Friday, June 10, 2016

This week in birds - #210

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

American Coots can be found just about anywhere on the continent where there is fresh water available. These two were looking for their lunch at Brazos Bend State Park.

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Yes, I know I'm a day early with my roundup this week, but I'm suffering from enforced inactivity because of a severe hamstring strain and time hangs heavy on my hands, so here I am! I saw my orthopedist on Monday and he told me if I were a football player I'd be out for the season. Well, I'm a gardener and it looks like I am out for this season at least, which leaves me plenty of time to blog.

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Arctic Terns are known for the longest migration routes in the bird world, but this one truly takes the prize. The tiny bird from the Farne Islands off Northumberland has chalked up the longest migration ever recorded - 59,650 miles. The meandering journey of the bird to Antarctica and back covered more than twice the circumference of the planet.

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The contributions of birders to citizen science projects like eBird are helping to provide information that aids conservation efforts.

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"Bug Eric" discovers a mystery about tiny ichneumon wasps, posts about it on the Internet, and gets the solution to the mystery (sort of) from a doctoral student in the Ukraine. Sometimes the Internet is an amazing tool.

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Voters in the nine county Bay Area around San Francisco have approved a tax that will fund wetlands restoration and flood control projects on the San Francisco Bay's shoreline. Good for them!

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Two of North America’s declining grassland songbirds, the Grasshopper Sparrow and the Baird's Sparrow, may be particularly vulnerable to altered weather patterns caused by climate change, according to new research in The Condor: Ornithological Applications. Extreme heat waves have been known to kill adult birds, and droughts can cause birds to abandon nests or skip breeding altogether.

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I find this story absolutely amazing. Born blind, Juan Pablo Culasso has never seen a bird, but through his gifted sense of hearing, this ornithologist from Uruguay can identify more than 3,000 different bird sounds and differentiate more than 720 species. With working eyes and ears, I could not differentiate 720 species without the aid of a field guide.

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Scientists in Iceland have developed a new method of carbon capture which holds promise.Thousands of feet below the Hellisheidi Geothermal Power Plant outside of Reykjavik, Iceland, a carbon dioxide (CO2) and water mixture is injected into the ground. Reacting with minerals in the plentiful basalt rock, the CO2 solidifies into crystals known as carbonates — essentially turning it into stone. The method is still experimental and expensive, but may be worth pursuing as we attempt to find ways to scrub the greenhouse gas from our atmosphere. 

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New research reveals that our stereotype of the Dodo as a fat and flightless, clueless and clumsy sitting duck was almost entirely incorrect. It was, in fact, smart, agile, and completely underrated.


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A new species of seagull? Not quite. This unfortunate bird somehow managed to fall into a vat of chicken tikka masala near Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire in the UK and dyed itself orange with the curry. Its rescuers were able to wash the orange away but it still smells like curry!

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Hummingbird hawk-moths typically visit the UK from continental Europe during the summer, but they may be spending the winter in sheltered spots or even greenhouses of Southern England. The charity Butterfly Conservation is asking wildlife-watchers to check their gardens for the tiny hummingbird-like moths, in a bid to find out if this striking European insect is actually colonizing the UK.

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Fat birds are better at making babies. Yes, it's true. Birds that build up extra fat reserves before migration have more successful nesting seasons.

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How embarrassing! Katie McKissick at Scientific American has only recently realized that she had been calling a common bird by the wrong name. It's not a "Morning Dove," it's a Mourning Dove, named for its mournful call. Of course, it is often also the first bird I hear in the morning...

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New fisheries regulations are helping to protect albatrosses and other seabirds from being accidentally caught.

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Oil trains continue to pose a threat to Nature as well as to human life. The most recent train to go off the rails was last week near the small town of Mosier, Oregon, where the resulting fire and smoke caused the closure of twenty-three miles of the interstate.

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A new report from Natural Areas Conservancy finds that New York City is host to as many as 2100 species of plants, 350 species of birds, and 200 species of native bees, among other wildlife. In other words, the flora and fauna population of the city is just at diverse as the human population.


8 comments:

  1. Thanks for the news, as always. I feel for you. No gardening all summer? Are you going to hire someone to keep things up? Or just wait it out? So sorry.

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    1. I do have a lawn service and I've engaged them to do weeding and other upkeep for me, but it is very frustrating to see things that need to be done and not be able to do them myself.

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  2. I hope you heal quickly Dorothy. More time to blog but also more time to just sit and enjoy your garden.

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    1. Theoretically, I suppose, but I don't find it works that way. Hard to enjoy things when one sees so much that needs to be done. I know you know how that song goes!

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  3. So sorry to hear about your injury, Dorothy. I hope you recover soon.
    That tidbit about the seagull is priceless, and hysterical.

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    1. Curried seagull - not a dish I would care to partake of, I think!

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  4. Healing thoughts coming your way, Dorothy. Your snippets of bird news are fascinating. P. x

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    1. Thanks, Pam. I enjoy doing the roundup.

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