This week in birds - #478

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

Cedar Waxwings have reportedly been seen in the area already, although it is a bit earlier than I normally see them here. I took this picture last year. I always look forward to their arrival. They are a most welcome winter visitor.

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Nature itself is our best defense against runaway increases in greenhouse emissions and encouraging and working to conserve biodiversity in the landscape is the best way for us to assist Nature in this important work. Here are some ways for us to best accomplish that.

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Apparently, right-wingers are beginning to acknowledge that there might just possibly be something called climate change going on but they are now pairing this acknowledgment of possible ecological disaster with their fears of immigrants. This narrative is finding its way into mainstream politics.

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New legislation in Britain will require that all new buildings there have a charging point for electric vehicles.

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It's Thanksgiving week so cue the stories of Wild Turkeys being "rough and rowdy." After a crash of their population in the early 20th century, they have now rebounded spectacularly in many parts of the country to the point of sometimes being a pest in urban areas.

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Will the elusive porpoises called vaquitas be the next animal to go extinct? Only about ten are known to exist in the wild but scientists still hold out hope for the species' survival.

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As COP26 was winding down, Egypt was hit by the arrival of a plague of scorpions. Yet another warning by Nature of the potential for disaster? Scientists generally did not feel confident that COP26 had done enough to protect Nature.

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Rising ocean temperatures have severely undercut fishing seasons in the Pacific off the West Coast. Now the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations is suing some of the largest oil companies for causing the climate crisis and damaging their livelihood, in spite of the fact that their industry is very dependent upon oil.

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Did you hear about the Roadrunner that hitched a 3,000-mile ride from Las Vegas to Maine? It was captured and taken to an avian sanctuary there and wildlife officials are hoping to send it back to its desert home after veterinarians okay it for travel.

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Beavers are an emblematic Canadian animal but in some regions, their increased population is creating problems as their dams cause flooding in areas.

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America's fledgling offshore wind sector has kicked off with the beginning of construction of its first commercial-scale offshore wind farm located in waters 15 miles off Martha's Vineyard near Cape Cod in Massachusetts.

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Jaguars roamed the mountains of the southwestern United States for centuries until they were almost driven to extinction in the mid 20th century. Now scientists and conservationists are advocating for the reintroduction of the big cat to the area.

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Southern California is facing the year's worst fire danger as Santa Ana winds whipped the area with gusts of 70 mph this week amid humidity of less than 10 percent.

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Albatrosses are some of the world's most reliably monogamous creatures, but now researchers say that global warming is causing Black-browed Albatrosses such as these to "divorce" more frequently because they must travel farther and farther to find food.

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River otters are on the rebound in Texas. The furry, playful creatures are reclaiming their place in Texas rivers. They have even been seen frolicking in Houston's Buffalo Bayou. 

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And in California, the western Monarch butterfly also seems to be making a comeback. Even though its numbers are still far short of its once-normal population, the recent exponential increase is a welcome sign of recovery.

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The Biden administration is considering new protections for the Greater Sage-Grouse, reversing the relaxation of those protections by the previous administration. The bird has become a symbol of the clash between conservationists and energy companies that are eager to drill on land that comprises the range of the grouse.

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The first-ever Native American has been confirmed by the Senate to be the head of the National Park Service. Charles "Chuck" Sams III, an enrolled tribal member of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation was unanimously confirmed.

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New Zealand's Black Robin, pictured here, was once the rarest bird in the world but it was brought back from the brink of extinction. However, this conservation success story is now in danger of reversal and the robin is once again in trouble.

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In Manu National Park in Peru, a previously unknown species of bird has been discovered. It is a member of the tanager family and the team that discovered it has named it Inti Tanager, after the word for "sun" in the Quechua and Aymara languages.

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How do we prioritize regions that we must conserve in order to reduce global warming? Researchers have found that areas such as the forests and peatlands of Russia, Canada, and the United States are as vital to that effort as the tropical forests of the Amazon, Congo, and Southeast Asia. Peat bogs, mangrove swamps, and eucalyptus forests are also vital to reducing greenhouse gases.

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The commercial crabbing season in parts of California has been delayed due to concerns for the endangered humpback whales that share the waters where the crabs are found. Humpback entanglements in the heavy nets used by commercial crabbers have increased in recent years.

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Finally, a photographer of wildlife shares his story of photographing a male Harrier, the "Grey Ghost."






Comments

  1. I would LOVE to drive electric, because I only drive short distances.
    But I simply can't afford a car like that. Maybe my next one can be a second, third or even fourth hand electric car :)

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    1. Undoubtedly, as electric vehicles become more common they will become more affordable for most of us, and as you note, there will likely be used cars available as well. Several of the auto companies here have made commitments to produce the cars, so I'm sure we will be seeing more and more of them on the roads.

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  2. Thank you for the roundup, Dorothy. I am leading a bird walk today so it's a good way to start my day. The note about the Wild Turkey sums up our attitude to wildlife in so many way. As soon as they prosper and their numbers increase, we declare them pests! If they don't quite fit in with what we think is just right, then we resent their success. Don't we just think we are the centre of everything? I may well see a few turkeys this morning and I will rejoice in their presence. Now, if we could only limit the numbers of those obnoxious humans who breed like rabbits and destroy ecosystems! Give me more turkeys any day.

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  3. Cedar waxwings infrequently appear at the top of my pecan tree at this time of year. I'm always startled to see them. They look like a cluster of Batmans keeping watch over the neighborhood.

    I feel a little uneasy about the construction of offshore wind farms. We humans tend to rush into ideas without considering all the consequences. Maybe it's just me.

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    1. No, it's not just you. There are definitely concerns about their dangers to birds and bats. Allegedly, there are ways to ameliorate those dangers, so we need to be sure that those are in place.

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  4. Always great and very informative! Thank you, Dorothy!

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  5. i'm glad to hear that beavers are taking revenge, lol...

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    1. That was sort of my reaction when I read that story as well as the one about the turkeys!

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  6. I spent a week in a small cabin in Ramsey Canyon down in Cochise County, Arizona. City dweller that I am, I got all nervy our first morning there when I heard slow footsteps rustling through the leaves right outside the cabin. Upon immediate investigation, I discovered that it was a huge tom turkey, and that he and his harem would stop by three times a day. The best part of the cabin was the deck. I sat out there and watched those turkeys, as well as many mule deer, coatimundis, lizards, five types of hummingbirds... It was paradise for me, and I learned a lot about animal behavior during that week. I'd read articles that a jaguar had been spotted in the area, so I was hoping it would stop by, too, but I never saw it.

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  7. Some good news about the Monarchs, the river otters, and the Black Robin (and I didn't even know there was a black robin)!

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    1. That robin really is a striking looking bird, isn't it?

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  8. Another interesting post - I had never heard of a Black Robin and I was so taken by the story about the divorce among the Black-browed Albatrosses - precious creatures.

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    1. Albatrosses are truly amazing birds for many reasons, including their devotion to their partner.

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  9. Scorpions are scary looking! I'd never seen one till I moved to OK.

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    1. Their scary looks are a warning to "Don't mess with me!"

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  10. I love that roadrunner story. Must have been quite a shock for the little guy when those doors finally opened back up, but it's wonderful to see that good people made sure that he survives the adventure. As for those fisherman suing the oil companies, that strikes me as one of those "We have met the enemy, and he is us" kind of stories. So often, that's the case with lawsuits filed against Big Oil. Can't live with 'em, can't live without 'em.

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    1. Suits like the fishermen's always present a conundrum since at this point we are still so dependent on oil products.

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