Thursday, September 27, 2007

News roundup

Chicago: A chapter of National Audubon Society worked with a local electric supplier to provide nesting habit for Orchard Orioles, Willow Flycatchers, Eastern Kingbirds and Brown Thrashers.

The restoration project's two experimental habitat restoration sites abutted protected land next to Lions Woods, a Cook County Forest Preserve along the Des Plaines River, and between the Morton Arboretum and Hidden Lake in a DuPage County Forest Preserve. In each restoration project, invasive vegetation was removed and some native shrubs were cut back to create the preferred shrub density and structure for these birds.

Dartmouth, Conn.: A Conservation Commission decision stipulates that a couple recreate a mud cliff destroyed when the couple built a dock on their seaside property. Bank Swallows previously nested on the site, and the commission said the construction must be complete before the species' nesting season.
The Jordans, who also have homes on Boston's waterfront and in Palm Beach, Fla., demolished their former residence on their Mishaum Point property and built a $4 million guest house and are putting the finishing touches on a $20 million, 26,656-square-foot-seaside mansion. The remediation work is expected to cost as much as $100,000.

Mr. Jordan, who accepted responsibility for destroying the coastal bank, told The Standard-Times he forgot the land was protected by a Conservation Commission enforcement order.

"I thought we could do it. I feel kind of dopey. We got the permit for the dock and my mind was elsewhere," he told the newspaper.

Paris: Some French citizens reportedly continue to eat an endangered species, Ortolan Bunting (Emberiza hortulana), despite a ban on hunting the bird.

On the world's list of weird foods, ortolan — a bite-size songbird roasted and gulped down whole — can claim a place of distinction. It's an illegal place, though, since the ortolan is a protected species and hunting it is banned in France. Now the government is out to get poachers of the coveted fowl.

Thought to represent the soul of France, ortolan was reportedly on the menu at late French President Francois Mitterrand's legendary "last supper" on New Year's Eve 1995, eight days before he died. Though cancer had diminished his appetite, Mitterrand saved room for the piece de resistance — roasted ortolan — downing the 2-ounce bird, according to a detailed account in Esquire magazine and Georges-Marc Benamou, a journalist who was a Mitterrand confidant.

Washington: Now scientists say velociraptors -- the apparent precursors to today's birds -- might have possessed feathers.
A close study of a velociraptor forearm found in Mongolia shows the presence of quill knobs, bumps on the bone where the feathers anchor, researchers report in Friday's edition of the journal Science.


Dinosaurs are believed to be ancestors to modern birds. Evidence of feathered dinosaurs has been found in recent years, and now velociraptor can be added to that list.

"Finding quill knobs on velociraptor ... means that it definitely had feathers. This is something we'd long suspected, but no one had been able to prove," Alan Turner, lead author on the study and a graduate student of paleontology at the American Museum of Natural History and at Columbia University in New York, said in a statement.
Click on the AMNH link for even more details.

Photo credit: M. Ellison/AMNH

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