This week in birds - #321

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



One of the prettiest of backyard birds, in my opinion, is the softly colored female Northern Cardinal, seen here politely waiting her turn at the feeder.

*~*~*~*

Hurricanes are known for many things, mostly destructive, and, happening as they mostly do during the fall migration season, they can seriously upset a bird's travel plans. While it may be distressing to the birds, it is often a boon to birders who may get to see birds that they had not seen before. Florence, for example, recently deposited a Trinidade Petrel in the Raleigh area in North Carolina. 

*~*~*~*

The annual "Winter Finch Forecast" is out and things are looking very promising for those of us in the lower parts of the continent to get visits from several irruptive species this winter. The cone and birch seed crops have been poor in much of Canada this year which should send many of the finches south to look for food.

*~*~*~*

The flooding from Hurricane Florence has surged into coal ash ponds and lagoons of pig waste spreading all that toxic waste over the landscape, potentially polluting water supplies and increasing the misery of the victims of the storm. 

*~*~*~*

The Bradford pear was produced by botanists and was introduced in the 1950s as an attractive landscape tree for suburban neighborhoods. As so often happens in these stories, it didn't stay where it was put. Its seeds were spread far and wide and it has become a pernicious invasive weed in many areas. Truly, it is not nice - or wise - to mess with Mother Nature.

*~*~*~*
Though not widely known, the Land and Water Conservation Fund, signed into law in 1964 with the goal of protecting natural areas and cultural resources and increasing recreational opportunities, has benefited virtually every county in the United States during its existence. In its more than 50-year history, the fund has helped 42,000 projects across the country, ranging from wilderness areas and historic battlefields to local tennis courts and trails. And now it is running out of moneyIf legislators fail to reauthorize the program before September 30, the fund will immediately run dry and will no longer be able to dole out money, which in recent years has averaged about $450 million annually, a significant boost to the economy of many communities.

*~*~*~*

Scientists have identified what, to this point at least, is the oldest known animal life form which existed at least 20 million years before the explosion of life during the Cambrian period. The fossil is 558 million years old and is a simple oval-shaped member of a group of organisms called Ediacarans.

*~*~*~*

The first ever national bird count using weather radar indicates that about 4 billion birds make their way south from Canada across the continent in the fall, while up to 4.7 billion leave the U.S. for Mexico and points farther south. In the spring, 2.6 billion return across the border into Canada, while about 3.5 billion cross the southern border into the United States.

*~*~*~*

Some of the places in our public lands, parks and national monuments, are sacred to Native American tribes and are culturally, spiritually, and economically vital to those tribes. Visitors to those areas need to remember and respect that.

*~*~*~*

New Mexico and California are suing the federal government to try to stop its plan to roll back regulations that forced energy companies to capture methane, a key contributor to climate change that is released in huge amounts during drilling.

*~*~*~*

Most of the smuggling of ivory out of Africa is handled by three cartels, as discovered by research on the animals' DNA using their poop and their tusks.

*~*~*~*

Like so many other species, nearly half of all freshwater turtles and tortoises are at risk of extinction. The usual culprits are to blame: habitat loss, illegal pet trade, and consumption for food and traditional medicine.

*~*~*~*

Fragmentation of their habitats is a problem for many birds. One way to address at least one aspect of the problem is to plant more trees in pastures to create more acceptable habitat for forest birds.

*~*~*~*

A beach in Greece has been covered in spiders' webs at least 300 meters long. It is the mating season of these spiders of the genus Tetragnatha and the interconnecting webs allow them to party, mate, reproduce, and provide for the new generation. If you are an arachnophobe, this beach will probably not be on your vacation plans for the next few weeks.

*~*~*~*

A joint study by universities in the U.K. has revealed that moths may play a much bigger role as plant pollinators than was previously known.

*~*~*~*

An organization called SavingSpecies is leading a reforestation effort high in the Andes in Colombia which it is hoped will protect one of the world's most renowned biological hotspots. The Western Andes cover about three percent of the planet's land area but they are home to about 20 percent of all known species, among them many species of those flying jewels of the bird world, the hummingbirds.  



Comments

  1. Interesting and varied news from the environment this week. I will avoid that Greek beach. Really, the issue is not money but the spiders... :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm a fan of spiders in general but even I have to admit that a 300 meter long web is a bit freaky.

      Delete
  2. Thanks for the news. I did not know that all the late summer spider webs were for mating. I do leave most of them alone except the ones in the house.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm not sure all the late summer/fall webs are for that purpose but certainly those of this particular genus are.

      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