This week in birds - #420

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


A Black-crowned Night Heron strikes for a fish for its meal a Brazos Bend State Park.   

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You might say that birds are on the ballot this November. At least their protections are. The present administration keeps trying to roll back the Migratory Bird Treaty Act as well as other statutory measures that help to keep birds safe. A change in administration could be crucial to keeping or even strengthening those protections.

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Wolves are also on the ballot, at least in Colorado. Voters there will have the opportunity to express their opinion on whether or not gray wolves should be reintroduced into the environment. 

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Global warming is thickening layers of warm water in the world's oceans thus altering ocean currents, hindering the absorption of carbon, intensifying storms, and disrupting biological cycles.

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Based on what we know of her judicial philosophy, the addition of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court would likely make it tougher for environmentalists to wage future legal fights.

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Exxon has long promoted its investments in carbon capture technology but the oil giant also uses it to maximize profit and keep the oil flowing.

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In a breakthrough that builds on plastic-eating bugs first discovered by Japan in 2016, a new super-enzyme that eats plastic bottles six times faster offers hope of being able to completely recycle plastic. 

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Some American Robins migrate while others stay in place the year-round. A new research project is tracking their movements in order to learn more about those movements and diseases that affect the birds.

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The blasts of cyanide gas with which some millipedes defend themselves are ineffective against one of their mortal enemies, a beetle that targets them.

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Healthy forests are important carbon sinks that sequester that greenhouse gas, but when a forest burns, the carbon is released into the atmosphere contributing to increased greenhouse gases that intensify global warming and create more favorable conditions for future runaway wildfires. It is a vicious cycle.

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Here's something interesting from the world of primates: Scientists studying baboons have found that male baboons who have close female friends live longer than those who don't. Researchers who have made this discovery have been continuously observing savannah baboons in Kenya's Amboseli basin since 1971 and have amassed reams of data supporting that thesis.

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An order by a judge in Montana this week ousted William Perry Pendley as the top official of the Bureau of Land Management, finding that his appointment was unlawful. This might invalidate a wide range of decisions he had made regarding opening up vast parts of the American West to gas and oil drilling.

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The population of endangered pygmy rabbits of the Columbia Basin in Washington has been halved by a fast-moving wildfire in the area. 

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Scientists in England are looking forward to receiving tracking data from captive-bred White Storks released into the wild from a West Sussex farm. This species has very unpredictable migratory habits and it is hoped that this data will shed more light on those habits.

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A connection between instances of police brutality and pollution by fossil fuel companies? Environmental activists say they can make that connection. Racist policies allow the companies to shift their pollution into neighborhoods where minorities live and incidents of police brutality most often occur in those neighborhoods. It's all a part of endemic racism. 

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Melting ice in Antarctica has revealed a frozen colony of Adélie penguins like this one from hundreds of years ago, the carcasses of the birds appearing newly dead. The "freshly dead" appearance of the birds belied the fact that they were defrosted mummies that had been swallowed by advancing snowfields centuries ago.

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Climate change that is melting glaciers is contributing to a string of massive landslides in Alaska and around the world.

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Clark's Nutcrackers and Pinyon Jays have similar winter survival strategies. They both collect and store pine seeds from the previous autumn and are mostly dependent on those caches for food during the winter.

Comments

  1. I think being able to recycle plastic would be good news ... it would be amazing if they could figure out something that could break it down quickly .... to help with all the trash around the earth ... oh my what a problem

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    1. Plastic is one of the biggest problems in our environment today and being able to fully recycle it would be huge. This technology seems to hold some promise. Fingers crossed!

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  2. I didn't know that about the Adélie penguins! Now I'm going to have to look a lot more into this!

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    1. I found it interesting that the colony had been there for so long without being detected. But I guess things are hard to detect when they are covered by snow and ice!

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  3. As always, Dorothy, your roundup sadly contains more pessimism than hope - reality might be a better term. One would think that Homo sapiens, with our super brain, would be able to recognize these problems and understand the urgent need to tackle them, but it appears not to be so. I recently read a blog about someone already preparing for NEXT year's wildfires in California. Is this where we are? It is dismal to concede that the answer is "yes".

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    1. We would be wise to acknowledge that climate change is making our natural world a more dangerous place and to do what we can at this late date to ameliorate the damage and prepare for what it may bring. As you say, with our "super brains" you would think we could figure that out.

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  4. I don't have time today but I will be back to read about the plastic eating bugs! Good news from Montana. I surely have more faith in individuals than I do in corporations. Last week I received from my Nervous Breakdown Book Club subscription a most interesting sounding book, Can't Even by Anne Helen Petersen about "the psychic toll modern capitalism has taken on those shaped by it." So curious to read it.

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    1. I've heard a bit about that book and I agree - it does sound interesting.

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  5. I look forward to this post each week. For my mental health, I focus on looking closely at your shared articles that offer good news.

    Our naturalist book club will be reading and discussing One More Warbler for the last two months of the year. It will be refreshing to read this book about birds after finishing The Worst Hard Time about the Dust Bowl and Farewell to Ice about the melting Arctic.

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    1. Any book with Victor Emanuel's name on it is bound to be of interest. His life story must be filled with warblers!

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