This week in birds - #435

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

Willet photographed at Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge on the Texas coast.

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President Joe Biden was inaugurated on January 20 and immediately issued a flurry of executive orders several of which made environmentalists who have spent the last four years fighting a holding action very happy. As he had pledged, his first act was to rejoin the Paris Climate Accord. He also rescinded the construction permit for the Keystone XL oil pipeline, which was a bit of a poke in the eye for Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau who has been a staunch defender of the project. He also directed federal agencies to review all the previous administration's decisions over the past four years that were "harmful to public health, damaging to the environment, unsupported by the best available science, or otherwise not in the national interest.” Reversing those harmful decisions will take time, but a start has been made.

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President Biden also paused drilling for fossil fuels on public lands including the leasing of Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, an action which had been a last-minute effort of the previous administration.

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It will probably come as no great surprise to you to learn that the same lawmakers who denied the legitimacy of the November 3 election are also deniers of human-caused climate change. They live in a fact-free bubble.

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A pair of Whooping Cranes at Aransas National Wildlife Refuge on the Texas coast.

The Whooping Cranes that winter on the Texas coast have benefited considerably from conservation efforts in the area.

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Another reversal of the prior administration's policies that urgently needs to take place is a strengthening of the Endangered Species Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, both of which were seriously curtailed in the last four years. 

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Our new president has an ambitious plan to tackle the problem of climate change on many fronts and he may find that the public is now more aware of the problem than it was ten years ago in the Obama administration and they are more likely to approve of actions to address it. 

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And here are some ideas on how that should be accomplished.

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There are the remains of a unique underwater 60,000-year-old cypress forest off the coast of Alabama and efforts are underway to have the site protected by designating it a marine sanctuary.

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Jaguars were extirpated in the Iberá Wetlands in northeastern Argentina some 70 years ago. But now they are back. A female and her two cubs have been released in the area. It's all part of a grand scheme for rewilding the area by reintroducing several species that were driven to extinction in the area.

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Offshore wind power seems set to take off as a source of renewable energy but it does pose hazards for wildlife. Researchers say that it needs continued study and better regulations to control the damage.

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An invasive weed, Parthenium hysterophorus, has been accidentally introduced to many parts of the world, but now two beetles - one a leaf-feeder and the other a stem-borer - have been found to control the weed biologically.

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The newly enlarged no-fishing zone around the sub-Antarctic island of South Georgia has greatly benefited the Gentoo Penguins that winter on the island.

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The new administration is installing climate change experts in all departments of the federal government. The president has entered office with the largest team ever to combat global warming and is expected to institute a broad-based plan to address the problem.

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The pandemic has paused one of the world's longest-running wildlife studies, that of Michigan's Isle Royale wolves. The study has run continuously since 1959 but has now been put on hold to protect scientists and support personnel from possible exposure to the virus.

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Scientists say that US military sonar has been linked to whale beachings in the Pacific. They have called for the activity that harms the whales to stop.

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A federal appeals court on Tuesday struck down the previous administration’s plan to relax restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions from power plants, paving the way for President Biden to enact new and stronger restrictions on power plants.

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Rufous Hummingbird at my backyard feeder. We have at least two of the birds spending the winter with us.

However, a Rufous really should not be in Virginia in January, but that is exactly where one has been found and banded. And that, of course, is delighting birders in the area. 


Comments

  1. The tone of the environmental news this week is hopeful. I feel a surge of possibility in the air.

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    Replies
    1. It's so nice to have mostly hopeful news in the roundup for a change.

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  2. Good morning Dorothy: Your roundup, as always is excellent, and it is encouraging to see glimmers of good news peeking through. As to the cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline, I think it was a political compromise for Prime Minister Trudeau from the get-go, and many Canadians are glad to see it cancelled. I know of no one in my circle of friends, acquaintances and fellow naturalists who will not welcome this decision, including those who live in Alberta. It is time for the Province of Alberta to accept the fact that the environmental scourge of the tar sands is dead. Time to move on to renewable sources of clean energy and stop trying to prop up a fuel source that is patently in its death throes.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Let's hope that all countries will move toward renewable energy and away from dirty fossil fuels. It may be our only hope.

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  3. When will there be good news? Now!!!

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  4. I am happily looking forward to the near-future when ALL of those horrible policies are reversed, and there will be nothing but good news upon good news for our planet! (assuming we have not already passed the point of no return...)

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    1. I don't think, from what I understand, that we have a lot of wiggle room, but maybe there is still time to avert disaster, particularly with all the world cooperating in the effort.

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  5. Wow did you take the picture of the hummingbird? They're hard to get! Terrific photo.

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    Replies
    1. I did. I took all of today's pictures. Sometimes I get lucky.

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