Saturday, April 8, 2017

This week in birds - #251

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


April is the month when we normally see Rose-breasted Grosbeaks passing through here. This is a pair that visited my feeders last April.
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The Deep Sea News blog expresses a fear which many of us have regarding the way things are happening in our country today: "The Return to Silent Spring." With the head of the EPA having decided to disregard the agency's scientists' recommendation and allow the use of the deadly pesticide chlorpyrifos, the authors of the piece detail the potential for disaster. 

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But wait! Environmentalists led by the Pesticide Action Network and the Natural Resources Defense Council have filed suit against the EPA to stop the use of chlorpyrifos. We wish them well and will support them in any way that we can.

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Australia has been experiencing torrential rains which have replenished inland lakes, wetlands, and rivers. This has been a boon to the birds that live in such habitats and they have flocked by the thousands to those areas.

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A study has determined that pollution from a coal-fired plant in Pennsylvania, carried by the wind, is responsible for low birth weight in babies born to women living in four wealthy New Jersey counties that are as far as 30 miles downwind from the plant. Being affluent is no protection against pollution borne on the air that we must all, rich or poor, breathe.

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A six-year study of Colorado's black bear population found that their encounters with humans are less a result of urban expansion and more a matter of the pressures attributable to climate change.  

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This is the large blue butterfly that is endemic to Britain and is its most endangered butterfly. In an earlier edition of TWIB, I told you about the amateur entomologist who had been charged with illegally capturing and killing several of the insects. Well, he has now been convicted and given a two-year suspended sentence. He was also ordered to carry out 250 hours of unpaid work. One of the butterflies properly preserved and mounted is worth well over $300.

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Mature Golden Eagles time their spring migration to arrive at their breeding grounds at the optimum time for nesting, even if it means flying through bad weather in order to make the trip. Immature, non-breeding eagles take a more leisurely trip and stay grounded during bad weather. 

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The Superfund is a 37-year-old EPA program that helps clean up and restore heavily polluted areas across the country. Many of these areas are located in low income communities. So, naturally, the administration in Washington has plans to decimate the program. Its proposed budget would reduce funding from over $1 billion to just $762 million.

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The National Park Service (those rebels!) has updated its web page with an extensive outline of the effects of climate change on our national parks.

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And then we have the Bureau of Land Management. The featured picture on that agency's web page used to be this idyllic scene.


No more. This week they changed it to this.



That black stuff is a great wall of coal.

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The Semipalmated Sandpiper is historically one of the most widespread and numerous shorebird species in the Western Hemisphere, breeding across the North American Arctic tundra, but major population declines have been documented in the core of the non-breeding range in northern South America. Breeding populations have also declined in the eastern North American Arctic, but appear to be stable or increasing in the central and western Arctic. In order to understand what is happening to the bird, scientists are tracking migration routes and stopover sites using light-level geolocators.

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Ants are predators, but they also have their predators - lions and tigers! Actually, antlions and tiger beetles. Bug Eric tells us all about them.

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A new prediction says that Lyme disease could explode in 2017 and 2018 and could move into new areas, with dire implications for public health. There is still no vaccine for the disease.

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Early bird evolution is still a rather murky field of study, so the discovery of a fossil penguin foot has scientists very excited because it helps to reveal an unexpected diversity in penguins 61 million years ago, after the dinosaurs (at least the non-avian types) had gone extinct.

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Birds often wander or go off track when on migration, but one Common Yellowthroat went REALLY off track and wound up in Japan! Its presence has triggered a frenzy among bird lovers there as they flock to the Hinuma wetland area in Ibaraki Prefecture to get a glimpse of the lovely warbler.

4 comments:

  1. Hats off to those who are fighting back!

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    1. Hats off and wallets open. I can at least support them with a few of my dollars.

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  2. So many bad news of the environment...

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    1. It is not a happy time for the environment or for those who treasure it.

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