Saturday, October 8, 2016

This week in birds - #226

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




A male Red-bellied Woodpecker pays a visit to one of my suet cakes.

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Although the ultimate amount of damage done by Hurricane Matthew in our country is still to be determined, it can in no way compare to the utter devastation visited on much of our poor island neighbor, Haiti, a nation still recovering from its last major natural disaster of the magnitude 7 earthquake of 2010. It is truly heartbreaking. If you are in a position to do so, please make a donation to one of the NGOs that provide assistance in the recovery effort. I can personally recommend Oxfam, but, of course, there are many others. Just be sure to investigate before you give. 

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Seawalls are among the best defenses against sea level rise and against storm surge during hurricanes but they limit the amount of beachfront available for shorebird habitats. Studies have found that half as many organisms and a quarter fewer species live on beaches and marshes in front of seawalls than live in seawall-free areas.   

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Today, Baltimore became the 24th city to sign the Urban Conservation Treaty for Migratory Birds. Joining the ranks of urban bird treaty cities will make available federal funds from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to enhance habitats for migratory birds. 

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Cliff-dwelling bees mine sandstone to carve their tunnel nests out of solid rock.

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Spring is coming earlier and earlier to our national parks due to the warming planet. Fully three-quarters of them now experience earlier springs because of climate change. Thus, the animals and plants that live there must make the adjustment or move on. Or die.

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Chestnut-sided Warblers are a relatively common warbler today, given an appropriate habitat, but for John James Audubon in the 19th century, they were a nemesis bird, one he seldom saw after an initial sighting.   

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Photo by Roland Knapp


It's not often that we get to report good news about an amphibian, but here is just such a headline for you. The endangered Sierra yellow-legged frog has made a remarkable recovery in Yosemite National Park. Surveys over twenty years document the amazing comeback of the species.

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Last week, a team of biologists and volunteers released six endangered Light-footed Ridgway's Rails into the San Diego Bay National Wildlife Refuge. This is part of a decades-long effort by conservation partners in the area to bring the secretive marsh bird back from the brink of extinction. 

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IDing birds in the field is often a chancy thing unless it's something like a Northern Cardinal, a Roseate Spoonbill, or a Purple Gallinule - all fairly unmistakable birds. Would that they were all that easy! Bourbon, Bastards, and Birds has a meditation on some of the most difficult to identify: "The Worst of the West."

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A previously unknown species of rabbit-like pika, named the Sikkim pika (Ochotona sikimeria) has been discovered in the Indian Himalayas. Here's a picture of the cute little bugger. 

Photo by Prasenjeet Yadav


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In a dispute that tested the limits of how far moneyed interests can go to take advantage of scientific disagreements to advance their own potential profit, a tiny bird and science have somewhat unexpectedly come out the winners. The Coastal California Gnatcatcher will retain the protection of the Endangered Species Act, thwarting developers who wanted to build in its habitat.

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The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has issued a plan for the listing of the Miami tiger beetle as an endangered species to be protected under the ESA. 

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The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) has announced the listing of the pangolin and the African Grey Parrot as endangered species. Some other decimated species, such as lions and elephants, were not listed this time around.

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For the first time, some bees, including seven native Hawaiian bees, have been listed as endangered in the U.S.

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Seabirds have amazingly high site fidelity, meaning that they return year after year to nest at the place they were born. Even when those sites are subjected to human development or other degradation, often the birds will continue to return there, at their own peril. 


6 comments:

  1. So many species on the Endangered Animals List...What will our world come to?!

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    1. It will most certainly be a much less diverse world unless we act to protect what is left.

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  2. So sad, about the endangered species. Your woodpecker photo made me realized we haven't seen our "Woody" and his family since spring :-(

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    1. They'll likely turn up again this winter. That's when I see them most frequently.

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  3. Thank you for the Hurricane report. Oh my, poor Haiti. And the DR fared so much better though it is right next door. I salute you for putting this roundup together every week. I always end up feeling well informed.

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