Saturday, March 18, 2017

This week in birds - #248

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


Male Northern Cardinals are busily singing to establish and defend their nesting territories while females incubate their eggs.

*~*~*~*

Scientists are decrying the decision by the current president to overturn the rule against using lead ammunition in national wildlife refuges. The ban against such ammunition has been instrumental in protecting Bald Eagles and other raptors at the top of the food chain that dine on animals killed and left in the wild by hunters. The raptors ingest the bullets along with the meat of the animal. The results of lead poisoning are devastating. 

*~*~*~*

The first accurate climate model ever was established 50 years. The scientists' groundbreaking paper was published in 1967. Now their science can finally be robustly evaluated, and they got almost everything exactly right.

*~*~*~*

The first wolf pack to make its home in California in nearly a century is missing and scientists are searching for clues as to what has become of them. The two adults and five pups known as the Shasta Pack have not been seen since May 2016.

*~*~*~*

Birds that have flexible nesting requirements are more likely to be able to make a home for themselves in the suburbs. Birds that have very strict needs for their nesting sites and construction are less likely to be able to make a go of it there.

*~*~*~*

"The Prairie Ecologist" discusses one of the burning issues of conservation land management: Should we manage for the rare species or for species diversity? 

*~*~*~*

The emphasis in helping the Monarch butterfly make a comeback has been on trying to protect existing stands of milkweed and get gardeners and homeowners to plant more of the stuff to give the butterflies places to lay their eggs and to give their caterpillars the sustenance they require. But the adult butterflies need nectar, also, and a new study indicates that part of the problem is that there are not sufficient nectar plants available.

*~*~*~*

When there is plenty of food available, Galapagos Penguins will continue to feed their chicks long after they have left the nest. 

*~*~*~*

Another previously unknown frog species has been discovered in northern Vietnam. It is a frog that resembles a stone in appearance and it is called the Stone Leaf-litter frog. It represents just a bit of the unknown biodiversity from the imperiled forests of Southeast Asia. 


The Stone Leaf-litter Frog. Isn't he adorable? (Photo by Jodi Rowley.)

*~*~*~*

In the UK, a man has been found guilty of unlawfully collecting and killing specimens of one of Britain’s rarest butterflies, the large blue. He was seen wielding a butterfly net at a nature reserve in Gloucestershire and when challenged by a volunteer there, he claimed he was interested in parasitic wasps and orchids. Police later raided his home in Cadbury Heath, near Bristol, and found dead, mounted butterflies in about 30 trays, including two large blues. 

*~*~*~*

In the mid-twentieth century, Peregrine Falcons were facing almost certain extinction. But then came Rachel Carson and increased awareness of the damage that we were inflicting on the environment with some of the poisons we were using. Environmental laws were passed and falcons and other endangered birds started a comeback. Today, the adaptable Peregrine has found a home in urban settings, where it rules the skies from high-rise buildings that resemble the mountain cliffs of its traditional home.  

*~*~*~*

"The Rattling Crow" documents intelligent behavior by Carrion Crows. They pick up mussels, fly high over rocks, and drop the mussels on the rocks to break them open and make them easier to eat. 

*~*~*~*

Cyprus is the jaws of death for birds on migration. Annually, millions of birds are killed by poachers as they make the dangerous journey. In the fall of 2016 alone, it is estimated that 2.3 million birds were killed there. 

*~*~*~*

The proposed federal budget would cease the cleanup of toxic hotspots around the Great Lakes. The budget allocates $0 to the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, which restores polluted land and water leftover from manufacturing, lumber, and mining industries. The project has been a boon to bird and other wildlife populations in the areas affected. 

*~*~*~*

The kingsnake's preferred prey is other snakes. It eats other things as well, but snakes make up the largest portion of its diet. It kills its prey by constriction, wrapping its coils around its victim and squeezing so hard that it triggers cardiac arrest.

*~*~*~*

Spiders are our friends and they are working as hard as they can to keep the ecosystem in balance. In pursuit of that goal, they eat twice as much animal prey (mostly insects) as humans do each year. A team of Swiss and Swedish scientists has calculated that they eat as much as 400 to 800 million tons of prey in a year. Without their aid, it's fair to say we would be inundated in insects.







4 comments:

  1. Great tidbits this week. I wonder if the wolf pack that has gone missing in CA has anything to due with the torrential rains and flood they have experienced. I just hope they turn up OK.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's unusual for an established pack to leave their territory, so something unusual must have happened. One can only hope that it wasn't something tragic.

      Delete
  2. I like the frog! Spiders are hard at work in my yard and home:) This morning as I read your post I thought, a post-apocalyptic novel could be constructed from the data you shared.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It certainly reads that way, doesn't it?

      Delete