Saturday, February 13, 2016

This week in birds - #193

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



Osprey, resting after enjoying a fish snack.
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The Great Backyard Bird Count, the mid-winter citizen science project meant to determine where birds are and what their condition is, is under way. It will continue through Monday. If you have at least fifteen free minutes over the next couple of days, why not go outside and count some birds, then go to the GBBC website and report what you saw? 

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The Supreme Court has blocked the EPA's rules regarding the regulation of emissions from coal-fired power plants while the case makes its way through the court system. It seems likely that this will, at the very least, delay implementation of the rules until after the Obama presidency ends. It is yet another blow to the agenda for combating climate change and another reminder of why this presidential election is so important.

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The armed occupation by a bunch of misguided malcontents of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon ended peacefully this week when the last four holdouts of the group finally surrendered. The refuge will continue to be closed until law enforcement completes its investigation. Then, finally, the cleanup can begin and the community can heal.  

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The genome of the deer tick, carrier of the dread Lyme disease, has been sequenced by an international team of scientists led by Purdue University.

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Many parrots, including the highly intelligent African Gray Parrot, are disappearing from the wild because of animal trafficking for the pet trade.

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In more news of an endangered parrot, the last 125 individuals of the Kakapo Parrot species will each have their genomes sequenced. It is hoped that this will provide information that will help to save the bird from extinction.

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"The Rattling Crow" blog has an appreciation of the beautiful Mute Swan, a native of much of Europe and Asia. Though it has been introduced to some areas of North America and has occasionally become an invasive pest, in its native habitat, it is an integral part of the ecosystem

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A new study found that at least two-thirds of American schoolchildren are taught inaccurate information regarding the causes and effects of global climate change.

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President Obama designated three new national monuments in the California desert Thursday, expanding federal protection to 1.8 million acres of landscapes that have retained their natural beauty despite decades of heavy mining, cattle ranching and off-roading.

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A population of Verreaux's Eagles, an apex predator of southern Africa, is thriving in coexistence with the agricultural activities of the region. According to a recent study, this population of birds is even out-performing their neighbors in pristine mountain habitat.

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One in two tree species in the Amazon could be endangered. Experts have revealed that, according to the predicted deforestation scenarios, 36% to 57% of Amazonian species are at risk of disappearing, i.e. up to 8,700 species out of the 15,000 estimated during the first inventory of the Amazonian Basin, published two years ago.

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The oldest known living bird in the world, a Laysan Albatross named Wisdom, has hatched her 40th chick this week. She is 65 years old.

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How embarrassing. The wishbone of a skeleton that was thought to be that of a previously undescribed giant raptor turned out to actually be a piece of turtle shell! I find it comforting somehow that very smart scientists can make a mistake. And admit it.

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Whooping Cranes that are captive-raised are being re-introduced in Louisiana as a non-migratory flock and they are thriving there at least in part thanks to their penchant for hunting reptiles and amphibians.

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In the 1990s, the western bumblebee (Bombus occidentalis) was swiftly declining in numbers and seemed headed for possible extinction. But there is good news. The bee has made a remarkable comeback and has begun to reemerge in areas where it had not been seen for the last ten years. Its continued existence seems safe, at least for now.

8 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. But some good news, too. Some weeks it seems to be all bad.

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  2. Interesting information. The more educated on the environment we are, the more we can help endangered species.
    Great photo of the Osprey!
    Thanks for the reminder about the Backyard Bird Count.
    Lea

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    1. I'm a big fan of the Great Backyard Bird Count and always happy to remind people of it.

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  3. Enjoyed this thank you for this little escape

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  4. It seems there was more good news than bad this week. I have been hearing owls almost every evening. After cultivating the soil around my shrubs yesterday, I hope to see the birds finding worms today! Bees? I have so many bees. Right now they are all over the last blooms of my jade bushes.

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    Replies
    1. Many owls and hawks nest at this time of year and they do become more vocal during mating season.

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