This week in birds - #493

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

The Whooping Cranes wintering on the Gulf Coast will soon be flying north to Canada once again.

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In Brazil, thousands are protesting against what environmentalists are calling a historic assault on the environment by the government of President Jair Bolsonaro, specifically five environment-related bills that are being considered by the congress. Meanwhile, the Brazilian rainforest, sometimes referred to as the "lungs of the planet", is being slowly destroyed by deforestation which has dire consequences for Earth.

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Globally, there is a tree-planting boom as businesses and consumers, non-profit groups and governments attempt to address climate change by planting billions of trees around the world.

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This is an Australian Magpie and it is a very clever bird. Scientists who fitted the birds with tracking devices found out just how clever. The birds set about helping each other by removing the devices from their fellow magpies.

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There was exciting news this week about the discovery 10,000 feet deep of the shipwreck of Ernest Henry Shackleton's ship Endurance. Even more exciting than the discovery itself as far as biologists were concerned was learning about all the creatures that have colonized the shipwreck since it went down in 1915. The creatures included a white crab that had never before been seen in the Weddell Sea.

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Hundreds of thousands of people in Kenya are being displaced because of the flooding of the country's great lakes. The world does not seem to be paying any attention to the disaster and its human suffering.

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As coastlines become eroded, old landfills are being exposed and their toxic waste is being washed into the sea. 

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Monitoring flights along the Queensland coastline have revealed that the Great Barrier Reef of Australia is undergoing its sixth mass bleaching event.

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Octopuses are known to be extremely clever. They are showing just how clever by adapting human trash that winds up in their ocean to be used as shelters.

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If you are looking for some reading that could help you to do something positive to address climate change, The Revelator has a list of seven new books that you might find interesting.

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The kind of military conflict that we are seeing in Ukraine does not just destroy human lives, it can also destroy the environment with disastrous results for the plants and animals that make their lives there.

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The planet is a noisy place but it isn't just humans that are making those sounds. Animal voices are everywhere and each is a marvel of evolution.

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Pesticides being sprayed on National Wildlife Refuges? Really? Doesn't that seem entirely antithetical to the purpose of a wildlife refuge? 

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This American Kestrel is just one of the many birds of Puget Sound. Turns out it is a very birdy place.

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Another invasive species is making its way up the East Coast of North America. It is a palm-sized arachnid from Asia called a Joro spider.

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A gardener explains how she came to love the "weeds" in her garden and why you should, too.

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This is Doug. For a while, he was thought to be the world's biggest potato, but then DNA testing proved he wasn't a potato at all.

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It began more than a century ago as an effort by the Wyoming Game and Fish Department to save a dwindling herd of elk. Now the wild elk have become dependent on that effort and they are fed every day throughout the winter on 22 state feeding grounds.

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A project using oyster shells as building blocks for new, living coastal reefs along the coastline of Staten Island may also have the effect of helping to protect the city from the storms of climate change.

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How can the country end its dependency on fossil fuels and help to save the planet from climate change? This is one of the puzzles facing President Biden.

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Biodiversity helps make the living things on Earth flourish but it is at risk in many places around the planet.

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Webcams are an important tool in scientists' efforts to save the Cahow, or Bermuda Petrel, one of the world's rarest seabirds.

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A "bomb cyclone" is bringing exceptionally mild air to the Arctic. Temperatures of around 50 degrees higher than normal have occurred, meaning that they have climbed near the freezing mark.

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This is the White-throated Sparrow which is a bit of an anomaly among sparrows in that its white throat makes it easy to identify. It is also one of the more common birds at feeders in the East in winter. Here are ten fun facts about this wonderful little bird.




Comments

  1. Good morning, Dorothy. Thank you for the weekly roundup. The news from the Ukraine and the Amazon continues to be terrifying, and illustrates how in each case we have permitted one man, in Russia and Brazil, to take actions that affect the entire world, with no way to stop them. The destruction of the Amazon rainforest will have dire consequences for every living entity on the Earth, yet we sit and watch it happen. This is national sovereignty gone mad.

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    1. It isn't always clear just what action we can or should take, so I do have some sympathy for those national leaders who have the responsibility of making those decisions. Ultimately, I place my faith in the Brazilian and Russian people.

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    2. You have sympathy for Putin and Balsonaro?

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    3. No, I was speaking of OUR leaders - what action WE can or should take, I said. But I do have faith in the Brazilian and Russian people.

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  2. The Shackleton ship discovery has been amazing. Many things to learn from that! And it's too bad about Doug ... relegated now to the bin ... for being a potato. Quite an unsightly tuber.

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    1. Well, for not being a potato actually, but quite an interesting tuber nevertheless.

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  3. I was fascinated by the Magpie story and jotted it down in my "things I learned today" journal page to use when I write my grandson. There was a film about the Endurance years ago--always fascinates me what people will risk and endure.

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    1. The story of Shackleton's explorations is a fascinating one in itself, but I really love the fact that his ship is now "captained" by an anemone!

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  4. I loved the article about the magpies. "Dumb animals" indeed!

    And as for those old landfills being exposed, it reminded me of the historic 500-year floods we had here in Phoenix in the late 1970s. Landfills along the Salt River were ripped apart by the force of the water, and all the garbage headed downriver. What moron would put a landfill along a riverbank? No... don't tell me. I already know. *sigh*

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    1. Alas, so many of our choices seem moronic in retrospect, don't they? And unfortunately we seem incapable of learning from past mistakes.

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  5. As if the poor sea hasn't taken enough of our waste...

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    1. We seem to assume that its capacity for taking our trash is limitless but I suspect we will discover that we are wrong.

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