This week in birds - #114

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

The iconic - and "authorized" - gull of the Texas Gulf Coast, the well-named and raucous Laughing Gull.

"More than a million homes and businesses along the nation’s coasts could flood repeatedly before ultimately being destroyed. Entire states in the Southeast and the Corn Belt may lose much of their agriculture as farming shifts northward in a warming world. Heat and humidity will probably grow so intense that spending time outside will become physically dangerous, throwing industries like construction and tourism into turmoil." These conclusions, as reported by The New York Times, were some of the scarier points that were made by a big bipartisan report about global climate change that was issued this week.


National Pollinator Week has just passed and there was a White House announcement about making greater efforts to help honeybees, but, as many pollinator fanciers are pointing out, pollination is not just about honeybees. It is probably not even mainly about honeybees. Native bees, butterflies, birds, bats, even reptiles and amphibians play a major role as well. We need to be doing more to protect all of these creatures that are invaluable to our survival. That includes making sure that we are not planting ostensibly bee-friendly plants that are actually bee-toxic.


The Supreme Court this week upheld (on a 7-2 vote) the authority of the EPA to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from power plants. 


A permit for the Shiloh IV Wind Project in California will allow that facility to accidentally kill up to five eagles, mainly Golden Eagles, over a five-year period without incurring penalties under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act.


"Native Plants and Wildlife Gardens" writes this week about the very useful buttonbush, a native shrub that is very valuable to wildlife and that should find a home in more landscapes.


A heretofore unknown population of rare Sarus Cranes has been located in northern Myanmar.


Biologists are finding that migratory birds that nest in Arctic Alaska are building nests earlier due to the earlier snowmelt caused by a warming climate.  


The first Tufted Puffin seen on the Atlantic Coast since the 1830s has been sighted on Machias Seal Island on the Bay of Fundy.


"Charismatic Minifauna" has a post about orchid bees, a large and shiny bee, one of those native pollinators that we need to protect.


Birds that nest in high salt marshes, such as the Black Rail, are being threatened by the rising sea levels.


Recent finds of the eggs of pterosaurs, the flying reptiles that lived at the same time as dinosaurs, indicate that they were social animals that nested together, not unlike some birds today.


Around the backyard:

1998 - 2014

I lost my best backyard buddy today. Charlie had been with us for almost sixteen years and he was my constant companion when working in the garden or just sitting in the backyard watching the birds. He was benevolent toward the birds, who could often be seen hopping within a few feet of him, and other small animals. Except for rodents. In his earlier life, he was death on paws to any mouse, mole, or even rat that came within his reach. In recent years, he'd just about given up hunting them, but earlier this spring, he did bring me the gift of a mole.

He was my sweet friend. The backyard will not be the same without him.


  1. So sorry to hear about Charlie. I know you will miss your benevolent overlord of the garden. Hugs ....

    1. Thank you. I know you understand what it means to lose such a faithful friend.


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