Saturday, August 8, 2015

This week in birds - #168

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

A group of Roseate Spoonbills enjoying a lounge in the sun.

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This week the Obama Administration issued its final Clean Power Plan rule, and, to the happy surprise of many conservationists, it was much stronger than expected. It is stricter than the draft plan that was released in June 2014. For the first time, it will govern carbon emissions from power plants and may have the effect of causing power plants to shift from the use of coal to something cleaner.

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A widely cited study on the amount of methane gas leaking from oil and gas sites, including fracked wells, may be flawed, according to research. It appears that the study may have systematically underestimated the amount of methane leaks.

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Some economic and military interests in Texas have formed a group that is lobbying for the removal of the Golden-cheeked Warbler from the Endangered Species list. Prime habitat for the tiny bird includes the massive Fort Hood installation, so the rules governing protection of the warbler make things inconvenient for the military.

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Geoengineers have come up with schemes that could theoretically remove excess carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, but it is unlikely that they would be able to deacidify the ocean.

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In a rare example of governmental good sense, the New Taipei City Government has canceled a proposed photography contest that would have focused on a rare Siberian White Crane that had migrated to the area. Their reason for canceling the contest? They were afraid it would disturb the bird.

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Monarch butterflies may not be in as much of a decline as we have been led to believe in recent years. Although the overwintering population in Mexico has been decimated by terrible winter weather conditions and by habitat destruction, this does not take into account butterflies that do not migrate there. New studies give some hope that population numbers may be better than previously thought. Anecdotally, I can confirm that the Monarch population in my own garden is up significantly this year over the last three years. Not a day goes by that I don't see one or more of these beauties in my yard.


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As if birds didn't have enough problems, two previously unknown species of lice have been discovered feeding on Swainson's Warblers in Arkansas.

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Audubon online magazine features an appreciation of the Black Skimmer, a bird with a unique way of feeding.

The Skimmer looks like it might have been designed by a cartoonist, but those clownish bills are very functional. The birds fly along just above the waves and scoop their prey from the water with their outsized lower bills.

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One of the worst wildfire seasons in memory in the western United States is most likely being exacerbated by the effects of climate change.

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The Marbled Murrelet is an endangered bird that lives in California. It is further endangered by untidy campers who leave leftovers out instead of disposing of them. The leftovers attract corvids and those birds then feed on Murrelet chicks as well as leftovers. California Park Service personnel are urging campers to clean up after themselves.

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The Hen Harrier has long been in trouble in England due to a combination of being hunted and having its habitat degraded, but this year is shaping up as better than recent years for the embattled bird. Not a good year, but better

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In another piece of rare good news for an embattled species, Idaho has notified federal officials that it will not be instituting its controversial wolf killing program in a national wilderness area. 

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India is suffering its worst floods in 200 years. At least 1.2 million people have been displaced by the rising waters.

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A change in winds and ocean currents has had a positive impact on the endangered Galapagos Penguin. The population has, in fact, doubled in size in response to more benevolent conditions

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Many pollinators are put off by windy conditions, but it seems that bumblebees positively relish them. They show a preference for collecting pollen on windy days.




2 comments:

  1. Great post as usual, Dorothy. I look forward each week to reading these bits of news about animals and the environment.

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    1. Thank you, Carmen. I enjoy doing these weekly posts, even though it takes a bit of digging to pull it all together and even though it seems like, usually, most of the news is bad.

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