This week in birds - #461

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

A Cooper's Hawk keeping a close eye on my backyard from a neighbor's pine tree.

*~*~*~*

A new study tracking the planet's vital signs has found that many of the key indicators of global warming, such as carbon emissions, ocean acidification, and clearing of the Amazon rainforest, are getting worse and are either approaching or already exceeding key tipping points in the global climate crisis.

*~*~*~*

Utah's Great Salt Lake is not so great anymore. Its water level has reached a historic low and it is expected to continue to drop in the coming months. This could prove disastrous for the millions of birds that rely on the lake. 

*~*~*~*

Meanwhile, California's Salton Sea, once an idyllic lake, is shrinking and has become a home to dangerous algal blooms, endless dust, and toxic air that is making residents sick.

*~*~*~*

Wouldn't it be great to have Shazam for birds so you can point your phone app toward a singing bird and it will be identified for you? In fact, such an app exists. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology has recently released an updated version of its Merlin Bird ID app that though it doesn't claim to be 100% accurate is pretty close to it. 

*~*~*~*

How do wildfires start and spread? The Capital Weather Gang explains.

*~*~*~*

Wildfires are a problem right around the globe. In Sardinia, an area in the western part of the Italian island has been hit by an unprecedented wildfire that has burned a 25-mile swath.

*~*~*~*

One method used to counteract and control wildfires is prescribed burns. An area is deliberately set alight to burn off brush and fallen trees that could otherwise fuel a wildfire.

*~*~*~*

The state of Wisconsin seems determined to extirpate its wolf population. After allowing hunters to blow right past the quota set during the February hunt that took place during the animals' breeding season, the state now plans to allow another hunt in the fall. Unless the Fish and Wildlife Service chooses to once again put the animals on the Endangered Species protected list, their chances of survival appear slim.

*~*~*~*

Juvenile great white sharks are colonizing new areas along the central and southern California coast. The young sharks swim near the beaches where surfers and swimmers play. They show no interest in the humans with whom they share the waters.

*~*~*~*

A team of 99 scientists has finally deciphered the entire human genome two decades after the first draft was unveiled. In the process, they uncovered more than 100 previously unknown genes that are probably functional and many new variants that may be linked to diseases.

*~*~*~*

Researchers studying grizzly bears in British Columbia have undertaken a new project of tracking orphan cubs that have been reared in a shelter and returned to the wild to see if they are actually able to thrive in the wild. 

*~*~*~*

What happens to us when a part of our world disappears, when a species that we have known becomes extinct? What, for example, would our world be like if there were no more Bobolinks

*~*~*~*

Humans are able to use the stars to navigate around the planet. This was more common in the past, of course. But we are not the only ones who use starlight to navigate; many animals do so. Even dung beetles!

*~*~*~*

An analysis that used public health studies concluded that for every 4,434 metric tons of carbon dioxide produced, one person globally will die. This figure represents the average lifetime emissions currently being generated by 3.5 Americans.

*~*~*~*

From the world of archaeology comes the announcement that a Stone Age Acheulian ax found in Morocco has been dated to 1.3 million years ago. The find pushes back by hundreds of thousands of years the start date in North Africa of the Acheulian stone tool industry that is associated with a key human ancestor, Homo erectus.

*~*~*~*

Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary in Lake Huron is part of a system of underwater reserves around the country. This sanctuary is home to nearly 100 known well-preserved shipwrecks, some more than a hundred years old.

*~*~*~*

Big oil has a filthy legacy in Africa. They move out and leave their mess behind. In Nigeria, the fisherwomen of the Niger Delta are fighting back. They are demanding that Chevron and other big oil companies be held to account for the pollution they have created. (Shades of How Beautiful We Were by Imbolo Mbue which I read earlier this year.)

*~*~*~*

The drought and a confluence of extreme conditions are threatening the trout population in Montana's legendary waters. The state this week announced a slate of new restrictions, including some outright closures, in order to protect the top trout streams.

*~*~*~*

A new study of 176 nations found that the top ten countries most vulnerable to climate change impacts and environmental pollution are located in Africa and South Asia, with the Democratic Republic of Congo being the worst off. 

*~*~*~*

Researchers have identified threats facing dozens of bat species in parts of the world that are predicted to get hotter and drier. This means that many species will have to shift their ranges to find suitable habitats. There are some steps that humans can take to help them. 

*~*~*~*

Gardeners can now grow okra in Anchorage! Jeff Lowenfels has written a gardening column for The Anchorage Daily News since November 1976. Though he never intended it, his column over those 45 years has documented the changes caused by climate change.

*~*~*~*

This is a male Kiwikiu, a rare Hawaiian native that was thought to be dead, after having been released to the wild in 2019. But recently, after having been missing for 605 days, he has been found again. He lives! Never give up hope.

*~*~*~*

Can you answer ten questions about the warming climate? 



Comments

  1. missed no. 5 because i was in too much of a hurry... drat...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You did better than me. I missed the first two - off by a percentage point both times.

      Delete
  2. I like the photo of the Cooper's Hawk best this week. Just majestic!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They are quite majestic although the songbirds in my yard would not agree.

      Delete
  3. Thank you for weekly roundup, Dorothy. The first point pretty much says it all, this week. We are probably already past the tipping point. Yet we still lack universal action in the face of all the evidence that our last, best hope is to mend our ways. A spring without Bobolinks? Unthinkable! But I might have said that about the Passenger Pigeon too.....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We take them for granted. They seem so present until suddenly they are not.

      Delete
  4. We have an occasional visit from a Cooper's Hawk, for some reason it has often been during a rain. That 1972 MIT study about the collapse of civilization seems to be on target.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The models and predictions from many scientific groups that have been made over the past fifty years or so regarding where we are headed have been stunningly accurate and yet we continue to ignore the warnings.

      Delete
  5. I live in Utah and it's scary to watch reservoirs and places like the Great Salt Lake shrink, and then shrink some more. It will be super bad for a lot of migrating birds next spring if things don't improve.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We can only hope that the rains come to replenish things before then.

      Delete
  6. I've never seen a Cooper's Hawk at my house, but we've seen a number of Red-Shouldered Hawks. I saw my first Mississippi Kite on our walk this week. He was in the same location later in the week.

    During our training as naturalists, we took part in Hawk Watch at Smith's Point. I would love to do that again. It looks like it starts on August 15 this year: https://www.gcbo.org/avian-research-and-monitoring/smith-point-hawk-watch/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There's a Cooper's Hawk pair that live in our neighborhood and they frequently hunt in our yard.

      Delete
  7. I don't think I've seen this type of hawk before. We've seen the red tailed ones in our pine trees and even one on our deck. There has been an increase in shark sightings on New England waters. It's also sad to see all the songbirds that have died for some reason.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They primarily hunt songbirds so they tend to hang around where there are lots of them. The Red-tailed Hawk is probably the most common hawk, certainly of roadsides, in America.

      Delete
  8. I managed a little bird watching in Zion and Yellowstone National Parks while on the road trip and we really got lucky in Zion when we stumbled upon a group of people researching Condors and spotted a large female who floated above a canyon there for several minutes before returning to her nest and chicks. She was magnificent. We also saw several Golden Eagles and Bald Eagles. It's enough to turn me into a birdwatcher.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Welcome back, Sam. It sounds like you had a great trip. I really envy you that California Condor, having never seen one in the wild. Their recovery from near extinction is truly one of the remarkable comebacks in all of Nature.

      Delete
  9. I didn't know animals use the stars! Nifty!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Animals have many amazing abilities, many of which we only marginally understand.

      Delete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Poetry Sunday: Excerpt from The Cure at Troy by Seamus Heaney

Open Season (Joe Pickett #1) by C.J. Box - A review

Poetry Sunday: Invitation by Mary Oliver