Friday, March 5, 2021

This week in birds - #441

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

A Phainopepla stops by a desert water source in the Chihuahua Nature Center in West Texas.

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The previous administration in Washington removed endangered species status for the gray wolf last year. That allowed the state of Wisconsin to authorize a  recent week-long hunt for the animals. They set a quota of 119 wolves that could be killed in that time. In less than 60 hours, hunters killed 216 wolves. The remainder of the time for the hunt was canceled. Environmentalists say the large number of gray wolves killed in such a short time underscores the need to reinstate protections for the species. 

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Asian songbirds are being trapped and sold as singing caged birds at such an alarming rate that the practice threatens to cause the extinction in the wild of several species.

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The rate of decline of various species of butterflies in the western United States is so calamitous that it threatens the continued survival of some 450 kinds of them. The main reason, according to scientists, is that the region is becoming hotter, drier, and more vulnerable to the effects of climate change. (All of which reminds me that I have not seen a single butterfly in my yard since our recent extended spell of freezing weather.)

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"Lights Out" movements are gaining some steam in cities around the country. Turning city lights out helps to protect migrating birds that can be disoriented by them. Conservation groups in Austin are working to get that city to sign on to the movement. It is hoped that other cities in Texas might follow.

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A recent study makes the argument that limiting invasive species might be a more productive goal than actually eliminating them.

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A new report shows that deforestation is increasing in forest-rich regions in Indonesia, even as the government claims the national average has gone down. The NGOs behind the report attribute any decline in the national deforestation rate to the fact that there’s virtually no forest left to clear in parts of Sumatra and Borneo.

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The Sierra Club, like some other organizations, is reassessing its past and in particular, looking at its exclusion of Native Americans and its failure to take their rights into consideration. It is looking at ways to try to make up for those failures.

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Spotted Owls thrive in environments that feature a combination of intact older forests along with the incidence of naturally caused wildfires. Logging those areas where wildfires have occurred reduces their availability as habitat for the threatened owls.

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Do you have questions about climate change? The New York Times has some answers for you.

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The Andean páramo moorlands are home to high-altitude lakes, countless mountain streams, and a host of unique plants and wildlife. Protecting and saving them is a priority of conservationists in Ecuador. In order to accomplish that, it is important to educate the next generation about that priority and to involve them in achieving it.

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The U.S. Forest Service has withdrawn the final environmental impact statement for a huge copper mine near Superior, Arizona, temporarily halting a land swap that would have given the mine's owners title to a parcel deemed sacred by many Apaches and other Southwestern tribes. In a statement released Monday, Tonto National Forest said the federal government had received significant input from many parties after the release of the final environmental impact statement on January 15.  As a result, the U.S. Department of Agriculture directed the forest service to rescind the decision it made based on the review document.

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One of the few benefits derived from the pandemic has been the fact that a reduction in traffic and other human-made sounds has made Earth quieter and made birdsong more apparent and more easily heard.

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The record year of wildfires in the western U.S. and indeed all around the world in 2020 are strongly correlated to the effects of climate change according to NASA.

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Democrats in the House of Representatives on Tuesday introduced a revamped version of a major bill aiming to get the country on the road to carbon neutrality by 2050. The bill is called the CLEAN Future Act and it promises an active effort to participate in the world's transition to green economies.

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Foraging differences in male and female Gannets were identified in a new study. The study showed that in some years female breeding Gannets traveled farther in search of food for their chicks than did the males of the species. However, in other years they did not. It seems evident that they were responding to conditions in the environment as they existed at that particular time.  

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A study has found that Britain's moths have declined by one-third over the last fifty years. Causes of the decline are said to be habitat loss, intensive farming, climate change, and light pollution.

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Infrastructure failures following bitterly cold temperatures in Mississippi caused dozens of water mains to burst and freeze in Jackson, leaving thousands without running water for weeks. The water crisis affects mostly Black residents of the city and it continues.

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Powerful Owls - yes, that's their actual name - are an Australian species that seems to be increasingly choosing to sleep in urban areas, from backyard trees to city parks. This was the finding when a study attached tracking devices to 20 of the critters in Melbourne. 

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Avian cholera is a deadly disease that can often affect large flocks of birds in close quarters to disastrous effect. It is uncommon for a group of birds to develop "herd immunity" to the disease, but that appears to be what happened to the largest colony of sea ducks in the Canadian Arctic over the years of 2005 to 2012. The Northern Common Eiders there seem to have developed such immunity to the dread disease.

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President Biden has now stopped border wall construction and a broad coalition of advocacy groups in Southern Arizona and across the nation have wasted no time letting him know exactly where they want him to tear down what had been built. A coalition of nearly 70 environmental groups, civil-rights organizations, and tribal entities sent a report last week to lawmakers and Biden administration officials asking for 59 miles of 30-foot-tall border wall in Arizona to be removed, along with sections of wall elsewhere along the U.S.-Mexico border. This section of the wall blocks wildlife corridors and it is destructive to the sacred places with deep cultural significance for Native Americans in the area.

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A citizen science project led by North Carolina State University researchers has gathered more than 2.2 million wildlife photos in three years. The project is called North Carolina Candid Critters and it used 580 trained volunteers to take the pictures with heat-sensitive cameras.

10 comments:

  1. Thank you for the roundup, Dorothy, and the great picture of the Phainopepla. The fact that we continue to deny the critical role of apex predators in a healthy ecosystem, and to hunt wolves is both shameful and ridiculous, and is based in bloodlust and prejudice rather than science. I wonder how many times we are going to repeat past errors.

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  2. I was quite taken with American Wolf by Nate Blakeslee. It's the story of wolves in Yellowstone and neighboring regions. It is shocking to me to hear about the results of the Wisconsin wolf hunt.

    The wall. So glad that will be coming down. What a huge waste of money and resources.

    We will be participating in a number of citizen science projects this spring. One is a study on pollinators and another focuses on butterflies. Participating in citizen science projects is one of my favorite things to do in the last year.

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    1. I, too, have participated in several citizen science projects over the years and have always enjoyed and learned from them. I can't imagine any more important than studying pollinators and butterflies, all of which seem threatened by human activity and, of course, by climate change.

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  3. Good for The Sierra Club. Goodbye wall!

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    1. It is heartening to see groups like the Sierra Club facing up to and trying to make amends for past practices. And personally, I would be delighted to see all of that ill-considered wall come down.

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  4. Never heard of the "lights out' movement but I'm all for it!

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    1. It is a good and practical way we can help migrating birds.

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  5. I like these areas that are Dark Skies places. We are near some. Lights Out is a good idea. And the stars look so wonderful too.

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    1. Being able to see the stars is a bonus for humans.

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