This week in birds - #365

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


The beautiful and sweet-singing House Finch was originally from the southwestern part of this country and down into Mexico and Central America. But through the years, it has expanded its range eastward and is now found in most of the contiguous 48 states. Where you see one House Finch you can almost certainly see another. They tend to travel in pairs and family groups. Here a pair wait for their turn at the feeder. 

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The magnitude of the harm that would be done by weakening the Endangered Species Act as the current administration in Washington wants to do truly boggles the mind. This comes as there have been repeated warnings from scientists that the biodiversity on this planet is at risk and, indeed, that this ultimately poses a threat to the continued existence of humans. 


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Well, that didn't take long. I reported here last week that the EPA was planning to allow usage of so-called cyanide bombs to kill wild animals. The problem is that these bombs kill indiscriminately, including any household pets that might be in the affected area and they can harm humans as well. A tremendous uproar of public condemnation followed the announcement and now the EPA has said, "Never mind! We won't do it."


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Scientists have named the epoch in which we are living the Anthropocene, but where some epochs on Earth have lasted more than 40 million years, this one started just about 400 years ago and there is no indication that it may last long enough to qualify as an "epoch". Thus, some scientists are now arguing that this time dominated by humans should rather be classified as an event.


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I don't usually feature opinion pieces in my roundup of environmental news, but this one by Timothy Egan about the robbery of our public lands struck me as particularly cogent and important.


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A human-sized penguin fossil from the Paleocene epoch (66 to 56 million years ago) has been found by an amateur paleontologist on New Zealand's South Island. 


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Meanwhile, in modern-day news of penguins, two male King Penguins at Zoo Berlin have adopted an egg and are brooding it. Germans are watching and hoping for the hatching of the first penguin chick in the zoo in two decades.


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Researchers in California are studying how coral reproduces, with the hope of being able to help give the threatened coral reefs of the world, as well as all the species that depend on them, a fighting chance at survival in a changing world.


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Since the end of civil war in Colombia, the country has thrown more resources into the fight against wildlife trafficking, especially that of songbirds. Conserving these animals is especially important to a country that is a desirable destination for ecotourists.


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"The Prairie Ecologist" reminds us that grasses have flowers, too.


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Extreme climate change has arrived in the United States, regardless of what the deniers say. The Washington Post has an interactive map whereby you can check what the average temperature rise in your area has been.


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"10,000 Birds" has a post about the economic impact of birding on national wildlife refuges. The influx of birders to an area helps to create local jobs.


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It is estimated that there are less than 1,000 of these flowers, called purple fringeless orchids, in the state of Virginia, but recently a group of citizen scientists there discovered a previously unknown colony of the plants.

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Introduced forest pests are cutting a swath of destruction across the forests of America. Scientists estimate that as much as 40% of forests are threatened


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The waterwheel is a carnivorous plant that is a native to Australia, Africa, Asia, and Europe, but it is facing extinction in most of its native habitat. However, it has found its way into New York's streams and they may represent its best chance for survival. 

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Many bird species are known as prodigious travelers in migration. Add to that list the Northern Wheatear. Tracking devices have revealed that these birds that spend their summers chasing insects in Alaska travel all across Asia and Europe in migration to spend their winters in Africa. It's a trip of some 9,000 miles, perhaps the longest of any songbird.  

Comments

  1. OK, so here we are in 2019. It might be the heat or the lazy days of summer feeling but I think I have reached some kind of limit on what I can take in. My favorite time of day is watching the birds in my yard while I eat lunch. Still, I thank you for keeping us informed with these bits of news you find about the environment. I know you work at it so diligently.

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    Replies
    1. I often have the feeling you describe these days. It's just too much. I am overwhelmed by the onslaught of news. But these "roundups" are a labor of love for me, so I'll keep doing them.

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  2. If there is one pressing need above all else in the United States it is to make sure that Trump is not re-elected. It is difficult to grasp the total scale of the environmental damage that he has done and continues to do.

    ReplyDelete

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