This week in birds - #400

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


White-winged Dove and a juvenile Common Grackle share a limb. These are two backyard species that can clean out your birdfeeder in a hurry. They mostly feed from the platform feeder or on the ground. As long as you have other feeders specifically designed for smaller birds - and both of these birds are fairly large - then they don't really present a problem. I enjoy having them around, even the grackles which some unenlightened people consider pests.

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There is a fear that if one orangutan in the forest should be infected with the coronavirus then an entire population could be wiped out. In order to guard against that, the orangutans in Indonesia's rehabilitation centers are being kept there for now rather than returning them to the forest. 

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The headlines in the environmental sections of news websites this week have all been screaming about the "murder hornet." These are Asian giant hornets that have been found in the state of Washington and have raised fears that they could become established in this country. They are mortal enemies of bees.

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Clever little tree frogs fool the predators that would eat them by overlapping their mating calls with neighbors, thus making their location more difficult to pinpoint.

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Hundreds of people have been evacuated in the Florida Panhandle because of deadly wildfires that are burning there. 

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The New York Times this week published a full list of the environmental laws that the current administration has rolled back or is seeking to roll back - almost 100 in total.

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As some beaches in California reopen, surfers there have been enthralled by the phenomenon of bioluminescent waves.

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A brown bear has been sighted in a national park in northern Spain, the first one to have been seen there in 150 years.

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The Yellow-legged Gull has a remarkable ability to adapt to human activities and benefit from them in order to get food.

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One benefit of the coronavirus pandemic is that it has disrupted, at least for now, the illegal international wildlife trade. Conservationists are hoping that they can make that disruption permanent.

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A new study reveals that the relationships between native birds and exotic invasive plants are not always simple and not always negative. The invasive Japanese barberry, for example, does not seem to have a negative effect on the Ovenbird, a forest-breeding bird. 

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An enigmatic short-eared wild canid of the Amazon dubbed the "ghost dog" has not been widely studied but scientists are producing data that show its range and they hope to be able to learn more about it. 

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A new study indicates that up to one billion people could be displaced or forced to endure insufferable heat within fifty years if we don't take effective steps to ameliorate the effects of climate change.

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The Rufous Treepie of India is a bird that has learned to eat fire - or close to it. At a temple where caretakers set out votive candles that are made from clarified butter, the birds fly down and pick up the candle, extinguish it with a shake of the head, and then eat the butter

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"Bug Eric" tells us what insects have taught him.

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Some good news concerning the endangered Piping Plover: The birds had 2008 breeding pairs counted along the Atlantic Coast in 2019. That is a new high since conservation efforts for the little seabird have been in effect.

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Ninety years after the critter had been thought to be extinct, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service finalized federal wildlife protections for the endangered island marble butterfly on Monday and designated a part of San Juan Island in Washington state as protected habitat for the nonmigratory species.

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Finally, a personal note: This is something of a milestone for these blog entries, the 400th one of its kind that I have done. I started with the regular feature way back when I was still doing my Backyard Birder blog. The first one appeared on December 2, 2011, and dealt entirely with my observations in my own yard. It has evolved over the years to include much more than that. It has been a labor of love. I hope you find them interesting and informative.


Comments

  1. Thanks for sharing this milestone, Dorothy, and thank you for this weekly roundup, which I literally look forward to on Saturday morning, and look forward equally to following the links you provide. I hope you continue to do this forever! When I contemplate the positive impact that the Coronavirus has brought to nature, I hope in a way that it continues to cause us to modify our behaviour for a while yet. Perhaps, even as dumb humans without a great track record of learning from history, we can pay attention this time.

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    1. It would be indeed terrible if we learned nothing from this pandemic experience. I get the feeling at times that Nature is desperately trying to send us a final warning. If we don't heed it, there may be no return for us.

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  2. The grackles really do clean out the feeders. I would not call them pests but they do make their presence known. In fact, one was squawking at me loudly yesterday. It seemed like he was angry at me!

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    1. Grackles' rusty gate swing calls always sound angry. That may be one reason for their bad press. Also the fact that for a few weeks in winter they gather in large flocks which really can cause problems.

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  3. Congrats on your 400th labor of love!

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  4. Dorothy, you are a breathe of fresh air! I have loved reading your blogs for years now. I often share them on facebook. Congratulations and thank you!!!

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    1. Thank you for taking the time to comment, Shirley. I can always feel you lurking out there! Hope you and all your family are keeping safe in our present crisis.

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  5. Yeah I enjoy these posts as sometimes I miss them in the news. On top of the virus ... now we have to worry about the killer giant hornets ... oh gosh i hope they are able to stop them!

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    1. So far they've only been seen on the West Coast, I believe. We can only hope that the eradication program is successful. They could be devastating to the already weakened beekeeping enterprises.

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