Saturday, February 7, 2015

This week in birds - #144

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


The American Bird Conservancy's Bird of the Week is a relative of the turkey called the Blue-billed Currasow. As you can see from the map, the bird lives in moist lowland forests in Colombia. It is a large ground-dwelling bird and is seriously endangered, partly because of that close relationship to turkeys. It tastes very much like turkey and it is hunted by local people and its eggs are stolen from their nests for food. Like so many birds, it is also a victim of habitat destruction.

  
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A New York family is hosting a very unusual guest these days. It is a Black Swallowtail butterfly.


Pictured here is a Black Swallowtail that I photographed in my garden last year.
Apparently, the butterfly came into their home as a chrysalis that had attached itself to their Christmas tree. While the tree was in the house, the creature completed its metamorphosis and emerged as a butterfly. The family established a habitat for it in a bathroom where it appears to be thriving. Normally, these butterflies can live about two weeks in the wild, but it is unclear how long they can survive in a protected environment.

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In more news from New York, a Bald Eagle pair is building a nest in New York City. This is the first record of eagles nesting there in at least a hundred years.

Meanwhile, in the House of Representatives, a bill has been introduced at the behest of the energy companies to gut the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act which has been instrumental in the eagles' comeback from the brink of extinction. Since it is wanted by the energy companies, it seems likely that this Congress will pass it.

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Project SNOWstorm is the project that has tracked the influx of the Snowy Owls into the lower 48 states. In December 2013, a member of the project trapped and banded the first Snowy Owl recorded in Delaware. It was a female which they named Delaware. The bird has had an interesting history since and she's back this winter. 

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Cities in the United States are losing their cool. Due to climate change, they are experiencing fewer winter nights when temperatures drop below freezing.

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Not only was February 2 Groundhog Day, it was also World Wetlands Day. It is almost impossible to overstate the importance of wetlands to the survival of diverse species of animals, most especially birds. Up to 1/2 of North American birds nest or feed in wetlands.

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Sea levels are not the only things rising because of climate change - certain swaths of land are rising, too. This is true of the country of Iceland which is popping upward something like a trampoline as its glaciers melt. 

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Birds that fly in a V formation take turns in the toughest position, that of leader. Thus, the various birds get to "rest" as they benefit from the extra lift provided by the birds flying in front of them.

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Mule deer in Wyoming make a twice yearly 150-mile migration. Conservationists are working to protect their route and are currently tracking and studying them, using helicopters.

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For a variety of reasons—from changing habitats and a shifting climate to more people providing food at backyard feeders—some birds aren’t flying as far south for the winter these days. Some species that once flew to the tropics are now only going as far as temperate areas in the U.S. Some that used to overwinter in the American South are staying farther north. It's all a part of the ever-changing ranges of birds, as they adapt to new circumstances.


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A proposed 110 mile pipeline, the PennEast Pipeline, in Pennsylvania which would deliver natural gas is drawing considerable grassroots opposition in the area it would serve. 

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A Barred Owl in Oregon seems to have a thing about hats. It has attacked several early morning joggers there and pulled their hats off their heads! There seems to be only one particular owl involved. It is the nesting season for owls and it seems likely that this owl's behavior is related to its instinct to protect its nest.

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Many cities in New England, including Boston, have been hard hit by snowstorms recently. Among other problems city officials have had to deal with is trying to make the snow-covered sidewalks and streets safe for pedestrians. A recent editorial in the Boston Globe made the point that the city needs to have a better plan in place for making it possible for people to walk to their destinations through the snow.

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Just a reminder: Next weekend, Friday through Monday, is the Great Backyard Bird Count. Get ready to make your backyard count!


2 comments:

  1. I enjoyed all your nature news, how strange to find a butterfly chrysalis on a Christmas tree, it would be great if the swallowtail could last until spring. I like the red, white, and black face-like design on the butterfly wings. The Carrasaw is dramatic, it's legs remind me of those of a quarterback on my high school's team.

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    1. The Currasow does look pretty muscular and athletic, doesn't he? Although I'm not sure the quarterback would appreciate the comparison!

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