This week in birds - #335

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


A chilly Ring-billed Gull rests in the waters off Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge on the Texas coast.

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The blog "Living Alongside Wildlife" records species that went extinct in 2018.

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And in 2019, our magnificent national parks are drowning in waste, including human excrement, because of the government shutdown. Although there are some law enforcement and emergency personnel on site, most park employees are on furlough and the parks are unsupervised.  So far there have been three accidental deaths at national parks during the government shutdown with the lack of rangers to supervise activities.

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Magellanic Penguins spend much of their time at sea which can be a very dangerous place for a penguin. Especially it seems for juvenile females. Research has shown that they are more likely to die at sea than males and this has had the effect of skewing the sex ratio at the Punto Tumbo colony in Argentina. There are now three males for every one female which leaves a lot of single and lonely males and has dire implications for the long-term survival of the colony. 

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North America has around half of the world's supply of salamanders and scientists fear that there may be a pandemic on the horizon that could devastate that population. The so-called Bsal fungus has almost completely wiped out several salamander populations in Europe and it may be just a matter of time before it finds its way to this continent.

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Hours after taking office this week, Brazil’s new president, Jair Bolsonaro, launched an assault on environmental and Amazon protections with an executive order transferring the regulation and creation of new indigenous reserves to the agriculture ministry, which is controlled by the powerful agribusiness lobby. This is expected to result in increased deforestation of the rainforest and violence against the indigenous people who live in them and defend those forests.

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Back in this country, the assault on environmental regulations also continues. The now ironically named Environmental Protection Agency is proposing to stop enforcing limits on mercury pollution from coal plants because it is too costly to justify and no longer "appropriate and necessary."

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The population of Bald Eagles along the East Coast continues to grow. For example, in 2018 in New Jersey there were 185 active nests that produced 172 young.

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Laura Ericson has a blog post about the important work that federal workers at our national parks do in support of birds.  

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Deadly plant pathogens such as the one that causes Sudden Oak Death can be inadvertently introduced in habitat restoration projects along with plants that have been grown in nurseries.

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The devastating collapse of a dam in southern Laos last summer resulted in areas of a protected forest being flooded and an extensive swath of that area being deforested.

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There is an environmental movement afoot to ban single-use plastic straws. Environmentalists hope that this will stir a larger conversation about runaway plastics pollution of the Earth.  

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The Black-throated Finch of Australia is an endangered species. An area set aside for the protection of the bird just happens to sit atop the site earmarked for a massive coal mine, leading some conservationists to denounce the plans as an "elaborate hoax."  

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One way to effectively monitor the biodiversity of a given area is to set up passive listening devices to record the sounds of that area.

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A project of experimentally broadcasting wildflower seeds over degraded areas of prairie has been shown to be working to increase plant diversity and abundance in those areas.

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The current administration in Washington continues to make plans to open up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil exploration as soon as possible, but they are downplaying the disturbance that such drilling would cause.

Comments

  1. Ah, this negative effect on the National Parks is so sick! That is all I have to say today.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Not only the parks themselves but the fact that it is putting people's lives at risk. It makes me sick, too.

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  2. I liked the tidbits about the Magellanic Penguins skewed population ratios and the resurgence of the Bald Eagles. This week I saw in the news a Bald Eagle that landed on the shoulder of a man watching a football game in a stadium. Of course there were selfies involved and the obligatory instant fame. In Ancient Rome that event would have been interpreted as a portent of the man's future greatness. :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Indeed. We should follow the future trajectory of that man's life and see if the ancient Roman projection comes true.

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