Wednesday, April 18, 2007

News round-up

Private Ranger
The National Park Society offers a private ranger at national parks and wildlife refuges. With ranger Kent Taylor, private groups -- such as friends, relatives, birders, travelers with mobility or health concerns -- can plan custom vacations in the United States and abroad.

Taylor's experience includes the National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management and the Colorado Division of Wildlife, and he founded and directs the National Park Society. Contact Taylor via e-mail or at 800-578-1883.

Flu virus research at UC Davis
University of California Davis will host one of six new Centers for Rapid Influenza Surveillance and Research. The center will focus on expanding the federal detection program and reducing the possibility of flu pandemic, according to the university. Research veterinarian Walter Boyce (right), who directs the UC Davis Wildlife Health Center, will direct the center with Scott Layne of University of California Los Angeles. UC Davis is in charge of collecting and testing "tens of thousands of samples from wildlife, especially wild birds, on both the U.S. and Asian sides of the Pacific Ocean."

Junior Duck Stamp contest
On April 27, five judges will pick the top artwork in the federal Junior Duck Stamp Design Contest. The judging will take place at the Smithsonian's National Zoological Park in Washington, D.C., making the art from students in all 50 states visible to the many tourists at the park. The event coincides with the National Zoo's Bird Fest 2007, and the winning art entry will appear on the 2007-2008 Federal Junior Duck Stamp, available for $5. Sales proceeds go toward environmental education and student awards and scholarships. Rebekah Nastav of Amoret, Mo., won the 2006 junior contest.

Marvelous Spatuletail courtship on film
American Bird Conservancy released the first-ever footage of the courtship display by a Marvelous Spatuletail, a very endangered hummingbird in the Peruvian mountains. Captured on film by Greg R. Homel of Natural Elements Productions, the hummingbird possesses just four tail feathers that end in metallic, purplish "spoons."

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