Friday, February 28, 2020

This week in birds - #391

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


A Northern Shoveler pair basks in the bright sun of a mild winter day in a South Texas wetland.

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Today a federal judge in Idaho voided nearly one million acres of oil and gas leases on federal lands in the West. He ruled that the federal government had limited public input on those leases and that that was "arbitrary and capricious". The leasing policy had been challenged by environmental groups trying to protect the habitat of the Greater Sage-Grouse.

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Also this week, conservation groups filed a legal petition challenging the federal government's plan to allow 3,500 new gas wells in southwestern Wyoming. The gas wells would block the migration route of pronghorn antelopes, a route they have traveled annually for six thousand years. The petition alleges that the wells were approved without properly analyzing potential harm to the antelope and to the Greater Sage-Grouse that shares the pronghorn's habitat.

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JP Morgan Chase has announced that it will stop approving loans for companies pursuing new fossil fuel drilling in the Arctic Circle. This follows a similar move announced by Goldman Sachs. The financial institutions have received pressure from Democratic lawmakers and environmental groups to take this action. 

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The abnormally warm Alaska summers are resulting in changes in coastal ecosytems that are causing fish populations to migrate and some dieoffs of seabird populations. Moreover, warming waters are making shellfish toxic, disrupting a way of life for Native Alaskans who have earned their living by fishing.

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A story that went viral regarding a toy poodle being carried off by a hawk in Pennsylvania is most likely a mistake. The dog (who has been found and reunited with his owner) weighs 6.5 pounds and even the largest raptors in the area can only carry around 4 pounds.

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California's new law regulating groundwater goes into effect this year. It will have a significant impact on the state's agricultural practices and on rural communities and endangered wetlands. The regulation was put into place in response to concerns about the effects of drought and additional drilling of wells to get water.

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More dam removal this time in Delaware. So far, one dam blocking the migration route to the spawning grounds of several species of fish has been removed on Brandywine Creek and plans are for all ten of the remaining dams to be removed or modified over the next three years.

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The problem of electrocution killing raptors is being tackled in New Jersey. That has become one of the top killers of Bald Eagles there.

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Want to save the world? Then you might just try planting some native plants in your yard. It will help the insects on which the survival of the food chain depends.

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A major effort to expand development of Canada's oil sands has collapsed amid investor concerns over oil's future and political fault lines between economic and environmental priorities.

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The devastating fires in Australia have been followed by heavy rains and flooding compounding the extremes of environmental disasters.

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For the second straight year, the number of Monarch butterflies wintering in the West is critically low.

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Los Angeles' mountain lions are penned in by the freeways and facing extinction but a new wildlife crossing offers hope that they may be able to escape their prison.

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Raptors that feed from higher in the food chain have higher mercury levels in their bodies.

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Are whales' sense of direction disrupted by sunspots? There is some evidence that this may be the case and that it may contribute to some of the beaching incidents.




6 comments:

  1. I look forward to Saturday mornings, Dorothy, just to read your roundup and follow some of the links. The image of the Northern Shovelers is a bonus,

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    1. I look forward to doing the weekly roundup using the articles I've collected all week. There is, of course, always much more news than I can put in a brief roundup.

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  2. OK, some good news today! Fighting back pays off. I was of course particularly interested in the article about CA's groundwater regulations. It is about time but will probably get messy before it gets better.

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    1. Sometimes things have to be messy before they get better. That should give us all hope, I guess, since things are pretty messy right now.

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  3. I'm happy to have found you. We live in the same part of the world and have some of the same interests. My husband and I are active in our chapter of the Texas Master Naturalists group. In April and May we will be volunteering at the Gulf Coast Bird Observatory for Spring Fling, a big birding event, down in Quintana Beach. Maybe you will visit there.

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    1. That is a great event. I don't know if I'll be able to visit this year, but thanks for reminding me. And thanks for visiting my blog.

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