Saturday, July 21, 2018

This week in birds - #312

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



The Plain Chachalaca is a turkey-like bird that is fairly common in Mexico and Central America. It also appears along the Texas-Mexico border where I photographed this one. The bird announces it name with its raucous call which is unmistakable. 

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Those in charge of the Interior Department are bent on making it more difficult to shield species under the Endangered Species Act. They want to make it easier for roads, pipelines, and other construction projects to gain approval. They've also started the process of rolling back the National Environmental Policy Act, an obscure law that is considered the cornerstone of environmental policy, laying out the process federal agencies must follow when considering major infrastructure projects. After all, who needs all that wildlife and strange plants?

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For several years now, there has been a movement in California to restore floodplains, by moving levees back from rivers and planting trees, shrubs and grasses in the low-lying land between. The goal has been to go back in time, to bring back some of the habitat for birds, animals and fish that existed before the state was developed. This movement to plant trees has been given added impetus by bouts of extreme weather which give a glimpse of what the future will be like unless we take action. 

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In 2017 four African nations launched the Akashinga program (“The Brave Ones” in Shona). The program is developing a new force of all-female wildlife rangers tasked with protecting rhinos, elephants, and other wildlife from poachers. Akashinga has so far recruited and trained nearly three dozen women. a departure from the male-centric military and special-ops that has until now been the world of wildlife rangers, what the founder of Akashinga calls “one of the ultimate boys’ clubs.” Goodness knows the rhinos, elephants, and other African wildlife need all the help they can get.

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The Common Nighthawk population has been declining in recent years. Now a research project employing tiny transmitters to track the birds is attempting to find the causes for the decline.

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More and more animals are learning to survive and thrive in suburban and even urban settings. Lately, those adjusting to life in the city have included Wild Turkeys and bobcats.

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A study has revealed the shocking finding that the air in some national parks is as polluted as that in cities.

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Two endangered butterflies, the Schaus' swallowtail and the Miami blue, are being reintroduced to their former habitat into the Florida Keys. There will be several releases of the butterflies in the area over the next several months.

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A bipartisan bill introduced in the House of Representatives offers a new funding stream for state wildlife programs, including efforts to help hundreds of bird species in decline that need urgent conservation action. The Senate version of this bill was introduced on July 18, 2018. Although the bills do have bipartisan sponsors, it remains to be seen if they can actually pass in the fractured Congress, or indeed if they would be signed into law if passed.

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It is possible, indeed likely, that some South Asian cities will become unbearably hot - literally - if global greenhouse gas emissions continue at their current pace. Extreme heat can kill and it already has killed dozens of people in that region this summer.

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Grevy's zebras were once widespread across the Horn of Africa but their habitat has been decimated by civil unrest and competition with humans and their livestock. Poaching has also taken a large toll. Now local communities in Kenya are banding together to try to protect the endangered zebras.

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In the U.K., a habitat connectivity study has shown the importance to butterflies of that connectivity in allowing them to be able to freely and safely move from one area to another.

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I can't say I've noticed it in my area but some places in the country are apparently experiencing a firefly boom this summer. Scientists are attributing the success of this season for fireflies to a wet spring which gave them ideal conditions for reproducing. 

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Edge Effects has an article posted about "The Science of Seasons on an Out-of-sync Planet."

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For all you citizen scientists out there, today begins National Moth Week. You can register and report your observations of moths.

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And finally, some beauty to end the week: Here's a link to "The week in wildlife - in pictures."

6 comments:

  1. That Plain Chachalaca is a big bird. Nice pic, btw!

    It's good that African nations are training female rangers, but in nations where survival is everything, illegal poaching is hard to curve regardless of the rangers' gender. It is not the gender that is the problem, but their poor economies and cultural outlook towards wildlife.

    I hope the bipartisan bill to fund wildlife programs passes and becomes law. It would be nice to see lawmakers on both sides of the political spectrum working together for once. It seems that all butterfly species are making a comeback. Let's hope the trend continues.

    I haven't noticed a difference in the amount of fireflies I see; in fact, I usually don't see any, but it is possible that in public parks around the area they are more apparent. I guess a park visit is in the cards. :-)

    This weeks' wildlife pictures are stunning. I loved the red panda. The disabled ape broke my heart. Human activity can have such devastating consequences for animals... :-(

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    1. Those wildlife photographers really do such amazing work. Each of those pictures really tell a story, including the sad one of the ape. A picture truly is worth a thousand words.

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  2. Excellent snippets of news and links to more information, Dorothy. I find myself becoming more and more angry and frustrated at the legislation being passed to the detriment of the environment and safety of wildlife. I'm going to look at the wildlife pictures now to calm myself down. P. x

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    1. The situation with this administration in regard to the environment (as well as just about everything else) is enough to make all of us who care angry and frustrated. It's more important than ever that we do everything in our power to defeat these people and get them out of office. Now I think I'll go look at those pictures again, too!

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  3. We have small bobcats in our neighborhood. Yesterday was a big butterfly day. I saw many in many colors. Love your bird of the week!

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    1. Chachalacas are really interesting birds. That's very good news about your butterflies. We live near some pretty heavily wooded areas so I'm sure there are bobcats around here, although I can't say that I've personally seen them.

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