This week in birds - #330

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


Pine Siskins have been reported in the Houston area already. Usually, when we get them at all it is not until later in December, but apparently they have arrived early this year. I have not seen any in my yard yet. I photographed this one in a previous year.  

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A major scientific report issued by 13 federal agencies on Friday presented the starkest warnings to date of the consequences of climate change for the United States, predicting that if significant steps are not taken to rein in global warming, the damage will knock as much as 10 percent off the size of the American economy by century’s end. The report is notable not only for the precision of its calculations and bluntness of its conclusions, but also because its findings are directly at odds with the current administration's agenda of environmental deregulation.

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In this week when turkeys play a major role in many American families' dining plans, they are also playing a part in the plans of wildlife experts in New York where a strategy is being devised to round up around 250 Wild Turkeys that have made their home on Staten Island and have complicated life for the humans living there. The birds are to be rounded up and moved to a wildlife sanctuary in upstate New York.  

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Americans are literally loving their national parks to death. Visitors to the parks are at record numbers and in our eagerness to experience Nature, much of what we love most about these places is being lost.

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A wildlife biologist who has spent thirty years tracking raptors from Pennsylvania's Hawk Mountain has seen the recovery of these birds from their low point due to the effects of DDT and is now seeing their migration patterns change as a result of climate change.  

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Half the population of the endangered Puerto Rican Parrot disappeared after Hurricane Maria destroyed their habitat and food sources. Conservationists are now trying to rebuild that population and bring it back from the brink of extinction. 

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A new study has reinforced once again the importance of native plants in maintaining healthy populations of birds. Thus, one of the most helpful things homeowners who want to encourage bird populations can do is to plant native plants in their landscapes.

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Among all the terrible news regarding the recent wildfires in California, here is some good news: At least twelve of the thirteen mountain lions being tracked with radio collars in the Santa Monica Mountains were alive and moving around outside the burn area this week. One lion is so far unaccounted for.

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Broadleaf trees like aspen and birch can provide a natural fire break between stands of more flammable conifer trees, but often forest managers have those trees sprayed with herbicide to make way for planting more conifers.

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Global warming is messing with the jet stream and that, in turn, is creating more extreme weather in the Northern Hemisphere.

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The latest Red List of Threatened Species is out and it shows that some bird species, like the Northern Bald Ibis and the Pink Pigeon, have made partial recoveries in the past year. Overall, 31 species were moved to lower threat categories while 58 are experiencing increased threats to their continued existence.  

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Litigation continues over protecting the habitat of the Lesser Prairie-Chicken. The combatants are familiar - environmental groups against oil companies that want access to the habitats for drilling. 

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Photo by Tim Proffitt-White.

This is the remarkably colorful Ocellated Turkey, cousin of our own Wild Turkey. It is a tropical turkey of Mexico and Central America and some of them have made it into South Texas. The species is in danger because of overhunting, especially in the Yucatan but it may be saved by ecotourism.

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A new study postulates that the U.S. could cut its emissions of greenhouse gases by more than one-fifth by natural climate solutions like reforestation.

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A three-year effort led by BirdLife International, American Bird Conservancy, and the International Union for Conservation of Nation has mapped the ranges of 1483 highly threatened bird species in hopes of being able to better protect those ranges.

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The aba blog has further confirmation of the irruption of winter finches and their early arrival in many places.

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More good news! Mountain gorillas seem to be staging a comeback. Their status has been upgraded from critically endangered to merely endangered. Baby steps but important steps and a reason to be thankful.

Comments

  1. The Ocellated Turkey must have inspired the colors of Mexico.

    ReplyDelete
  2. On the wild turkeys in the state of NY, better relocated than shot. Good news on the population of mountain lions around the wildfire areas of California. What a beautiful turkey! It's certainly eye-catching. ;-) Reforestation could stave off the dangers of greenhouse emission gases, but it comes with dangers of its own, like being additional fuel for wildfires. Good news for mountain gorillas. I hope they are able to come off the endanger list at some point.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I would love to see the mountain gorilla recover to the point that it is no longer deemed endangered in my lifetime.

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