This week in birds - #432

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


The American Goldfinches...


...and the Pine Siskins finally showed up at my feeders this week. They are always welcome guests.

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The Revelator online conservation magazine featured a roundup of some of their top stories of 2020. Among them were these:

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Two bird bloggers, 10,000 Birds and Avian Ecologist, listed their best birds of 2020. 

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The current administration in Washington is still doing its damnedest to guarantee the despoiling of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge on its way out the door, but so far they've had no interest from oil and gas companies. In fact, the state of Alaska seems to be the only interested bidder. Nineteen days and counting... 

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Here are the wildest animal stories of 2020 according to the New York Times.

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In still more efforts at despoiling Nature, the current administration is planning to grant mining and energy firms access to public lands over the determined opposition of environmental groups and tribal communities. Some of the lands they are trying to give away in Arizona are sacred to Native American groups there.  

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The Greater Sage-grouse is a threatened species in California, but controlling the invasive grasses that have overrun some of the bird's former habitat there could help it survive and offer the population a chance to rebound.

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Illegal deforestation is still a persistent problem in South America, especially in the territory of indigenous groups.

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The braininess of the octopus is well-documented, but its cousin, the cuttlefish is no slacker either. Researchers who study the cephalopods have discovered surprising talents in cuttlefish over the years, including an ability to plan ahead.  

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Much has been written about the respite provided to Nature by the pandemic in 2020. Humans were less visible in many areas in the natural world and that provided an opportunity for many animals to become more visible. This has provided emphasis to a dichotomy: People need access to Nature but human impact jeopardizes what Nature we have. A case in point is the Capercaillie.

Image from The Guardian.

The iconic Scottish bird was once plentiful but now faces extinction, largely because it simply cannot tolerate human disturbance.

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A decade ago, scientists were concerned that the African lion could go extinct in Kenya, but the population of the animals is now thriving there and it's all because they have gained some remarkable protectors. The Maasai who formerly hunted lions now guard them.

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A previously unknown, discrete population of blue whales, the largest creature to have ever lived on Earth, has been located in the Indian Ocean. The whales sing a distinct song, different from any other known group.

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Mongabay, the online Nature news service, gives us its list of the 15 top species discoveries of 2020. Among them is this cute (and endangered) lemur langur.

Popa langur image courtesy of Mongabay.

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New international rules are designed to stop richer nations from dumping their contaminated plastic waste onto poorer nations. According to a UN agency, it could result in cleaner oceans within five years. 

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The current administration has done its best to sabotage America's top climate report, but they have largely failed because it turns out those climate scientists can be quite sneaky! And persistent. 

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Global warming has resulted in the ongoing melting of the Siberian permafrost and that has revealed some ancient treasures, most recently a well-preserved ice age woolly rhino calf

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The removal of four dams on the Klamath River will be the largest dam removal project in American history and it will free up 400 stream-miles of restored habitat for salmon and other migratory species. This action has been long sought by the Yurok Tribe whose livelihood depends on the fish.

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In another year-end roundup, the Scientific American lists the top five climate stories of 2020.

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Charlie Pierce's beat is politics and he covers it with a combination of cynicism, righteous anger, and dark humor, but at the end of 2020, he digressed into the world of Nature and gave us some of the things that were not necessarily awful about the year and he ends with a dollop of hope for the future.

Comments

  1. There is a lot to digest, Dorothy, but rest assured I will get to it all. I did read the article on the climate scientists thwarting the government and it made me laugh and rejoice. One does not wish to be petty but with sea rise, and increased frequency and ferocity of hurricanes, Mar-a-lago seem ideally positioned for a direct hit...........just sayin'.

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  2. I eagerly look forward to a new administration who has a focus on our natural world. I have to keep reminding myself also that the pandemic had lots of positive effects on nature.

    I'm participating in FeederWatch for the first time in 2020-2021. I've learned so much about birds by taking photos of birds at my feeders and trying to identify them. One of my near-neighbors, about five miles away, posts daily photos of birds the touchdown near his house, and that, and your postings have also helped me a lot. I've just started seeing Yellow-rumped Warblers and Pine Siskins.

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    1. FeederWatch is a great citizen science program. Kudos to you for participating.

      The Yellow-rumped Warblers and Pine Warblers have been regular visitors to my feeders lately. I haven't yet seen the third warbler we usually get in winter - the Orange-crowned.

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  3. Great post this week that has a feel of hope to it.

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  4. 18 days now! Every day I get to mark off the calendar just makes me that much happier!

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  5. I particularly liked hearing about the whales and the Maasai guarding the lions. I needed some good news

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    1. I think we all need a bit of good news about now.

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  6. I loved reading all of the positive things happening in our world, with these wonderful discoveries of previously unknown animals. We need more of this and hopefully will see them thriving in 2021! Also, those lemurs are so stinkin' cute!!

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    1. They are adorable, aren't they? It's nice to be reminded that there are in fact some good things happening in the world.

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