link dump: birds

A few links about the impacts of humans on our feathered friends:

the specimens’ dirtiness tracked environmental turning points in the country’s history. Both feather and air pollution peaked during the first decade of the 20th century, when coal consumption reached its all-time high. The pattern then dropped off during the Great Depression, and rose during World War II as manufacturing ramped up again. But soon after the war, it decreased dramatically, marking the impact of regulations like the 1955 Air Pollution Control Act and the 1963 Clean Air Act. Fuldner and DuBay’s methods was so sensitive, in fact, they revealed a small dip in black carbon between 1880 to 1910. This could be traced back to early environmental reforms and anti-smoking initiatives, the researchers say.

Researchers had evidence that birds nests which had cigarette butts woven into them were less likely to contain bloodsucking parasites, but they were unable to establish whether this unusual construction material was specifically selected for its tick-preventing properties. They have now demonstrated that birds intentionally add cigarette butts to tick infested nests. A clever way to adapt to humans.

I’ve been known to map out a road trip for fast food. Apparently birds are doing the same thing.