This week in birds - #320

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



Baltimore Orioles have been reported to be passing through the area on migration, but I can't claim to have seen or heard one. I generally see them during spring migration but seldom during late summer and fall. I photographed this one in my backyard in spring.

*~*~*~*

As Hurricane Florence lashes the coast of North Carolina, it is somewhat ironic to recall an action taken by the Republican led North Carolina state legislature a few years ago. North Carolina's long, low-lying coastline is considered one of the most vulnerable areas in the U.S. to sea level rise, and in 2012, the state's Coastal Resources Commission predicted that sea levels along the coast could rise by as much as 39 inches over the next century. The legislature didn't like that science and so they passed a law against it! They banned any policies based on such forecasts and mandated that the state could only use historical data in its predictions of sea level rise.

*~*~*~*

Whooping Cranes introduced in the Midwest and taught to migrate by following an ultralight from Wisconsin to Florida are still migrating south on their own now but they sometimes end up far from the area where they were originally led to spend their winters.

*~*~*~*

The Rio Grande is North America's second longest river and it is running dry. Drained by farmers, divided by treaty, feuded over in courtrooms and neglected when not pumped and drained, the Rio Grande is at once one of America’s most famous rivers and one of its most abused. A conservation plan is desperately needed.



I took this picture of the Rio Grande and some of the rugged country around it in 2012. You can see that in places it is just a narrow stream.

*~*~*~*

Some young birds stay with their parents and help them raise their next brood. Why do they do that? Are they simply altruistic? A new study from Lund University in Sweden shows that they actually benefit from these actions. Young birds who help their parents are more successful parents themselves when they do breed. 

*~*~*~*

A juvenile narwhal that strayed far from its Arctic home has apparently been adopted by a band of beluga whales. He has been filmed swimming and playing with the belugas and seems to be accepted as "one of the boys."



The narwhal is the gray guy, second from the upper right. Belugas are white.

*~*~*~*

Parrots continue to amaze us with their reasoning powers. Researchers in Germany have discovered that they are able to trade tokens for food.

*~*~*~*

Scientists are trying something new in the battle to take plastics out of the ocean: A massive floating barrier launched off the coast of San Francisco will aim to collect five tons of plastic debris each month from what is called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, an area the size of France.

*~*~*~*

The King Rail and the Clapper Rail have been found to hybridize in Virginia.

*~*~*~*

The earliest example of a drawing made by a human has been found on a rock in South Africa. The drawing has been dated to 73,000 years ago.

*~*~*~*

A new study of grassland birds found that baby birds of different species leave the nest at different times of the day.

*~*~*~*

In perhaps the most unsurprising headline of the week, we learned that former EPA director Scott Pruitt is in talks to take on his next job as a "coal consultant." This was of particular interest in Oklahoma where he is expected to eventually run for governor or for U.S. senator. 

*~*~*~*

In much greater numbers than usual, hundreds of gray and harbor seals are dying along the New England coast. Their deaths are being attributed to viruses related to distemper and the flu. 

*~*~*~*

Elephant birds were the largest birds ever known to have existed on Earth. They've long since been extinct and now prehistoric humans are suspected of having a part in that extinction. Fossilized elephant bird bones found on Madagascar have telltale marks on them that indicate they were butchered for food. The bones have been dated to about 10,000 years ago, which also means that humans were on Madagascar earlier than previously believed.

*~*~*~*

A recent paper published in the Environmental Research Letters by a team of scientists from China and Brazil details how global warming and the resultant heating up of the oceans is changing rainfall patterns.

*~*~*~*

Let's end on a happy note, shall we? Here's a link to some of the finalists in this year's competition for the Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards. And here's even more great wildlife pictures. Enjoy!

Comments

  1. I liked the tidbit of the narwhal among the beluga pod. Belugas are good natured animals; we have a few at the state aquarium.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They must be pretty easy going to accept one so different into their pod.

      Delete
    2. I don't know the extent of their good nature, but to give you an idea, the aquarium offers tank group-interactions with them for a fee.

      Delete
  2. As the world turns...
    My favorite bird as a child was the baltimore oriole, for their coloring and their unique hanging nests.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love orioles, too. It's always an event when they pass through my yard.

      Delete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Poetry Sunday: Excerpt from The Cure at Troy by Seamus Heaney

Open Season (Joe Pickett #1) by C.J. Box - A review

Poetry Sunday: Invitation by Mary Oliver