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Friday, June 29, 2012

This week in birds - #26

News from the world of birds and the environment this week:

(Picture courtesy of ABC.)
The American Bird Conservancy's Bird of the Week is the Chestnut Antipitta, a South American species that lives on the eastern slopes of the Andes in north and central Peru. It is a small, plump, and rather inconspicuous bird of montane forests and secondary woodlands and is usually found on or near the ground. Its status is not well-documented but it is thought to be declining in numbers.


Who has better warblers - Europe or the Americas? Maybe it depends on what you want in a warbler. American warblers are clearly the more colorful, but some maintain that European warblers, while often drab as sparrows, have better songs. It's a question that has no "correct" answer really.


A three-judge panel of the U..S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia this week upheld the Environmental Protection Agency's findings that heat-trapping gases from industry and vehicles do endanger public health and that the Clean Air Act requires the federal government to impose limits on the emission of the gases since it has been established that they are doing harm.


The Pinta Island tortoise called Lonesome George was the last of his kind on Earth. "Was" being the operative word because this week George, estimated to be at least 100 years old, died. One more species gone forever.


Blue Tits, European relatives of our Tufted Titmouse and Carolina Chickadee, show a positive response to birds with more intense ultraviolet coloring on the crown. Researchers have found that such better looking birds - from a tit's perspective - get more help from their partners with raising chicks. Life is not fair for plainer individuals, even in the world of birds!


A father-daughter team in New Jersey is trying to save the world - or at least the wood turtles in it. The reptile is threatened in the state and the duo is working to identify nest sites and protect the turtle's habitats so that it can be saved.


Bolivia has set aside a 44-acre reserve for the protection of the rare Tucuman Parrot.

(Tucuman Parrot photo by Luis Rivera.)


Sea levels along the Atlantic Coast of the United States are rising much faster than in other parts of the world. It is estimated that they are rising up to three or four times as fast as the average.  Scientists believe that faster rise is related to melting ice in Greenland which is slowing the Gulf Stream current. 


In other ocean-related news, the seas are being acidified by the same gases that are polluting our atmosphere and contributing to global warming. This is a serious problem for the planet and for humanity and yet MediaMatters has determined that the news media give 40 times more news coverage to the Kardashians than to ocean acidification. Why am I not surprised?  


Around the backyard:

In mid-afternoon on Thursday, I witnessed a Mississippi Kite circling over the yard. Suddenly, it was attacked by an Eastern Kingbird. The smaller kingbird harassed it relentlessly until it flew out of my sight.

That same afternoon, I had a female Orchard Oriole visiting in the yard. Beautiful bird! 

(This is actually not the one I saw this week but one I photographed earlier this year. But this week's bird looked just like this!)

The Red-bellied Woodpeckers have been escorting two very noisy fledglings around the yard this week. Whiny little birds! They never shut up! I'm sure their parents will be glad when they graduate to taking care of themselves.

I've continued to monitor the bluebird nest. There are now four beautiful blue eggs in it, but I don't think Mama Bluebird has started brooding yet.


  1. That Orchard Oriole is beautiful!

    I discovered something disturbing in my backyard this week. A very sick red house finch. After some research and calls to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology I was able to identify the disease as Avian Pox. I took immediate action. I'm going to have to remove my feeders now and bleach all the bird baths for a while. The lesson is to ALWAYS clean your feeders and your bird baths. I'm concerned for the other birds in my yard because I have no idea how long the sick bird has been feeding or bathing in my backyard.

    1. How distressing for you, Steph. Finches, and House Finches in particular, seem to be especially susceptible to this terrible disease. You are right to point out the necessity for keeping feeders and birdbaths clean and occasionally disinfecting them to curtail the spread of the disease. Good luck with stopping this problem in your yard.