This week in birds - #385

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




Greater Yellowlegs photographed at Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge on the Texas Coast.

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A conservative estimate of the number of animals killed in the Australian wildfires is over one billion.

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So it turns out that 2019 was only the second hottest year on record, just less than one-tenth of a degree Fahrenheit cooler than 2016. 

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While the apocalyptic Australian wildfires have dominated the environmental news, Indonesia has been suffering some of the worst floods in its history. At least 66 people have been killed and thousands more have been forced to flee their homes.

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Here is a listing of species declared extinct in 2019, although some of them had actually probably been extinct for years.

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And still, the good fight goes on to save species from extinction. Lebanese conservationists are working to provide protected areas for migrating birds where they will be safe from hunters and they are trying to instill in the younger generation the values of protecting endangered wildlife.

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An aquarium and an engineering firm in Massachusetts are working on a project to better protect whales by monitoring them from space. It is hoped that the project will help with the effort to save endangered right whales.

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Detroit is experiencing an invasion by magical and magnificent Snowy Owls. Lucky Detroit birders!

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There are estimated to be about 435,000 plant species on Earth. About 36.5% of them could be considered extremely rare. The rarest are most vulnerable to the effects of climate change.

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There are steps that could be taken to reverse the insect apocalypse. These include phasing out synthetic pesticides and fertilizers.

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The shift from the use of coal to gas in the U.S. has saved more than 300 million tons of planet-heating carbon dioxide. And a study has found that the shutdown of coal facilities has saved over 26,000 lives over the period of a decade.

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A treasure trove of ten previously unknown species and subspecies of birds has been found on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi.

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One of the world's oldest, most resilient species, the Monarch butterfly could be decimated relatively soon by climate change.

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The American Kestrel, North America's smallest falcon and once the continent's most common and widespread, is declining in numbers at an alarming rate. The reasons for the decline are not entirely clear.

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Highways are an existential threat to the genetic diversity and indeed the survival of wolverines as a species for an unusual reason: It seems that female wolverines refuse to cross them. Although young males will cross them as they seek new territories, the females will not follow. 

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New York City has conducted its first census of squirrels. It found that there were 2,273 of the critters in Central Park.

Not a Central Park squirrel enjoying its treats in my yard.

Comments

  1. The list of newly extinct species is terribly depressing. Good news on the power plant front. As I understand it, in order to make further progress we now have to move beyond gas

    Interesting that they tried to count the Central Park squirrels.

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    Replies
    1. Yes, I imagine a census taker with a clipboard walking to every tree!

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  2. I always appreciate this weekly roundup of environmental news, Dorothy, even though much of it is not the kind of stuff I like to read. It is amazing how many ways we can discover to destroy our own environment,

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  3. I visited the Peace River Wildlife Center (a wildlife rehab center) in Punta Gorda, Florida, recently. They do their small part to "contribute to the survival of native Florida wildlife through rescue, rehabilitation and education" but when I thought of all the Australian wildlife killed by the fires - it is something I absolutely can not even begin to think of. How can we even begin to help that wildlife in Australia try to recover? We are doing such a great job of destroying ourselves.

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    Replies
    1. Wildlife rehabbers are heroes who deserve as much support as we can give them.

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  4. My sister lives in Ann Arbor, MI. I will ask her if she is seeing snowy owls.

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    1. It would be very exciting to be able to see Snowy Owls in the feather.

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  5. I love your squirrel photo!! We see them in our neighborhood as well. One summer, we had a squirrel in a redwood tree next to our balcony growling/barking and marking its territory... It even hopped on to our balcony's railing and and kept looking down below while still marking its territory and making all kinds of noises. Long story short, it was closely watching our neighbor's cat and probably felt threatened in some way by the cat.

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    1. Squirrels are fascinating critters. I enjoy watching them in my yard.

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  6. I like that news about saving lives & shutting down coal plants. I also will contact my sister in law in Detroit to see if she has seen any of the snowy owls. They are so wonderful to see!

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    Replies
    1. That is, indeed, a rare bit of good news concerning the environment. Snowy owls are magical creatures. I envy those who have them in their neighborhoods.

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