Friday, December 11, 2015

This week in birds - #185

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


A handsome Redhead Duck (Aythya americana) which I photographed on a small lake near the Rio Grande in Big Bend National Wildlife Refuge.
*~*~*~*

Some referred to it as an "airpocalypse." It was smog so thick that it brought Beijing to a standstill and caused the Chinese government to issue a "red alert," warning people to stay indoors and to take precautions against breathing the polluted air.

*~*~*~*

Should the world's nations, now in climate talks in Paris, agree to limit climatic warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius instead of the previously agreed upon 2 degrees? It would a goal that is extraordinarily difficult to achieve because the greenhouse gases already released into the atmosphere and expected to be released - meaning it's too late to stop them - will most likely heat the planet by that amount. 

*~*~*~*

The climate talks are more urgent for some nations than for others. They are most critical for places like the Marshall Islands which are disappearing beneath the waves of the Pacific. Most of the islands are less than six feet above sea level and any rise in the ocean's level represents a catastrophe for them.

*~*~*~*

The Northern Spotted Owl population continues to decline in every place where its habitat has been invaded by Barred Owls. The Spotted Owl is unable to successfully compete with the more aggressive Barred. This has led the Fish and Wildlife Service to kill some Barred Owls in areas where they have moved into the Spotted Owls' space, in an effort to protect the endangered species.  

*~*~*~*

Loon-like diving birds with teeth at one time paddled through the now-vanished sea that used to cover middle North America in the Cretaceous Age. These were Hesperonis and Fumicollis and there are actually quite a lot of their fossils lying around in museums for scientists to study.

*~*~*~*

Unfortunately, politics often plays a large role in the decision of whether or not to add a species to the endangered list. All too often the opinions of Fish and Wildlife Service scientists are overruled by those political considerations. This seems to have been the case in the recent decision not to give the protection of the endangered species status to the wolverine.  

*~*~*~*

The Columbia River, once a refuge for salmon, has become too hot for them. Thousands died earlier this year as they headed up the river from the ocean to try to reach their traditional spawning area. A new refuge is needed to save the fish, preferably one with cooler water.  

*~*~*~*

Tiny Blackpoll Warblers have the longest migration route of any North American warblers, making a nonstop flight each fall from New England along the Atlantic Ocean and down to northern South America. Those warblers that nest in the western part of North America migrate east first in order to fatten up for the long flight.

*~*~*~*

Bald Eagles are flourishing throughout their range. A recent survey in Wisconsin revealed that the numbers of the birds in that state have reached new highs.

*~*~*~*

One way to impact the generation of the greenhouse gases that are the human component of climate change is to decrease food waste. An effort has been going on at the sidelines of the Paris talks to encourage a movement to sell, purchase, and consume food that might ordinarily be considered too unattractive for the marketplace. The catchphrase of the movement is "Let's eat ugly!"

*~*~*~*

The blog "Anthropod Ecology" introduces us to some interesting critters from the Arctic that seem almost indestructible. They are Arctic pseudoscorpions

*~*~*~*

A Bald Eagle that had been shot in the leg was finally rescued from a tree in a backyard in New Jersey after a three-day effort. The bird was taken to The Raptor Trust in Millington, New Jersey for treatment and a hoped-for recovery.

*~*~*~*

Some homeowners find it hard to give up their addiction to a bright green lawn. This is a particular problem in drought-ridden and water-rationed California. Some people have taken to putting signs on their lawn to announce that they are watering their lawns with gray water or with well water, hoping to escape the criticism and condemnation of their neighbors. 

*~*~*~*

Ashy Storm Petrels spend most of their lives at sea. Unless they are incubating, they spend just a few hours on their nests at night. This makes them uniquely difficult to locate and to study, but scientists have managed to locate a nest by studying acoustic recordings.

*~*~*~*

The blog "Spiderbytes" has information about some of the tiniest, but no less interesting, spider species.

  

4 comments:

  1. Great pic, Dorothy! The news informative as usual.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Good round up. I like the Let's Eat Ugly news. My husband and I are almost OCD about not wasting food but we try to eat ours before it gets too ugly. HA HA.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good for you! We all should be more diligent about that. It's really criminal that there is so much waste when some go hungry.

      Delete