This week in birds - #366

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


It's not just the Ruby-throated Hummingbirds that are passing through here on migration now; we're also getting Rufous Hummingbirds. I've seen females and first-year birds, like the one about to have lunch at one of my feeders, this week.  They sometimes have to contend with interlopers like that bee who is also having a sip.

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The lungs of the Earth are burning. The Amazon rainforest, so essential to the production of oxygen and the sequestering of carbon dioxide, is ablaze with fires that have increased by 85% since the beginning of the year. Scientists cite three causes, all of them the result of human activity: (1) Deforestation, much of it illegal; (2.) Farming activities; (3.) Droughts that are being made more frequent by deforestation and climate change. The current president of Brazil is not inclined to do much to fight the fires since he wants to raze and develop the whole region, but he may be persuaded as various countries threaten to hold up trade deals with Brazil if it doesn't do more to protect the Amazon.

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The plan by the current administration in Washington to essentially gut the Endangered Species Act has provoked plans by many conservation organizations to fight the good fight in court once again, and it has provoked editorials from newspapers around the country decrying the action of the administration. Here is one

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The triennial summit of Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) convened last Saturday. It is considering greater protection for some species and will tackle disputes over some charismatic animals like elephants and rhinos, as well as some humbler ones like sea cucumbers that clean the ocean floors.

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Scientists have long argued that drilling for gas and oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) would not be economically feasible, not to mention the irrevocable damage that would be done to that pristine environment. But the current administration is determined to go ahead anyway. However, they are finding that there might not be that much interest and that leases are likely to yield considerably less revenue than they have estimated. 

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This little male Kentucky Warbler was recaptured and released recently at the Wehle Land Conservation Center in Midway, Alabama. The significant thing about that is that this bird had been captured and banded eleven years before. So we know the bird is at least eleven years old and that is a record for documented Kentucky Warblers.

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The attempt by the administration to roll back emissions standards that were set in the Obama Administration has hit a snag. Car manufacturers are choosing to adhere to higher standards that are required by the state of California and other states that have followed its lead. 

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Using goats to clear brush and overgrown vegetation from an area is not a new idea, but ecologically friendly companies are now taking that idea and using it to provide a service and make a profit.

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Sea snakes are a diverse and poorly understood group of marine reptiles. They are threatened by development and researchers are working to gain a better understanding of them in order to save them.

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What is believed to be a first in 60 million years occurrence is taking place on the Isle of Wight. Cycads planted outdoors there have produced male and female cones as a prelude to reproducing. Botanists say the event has been triggered by a warming climate. 

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Research on migrating birds shows that well-fed birds sleep better and they sleep with their heads forward, ready to take flight. Less well-fed and wearier birds sleep with their heads under their wings in order to conserve energy, but that also makes them more vulnerable to predators. 

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Forest elephants — the smaller, endangered relatives of African savanna elephants — promote the growth of large trees that excel at storing carbon, according to research published in the journal Nature Geoscience. Thus, poaching them has the effect of not only disrupting the ecosystem and threatening biodiversity but also accelerating climate change.

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Some of the very endangered Florida panthers have come down with a mysterious crippling disease. State wildlife officials are sharing videos of affected animals with the public in an attempt to try to identify the cause.

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Six young White-tailed Eagles have been released on the Isle of Wight in an attempt to re-establish the species in Britain. It is hoped that this reintroduction scheme will have the same success as the one that brought the eagles back to Scotland. 

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Last Sunday, I featured a poem about crickets. Now here is another appreciation of these interesting critters, musicians of the summer night.

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Climate change has both pluses and minuses for the Barnacle Geese of Svalbard. Earlier springs have benefits but they also increase predation.

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Los Angeles is planning to build the world's largest wildlife bridge over a 10-lane highway to reconnect different parts of the Santa Monica Mountain system in order to help save the mountain lions of the area as well as aid the ecosystem as a whole.

Comments

  1. Thanks for this great roundup of environmental news. Unfortunately most of it is bad. Make sure you vote Trump out of office in the United States, and to the people of Brazil do the same with Bolsonaro. Between the two of them they will destroy the Earth.

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  2. Yes, I agree with David. We need to get that crook out of the White House. Meanwhile I am enjoying the hummingbirds too. Those fires in the Amazon are of truly apocalyptic proportions.

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    Replies
    1. The fall hummingbird migration is one of my favorite things. My yard is crowded with the little buggers at the moment.

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