This week in birds - #381

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

This female Rufous Hummingbird seems to have settled in to spend the winter with us. In recent years, we almost always have had at least one Rufous with us for the winter, often more. So the hummingbird feeders stay filled and ready for visitors.

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The National Butterfly Center in Mission, Texas has dodged another bullet for now. This week a Texas judge granted a temporary restraining order to the opponents of a crowdfunded project to build part of President Trump’s border wall, siding with the butterfly conservancy that sued over its projected environmental impact. The restraining order involves a three-mile stretch along the Rio Grande in Hidalgo County, where a hard-line immigration group led by Stephen Bannon, the former chief White House strategist, wants to build an 18-foot-tall wall on private property.

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A paper published by the Geophysical Research Letters, a peer-reviewed science journal, documents that the early computer climate models of the '70s, '80s, and '90s were actually impressively accurate.

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At the UN climate conference in Madrid this week, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, who led a congressional delegation, told the gathering that the commitment of Congress to taking action on climate change is ironclad.

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As sea levels rise, there are some places on the coast that it will be impossible to save. One such place is likely to be the Florida Keys.

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A study found that Australia's threatened bird species have declined by 59% over the past thirty years and migratory shorebirds have declined by 72%.

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As forests around the world become more fragmented, the danger to the continued survival of the species that depend upon them is increased.

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Ross's Gull is rarely found in the lower 48 states and after an incident this week it is even rarer. One of the gulls turned up in Seattle where it was seen and documented by several birders. But then the bird was caught and devoured by a Bald Eagle. Nature at work.

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A study of penguin populations in the Antarctic identifies some winners and some losers as the climate changes. Chinstrap Penguins, for example, are having a harder time adapting than species like the Gentoo, apparently because the Chinstraps have a more specialized diet than the Gentoos. 

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The current administration in Washington has deployed a surge of park rangers to help patrol the southern border of the country, leaving many national parks, which are already understaffed, seriously depleted of personnel to protect them.

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A new study found that the Great Auk was driven to extinction entirely due to human activities, namely overhunting, rather than by any environmental change. 

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More frequent and severe wildfires in the Sierra Nevada region pose a threat to the roosting and foraging habitats of Northern Goshawks in the area.

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A study of 52 bird species that died when they collided with buildings in Chicago over the years has shown that the size of the birds has decreased over the past four decades while their wings have gotten longer. The changes appear to be responses to a warming climate.

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Researchers discovered an unorthodox but effective method of attracting diverse fish species to reinhabit devastated coral reefs. They broadcast the sounds of a healthy reef and it worked! Fish swam to the area once again.

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The Recovering America's Wildlife Act of 2019 advanced from the House Natural Resources Committee this week. It will likely pass when it comes up for a vote in the House, but will it ever be considered in the Republican-controlled Senate?

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Did you hear the one about the electric eel who is powering the lights on a Christmas tree? It's happening at Tennessee aquarium where an electric eel named Miguel is demonstrating the ultimate in renewable energy this season. 

Comments

  1. Hummingbirds are such incredible creatures. I never get tired of watching them. It is really cool that you seem to have attracted a winter guest.

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  2. Thanks as always for this roundup, Dorothy. It is both alarming and depressing to see that environmental protections continue to be rolled back and abandoned in your country. I hope that everyone is disturbed by it and votes accordingly. Enjoy the hummingbirds!

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    Replies
    1. I am enjoying my little visitor and I join you in hoping for a reprieve from the voters in the next election.

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  3. Good news on those fighting back for the environment. This past year I have had a calendar with a picture of hummingbirds for each month. I will be sorry to see it end. Last night I finished a novel set in the 80s and realized/remembered that yes, the warnings about climate change were everywhere.

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    Replies
    1. So we've been warned for nearly 50 years and yet here we are.

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  4. The hummingbird pic is really nice to see. How many do you get at your feeder in the winter months?

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    Replies
    1. At the moment, I've only seen this one. Some winters we have two or three that are present.

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