Saturday, April 22, 2017

This week in birds - #253

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




My backyard saw its first Baltimore Oriole visitor of the year this week, a bit ahead of schedule. Got to get those orange feeders stocked with orange halves and grape jelly to welcome the colorful migrants.


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Hundreds of thousands of climate researchers, oceanographers, bird watchers, and other supporters of science rallied in marches around the world on Saturday, in an attempt to bolster scientists’ increasingly precarious status with politicians. Wherever we are, whoever we are, we must do whatever we can to defend science and the Earth from the know-nothings. 

Also, this has been National Park Week. Our parks, too, need our support and defense against those who would destroy the system that has meant so much to Americans everywhere over the last hundred years. The parks are especially appreciated by birders as they are among some of the best places to see a diversity of birds. The National Parks Conservation Association lists the 25 best national parks for birding. Three of them are in Texas and one I featured in a post here earlier this week - Big Bend National Park. 

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Are birds adjusting their migration schedules to respond to climate change? My anecdotal evidence would seem to indicate that they are, but, of course, scientists do not accept anecdotal evidence. They are studying Barnacle Geese to determine how the birds are responding to the challenge of a warming world.

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Five environmental groups, pointing to trophy hunting by Americans as a main cause in the threat to the continued existence of giraffes, have lodged a formal request with the United States to list the animal as endangered in order to forestall the "silent extinction" of the species.

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To all my readers in Mississippi, you have an opportunity to support an effort at a "Mississippi Big Day" on Monday, April 24. Or it could be Sunday. Or Tuesday. The Big Day is being attempted by a conservation group called Delta Wind Birds and they will be attempting to livestream and/or live tweet their activities all day. They hope to beat the previous record of 175 set in 1989. They also hope to raise money for their cause and the public is invited to make pledges for the Big Day attempt

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Although the remoteness of Antarctica may afford it some protection from the effects of climate change, it faces degradation of its biodiversity from tourism, transnational pollution, warming oceans, melting ice cover, and other threats.

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In what The San Diego Union-Tribune called an "irony alert," the Kentucky Coal Mining Museum has installed 80 solar panels on its roof in an effort to save on its monthly electric bill. Kudos to them for facing the reality of the present and planning for the future instead of living in the past.

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Knowing where migrating birds came from and where they are headed is essential for their conservation. Scientists are studying the isotopes in the feathers of ducks harvested by hunters in order to get some of the answers to the questions of where they came from and where they go. Their information points to the importance of boreal wetlands to the birds' life cycles.

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Since the first confirmed wolf wandered into Oregon from Idaho in 1999, the state's known wolf population has grown to 112 animals, up two from 2016, according to a recent report. Scientists who study the animals expect the formation of additional packs in southern Oregon.

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Have you heard about "The Case of the Disappearing River?" The Slims River, which flowed from a Canadian glacier, abruptly and unexpectedly disappeared over a course of four days when the glacier melted and receded last year. Where the Slims once flowed, Dall sheep from Kluane National Park are now making their way down to eat the fresh vegetation.

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Birding by ear is a useful tool for the dedicated birder since many birds, especially those that live in heavily wooded areas, are easier to hear than to see. Audubon online offers some instructions on how to be a better ear-birder.

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It's cicada season and the "song" of the cicada is heard once again in the land. "Cicada Mania" explains how the insects make those sounds.

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A study of Eastern Wood-Pewees reveals that the birds sing shorter songs in response to traffic noise in urban areas.

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The giant shipworm was known to biologists for hundreds of years only from shell fragments and a handful of dead specimens. This "worm" is actually a giant clam and the home of the creature has now been revealed. Biologists are happily able to study the living specimens.

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The 2016 Garden BirdWatch citizen science project in Great Britain revealed that some birds are flourishing while others seem to be experiencing difficulties. In general, it seemed to be a good year for thrushes and a bad year for Greenfinches, a species that has been in general decline.

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The EPA may, in some part, be a victim of its own success. It has overseen the cleaning of our air and water and environment since its inception, and even though problems still exist, things are so much better than they were, for example, in the '50s and '60s that generations have grown up without understanding the trouble we would be in if someone weren't there to make companies obey the law and clean up their messes. Their success may have made it easier for the know-nothings running the government to attack them.

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HAPPY EARTH DAY! TAKE CARE OF HER - SHE'S THE ONLY HOME WE HAVE.

4 comments:

  1. Lovely that Baltimore Oriole. I'm glad the population of wolves in Oregon is increasing. Have you been able to find out what happened to the California pack that you mentioned a few Saturdays ago? I'm just curious. Kudos to scientists everywhere for trying to get their voices heard. I know science reports, particularly global warming ones, can be conflicting, which lend ammunition to science deniers in government institutions, but cutting funds from science projects make true findings even more difficult to reach to. BTW, I chuckled with the irony of the coal museum in Kentucky installing solar cells. That's a mighty irony if I ever saw one. :-)

    Happy Earth Day, Dorothy!

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    1. Well said. I haven't seen or heard anything more about the California wolf pack. I'm sure if they are found we'll hear about it.

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  2. Happy Earth Day to you Dorothy. A wonderful plethora of info as always. We are in peacock mating season and they trumpet out their cries around the clock, waking me up many times per night. But the nightingales have arrived. We call them jazz birds since their songs sound like improvisations. And the butterflies are here!

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    1. Having once lived next door to some peacocks, I can imagine what it's like in your neighborhood just now!

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