This week in birds - #112

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

Black Skimmers gather at water's edge in the late afternoon.

The long-awaited plan to cut carbon emissions from power plants by 30 percent from 2005 levels by 2030 was finally announced by the EPA this week, with thoroughly predictable results. The deniers screamed loudly, saying that the rules would kill industry and really they are not necessary anyway since global warming doesn't exist. The most rabid environmentalists screamed their disappointment that the rules were not stringent enough. If both sides are dissatisfied, maybe that means that the agency is on the right track.


The beautiful, rare, and endangered ocelot is making what is probably its last stand in a section of the Rio Grande Valley of Texas. As if the little wild cat did not have enough troubles already, in recent years, the building of fences along the border between Texas and Mexico has interfered with its ability to wander freely and establish breeding territories. There are believed to be only 50 of the animals left in Texas.


Do you ever worry about bed bugs when you travel and stay in hotels? Have you perhaps encountered the little bloodsuckers in your travels? Well, "Charismatic Minifauna" has detailed instructions about how to search your hotel room for bed bugs. Timely advice since we will be on the road in a few days.


The Nene, or Hawaiian Goose, had not nested and raised a family on the island of Oahu since the 1700s, until this year. A pair have nested there and have successfully hatched three goslings. May they continue to thrive!  


So far in the United States, climate change has brought warmer temperatures fastest to the northeastern and southwestern states. But every state is experiencing rising temperatures.  


And speaking of climate change, it is creating a disaster for the Atlantic Puffins in the Gulf of Maine. The warming waters are hostile to the kinds of fish which the puffin chicks need to survive. Food which they can use is scarce with the result that many are starving to death. 


Two Black Vultures have been roosting on K Street in Washington, D.C. Seems appropriate somehow since this is the street where so many high-powered lobbyists have their offices. Maybe that thing about birds of a feather flocking together is true!


The California Brown Pelican has had a disastrous breeding season. Many nests have failed to fledge chicks. It may be an indication that El Nino has arrived earlier than expected.


It is expected that El Nino will be in full swing by summer and that could prove to be a catastrophe for the world's coral reefs.


A new Guatemalan wildlife reserve will afford protection to several threatened bird species, as well as endangered frogs, and a blue viper.


I often encounter scarab beetles around my yard as I go about my gardening activities. They can be very colorful and they are certainly interesting insects. "Bug Eric" has some information about them on his blog this week.


Around the backyard:

The backyard continues to be a very busy place, full of avian activities. We continue to see lots of juvenile birds of several kinds coming to the feeders. The bluebirds are brooding four more eggs in their snug box in the vegetable garden. And almost every day sees a new young family spreading their wings for the first time. It's an exciting time to be a backyard birder.

Also, this week, a new spring migrant was heard in the neighborhood. I suspect the Great Crested Flycatcher has been around for a while, but I had not heard it before this week. I still haven't actually seen one in my yard, but I hear them all around the neighborhood now. I love the sound of their loud and distinctive Wheeep! Lovely bird.


  1. Good news on the Nene. We have them in Britain, although not in the wild. The Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust here was one of the key organisations helping to prevent their extinction. There are still quite a few Nenes at their sanctuaries. They are the friendliest geese you could ever hope to meet!

    1. I've never met a Nene, but geese, in general, are very interesting birds, and it's always good news to see a species returning to a former habitat. Let's hope the Nene continues to expand into its former range in Hawaii.


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