A roundup of the week's news of birds and the environment:
In this most political of seasons, the National Audubon Society has instituted a campaign to try to bring progressives, moderates, and conservatives together over the shared value of conserving the environment. They call their campaign "Because Conservation Doesn't Have a Party." Surely the need to preserve the environment is something that we can all agree on.
Beginning next January 1, California, which is often a leader in conservation matters, will institute a system of "cap and trade" that will charge industries for the carbon which they emit. It is a grand experiment to try to rein in climate change. California can't do it by itself, but at least this is a step in the right direction.
The Department of the Interior has approved a wind energy project in Wyoming that will have 1,000 wind turbines when it is in full operation. The American Bird Conservancy, along with other wildlife protection groups, has expressed concerns to the agency that this has the potential to become "the country's biggest eagle killer."
Activists in Winnsboro, Texas are engaged in a last-ditch battle to try to stop construction of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline. The construction of the southern leg of that pipeline began in that area in August.
The Royal Cinclodes is a critically endangered South American bird species. Recently, a conservation group in Peru discovered a previously unknown population of the bird in that country. This has given rise to new hope for the survival of the species.
A proposed plan by the Obama administration to allow seismic airgun testing for oil and gas in the North Atlantic is drawing protests from a coalition of environmental and commercial fishing groups which fear that the project will upend the marine life in the area.
Conservation groups are charging that the recent designation of critical habitat for the endangered Northern Spotted Owl is not sufficient to protect the bird because there are still provisions for allowing controversial and unproven logging practices in the habitat.
A newly discovered oil sheen along the Gulf Coast has been linked to the 2010 BP explosion and resultant oil spill in the Gulf. Scientists say that this is further indication that the full extent of the damage done by that massive spill still can not be calculated.
The migration trackers at Journey North still want to hear from us if we have hummingbirds in our yard. They are charting the progress of the tiny migrants across the continent.
The female Giant Panda cub born at the National Zoo in September died of liver and lung damage, a necropsy has shown. The cub's lungs were under-developed which caused it to have insufficient oxygen which apparently led to the damage which caused its death.
Six young Whooping Cranes are being led by ultralight aircraft on migration from Wisconsin to Florida this fall. So far the young flock has made it to Illinois. Still a long, long way to go. Let us hope they have the winds at their backs the whole way.
Around the backyard:
On Friday, we took a field trip over to the Kleb Woods Nature Preserve to walk the trails and look for birds. It proved to be pretty much of a bust as a birding trip. I had nine species on my list at the end of the trail. I could have seen many more birds in my own backyard!
The birds we found were:
The only one of those that I probably wouldn't have seen in my yard was the nuthatch.
I was delighted to see that the nature preserve has a Chimney Swift tower at its entrance. Bird lovers are being encouraged to construct the towers in their yards for these very interesting and useful little birds.
I haven't seen or heard the swifts that spent the summer in my yard this week. I think they have probably moved on toward their winter home