This week in birds - #379

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


As Thanksgiving approaches, our thoughts turn to turkey. Here, two wary Wild Turkeys keep their eyes on me as I take their photograph at Aransas National Wildlife Refuge on the Texas Coast. They will not be gracing anyone's holiday feast!

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Deforestation of the Brazilian Amazon has hit the highest annual level in a decade, according to new government data which highlights the impact Brazil's new right-wing president has made on the world’s biggest rainforest. The new numbers show almost 10,000 sq kms were lost from the beginning of this year to August. The "lungs of the planet" are being slowly destroyed.

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California governor, Gavin Newsom, has placed a moratorium on new permits for potentially dangerous oil drilling techniques, which officials said are linked to illegal spills across the Central Valley of the state. The temporary ban on new permits for steam injection and fracking is one of a number of measures that were announced to increase scrutiny and regulation of oil operations across the state.

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In a move that greatly disappointed bird lovers and conservationists, New York's governor Andrew Cuomo vetoed a bill that would have created a council that would craft regulations for bird-friendly designs of buildings across the state. New York City has a bill pending in City Council that would address the problem for the city and the Audubon Society is hoping to see that bill become law.

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A weak wet season in South Florida has water managers worried that there may not be enough fish to feed wading birds as breeding season approaches. The Everglades marshes where Wood Storks, Roseate Spoonbills, and herons like to breed and build their nests are only 40 percent wet at this point, too dry for prey to become abundant enough to support significant population growth among the birds.

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The Bureau of Land Management has had to suspend fossil fuel leases totaling hundreds of thousands of acres as courts continue to rule against the administration for ignoring climate impact. The BLM voluntarily suspended 130 oil and gas leases after advocacy groups sued, arguing that the agency hadn't adequately assessed the greenhouse gas emissions associated with drilling and extraction on those leases as required by law. Meantime, it was announced that the administration will miss its target of holding the first-ever oil drilling lease sale in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge this year due to delays in the environmental review process.

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But, of course, this administration is relentless in its war against the environment. It has now announced a plan that could allow oil drilling on over three-quarters of the nation’s largest piece of unprotected wilderness, the 23-million acre National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, which is roughly the size of Indiana.

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New research indicates that modern birds probably inherited their colorful eggshell patterns from their dinosaur ancestors.

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This incredibly colorful bird is a Gouldian Finch, a very rare bird native to Australia. Scientists have now confirmed the presence of one or more of these birds at a remote waterhole in northern Australia by analysis of environmental DNA. The method identifies traces of genetic material in soil, water, or ice that are deposited by the presence of plants and animals.

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Marine mammals on the Pacific Coast of Alaska have been infected by a virus that was once only seen in animals living in the Atlantic. Seeking an answer to how the virus came to be spread to the Pacific, scientists have found evidence to suggest that the melting ice of the Arctic may be to blame.

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A tiny endangered butterfly, the St. Francis Satyr, has found an unlikely refuge - the world's most populated military installation, Ft. Bragg, North Carolina. This is another example of the Endangered Species Act at work.

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Arctic Terns have the longest migration of any seabird, going from their breeding area in the Arctic to their non-breeding area of the Antarctic and then back again. Feathers allow them to make these journeys and a study finds that those feathers change according to the food that the birds have available to eat.

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A decade-long study of migrating bison has come to the conclusion that the herds do not "surf", following the waves of new green grass that shoot up from the ground in spring. Instead, they help to create the waves. They are, in effect, engineering and intensifying the waves of green that other grazers feed on. 

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How did plants conquer the land? A study of two algal species offer clues to the researchers.

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One of the keys to conserving forests as carbon sinks is to conserve the animals that disperse seeds from the trees of the forest.

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A study found that all but one of America's endangered species are facing peril due to the climate change crisis, but the threat has had a patchy response from the federal government. Federal agencies consider just 64% of endangered species to be threatened by the climate crisis and only 18% of listed species have protection plans in place.

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Interestingly, as flocks of Jackdaws grow, taking on new birds, the flocks become more organized and deliberate in their actions.

Comments

  1. The news of the decline in the area of the Brazilian rainforest is truly depressing. Why people around the world continue to elect these right wing leaders who deny climate change and are committed to environmental degradation is beyond me. There was never a doubt about what Bolsonaro stood for long before he was elected, and he is now doing exactly what he said he would do. But rainforest destruction is a criminal act against the entire world. It is not just Brazil that will pay the price for such folly.

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  2. There are lots of wild Turkey’s in the local woods here. I recently ran into a bunch of them while hiking.

    Sadly, I think that both the current governments of The United States and Brazil are militantly anti environmentalism. Hopefully we will some change soon.

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    1. That's what we must hope for and expend our efforts to work toward!

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  3. We (my husband and I) see lots of wild turkeys here in Northern California, especially in the winter months. We've seen large rafters of them walking on the golf course right outside our condo. They don't seem to be afraid of people as they'll even walk through or condo complex like they own the place, lol!

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    1. We see stories in the news every year around this time about aggressive Wild Turkeys. New Jersey seems to have more than its share of them. But the ones I see in the wildlife refuges tend to keep their distance from humans. Smart turkeys!

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  4. The good and the bad, both covered here. Good job, Dorothy!

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  5. I encounter lots of wild creatures when Hubby takes me out on the backroads of Taranaki and turkeys are one of them! Love all your photos and info in you links.




    My Corner of the World

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    Replies
    1. I can only imagine the wonderful wildlife that you must be able to see there!

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