Saturday, August 2, 2014

This week in birds - #119

A roundup of the week's news of birds and the environment:

Hummingbird traffic is picking up as the fall migration of the little birds gets into full swing.  I'm seeing multiple birds around my yard every day now, including several males like this Ruby-throat enjoying a visit at my Hamelia shrub.  There may be Rufous hummers among the visitors as well, but I can't absolutely confirm that.


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The makers of the rodenticide d-Con have agreed to pull their super-toxic products from retail shelves by early next year. This is a victory for conservation groups that have been campaigning for years to get this accomplished. The problem is that the product kills rodents very effectively, but often as those rodents are dying or dead, they are picked up and devoured by raptors or other predators and the poisons then kill them as well.

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And we know that poisons can persist in the environment for a very long time. DDT was banned in the United States more than forty years ago and yet it is still killing birds in Michigan. Presence of the poison is attributed to a chemical-plant-turned-Superfund site in the area.

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It was hoped that rains generated by El Nino this year might help to break the long and severe drought being suffered by California, but those hopes have pretty much been dashed. If the rains were coming, they should have arrived by now, but there is no rain in sight and the drought continues unabated.

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Artificial lighting in cities can create "light pollution" which can have a detrimental effect on the love life of songbirds. It upsets their circadian rhythms which tell them when it is time to mate.

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The Philippines have an incredible diversity of species, but that diversity is being severely imperiled by rampant illegal logging. The government has established a tree-planting program to try to stem the damage being caused.

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The estuaries of Northern Ireland have long been a haven for over-wintering shorebirds, but recently, populations of nearly all these species are declining precipitously.

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Migrant women and their children in Baltimore have a fellow-feeling for the migratory birds that pass through the area. They are volunteering their time to plant shrubs and flowers that feed and shelter the birds in Baltimore's Patterson Park as a part of the Audubon Center's Bird Ambassadors program.

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A bee hobbyist in North Texas writes in "The Bee Pasture" about providing habitat for butterflies - specifically for the Hackberry Emperor.

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There are many myths in various cultures throughout the world about gigantic, and usually angry, birds, some of them so big they could carry away elephants. No proof of the existence of any such bird has ever been found. They seem to be entirely inventions of our vivid imaginations.

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On the other side of that myth equation is the story about the extinction of dinosaurs. Of course they are not extinct! They are all around us. We are hardly ever out of sight of one when we are outdoors. They are called "birds" and they are descendants of the theropod dinosaurs which included such predators as Tyrannosaurs and Velociraptors. The theropods' strategy for survival was to get smaller and smaller and it was a very successful strategy. Yes, that Ruby-throated Hummingbird at the top of the page is just a tiny theropod descendant!

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The elusive Black-capped Petrel spends most of its life over the waters of the North Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. Now, scientists are learning more about the bird's travels through the first-ever project to track them. This is a joint project of the U.S. Geological Survey, the South Carolina Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit at Clemson University, Grupo Jaragua in the Dominican Republic, and the American Bird Conservancy.

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The water levels in the Colorado River Basin have dropped by alarming amounts in recent years. Most of the loss has been attributed to the severe drought gripping the West, but a new study indicates that at least part of the reason for the drop is a loss of groundwater.

                                                                          

4 comments:

  1. Love your photo Dorothy. Good news to hear that d-Con will be pulled but scary to hear that DDT is still around.

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    1. Yes, so many of the pesticides and herbicides, even ones that are considered fairly benign, linger in the environment long, long after their use. A good reason for us to consider very carefully before we use them.

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  2. I was so glad to find your "this week in birds" roundup, Dorothy! After a rather complicated move, I am just slowly returning to the blogging world (again) and sort of panicked when I read you were consolidating your blogs, as yours have always been amongst my favorites. But this is great! All the best -

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    1. Welcome back, Anastasia. It's great to hear from you. I did decide to consolidate the three blogs since I felt that I didn't really have sufficient time to devote to three separate blogs and keep them current as I wanted to. But I'll always find time to write about birds and about the garden, two of my primary interests in life.

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