Friday, July 27, 2018

This week in birds - #313

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


The Sora is a small attractive member of the secretive rail family. I photographed this one at South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center.

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There can be little doubt among rational people who accept the findings of science that global climate warming is supercharging this hot and dangerous summer across the northern hemisphere. Even areas near the Arctic Circle are being affected.

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The heat wave in Japan has certainly been supercharged and extremely deadly. At least 65 people died from the effects of the extreme weather in just one week. 

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Land use changes are a major driver of species declines, but in addition to the habitat to which they’re best adapted, many bird species use “alternative” habitats such as urban and agricultural land. Evolution appears to favor those species, such as Chipping Sparrows, that are able to make the adjustment and thrive in different types of habitats.

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A new scientific report details how an extended wall along our southern border would harm species on both sides of that border. Thousands of scientists have expressed alarm over any effort to build such an impermeable wall.

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Charlie Pierce has an appreciation of Nathaniel Prior Reed, a conservationist who was instrumental in instituting many of the environmental protection laws that came about in the 1970s. Reed died recently at the age of 84. He was a different kind of a Republican - the Teddy Roosevelt kind.

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Fortunately, there are still people like Reed who devote their lives to defending the Earth from the violent assault against it. Here are nine of them.

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Australia's critically endangered Swift Parrot needs such a champion. Its habitat is being destroyed by logging and the government seems to be dragging its feet on providing protection for it.

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The Earth is drowning in plastic. Solving the problem of plastic will require a coordinated effort by local and international governments. It is essential that that effort be made.

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Republican-led changes to the Endangered Species Act put plants and animals across America at risk. Here are six that would be sacrificed to the oil and gas industry.

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Another large new study examines links between rising temperatures and an increase in suicides. Since temperatures are likely to keep rising for the foreseeable future, this is an alarming prospect.

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A policy that elevated the role that science played in decision-making and emphasized that parks should take precautionary steps to protect natural and historic treasures has been rescinded by the National Park Service, under pressure from Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.

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The Washington Post has the story of an unlikely courtship: "The crane who fell in love with a human."

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Remember the program in this country that used ultralight aircraft to lead captive born Whooping Cranes on migration? Well, the same strategy is now being used in Europe with Northern Bald Ibises. The birds which have been extinct in Central Europe are being reintroduced to the area using this method.

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A study of anoles in the Caribbean found that those animals that survived last year's deadly hurricanes had toe pads that were larger and front legs that were longer than the population of anoles that had been measured before the storms. 

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You may have already seen this remarkable photo taken by amateur wildlife photographer Brent Cizek at Lake Bemidji in Minnesota. It is a female Common Merganser Duck with seventy-six ducklings following her. No, they are not all hers! Actually, mergansers are one of the water birds that employ creches to care for their young. So one female may have the young from several different nests in her care at any given time. It is a remarkably efficient day care system. 

6 comments:

  1. The sora is new to me -- such a striking, bright yellow beak. I think the nearest in appearance we have here is the starling. Excellent roundup of the environment. I find the plastic problem most troubling! P. x

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    1. I find the Sora very cute. They are also very reclusive so it's always a treat to see one. They pass through your area on migration so if you were visiting a wetland area in fall or spring you might encounter one. I agree that plastic is one of the most serious problems facing the environment today. It ranks right up there with climate change.

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  2. And on the topic of plastic, there was a wave of plastic this week right at Dominican Republic's coast. Trash in the ocean is becoming overwhelmingly problematic, as is everywhere else. Great pic of the mother duck and ducklings; sharing daycare duties sounds very smart. :-)

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    1. I saw that story about the DR. Appalling! It is a problem that urgently needs to be addressed but, like so much else threatening our planet, a solution goes begging.

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  3. This week in birds at my house included green parrots as they serenaded me during my morning coffee. They have an outrageous loud squawk followed by an insane sort of warbling. I felt like I was in the jungle. My neighbor tells me they eat the figs off my tree in the front yard. Apparently more goes on than I see when I have my nose in a book, which is most of the time!
    Every time I use something made of plastic, which is way too often, I try to figure out what I would do without it. We are addicted!

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    1. We are addicted and it's a addiction that we really need to kick.

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