Saturday, June 4, 2016

This week in birds - #209

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

An inquisitive Blue Jay checking out what's on offer at the feeders.

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Historic floods continued this week in parts of Europe as well as in Texas and with hurricane season now underway, meteorologists and weather junkies are keeping an eye out for the formation of tropical depressions.

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Gulls are attracted to cities not because they provide better nesting sites but because of the abundance of garbage which provides an easy food source.

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A Newsweek story details how air pollution tends to be significantly worse in areas that are populated by minorities, primarily people of color. The story focuses on industrial pollution in places like Detroit. It isn't only Flint where the environment is poisoning its residents. 

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We know that artificial lighting can be detrimental to birds and to many species, upsetting their circadian rhythms. Now, a new study in the U.K. confirms that street lights and other such artificial lights confuse moths and may be contributing to the threat of extinction for some species.

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The Salton Sea is the result of an environmental accident that occurred in 1905, but for more than a hundred years, it has been a godsend for migrating birds. Now it is threatened by drought and development. The state of California and dozens of stakeholders are working on a plan for the area that, it is hoped, will control dust, preserve habitat and protect the local economy as the sea shrinks. 

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It seems that humans are not the only ones to employ "baby talk." A study of Zebra Finches shows that songbirds, too, can use a kind of baby talk to teach their chicks the species language.

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Conservation groups submitted an emergency petition last week requesting that the United States Fish and Wildlife Service increase protection for the only wild population of red wolves left in the world in North Carolina. The red wolf is the only species of wolf that is found solely in the United States.

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The Concepcion Bank silver boa is the first new snake species discovered in the Caribbean since the 1940s. As soon as it was discovered, the shiny, metallic-looking snake was also recognized as being critically endangered

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A male cougar which unfortunately died after being struck by a car in Connecticut was confirmed by DNA and other evidence to have been the same animal that started on its record-setting trek in South Dakota. At the time of his death, he had traveled more than 1500 miles.  

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A rare visit by a very rare bird, a Siberian Crane, is delighting birdwatchers in Taiwan.

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A deadly fungus has devastated several amphibian species worldwide. A hunt for salamanders in the eastern United States seeks to determine if they are being attacked by the same fungus.

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As noted above, gulls flock to the garbage in cities and research shows that, as one might expect, birds that are able to adapt to using human litter fare much better in urban settings.

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A new rain frog species has been discovered in Manu National Park, Amazonian Peru. New species of animals and plants are discovered all the time, which just goes to show that there is still an awful lot that we don't know about this planet.

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A new study suggests that the retreat of glaciers may tend to promote the success of invasive species in new areas. It seems that healthy glaciers may help to hold such species in check.

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Sometimes Texas does do something right and on those rare occasions, it should be acknowledged. Under pressure from conservationists, the Texas Department of Transportation has started creating corridors for wildlife across busy highways where the nation's only viable population of endangered ocelots lives, along the Texas/Mexican border, specifically in the Laguna Atascosa area. It would be a tragedy for even one of these beautiful spotted cats to end as roadkill. These corridors may help keep that from happening and allow all wildlife in the area to thrive.

Photo of ocelots by Francis Apesteguy/Getty Images.



4 comments:

  1. Baby talk among birds? Amazing! They never stop surprising me.

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    1. They are fascinating critters with abilities that I suspect we little understand.

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  2. I think industrial pollution and lack of access to fresh healthy food are the biggest problems in urban areas. Imagine trying to raise kids in that environment.

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    1. Food deserts as well as air and water pollution make living in urban areas a challenging matter. I'm glad I don't have to raise kids in such an environment.

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