This week in birds - #395

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


American Robins are not the harbingers of spring around here, for the simple reason that they live here all year long. But they certainly are a lot more active and more visible these days. Whether they are looking for materials to build a nest or they are looking for food for the babies in that nest, they are around the yard all day long and even when they are not in view, one hears their cheery song as background music to one's daily activities.

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Well, those dastardly "deep-state" scientists are at it again! When instructed to undo regulations that many have worked on for decades, federal lawyers and scientists have managed to embed data into technical documents that environmental lawyers are able to use to challenge the rollbacks in court.

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Where do pandemics come from and how do they get started? Those are complicated questions, of course, but environmental scientists believe they know one thing that can act as a defense against them: Biodiversity. If we can encourage and maintain biodiversity, it gives us a better chance, a better defense against something that seeks to overwhelm our environment. 

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And then there is our so-called Environmental Protection Agency which is seeking to use the coronavirus crisis as an excuse for failing to enforce clean air and clean water regulations.

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Do you ever think about vampire bats? Probably not because why would you? But it turns out they are interesting and altruistic creatures. After a good meal of blood, they will share the substance with their family or with friends with whom they have a close bond.  

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The Red-fronted Macaw is a critically endangered Bolivian bird that is often caught up in the illegal wildlife trade. Last year the government had come up with a plan to conserve the species, but with the recent change in government there, the plan has yet to be implemented.

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And in Colombia, the second-most biodiverse country in the world, the end of the civil war there had given hope for an expansion of ecotourism that would offer protection to the ecosystem and provide income for local economies. Instead, there has been a dramatic increase in deforestation and a move to increase petroleum drilling.

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Temperature records are being challenged right across the South and Southeast this week. In our area, we've been flirting with high temperatures of 90 degrees Fahrenheit and above all week.

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Many freshwater species are endangered and disappearing fast. This year is critical to saving their endangered ecosystems and the imperiled species that depend on them. Scientists and policymakers have a 
plan.

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Feeding birds is a very popular backyard activity but research shows that a lot of the commercial birdseed that we use contains some troublesome invasive weed seeds among the seeds that the birds 
love.

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Western Monarch butterflies that spend their winters on the central California coast end up as far north and east as Idaho in a few months' time. But researchers want to know, where do they go in between those times? It seems that a lot of them disappear along the way.

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It has been confirmed that the Great Barrier Reef has just suffered its third mass coral bleaching episode within the past five years. The damage is described as very widespread.

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Here's a bit of good news about rare Andean bears: Their numbers are increasing in Ecuador. They feast on the ripening wild avocados in the mist-shrouded cloud forest there.

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Finally, here are three essays that offer some comfort in our troubled and scary present. I encourage you to visit and read all three.

(1). Michael Gerson on the importance of quietude and meditation.

(2.) James Gorman on the pleasures of watching geese and other birds that most definitely do not practice social distancing.

(3.) Margaret Renkl on the beautiful world of Nature just outside our broken human one.

Comments

  1. Thanks for the weekend roundup, Dorothy. Robins are no longer a classic sign of spring here, either. Over the past twenty-five years or so, as the average mean winter temperature has increased, more and more find sheltered ravines with microclimates, and have no trouble finding food. They flock together in the non breeding season and at one local park it is not unusual to find a hundred or so.

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    Replies
    1. They flock together during winter here also, although not in the hundreds usually. In the late afternoon on a winter day, I see and hear them flying over my yard, usually from northwest to southeast, headed toward their nighttime roost.

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  2. Thanks for the links to the essays. The is something to be said about these calm meditations. So much of what I read is very different. Essays such as these are a refreshing change.

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    Replies
    1. I think we need calm meditations and a connection with Nature more than ever these days.

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  3. Again, thank you for your work collating all this. We are still having unseasonably cool temps, but a few 90 degree days could go a long way to keeping your area safer from the virus. It does not like sunshine or heat. Hope you are well.

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    Replies
    1. We are well, hanging in there in our self-isolation. With books and a garden to occupy my time, I am never bored.

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