Saturday, June 9, 2018

This week in birds - #307

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



Black-crowned Night Heron thrusts after a fish in the duckweed covered waters at Brazos Bend State Park.

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A contributing factor in the recent disastrous 1,000 year flood in Maryland was the amount of paving in the area that prevented the rain from soaking into the ground. This, of course, is a problem in most urban areas and could intensify future flooding. 

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As the federal government reduces, or ceases, its efforts at combating global warming, states and cities are stepping up to attempt to fill the vacuum of leadership.

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Controlling rodents or other pests with poisons has always been problematic, but there are alternatives. One of them is to encourage the presence of raptors, those clean and efficient killing machines. Erecting perches for the raptors and nest boxes that some owls will use make the birds welcome in an area and they pay their rent by eating the rodents.

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The tap water in Appalachia is not fit to drink because of pollution from coal mining and chemical operations that has leaked into the groundwater, soil, and waterways, and yet the American public knows little about this water crisis or has been desensitized to it.

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The superintendent of Yellowstone National Park has been informed that he must take a transfer to the Capital Region in Washington, D.C., an area that includes the White House and Lincoln Memorial, within 60 days or resign. The superintendent has been a strong advocate for the wildlife of Yellowstone and that, it seems, is not what this new version of our Interior Department wants. 

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A two-year project of surveying the birds of Botswana has produced some alarming results: many birds of prey are disappearing from Africa's last great wilderness areas. Some species of eagle and vultures have declined by as much as 80% from the last survey.

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There are more than 200,000 protected areas around the world that cover more than 7.7 million square miles, an area greater than South America. These designated areas are supposed to provide protection for the animals and plants that live there, but new research shows that human pressure on these spaces is making it impossible for some of them to serve the conservation mission for which they were established.

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If you are a serious gardener, you are probably already aware that your garden is hardly the peaceful spot that many imagine. It is a place of mortal combat between predator and prey insects, as well as the critters that feed on those insects. 

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Atlantic Puffin population numbers have fallen sharply. The decline of the charismatic birds is directly related to the warming ocean which decreases the abundance of plankton and interrupts the supply chain that produces the small fish that the puffin needs to survive.

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The new governor of New Jersey plans to take his state into the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a multistate program aimed at combating climate change. He is being urged by environmental groups to clamp down on CO2 emissions from power plants as part of that initiative. 

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The United States just had its warmest May on record, breaking the previous record from 1934, the era of the infamous Dust Bowl. In addition, eight states had their warmest May ever: Virginia, Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri, Ohio and Oklahoma. 

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There are some 3.4 million acres of primary forest in Europe that are found in a patchwork, scattered around a countryside of fields and pastures of the continent. These areas need protection as they provide important habitat for European wildlife.

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The federal government, after heavy lobbying from the chemical industry, is scaling back the way it determines health and safety risks associated with the most dangerous chemicals on the market. 

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It may seem counterintuitive but a new study shows that controlled burns of grasslands actually benefit butterflies

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The Guardian had a story this week about the successful reintroduction of species back into areas where they had disappeared. It is called "rewilding" and it is one way of fighting back against extinction.


4 comments:

  1. Oh, so many alarming news this week...Flooding, toxic water as result of fracking, conservation areas around the world at risk due to human activity, sharp decline of species...Not good at all! :-o

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    1. Nope. It's quite depressing really and it seems that whatever we as individuals can do is so small. Still, we must do it and have faith (and hope) that it will make a difference.

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  2. So Joni was right all those years ago about paving paradise. I am encouraged to hear that the dismantling of federal regulations for environmental protection is resulting in more local responsibility. I hope this is a trend, the local part I mean.
    As far as garden interactions go, this week I saw a rabbit meet a ground squirrel. The squirrel was quite the extrovert but got a major brush off from the rabbit.

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    1. Local governments taking more responsibility is a heartening trend. Maybe they could take responsibility for our diplomatic relations with allies as well!

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