This week in birds - #484

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

White-winged Doves have been prominent visitors to my bird feeders this week. When they come, they generally come en masse. It's not unusual to see 10-15 on the feeders or on the ground under the feeders at a time.

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Lots of "hot" stories in the news this week:

- 2021 was the fifth hottest year on record according to scientists. The seven hottest years on record have occurred in the last seven years.

- How hot has Earth been during your lifetime? This link allows you to check that.

- For nearly a quarter of the planet's population, 2021 was actually a record hot year

- The waters of the Gulf of Maine spiked to record warm levels in autumn of last year. The gulf is warming faster than 96% of the world's oceans.

- This map shows where all-time record temperatures for both heat and cold were set in the United States during 2021.  

- In most of the country, winter is the fastest-warming season and that is bad news for biodiversity, water supply, and farm yield.

- While winters are warming, in the southern hemisphere where it is summer, South America is suffering through record summer temperatures as high as 113 Fahrenheit. 

- For the sixth consecutive year 2021 saw the hottest temperatures on record in Earth's oceans.

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But in Antarctica, there is still plentiful habitat for icefish. In February 2021 a breeding colony of icefish comprising 60 million active nests across 92 square miles was discovered in the icy waters there.

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The effort to save the endangered Puffin from extinction is being impacted by climate change and not in a good way.

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U.S. greenhouse emissions were down in 2020 raising hopes that that might prove to be a new trend, but in 2021 emissions roared back, rising 6.2% compared to the previous year.

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Birds have a variety of adaptations, both physical and behavioral, to help them maintain their body heat in cold weather. One of those is the ability to transform themselves into a spherical puffball as this Dark-eyed Junco illustrates. 

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Do bottlenose dolphins engage in sex for pleasure? There seems to be some evidence to support a positive response to that question.

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The Biden administration is working to restore energy efficiency standards that were weakened by the previous administration, but there are frustrating delays in being able to implement the reversals.

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Margaret Renkl has an appreciation of snow.

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And here's an appreciation of the biologist who refused to give up on the California Condor when only 22 were left in the wild. Thanks to her efforts the bird survives and now numbers more than 1,000.

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Western Meadowlark, definitely worth protecting!

The Migratory Bird Treaty Act that protects birds has now been fully restored by the Biden administration. Now the effort is to enhance and increase those protections.

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The nation's largest wind energy project is nearing completion in western Oklahoma.

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In Mexico, the indigenous Mazahua people are dedicated to protecting the Monarch butterflies that winter in a reserve in their territory. They are so determined that they have formed armed brigades to protect against illegal logging. 

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A study in Science Advances shows that Montana's warming climate is causing the native trout species to dwindle and is making it easier for invasive species to become established.

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In a new policy established by the Environmental Protection Agency, the potential impact of new pesticide active ingredients on endangered species will be evaluated before they are registered.

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In September of 2021, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that it would remove 23 long-unseen species from the protection of the Endangered Species Act because "you can't keep protecting what's already gone." Among the species to be officially declared extinct is the "Lord God bird," the Ivory-billed Woodpecker.

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The indigenous tribes that live around Lake Superior depend on fishing to survive, but the fish that they catch are now contaminated by "forever chemicals."

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Mountain lions coexist with humans in and around the city of Los Angeles and one of the most famous of the lions is a thirteen-year-old animal called P-22. A cat believed to P-22 was recently videoed in a backyard near Griffith Park. He looks quite sleek and well-fed, doesn't he?

Comments

  1. Here in the midwest, there is cold and snow and the warm weather birds have gone south. Our heated birdbath gets a few of the local birds every now and then - cardinals, blue jays, sparrows. Squirrels and cats sometimes sip from the birdbath too!

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    1. A heated birdbath is a great benefit to wildlife in areas like yours where it gets very cold. Kudos to you for providing it.

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  2. for the first time we've seen Canadian Jays here earlier this month; also known as Grey Jays or Whiskey Jacks...

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    1. They are Canada Jays, not Canadian Jays.

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    2. Interesting. The first time this winter or the first time ever? Many birds are expanding their ranges so it would not be surprising to know that members of the jay family are among them. Our own Blue Jays are very active at this time of year. I suspect our resident jays have been joined by some of their relatives from the north.

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    3. first ever... and tx to Mr. Gascoigne for the correction...

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  3. Thank you for the roundup, Dorothy. It starts my day off on the right foot, but for all the wrong reasons. We see all this evidence of dire results of climate change, yet there still seems to be no general will to tackle it. Broad multi-national resolve, backed by action, is what is needed merely to staunch the damage already done, let alone, put the planet on a path to reversing it. And that goal seems as elusive now as it ever was.

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    Replies
    1. You'd think that being faced with an existential threat would make nations more willing, eager even, to cooperate to fight it, but apparently you would be wrong.

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  4. I have not seen a single White-winged Dove this year, but we've had lots of Mourning Doves. It's mysterious how you and I can have such different birds and yet live less than fifty miles apart.

    All the hot weather stories! Oh dear.

    We seem to be stuck on a one-way road driving to an eventual concrete wall, and all we know how to do is speed up.

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    1. Well, the birds that you see are probably around here, too, and vice versa, just not necessarily at my feeders or in my yard which is where most of the pictures that I share here come from. The doves are interesting though. For years, I used to see lots of Inca Doves and, for a while, Eurasian Collared-doves in my yard, but since the White-wings arrived a few years ago, I hardly ever see them anymore. Still have Mourning Doves though, thank goodness, since they are one of my favorites.

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  5. White-winged doves are a nuisance at my feeders, often chasing away all the other birds. I always know when it's dove hunting season because they suddenly disappear. It's as though they have a Google alert that warns them when it's time to get out of Dodge.

    The first time I saw a California Condor, it was sailing majestically on a thermal above the Grand Canyon. The sight took my breath away.

    It would be a wonderful thing for Mother Nature to have humans in lockdown more often. It gives her a chance to breathe.

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    1. I couldn't agree more about your sentiment concerning humans in lockdown and I am totally envious that you have seen a California Condor. I don't have one on my lifelist unfortunately.

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  6. We have the mourning doves year round it seems, as well as blue jays, cardinals and this year the robins seem confused with the late winter weather. I think that western meadowlark is lovely.

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    1. Mourning Doves are residents here, also, and, in fact, in most of the country. The picture of the Western Meadowlark is just striking, I thought.

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  7. These warm temps are terrible. Here in NE, we had days last week in the 50s. THE FIFTIES! IN JANUARY! We got about 4 inches of snow in that storm that blew through Friday into Saturday, but today will be in the 40s so it will all disappear pretty quickly.

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    Replies
    1. And here in Southeast Texas we are colder than usual in January. The climate is topsy turvy.

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  8. I love to read in this post that many individuals are taking action and doing something! I try to be active too and think about the climate. It's also in the little things: not to throw away any food (I always scream it at other people, or I will take it with me), separating waste, taking the bike instead of the car, taking a shorter shower.

    I do also feel like we use a lot of excess plastic. Every time I come back from the grocery store it amazes me how many products are in plastic, or even plastic in plastic...

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    1. Plastics may actually be the biggest threat to the environment at present. If we could break our plastics habit it would solve a lot of problems.

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