Saturday, January 2, 2016

This week in birds - #187

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

American Goldfinches are finally visiting my black oil sunflower seed feeder in my front yard. They haven't started hitting the nyger seed feeders in the backyard yet, but this is typical. They usually start with the sunflower seeds and later move to the nyger. I still haven't seen any Pine Siskins in my yard, although several people have reported them in the area.
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In that "galaxy far, far away," apparently there are birds! Audubon has helpfully created a field guide to them.

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Noah Strycker, the birder who gave a year of his life to do a worldwide "Big Year," finished 2015 having seen and recorded more than 6,000 species of birds. Think about that for a minute. That's in a world where the total known bird species number a bit over 10,000. Noah's final count was 6,042.

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Sad news regarding the oldest banded Bald Eagle in the country. The bird was struck by a car and killed in New York while apparently feeding on a road-killed rabbit. Band #629-03142 was hatched in Minnesota in 1977 while the future of Bald Eagles was still very much in doubt. They were on the Endangered Species List. He lived to see the triumphant recovery of his species and helped contribute to that recovery.

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The U.S. Congress did something positive for the environment! Stop the presses! Just before they left town in December, they easily passed a bill banning microbeads in health and beauty products. Microbeads are tiny bits of plastic used as abrasives that eventually wind up in our waterways and do significant harm to the environment.  

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A recently published study of American Kestrels found that those that stayed on their home territories and did not migrate south in winter nested earlier than birds that did migrate.

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Japan has designated four new or expanded areas of protection for birds. One of the birds that will benefit is the extremely endangered Spoon-billed Sandpiper.

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Mistletoe, that parasitic plant beloved by Christmas party celebrants, is a valuable plant for some species of birds. They eat the berries that it produces and some use it as nest material.

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Two bees or not two bees; that is the question. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is evaluating two bees, the blue Calamintha bee and the rusty patched bumblebee, to determine if they need protection under the Endangered Species Act. If they don't get the protection, they may not be two bees for much longer. The Franklin's bumblebee became extinct during the time that the FWS was "evaluating" it.

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The sacred bird of the Maya and Aztecs, the Resplendent Quetzal, is facing an extinction risk due to loss of habitat in Central America.  

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Humans! I'll never understand them. Why would anyone do this? Some person or persons unknown killed some Laysan Albatrosses and destroyed nests and eggs at Kaena Point Natural Area Reserve in Hawaii. One can only hope that the person or persons responsible are caught and punished to the full extent of the law.

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Funnily enough, Americans are more willing to support offshore drilling if it is far, far away from where they live. Gee, I wonder why that would be?

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The majestic Andean Condor has become all but extinct in Colombia, but conservationists are making an effort to repopulate the skies of the country with the iconic bird. Two birds from Chile have recently been brought to a zoo in Medellin as the first step in the plan to reintroduce them in Colombia.

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As changes in climate have made it more difficult for them to access their normal diet, polar bears are becoming more and more dependent upon predation of nesting birds and their eggs.

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A solar power plant on the Atacama in Chile offers hope for a constant source of clean energy but the facility has run into difficulty in regard to its finances.

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Temperatures in the Arctic have recently risen above freezing. In other words, it has been warmer at the North Pole than in some areas of the lower 48 states. 

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Finally, take time to observe the birds in 2016. They are all around you, so you don't have to go out of your way to do it, and as Yogi Berra once said, (or should have) "You can see a lot by just looking!" Happy birding!

6 comments:

  1. Cute pic, Dorothy!
    I feel bad about the dead, old eagle, and the on-their-way-to-extinction Quetzal and Andean Condor. Gosh, it's not looking good for birds everywhere.

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    1. Birds face many challenges, but the comeback of the Bald Eagle and the comeback in progress of the Whooping Crane give evidence that birds can make it in the 21st century if only we humans can bring ourselves to stop doing bad things to them.

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  2. Good for Congress! And I suppose we don't really need those bead things on our skins either. I am watching the birds in my yard more closely thanks to you. Of course, I can't miss the peacocks who were here all week en masse!

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    1. Yes, peacocks are pretty hard to miss, aren't they?

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  3. So sad about the eagle but I am pleased to hear Congress is passing laws to help protect the precious bird population...some good things for the new year. Happy 2016 to you!

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