Friday, April 13, 2018

This week in birds - #299

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



A trio of Wild Turkeys that I photographed at Aransas National Wildlife Refuge on the Texas Coast.

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Planting native plants instead of exotics in the garden has become something of a movement among gardeners in recent years and there are good reasons for it. As far as the gardener is concerned, a native plant is adapted to the environment and is more likely to survive and do well. But native plants also are more likely to attract pollinators and other beneficial insects and those insects in turn attract birds, amphibians, and reptiles that feed on them. It's a win, win, win. You can't beat that! 

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If you were attending - or watching on television - the Minnesota Twins opening day game against the Seattle Mariners, you might have gotten more than you were expecting when a Bald Eagle landed on the shoulder of Mariners starting pitcher James Paxton. If you just saw the picture without the context, you might have thought the eagle was trying to abduct Paxton! Well, actually it wasn't a wild eagle, it was a tame, trained eagle who was part of the opening day ceremonies, but he became confused. There is an explanation, of course.  

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A new study published this month in in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences makes the case that maintaining biodiversity is an important tool for staving off extinction.

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The Gulf Stream, the warm current in the Atlantic that has historically caused dramatic changes in climate, is experiencing an unprecedented slowdown because of the effects of a warming climate and may be less stable than had been thought. This could have dramatic and severe consequences for the climate.

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The Kirtland's Warbler is one of those success stories of the Endangered Species Act. Once headed for an early extinction, the bird has made a good comeback. So good in fact that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing to remove it from the endangered list. The agency is now taking public comments on the proposal.

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North American climate boundaries are shifting because of climate change. Scientists have recently determined that the boundary between the humid eastern part of the continent and the arid west is shifting eastward. It is a change that could have significant implications for farming in the mid-western area.

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The Eastern indigo snake is the country's largest native snake and it is an apex predator. It feeds on other snakes - snakes that, in turn, feed on birds. So reintroducing the indigo snake to areas where it no longer exists could help songbirds since it would prey on one of their predators

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Sea turtles return to their birthplace beach to lay their eggs, but how do they do that? How do they find the exact beach where they themselves hatched? They use Earth's magnetic fields. Clever critters! 

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Moths are the Lepidoptera that work the night shift. They are more abundant and diverse than daytime-flying butterflies and they deserve more attention than they get.

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I was utterly delighted to learn this week that I share this world with a turtle that has a punky green Mohican "hairstyle" and that can breathe through its genitals!

Image from The Guardian.

And here it is. It is the Mary River turtle that is found in Queensland, Australia. Isn't it wonderful? The bad news is that it is endangered and is featured on the list of most vulnerable reptile species as compiled by the Zoological Society of London.

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Atlantic Puffins have beaks that are fluorescent and glow under UV lights. 

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Satellite imagery confirms the drastic retreat of two large glaciers on Greenland's northwest coast. 

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The Hihi is a sugar-lapping bird of New Zealand that, like many others on the island nation, is threatened with extinction. Part of the problem with the Hihi is its small population leading to inbreeding and dodgy sperm which makes breeding even more difficult. Scientists are studying the problem for the best way to help the bird survive.

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Rapidly rising seawaters are threatening Louisiana's vanishing wetlands. There is a plan to redirect the Mississippi River to assist in rebuilding some of the wetlands, but there may not be time left to save the threatened lands from the fast rising seas.

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Many, probably most, serious birders are obsessive listers, but what of those who are somewhat - um - less obsessive? Birders like myself. I love birds and I love watching birds and, yes, I do keep a life-list. Sort of. Matthew Miller is a birder after my own heart and he writes about "Birding For People Who Do Not Like Lists."  

9 comments:

  1. I am a bit behind on blog reading but here I am. At least I beat Carmen this time-:) I fear for the Gulf Stream. I learned of its importance in The Sea Around Us by Rachel Carson, otherwise I might not be as concerned.
    And, I recently read about the Sea Turtles in Nevada Barr's Endangered Species. Review coming soon. Excellent variety this week, Dorothy!

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    1. And the race is on between Judy and Carmen. LOL! I crown you the winner this week. I'll be looking for your Nevada Barr review.

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    2. How funny! :-D I took a break from blogging this weekend. I was immersed in the Star Wars world. ;-)

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    3. One does need the occasional break from all this reality.

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  2. During the time of the Caesars, Romans would have interpreted an eagle landing on that pitcher's shoulder as him being destined for greatness. I guess we'll just have to wait and see. ;-) That turtle is definitely unique! :-) How cool about the glowy beaks of Atlantic Puffins; I would love to test one under UV light.

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    1. I remember that about the Romans. Well, Paxton won his game against the Astros last night so maybe he is destined for greatness.

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    2. Oops, aren't the Astros your team? ;-) Scratch that if that's the case. :-D

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    3. Yes, they are. They are in a slump at the moment but it is a long season.

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