This week in birds - #360

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



This is a Black Vulture, one of the two species of vultures that I see circling in the skies over my neighborhood every day. The other is the Turkey Vulture. The two are differentiated by the color of the skin on their heads. The Black Vulture's is black, as you see, and the Turkey Vulture's is red. These are part of Nature's clean-up crew. They perform a valuable service in keeping the Earth clean and preventing disease.

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One of the features of tropical storms and hurricanes in this era of climate change is that they are a lot wetter. Barry, the storm that is now bearing down on the Louisiana coast, is expected to dump 10 to 20 inches of rain on the already saturated land and that could cause some extreme flooding. Of course, our area dealt with this issue when Hurricane Harvey hit and dumped up to 50 inches of rain in some places. Some of those places are still recovering from that storm. Let us hope that Louisiana gets luckier. 

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The current administration in Washington is intending to approve the use of the pesticide Sulfoxaflor for use on a wide variety of crops. This pesticide is suspected of causing harm to bees. Beekeepers in the U.S. lost 40% of their hives during the past year and pesticides are believed to be one of the causes of the losses.

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The repetitive call of the Whippoorwill is a sound that denotes the coming of spring in the north, but those calls are getting scarcer and scarcer as the species declines over a wide area of its range.

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Volunteer counts of butterflies in Ohio have revealed some alarming numbers. It appears that butterfly numbers have fallen by as much as one-third over the last two decades.

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This is an artist's reconstruction of an Elektorornis chenguangi, an extinct species of songbird that lived during the Cretaceous period some 99 million years ago. One of the birds was discovered partially entombed in amber and so we have a good idea of what they looked like. Note the elongated middle toe. Scientists believe the birds may have used that toe to extract insects from their hiding places in holes or under bark.

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The once-threatened Peregrine Falcon has made a remarkable recovery since Rachel Carson wrote Silent Spring and brought our attention to the deadly effect DDT was having on our wildlife. The result was the banning of DDT and the passing of the Endangered Species Act and establishment of the EPA. In places like Minnesota where the Peregrine was once wiped out, the birds flourish today and they have had a very successful nesting season.

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Wildlife crossings, bridges over or under highways where wildlife can pass without the threat of being run down by automobiles, obviously benefit the safety of the animals but they help ensure the safety of humans as well.

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The critically endangered right whales have been dying in record numbers but there are high-tech fishing tools that could help to protect them.

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Have you seen Snowball, the dancing Sulfur-crested Cockatoo? He's become an internet sensation and he has given scientists new perspectives on the origins of dance and why humans or cockatoos do it. 

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Audubon has released a new report on the disappearance of North American grassland birds and what can be done to protect them in a climate-vulnerable landscape.

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As ice caps and permafrost thaw in the warming climate, ancient life long held in stasis by the ice is being resurrected. Organisms from simple bacteria to multicellular organisms are being awakened to a new life.

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Coyotes have returned to San Francisco after being absent for several decades and a photographer is capturing their return and adaptation to the life of the city.

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Coral reef clownfish won't lay their eggs if the light is too bright. This is just one more example of how light pollution can have such a devastating effect on Nature.

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One way seabirds manage competition is to forage for food at different depths in the ocean. For example, Guillemots and Razorbills dive much deeper for their food than do Puffins so even though they live in the same areas, they do not compete.

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The presence of the California Condor chick at a nest in Zion National Park in Utah has now been confirmed. If it survives until it is able to fly - probably in November - it will be the first condor chick to fledge in the park.

Comments

  1. Cheers to nature's cleanup crew! A good opening for a post that ends with the California Condor chick at my newest favorite place in my state. I read the other day that JFK bought copies of the Ugly American and handed them out to senators and representatives, his first step to creating the Peace Corps. I wish the current administration could, or perhaps the real issue is WOULD, all read Silent Spring.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Considering the mind set of the current administration, they'd probably take the message of Silent Spring to mean that we need to increase usage of DDT until all that pesky animal life is destroyed!

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