Saturday, July 22, 2017

This week in birds - #265

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


The secretive Clapper Rail with two chicks - photographed at Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge.

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The Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge is a 2,088 acre refuge located on the Texas-Mexico border in South Texas. It is home to an amazing diversity of birds and other wildlife and is a major tourist destination for birders from around the world. It is often called the "crown jewel" of the national wildlife refuge system. But for at least six months, private contractors and U.S. Customs and Border Protection Officials have been quietly planning construction of the first piece of our current president's promised border wall. Construction could begin as early as January 2018. Such a wall would essentially destroy the refuge. 

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National Moth Week begins today and runs through July 30. At the event website, you can learn more about moths and how you can participate as a citizen scientist in this project.

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It may be that there is a previously unknown species in the Bird-of-Paradise family. At least the dance moves of the bird which differ from other known species suggest that that is possible. Here is the known species, the Superb Bird-of-Paradise, performing his dance.



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Here's yet more evidence that crows can differentiate between people who are kind to them and people who harass them.

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There is an appalling story this week about the amount of plastics produced by humans - some 8.3 billion metric tons so far. The recycling rate is low, only 9% in the United States, although it is better than that in most developed countries. Indeed most of that plastic is sitting in landfills or, even more disturbingly, floating in the oceans of the world.

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Courtesy of a nest cam on Kauai, many have been watching the development of a Laysan Albatross chick dubbed Kalama over the past six months and, recently, they got to see her take her first flight.



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Giant hogweed, which can grow up to 20 ft. tall, has become an invasive nuisance in Great Britain. It is native to the Caucasus Mountains area and was first imported into the country during the Victorian era. It has since escaped from gardens and colonized the wild. Contact with its sap can cause severe burns which can take months to heal. Efforts are being made to eradicate it.

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A new study of the effects of oil on birds' feathers shows that even the smallest amount of oil can make it difficult for birds to fly.

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Area residents in Washington County, Maryland, are protesting and resisting efforts by a subsidiary of TransCanada to build a natural gas pipeline through their area that would be routed under the Potomac River. 

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Ontario birders are happily welcoming an invasion of Dickcissels this summer.

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Wolves do not pay attention to the lines on a map and studies find that hunting and "controlling" wolves in the areas adjoining wildlife refuges has an adverse effect on the population of wolves within the refuge. 

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The various species of cowbirds are nest parasites, laying their eggs in the nests of other species of birds, often smaller species. This is a particular problem since, when the eggs hatch, the cowbird chick is bigger and apt to win the struggle for food, as well as sometimes actually pushing its step-siblings out of the nest. A study has found that prairie songbirds, most of whom are already threatened, are having to cope with increased nest parasitism in areas which are disturbed by agricultural and industrial development, a further threat to their survival.

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North America has the richest diversity of freshwater mussels of any continent, but almost all of them are in trouble and some are threatened with extinction.

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You would think that a bird would have no hesitation in flying across a roadway to avoid or escape a predator, but apparently you would be wrong. A new study has revealed that birds find roadways threatening and are hesitant to cross them.

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The Cornell Lab of Ornithology has an essay about the wonders of the egg which includes many pictures of beautiful and diverse bird eggs.

4 comments:

  1. I believe that crows can remember people's actions towards them. They can also bring fellow birds to meet the people who were nice to them. Isn't that amazing?!

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  2. Maybe that is why the crow is considered a trickster in Native American lore.
    Plastic: remember the Graduate?

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    1. No doubt the Native Americans have an understanding of the intelligence of the crow. And, yes, The Graduate was very prescient, wasn't it?

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