This week in birds - #487

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

An Orange-crowned Warbler enjoying a meal of suet.

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The National Butterfly Center on the Texas/Mexico border in Mission, Texas, has announced that it will be closed to the public for the foreseeable future as a result of harassment from right-wingers. The center, which is privately owned, has been the focus of conservative conspiracy theories and political conflict in recent years as they fought against the former president's plan to build a wall through their land.

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The Biden administration is reinstating the mercury pollution rules that were gutted by the previous administration. Mercury is released by coal-burning power plants and it is a powerful neurotoxin that has been linked to developmental damage in children.

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New research has confirmed that extreme heat in the world's oceans passed the point of no return in 2014 and is now the new normal. It is a "normal" in which many species of life endemic to oceans cannot survive. 

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Remember the Mexican wolf nicknamed Mr. Goodbar who spent days trying to find a way through the wall which our previous president built along a section of our border? Well, some fool has shot him. He was shot in his right hind leg and although he will survive, all or part of the leg will have to be amputated. Investigators are seeking the guilty shooter.

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February 2 was, of course, Groundhog Day, the day when these secretive animals briefly emerge from the shadows. Little is known about groundhogs' social life and researchers are aiming to change that

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An island in the Russian Arctic used to be home to a meteorological station but has since been abandoned. Abandoned by humans that is. The polar bears have moved in and now make use of the human structures left behind.

A polar bear looks out a window of one of the buildings on Kolyuchin Island in the Chukchi Sea.

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2021 saw the emergence of the periodical cicadas, the insects that spend most of their lives underground, emerging into the light after 17 years. Scientists are now studying what was learned from them and looking toward the next emergence in 2038

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Judges who hear suits regarding offshore oil drilling leases are increasingly requiring that the government take the effects of climate change into consideration before approving those leases.

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Crows are exceptionally clever birds and a city in Sweden is taking advantage of that. They have trained the crows to pick up cigarette butts on streets and squares. They work for peanuts and are much more efficient than human trash collectors.

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Jonathan the tortoise has been designated as the oldest land animal in the world. He is estimated to be 190 years old, although he may actually be older. 

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Montana wildlife officials have responded to widespread criticism regarding their wolf hunts by shutting down the hunting in a portion of the state around Yellowstone National Park. Twenty-three of the Yellowstone wolves had been killed.

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A global tree count by thousands of researchers who used World War II codebreaking techniques developed at Bletchley Park has estimated that there are 73,300 species of trees on Earth. The estimate included 9,000 species yet to be discovered.   

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San Franciscans are very tolerant of wildlife and live amicably side by side with everything from snakes and coyotes to mountain lions. But many are drawing the line at feral hogs which have overrun some neighborhoods and are very destructive. They want them gone, the sooner the better. 

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Hours of heavy rainfall in Ecuador earlier this week have caused floods and landslides that have killed at least 24 in Quito and injured many others. 

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The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality is poorly named; it seems not very concerned about environmental quality. They admit that they have repeated gaps in their monitoring of industrial pollution in the first days following a natural disaster.

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Volcanism that occurred on Earth some 200 million years ago ripped apart the supercontinent of Pangea and contributed to the extinction of about a quarter of life on the planet during the event known as the end-Triassic mass extinction.

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Peacocks are quite magnificent birds but when you've got packs of them running around your city they can be a problem, as Miami has discovered. They are big birds and can be quite destructive, plus they poop a lot and are not concerned about where they do it.

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Do you have a bird feeder in your backyard? Then you might consider being a part of Project FeederWatch and counting your feathered visitors for science.

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Iceland is one of only three countries that continue to hunt whales commercially, but they are ending that practice in 2024, leaving only Norway and Japan as commercial whaling countries.

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Methane-detecting satellites are giving researchers a better idea of where methane emissions are coming from around the world. The information may help to find ways to crack down on the release of massive amounts of this climate pollutant.

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Climate change has had a tremendous impact on the state of Washington over the past year, causing many deaths and substantial damage. The government of the state is considering what changes in laws may be appropriate to help people cope.

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Earth's sixth mass extinction is underway and scientists have estimated that hundreds of land animals could go extinct in the next 20 years.

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A same-sex couple of two Humboldt Penguins at the Rosamund Gifford Zoo in Syracuse, New York adopted an egg during the breeding season and are now foster parents to a newly hatched fuzzy-haired chick. Zoo officials say the two are doing a great job of caring for the baby. 

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Finally, a mischievous New Zealand parrot called a Kea stole a GoPro camera from a couple and in the process filmed its flight over remote Fiordland.


Comments

  1. it made me think about the Permian extinction, 250 m yrs ago. increased co2 and methane made the planet a hot box and 70% of land animals vanished and 95% of marine ones... took about 3 or 10 billion yrs to cover, depending on who you credit...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Extinctions are a recurring fact in Earth's history and now we are in the sixth one. This one caused by us.

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  2. Hello Dorothy: Thank you for the weekly roundup. It is truly sad that yahoos can cause that butterfly centre to close simply because they opposed the madness of the previous administration. Violence and intimidation seem to be rapidly replacing civil discourse around the world. The news about the warming of the oceans is catastrophic. I wonder if most people realize how much this is going to change all of life on earth. On a more cheerful note, I am on the way to visit my daughter and her family and we will be on a mission to find a Saw-whet Owl today. My oldest grandson has become a dedicated birder, and very proficient, and he already has a Northern Hawk Owl staked out for us. All the best from Canada. David

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Good luck finding that Saw-Whet. How wonderful to have a grandson who shares your passion for birds.

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  3. I just learned about the National Butterfly Center a few weeks ago, and I immediately joined their mailing list. I was shocked to hear how they have been treated by far right-wing groups. This should be a national story. How ridiculous is it that these people should be harrassing a butterfly center?!

    I've never seen an Orange-crowned warbler in my yard. I am now on the lookout for one.

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    1. The Orange-crowned Warblers visit us in winter so now is definitely the time to look for them.

      The harassment of the butterfly center is an outrage, one of many perpetrated by these people.

      Delete
  4. I didn't know crows could be changed to do that! How epic! I love that penguins adopted an egg!

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    1. Crows are the Einsteins of the bird world and can learn to do quite amazing things.

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  5. Several species of birds are amazingly intelligent, including crows as in your article. Do you know the book titled "A most remarkable creature" about the caracaras, which are closely related to falcons?

    best.. mae at maefood.blogspot.com

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    1. I was not familiar with that book. Thank you for telling me about it.

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  6. I'm so angry about what has happened at the National Butterfly Center. My husband and I had planned for a trip there when Covid first hit--and the trip went on the backburner. They have had so many problems as a result of "the wall," and now these ridiculous and hateful attacks. I agree with Deb, this should be in the national news and those who are responsible should be pursued legally.

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    1. It is a wonderful place and it is an absolute outrage what these idiots are doing. There was a story about it in The Times yesterday which I will probably include in my Saturday roundup. I'm following the story closely as it develops.

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  7. The GoPro view on the parrot feels like you are flying! And Norway seems too smart a country to still be whaling. Good grief. I last pic of the polar bear in the window .... what an unusual photo!

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    1. Yes, I really liked that polar bear picture - a householder looking out his window!

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