Saturday, May 2, 2015

This week in birds - #155

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

Black-throated Green and several other warblers have been passing through the area this week. They've been joined by Summer Tanagers and the last of the Baltimore Orioles in the headlong rush to get to their breeding grounds.

 
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The most dramatic news of the environment this week was, of course, the tragic earthquake that took so many lives in Nepal and the Himalayas. This earthquake was the result of a collision of land masses that took place 25 million years ago when India crashed into Asia. Those land masses are still colliding today at a rate of 1.5 to 2 inches a year which sets off these devastating earthquakes. 

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Next Saturday, May 9, has been designated as a Global Big Day when birders around the world are encouraged to observe, count, and report the birds in their area. The objective is to list as many as possible of the approximately 10,000 bird species extant in the world today. You can participate by reporting your findings to eBird.

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A new analysis, published Thursday in the journal Science, has found that 1 in every 6 species of plants and animals on Earth are in danger of becoming extinct as a result of the effects of global climate change. 

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City lights are a death trap for migrating birds. They confuse them, cause them to crash into buildings or other dangers, and result in millions of death each year. The state of New York has decided to try to do something about it. The state will turn off the non-essential lights in state buildings during the peak of migration seasons. It would be great if other states follow suit.

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Around 30 to 37 million acres of forest are lost each year which is devastating for the birds and other animals that depend on that habitat.

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The latest dinosaur to be discovered in China is unique. It was a pigeon-sized animal with wings, but the wings were made of a membrane somewhat like bat wings. The animal also had feathers, including on the leading edge of the wings; however, the body of the wings was not covered in feathers. It represented a combination of two styles of living.

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California's governor issued an executive order on Wednesday that speeds up the state's already ambitious program aimed at limiting greenhouse gas emissions. The action was taken to address "an ever-growing" threat to the state's economy and well-being posed by global warming.

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An op-ed piece in The New York Times today addresses the problems faced by migrating shorebirds and lists some of the actions that we can take to help them. The title of the piece is ominous. It is "Silent Seashores."

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Climate scientists always caution that individual weather events cannot be tied directly to the phenomenon of global warming, but a study released by scientists last Monday notes that the moderate warming that has already occurred has quadrupled the frequency of certain heat extremes since the Industrial Revolution. They warn that a failure to bring greenhouse gas emissions under control could result in a 62-fold increase in such heat blasts.

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Project SNOWstorm tracks Snowy Owls with telemetry. Trackers are often frustrated when contact is lost and they never learn what happened to their owls. This week, though, they did get updates on two of the owls with which contact had been lost.  

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A new study of Monk Parakeets shows that the birds that have colonized in North America and Europe originate in the same small area in South America and have lower genetic diversity in the invasive populations than in their native populations. The invasive birds are the result of birds in the pet trade that have been released to the wild either accidentally or on purpose.

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Moths use their middle and hind legs to jump into the air before opening their wings to take flight.

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"You're worrying about the wrong bees," writes Gwen Pearson in Wired. With all the publicity that the threat to honeybees has gotten in recent years, what has been sometimes lost among the press releases has been that the threat to native bees is even greater. Moreover, native bees are much more efficient and valuable pollinators. And they are beautiful insects.

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Around the backyard:

The Carolina Chickadees have fledged. The Carolina Wrens have fledged. Soon the Eastern Bluebirds will join them. For now, though, their beautiful parents fly themselves ragged from dawn to dusk every day as they work to keep their five little ones fed and growing. Only a few more days, parents, and then you can rest.

2 comments:

  1. Mostly bad news this week I see.
    Lovely picture of the Eastern Bluebird. Sometimes I wish I could put up bird feeders around the yard, but I rent and I don't think the landlord would be pleased. :-)

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    Replies
    1. Unfortunately, bad news in regard to the environment seems to be the norm these days.

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