Saturday, February 28, 2015

This week in birds - #147

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


The bird of the Week as designated by the American Bird Conservancy is the beautiful Evening Grosbeak. This bird wanders widely in winter. One of the most memorable winters of my life was that of 1977-78 when a massive irruption of the birds occurred and they descended by the hundreds into our yard in the little East Texas town where we lived at the time, covering our trees and shrubs and emptying our bird feeder. They arrived just before Christmas and stayed until spring. It was truly one of the most amazing events I've ever witnessed in birding. Sadly, the Evening Grosbeak has declined throughout its range over the last twenty years and was listed on the State of the Birds Watch List in 2014 for the first time. It would be sad beyond words to lose such a wonderful bird.


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One of the most hopeful environmental stories I've read this week is this one about two boys who grew up on opposite sides of the Iron Curtain in Europe and both of whom loved birds and other wildlife. They later teamed up to help make the former path of the Iron Curtain a green belt.

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It has long been known that there are natural oscillations in climate cycles and scientists say that these can either enhance or ameliorate the effects of human-caused changes in the climate. There are indications that these oscillations may intensify warming of the climate in coming years.

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In other climate news, it was revealed this week that a prominent climate change denier, Wei-Hock Soon of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, received $1.2 million from fossil fuel companies for writing scientific papers questioning climate change.

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The American Bird Conservancy is requesting that wind projects be required to obtain permits under the provisions of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act to ensure that such projects are made as safe for birds as they can be.

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"Bug Eric" gives us a nice portrait of green-eyed wasps, a very interesting insect.

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I had completely missed the fact that this was National Invasive Species Awareness Week, but you can read all about it at their website.

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The chickadee family, in general, includes some amazingly adept little birds, but researchers have found that Mountain Chickadees from higher elevations are faster problem solvers than those from lower elevations. Perhaps it is a survival requirement.

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I find that, in my garden, several pepper plants are favorites of birds. "10,000 Birds" writes about Brazilian peppers in Florida and the birds that love them.

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Birds are dinosaurs. That has been pretty definitively established. But when did dinosaurs become birds? To put it more succinctly, when did dinosaurs learn to fly?

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The Snowy Owl echo irruption, following the big invasion that occurred last winter, continues in the East.  

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Downtown Sacramento is hosting a massive roost of crows this winter.

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Another critically endangered plant with brilliant purple flowers has been discovered in Hawaii. It is sad that so many of the species of plants and animals endemic to the islands are already on the brink of extinction when they are discovered.

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Southeast Brazil, including Sao Paulo, is enduring a crippling drought. Lack of water is a crisis that is being faced in many parts of the world and is expected to become even more widespread in coming years.

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Around the backyard:


The Carolina Chickadees are busy building their nest in this bluebird box outside my kitchen window. If the chickadees are at it, other birds won't be far behind. Spring is coming.

I hope the birds in your yard are providing entertainment on these often gray wintry days and that you are taking the time to enjoy them. Happy birding! 

And, most importantly, live long and prosper.

4 comments:

  1. There's a lot more activity amongst the bird population here now as well. I have had prospective tenants view a bird box today.
    LLAP.

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    1. They are definitely checking out the nesting boxes and other sites now, I predict it won't be long until we hear the pitter-patter of little chicks once again.

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  2. I enjoyed all your news articles. The Evening Grosbeak is such a pretty bird, so appealling with the big beak and the yellow whoosh over its eye. They don't live in my area. The climate change problem looms more and more, I think we need to get off of coal and oil as energy sources, not easily done. LLAP

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    1. Getting off fossil fuels when we are so addicted will definitely be a wrench, but I think it is something we must do for the sake of future generations.

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