This week in birds - #482

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

Cactus Wren photographed at the Chihuahuan Desert Nature Center near Fort Davis in West Texas.

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How about we start the new year with some good environmental news? There actually was some in 2021. Here are five positive developments in the year just ended.

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The Revelator gets into the act by listing twelve stories from 2021 that presented solutions to various environmental problems.

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Another good news story and a personal favorite of mine is the creation of wildlife highways to keep animals safe from traffic. These animal crossings are being implemented right around the world and that is a very good thing.

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Unfortunately, it's not all good news this week. Colorado is burning. High winds are driving wildfires, creating massive destruction, and tens of thousands of people have had to be evacuated.

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Along the Texas-Mexico border, land that was seized by eminent domain during the previous administration has been returned to the Cavazos family. Their land had been seized in 2018 for the construction of the president's pet project, the border wall. The Biden administration returned the land.

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Orangutan mothers teach their kids to forage for food, adjusting the food-gathering tactics to the age of the child and the complexity of the technique needed. Once the orang child is trained, the mother cuts him/her off, expecting the little one to feed himself. 

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And speaking of orang kids, the New Orleans zoo is celebrating the birth of a healthy Sumatran orangutan male infant, shown here in the incubator with a stuffed toy bear. 

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Here are some fascinating animals including a sea slug that is able to detach its head from its body and generate a new one when the old body becomes parasite-ridden.

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Birdwatching has long been considered something of a Whites-only hobby but efforts are being made to correct that and to extend the hobby to more people of color.

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The tequila fish is a "charismatic little fish" that was declared extinct in the wild in its native Mexico in 2003, but now, with the help of the Chester Zoo in the UK, the fish is being reintroduced to the wild there. The zoo has been breeding the fish in captivity.

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Arctic climate change is reshaping the upper reaches of the Pacific and Arctic Oceans and breaking the food chain that supports billions of creatures and one of the world's most important fisheries. In the last five years, scientists have recorded the displacement and disappearance of entire species of fish and ocean-dwelling invertebrates. 

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And in Alaska, December brought record high temperatures and torrents of rain at a time of the year normally associated with cold and snow.

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In 2020 for the first time, renewables-generated energy surpassed coal as this country's second-biggest power source. That trend is expected to continue in 2022.

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In Maryland, more than two dozen rescued sea turtles that suffered cold-stunning in the New England area are undergoing long-term rehabilitation at the National Aquarium in Baltimore. 

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An exceptionally well-preserved oviraptor dinosaur embryo from between 72 to 66 million years ago is revealing dinosaur links to modern birds.

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Researchers have discovered that a protein unique to sharks is able to neutralize the COVID 19 virus and its variants. They are studying the possibility that these proteins might be able to stop future coronaviruses from developing into pandemics.

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Here are some top commentaries on conservation, climate change, and environmental issues that were published in 2021. 

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A series of major winter storms have offered some reprieve to drought-ridden California but it's not enough to pull the state out of drought conditions.

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"Songs of Disappearance," an album of the songs of 53 of Australia's most endangered bird species has proved extremely popular with Australians. In fact, it is at or near the top of the record charts.  

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As expected, competition for water is driving conflict between nations. In Africa, severe drought and hunger are exacerbating conflict along Kenya's border with Uganda and South Sudan.

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In another hopeful development, some companies are modifying their products to stem the flood of microplastic fibers into the oceans.

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For many months now, I've been following occasional news stories about the wanderings of a Steller's Sea Eagle. The bird is a native of Asia but has been flying around North America - and I mean literally all around the continent - for over a year now. Some speculate the bird is lost, but personally, I think he just wanted to see a bit of the world.

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Finally, here are Audubon's top pictures of the year, its award winners.

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I want to wish a happy, healthy, and peaceful 2022 to all my readers. Thank you for spending some time with me in 2021 and I hope you'll do it again in this new year. 

Comments

  1. Happy New Year, Dorothy... amazing stories as usual

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    1. Thank you. I look forward to seeing you here every Saturday.

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  2. It seems like a very good augury to me, Dorothy, that one of the very first things I do to start the New Year, is to read your roundup, one of the things about blogging I look forward to most. May I wish you and your family a very happy New Year, and may we find positive environmental news in 2022. That may not be easy! All the best. David

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    1. Thank you, David, and the same to you and yours.

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  3. Thank you for starting with the good news this week. "The hole over parts of the northern hemisphere is expected to heal completely by the 2030s..." Wow. That is almost too good to be believed. So hopeful.

    I'm still thinking about that shark protein. How amazing is that?! I'm keeping my fingers crossed for it.

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    1. I think news services made an effort to present positive stories this week and so I had a plethora to choose from. Much appreciated!

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  4. My heart is absolutely breaking for Colorado right now. Such horrific fires, there's no 'fire season' anymore. It is year-ruond. No end in sight.

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    1. I has been a horrible tragedy and, as you say, these fires can happen at any time now. They are not confined to one season.

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  5. Much thanks, Dorothy, for continuing to keep us informed through your "this week in birds"! May God continue to bless and keep you and your loved ones through this new year!!

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    1. Thank you for that kind sentiment and may I wish the same for you.

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  6. I'm glad their land was returned to them!

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