This week in birds - #378

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



Migrating Sandhill Cranes converge on Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico by the thousands at this time of year to spend the winter there. I photographed this pair during a memorable trip in late October a few years ago. 

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The city of Venice is in a constant battle against the encroachment of the tides, but this week has seen it being hit by the highest tidewaters in over 50 years. The event is expected to cause millions of dollars in damage.

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What's a conservationist to do when faced with the dilemma of one threatened species feeding on another threatened species? That is the case with Caspian Terns that feed on endangered salmonids along the West Coast river systems. The solution has been to try to lure the terns away from areas inhabited by the fish.

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An investigation by the AP has revealed at least 1680 dams across the country that pose a potential risk.

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The Interior Department has disbanded its Invasive Species Advisory Committee which for the past 20 years has coordinated the federal government's efforts at controlling pythons and other invasive species threatening the country's ecosystems. A department spokesman said it is part of a cost-cutting move. Apparently, they don't consider the cost of the damage that invasive species do each year.

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In other news of our current administration's war on the environment, the EPA will limit the scientific and medical research that the government can use to determine public health regulations, overriding protests from scientists and physicians who say the new rule would undermine the scientific underpinnings of government policymaking. Columnist Paul Krugman has some thoughts on this administration's lax attitude toward pollution and the environmental destruction that it wreaks.

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A New Zealand poll has named that the endangered Hoiho Penguin as that country's bird of the year. Meanwhile, in their neighboring country of Australia, the bird of the year as determined by a public poll is the Black-throated Finch, also an endangered species. 

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For nearly half a century, a professor of evolution and ecology at UC Davis has meticulously tracked butterfly populations at 10 sites in north-central California. He has single-handedly created the longest-running butterfly monitoring project in North America and learned much about the fluctuation and decline of those populations in the process.

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The Sea of Okhotsk wedged between Siberia and Japan has warmed in some places by as much as 3 degrees Celsius since preindustrial times, making it one of the fastest-warming spots in the world, according to data from the nonprofit organization Berkeley Earth. That is bad news for the fish - and the fishermen and economy - of the area.

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How can a creature without legs jump? It's a mystery, but some species of snakes manage to do it and scientists want to know how they accomplish that feat.

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You can't find Passenger Pigeon pie on the menu anywhere these days. That's because humans ate the birds to extinction in the last century. And there are other species that have been so avidly devoured by our ancestors that they disappeared from the face of the planet.

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Birds are no dummies. They are endlessly adaptable and able to take advantage of circumstances that will benefit them. Take the example of the Rough-legged Hawks. These hawks prefer to nest near Peregrine Falcons to take advantage of the fact that the falcons drive off other predators that might compete for the small rodents that the hawks prefer to eat.

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This is a silver-backed chevrotain, commonly called a mouse deer. It is the smallest hoofed animal in the world and it had not been seen by scientists for nearly thirty years until this image was captured by a trail camera recently in southern Vietnam. It is thought to be one of the rarest animals in the world.

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Thousands of migrating Steppe Eagles have been counted at stopover sites northwest of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The area had been suspected to be an important stopover for the birds and that is now confirmed.

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Cutting the speed of ships would have huge benefits for humans, Nature, and the climate according to a recent report. It would reduce greenhouse gases as well as pollutants that make us sick and it would reduce noise that can harm marine mammals, in addition to potentially reducing collisions with whales. 

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Autumn is the favorite season of many of us, partly because our favorite holiday, Thanksgiving, comes in the middle of it. But there are many pleasures of this time of year. Margaret Renkl has an appreciation of some of them. 


Comments

  1. As always, Dorothy, thank you for the weekly roundup, and your picture of the Sandhill Cranes is perfect. I too visited Bosque del Apache many years ago and there was a huge concentration of Sandhill Cranes, to say nothing of thousands of Snow Geese. It was a great spot for a birder.

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    1. It is absolutely one of my favorite places in the world in the fall when all of those migrating birds arrive.

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  2. My daughter and I live in Nebraska, so Sandhill Cranes are a species we know very well!

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  3. I'd never even heard of a mouse deer before. They really do look like a mix of deer and mouse. Wow! Thanks for sharing!

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    1. They are weird little creatures. It's good to know they have survived in the forests of Vietnam.

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  4. Despite the gnashing of teeth that some of this info caused me, I enjoyed the variety of your news this week.

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    1. As painful as it can be sometimes, we must stay informed. It's our defense against all the lies.

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  5. I'm happy I found your blog; I love nature and all earth's beautiful creatures. Your pictures and posts, at first glance (I've only read a few so far) are so informative.

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    1. Thank you, Diane, and welcome! I'm glad you found me, too.

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