Posts

Showing posts with the label Birds

Massacre on Cyprus. Researchers call for a crack down on poachers who lure millions of birds to their deaths on the Mediterranean island with recordings of their own songs.

Image
 By Larry Powell The Sardinian warbler  (Curruca melanocephala) , common to the Mediterranean region. Photo by Andreas Trepte.   Billions of birds like the  Sardinian warbler (above) and the  Blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla)  have been migrating through the region for a long time. And, each year for many years, poachers on Cyprus have been trapping and killing them illegally. The slaughter is now said to have reached "industrial levels." Conservationists found 155 different bird species in trappers' nets in 2018. These included 82 listed as "conservation priority species;" Among them, the Cyprus warbler, a protected species which is a "short-distance" migrator but breeds only on the island. A study just published by The Royal Society   takes aim at the devious methods the poachers use. They lure their unsuspecting prey to their deaths by playing recordings of the birds' own songs.  But it has not been widely known just how well that practise works - u

Popular insecticides harm birds in the United States

Image
Nature Sustainability The increased use of neonicotinoid pesticides in the continental United States may have impacted bird populations and reduced bird diversity, according to a paper published this week in Nature Sustainability.  Overall tree swallow populations declined by 49% between 1966 and 2014, according  to the North American Breeding Bird Survey. A  PinP  photo. Bird biodiversity is declining at a marked rate. Bird populations in the United States have decreased by 29% since 1970, which has been attributed to various factors including the increased use of pesticides in agricultural production. Nicotine-based pesticides — known as neonicotinoids — have been used increasingly in the United States over recent decades.  Previous research has shown that neonicotinoids are potentially toxic to birds and other non-target species. However, the impact of these pesticides on bird diversity in the United States is unclear.  Madhu Khanna and colleagues studied the eff

Mercury linked to dramatic decline of migratory songbirds: study

Image
RCI Radio Canada International The Cape May warbler, while not named in this story, also migrates from the  West Indies to the Boreal forests of Canada. A PinP photo. Examination of tail feathers suggests that mercury is one of the determining factors for the steep declines of many songbird populations that migrate long distances to and from North America. More here.

Even familiar birds at risk of extinction, new study finds

Image
BirdLife INTERNATIONAL A White-crowned sparrow. Photo by  Wolfgang Wander The 2018 State of the World’s Birds report, which provides a comprehensive look at the health of bird populations globally, has found that the extinction crisis has spread so far that even some well-known species are now in danger. More here.

Song diversity hints at thrushes' evolutionary past

Image
AMERICAN ORNITHOLOGICAL SOCIETY Photo by Matt MacGillivray The Hermit Thrush is famous for its melodiously undulating song, but we know very little about whether its songs vary across the large swath of North America that it calls home in the summer. A new study from "The Auk" provides the first thorough overview of geographic variation in Hermit Thrush song structure and hints at how isolation and adaptation shape differences in the tunes of a learned song within a species. Details here.

Audubon's Birds & Climate Change Report

Image
314 Species on the Brink Shrinking & shifting ranges could imperil nearly half of North American birds within this century.  Story here. A robin caught in a freak storm in Manitoba.                                                                                                                                                         Barn swallows.  Yellow-headed Blackbird s , a familiar sight in western North America,  may be under threat before the end of the century. ( P in P photos)

Big Farm Groups Adopt the "Ostrich Approach" to Major Environmental Issues.

Image
by Larry Powell It has been exactly two weeks since I contacted Keystone Agricultural Producers (KAP), Manitoba's main farm lobby group, to comment on my story,  "New Studies Show Farm Chemicals Are Affecting More Than Bees. Bird Populations are Declining, Too.   Is modern agriculture's toxic hold on nature becoming a death grip?"   (It appeared both on this blog on July 30th and subsequently in the Virden Empire Advance weekly. A number of other publications declined to publish.)  I reported on new research showing that insecticides,  widely used on crops in  this province and elsewhere, were associated with declines in populations of birds which eat insects. The chemicals, members of the "neonicotinoid" family, are the same ones which have, for some time, also been linked to large and significant declines in populations of pollinators, especially honeybees.  Purple Martins.  Among  the "insectivorious"  birds  on the decline. La

New Studies Show Farm Chemicals Are Affecting More Than Bees. Bird Populations are Declining, Too.

Image
Is modern agriculture’s toxic hold on nature becoming a death grip? By Larry Powell This summer, the tragedy of dying pollinators took on a new dimension. A team of Dutch researchers found that , in addition to bees, “significant declines in populations of insect-eating birds are also associated with high concentrations of neonicotinoids.” Another insectivorous species in decline,  the  purple  martin. Are they becoming "neonic" victims, too? PinP photo. “Neonics,” as they are commonly called, have become the most widely used group of insecticides in the world – and, the most infamous. As well as killing the crop pests they are supposed to, they’ve been implicated in the deaths of billions of honeybees from near and far, for well over a decade. The European Union even clamped a two-year moratorium on their use, last year. Various formulations of the chemical are made by multinational corporations like Bayer CropScience, Syngenta and Monsanto. They’

Gas Flare in Atlantic Canada Draws Thousands of Birds to Their Deaths, and Ignites Questions

Image
E & E Publishing The conditions that night were a perfect storm -- foggy, low cloud cover, an early fall evening that was right for flight. Full story here. Goldfinch. PIP photo

Help Coming for the Greater sage-grouse

Image
Larry, It took nearly two years of legal wrangling, but it looks like the federal government is finally prepared to introduce emergency protections for Canada’s endangered Greater sage-grouse. The announcement, made this morning, is a welcome breath of fresh air to a case that’s been mired in secrecy, delays and procedural roadblocks. In fact, our efforts may well have helped set another important legal precedent. To our knowledge, this is the first time Ottawa has explicitly stated its intention to introduce emergency protections for an endangered species. Thank you. None of this would have been possible without you.  Thanks to your support, we were able to bring forward a series of legal challenges that have forced the federal government to act. But as I told CBC’s  The National  (10 p.m. local), we know all too well that the devil will be in the details and that our work is far from done.  We’re still waiting to learn  when  the emergency order will be implemented and 

Toronto's Glass Towers Take Awful Toll on Precious Bird Life

Image
New York Times No one is sure, but Toronto's massive banks and other skyscrapers may be making it the most deadly city in the world for our precious, migratory birds. Details here. Cape May Warbler. PLT photo

Study Predicts a Bleak Future for Many Birds

Image
By JIM ROBBINS - New York Times - Feb 24'12 Cape May Warbler - PIP photo A just-published analysis of some 200 separate studies of the impact of climate change on birds is grim. Full story here.