This week in birds - #319

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


A group of Sanderlings along with two Royal Terns in winter dress (the picture was taken in January) watch the waves roll in from Galveston Bay. Yesterday, September 6, was World Shorebirds Day and this weekend is part of the Global Shorebird Counting Program which runs from September 5 through September 11. If you are near a shore this weekend, consider observing and counting the shorebirds there and reporting them to the program site.

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The 200-year-old National Museum in Rio de Janeiro, the largest natural history museum in Latin America, was destroyed by fire in a preventable tragedy this week. Millions of priceless specimens collected over the last two centuries were destroyed in the fire. Over the past five years the museum had faced severe cuts in its budget and had not even received all the money allotted from the federal government. The infrastructure had suffered as a result and was an accident waiting to happen. And this week it did. 

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The tragic fire is evidence of the need for museums to digitize their collections so that a record remains in the event of such destruction.

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The first avian species to be declared extinct in this decade have officially been confirmed. Most of the eight extinctions were as a result of deforestation in Brazil, but others were caused by degradation of habitats in Hawaii and in New Zealand.

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A study of a songbird and a bacterium that infects it has revealed how species in conflict evolve in response to each other. University of Exeter researchers found North American House Finches developed greater resistance to a  (Mycoplasma gallisepticum) thereby pushing the pathogen to become more virulent. This process—known as "host-pathogen coevolution"—is believed to play a key role in evolution, but until now evidence for it has been scarce.

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The National Parks Conservation Association is working with several partners to reduce wastes at our national parks. They are piloting the program at three parks - Denali, Grand Teton, and Yosemite. The goal is to prevent tons of waste from going into landfills. 

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The Loggerhead Shrike is a small songbird that preys on even smaller songbirds, as well as lizards, snakes, and small rodents. The shrike has been observed to kill its prey by shaking it, whipping its head back and forth thus breaking its neck. The bird then hangs its prey up on a thorn, thus earning its popular name "Butcherbird."

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Birds at more northern latitudes mature faster, start reproducing younger, and live shorter lives, probably as a way of dealing with seasonal variation in resources. A new study from The Auk: Ornithological Advances shows for the first time that this pattern also plays out in birds’ feathers, with northern birds completing their annual molt faster to keep up with the demands of life far from the tropics.

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Animals have been observed to adjust their schedules in response to human activities. Animals which would normally be active during daylight hours may become more active during nighttime in order to avoid humans. 

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The birds of the cloud forest in Honduras are retreating higher up the mountains in response to climate change and deforestation.

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Stokes Birding Blog gives advice on when one should take down one's hummingbird feeders. (Actually, in my area, I leave the feeders up year round because we usually have hummers here during fall and winter.)

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Many important scrubland plants in South Texas are threatened by the effects of climate change and by the potential building of a wall on the border.

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Can crows and ravens hybridize? And do they hybridize? And what would their potential babies be called? Cravens, perhaps? It has actually been known to happen, but, by and large, crows and ravens are reproductively isolated and do not hybridize. But we know that under the right circumstances...



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The Golden Eagle is a part of a genome project by Wellcome Sanger Institute that hopes to sequence the genomes of 25 UK species. The goal of the project is to find information that will help the species to survive.

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What would it take to save the Southern Resident killer whales and salmon of the Northwest? Rachel Clark explains.

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A study has given clues to the impact of habitat fragmentation on migrant birds. It found that the Willow Warbler arrived earlier to its woodland patches when there was less habitat in the surrounding landscape.

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The Revelator has an interactive map that shows what temperatures on Earth might look like in 2050 based on current climate change projections.

Comments

  1. Your report this week reads almost like a novel. Of particular interest to me was the "host-pathogen coevolution" study.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That interested me as well, particularly because I am reading a book called The Tangled Tree about the study of evolution at the molecular level. It's blowing my mind.

      Delete
  2. Interesting and various news this week. It seems that everywhere birds and other animal species are trying to find ways to cope with climate change.

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