Photo courtesy USDA
The lesser prairie chicken—known for its flamboyant courtship behavior, where the fellas display brilliant yellow eyecombs and red air sacs as they dance about—took center stage today when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife proposed listing it as “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act. The bird has suffered an 84% decline in the five states where it lives: Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas.!--/end tags-->
Remote lands populated by cannibalistic natives and poisonous snakes set the stage for biologist Tim Flannery’s latest book, Among the Islands. The renowned author delves into his 1980s and ’90s expeditions to catalog unique, elusive species, like a red-gray tree-climbing mouse and a monkey-faced bat. He bounces from the Solomon Islands to Fiji to Bismarck’s Isles, falling into a sinkhole while trying to set a mist net and trudging through thigh-deep guano to get a closer look at an insect-eating bat.!--/end tags-->
UPDATE: And the winner is...
Every week we post a funny animal photo that's begging for a caption. Join in the fun and add your suggestion in the Comments section (click "Read more"). You’ve got til 11:59 pm (Eastern time) on Sunday. On Monday we'll choose our three favorite captions and list them under the image.!--/end tags-->
Last week, a justice of the peace in Toronto ruled that a local building owner would’t be penalized for the deaths of 900 birds that had crashed into its gleaming towers over the course of two years.
The suit, brought by the environmental groups Ecojustice, had sought to hold the former owners of the Consilium Place high-rise towers responsible for causing bird deaths in a city that appears to be particularly lethal for winged migrants.!--/end tags-->
UPDATE: Thanksgiving may be over, but these turkeys still need a winning caption. Vote for your favorite!
In honor of Thanksgiving, this week wild turkeys are the stars of our photo caption contest. Join in the fun and add your suggestion in the Comments section (click "Read more"). You’ve got til 11:59 (Eastern time) on Sunday. On Monday we'll choose our three favorite captions and list them under the image.!--/end tags-->
The blazing remnants of Deepwater Horizon, April 21, 2010. Courtesy US Coast Guard
More than two years after the disastrous 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, BP announced today that it will pay $4.5 billion in fines to the U.S. government and plead guilty to 14 criminal charges, including those related to the deaths of 11 Deepwater Horizon rig workers, lying to Congress about the amount of oil pouring out of the ruptured well, and violating of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. “This settlement matches the unprecedented offense BP committed,” says David Yarnold, Audubon president and CEO.!--/end tags-->
Sandhill Crane, photo by Dwayne Longenbaugh
Don’t let that holiday turkey be the only bird your family encounters this Thanksgiving. Go for a hike. A post-feast nature walk can be as much a family tradition as cranberry sauce and stuffing. While burning off calories, you can enjoy the fresh air and see some wildlife. There are plenty of places to go. Visit one of Audubon’s 48 centers laced with trails. Or choose a National Wildlife Refuge. The Refuge System encompasses 150 million acres, and there is at least one refuge in every state. Many of them are Important Bird Areas. The following 16 National Wildlife Refuge walks are family-friendly and relatively short. Each one offers a chance to see many birds and other wildlife in late November.!--/end tags-->
Nearly two years ago, on New Year’s Eve two whales washed up on the shore of New Zealand and died. Government conservation workers identified them as Gray’s beaked whales, which commonly wash ashore, took skin samples, buried them, and left them alone—completely unaware that they’d actually been handling two of the world’s most mysterious mammals.
When researchers from the University of Auckland sequenced DNA from the samples a few months later, they found something much more exciting than expected. The specimens were the first evidence found since 1986 of the spade-toothed beaked whale.!--/end tags-->