird deaths.

Here are the requested guidelines from an article in the Watertown Daily Times:

■ Three years of preconstruction bird population studies.

■ If the parties can’t agree on the adverse effects on wildlife, the service may document concerns, but the decision to proceed lies with the developer.

■ Use of operational modifications — raising the speed at which turbines start turning, not operating during key migratory times or using radar to turn off turbines when flocks pass — was suggested.

■ Further testing on other measures — such as multicolored turbines and the effects of turbine noise on birds — were suggested.

Whether any of these will be adopted is still undecided, but a blog post in the Charleston Gazette mathematically found the risk to birds by comparing their reaction time to the turbine’s movement.

The debate rages on.

Timothy Martinez Jr. is a writer and freelance journalist. His work has been published in The Times-Picayune in New Orleans, Remapping Debate in New York City and other publications. He’s been a bird lover since he was young and currently lives in New Orleans, L.A.

1 Comment

  1. Thanks for the link and pingback! One correction, though: The name of the newspaper is the Charleston Gazette. Charleston is West Virginia’s capital. Charles Town is a small town in the state’s Eastern Panhandle.

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