Saturday, August 23, 2014

This week in birds - #122

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

Redhead Duck, photographed on our autumn trip to Big Bend National Park in West Texas two years ago. Some of these beautiful ducks winter in our area and they will soon be winging our way once again in their fall migration.

*~*~*~*

The ongoing extreme drought in the West has resulted in the loss of some 63 trillion gallons of groundwater, scientists estimate. That, in turn, has had the effect of causing the surface of the earth in those areas to rise about 0.16 inches over the last eighteen months.

*~*~*~*

Ospreys returned to Cumbria in England in 2001, after an absence of about 150 years. Now, a pair have produced chicks at a nest in Roudsea Wood Nature Preserve in Cumbria. Since Ospreys return to the same nest year after year, it is hoped that this will be a new beginning for the birds in that area of their former range.

*~*~*~*

Beetles are among the most diverse and interesting of insects. "Beetles in the Bush" has a fascinating post, with pictures, of the intimidating-looking staghorn beetle

*~*~*~*

There is a myth about magpies that they are inexorably drawn to shiny objects and will steal them if they can. Some scientists set out to test that myth and found that it seems to be entirely false. In fact, it appears that magpies are afraid of shiny objects!

*~*~*~*

The Bird Ecology Study Group has some beautiful pictures of a Southeast Asian bird, the Purple Swamphen. It is closely related to our own summer visitor, the Purple Gallinule

*~*~*~*

As a gardener who tries to use native plants whenever possible in her garden, I was interested in this article in the Chicago Tribune. It seems that some of the cultivars that are sold as "native" are not so native after all and do not necessarily have the characteristics that we are looking for in that plant. However, some cultivars do. The message here, I guess, is "Buyer beware!" One should attempt to educate oneself as much as possible before purchasing such plants. 

*~*~*~*

A Bronx resident has reclaimed an area that was once reduced to an open-air drug market along a weed-choked street and has created a bird sanctuary. It is also a sanctuary for the people of the area. What began as a private project has now been taken over by the Parks and Recreation Department. It is called the Dred Scott Bird Sanctuary because as the daughter of its founder, Troy Lancaster, said, they all "worked like slaves without pay" in creating it. Where drug dealers once reigned, Wild Turkeys are now sometimes seen. Never doubt that one person with a dream and persistence can make a difference.

*~*~*~*

Glossy Ibises are occasionally seen here, although they are not as common as the very similar White-eyed Ibis or the common White Ibis. But they are also seen in Europe, especially around the Mediterranean. Now, the climate seems to be pushing them farther north. This summer a pair were seen building a nest in Frampton Marshes in the UK. Although they completed the nest, they never laid eggs. It is possible they were a young and inexperienced pair, but it is hoped they will have better luck in another year.

*~*~*~*

Rainforest frogs seem to be under attack on every front these days. In India, they face challenges to their existence because of the selective logging that is going on in forests there.

*~*~*~*

There are only 114 Hawaiian Crows left in the world. They are extinct in the wild, but scientists conducting a captive breeding program that hopes to someday reestablish a wild population announced that they have hatched nine chicks at the Keauhou Bird Conservation Facility on Hawaii Island.

*~*~*~*

What would you imagine that a wasp mantisfly would look like? It's an insect that carries the name of three distinct species. Well, it is a unique and interesting critter and "Bug Eric" found one at Colorado Springs recently and he is excited to tell us all about it.

*~*~*~*

Sometimes attempting to save an endangered species can mean killing some of the animals that prey on them or encroach on their territory - as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is currently doing with Barred Owls that have moved into the territories of Northern Spotted Owls in the Northwest. Now, some Double-crested Cormorants along the Columbia River in Oregon will suffer that same fate as scientists try to save the endangered salmon on which they love to feed.

*~*~*~*

When scientists were able to sequence the genome of the chicken in 2004, they found that the species did not have the gene for tasting sweets. Other birds, it seems, also lack that proverbial "sweet tooth." Except for the hummingbird. Although they, too, lack the particular gene that relates to the tasting of sweets in other species, they have developed other means of being able to taste sugary stuff. They love nectar and that sugar water that we put out for them. The sweeter the better!   

Yum!!!



No comments:

Post a Comment