Post has attachment
"We were all sitting ducks," a SiriusXM personality told Billboard after the Las Vegas massacre.

I wondered if an organization of 700,000 hunters would feel a tinge of complicity.

Ducks Unlimited is a large association of mostly waterfowl hunters in the U.S. and Canada. It's official stand is that gun control is to complex and divisive for it to take any stand on the topic. Really?

Tactical assault weapons modified to shoot on full automatic aren't designed to kill anything except people like you and me.

Five days post-Las Vegas, I called DU headquarters. Maybe I'm too jaded, but I wasn't surprised that Las Vegas hadn't changed anything for duck hunters. DU's stance on gun control, even involving tactical weapons of mass murder, remained a non-stance.

Read more: https://goo.gl/7BYPpM
Photo

Post has attachment
Woodpeckers chisel nests and peck for food in trees, but the knocks against them come when they hammer into buildings, NASA space shuttles, utility poles, and insect-infested Frank Lloyd Wright landmarks. https://goo.gl/hx12y2

These beautiful birds usually peck in obscurity, but woodpeckers have become a focal point of ecology, natural pest control, forest management, and logging.

The Nature Conservancy ruffled some conservationists’ feathers when it logged ash trees used by Pileated Woodpeckers and other birds in a Pennsylvania preserve to “maximized financial return.”

North Carolina has emerged as one of the leading examples of progress by implementing a more nuanced and flexible approach to managing an endangered woodpecker species on private property.

A low point in woodpeckers’ misadventures with human-made objects came in 1995. That’s when they drilled 195 holes in the foam insulation of the external fuel tank for NASA’s Discovery Shuttle Mission. After technicians repaired the holes, NASA launched the shuttle without a problem.

Read more, and watch a nut-hoarding woodpecker fight off a pesky, nut-stealing squirrel – https://goo.gl/hx12y2
Photo

Post has attachment
The Anacostia River was a 9-mile-long trash sluice near the U.S. Capital, but inner-city residents have transformed it into a haven for Ospreys and Bald Eagles. goo.gl/Pwf5l8

National Public Radio reported on May 20, 2017, that what was good for fish, turtles, raptors and water quality has been a godsend to people who live nearby.

“The river became infamous in the second half of the 20th century as one of the most neglected, trash-choked waterways in the United States – a blighted river amid blighted neighborhoods,” Block said.

Read more -- goo.gl/Pwf5l8
Photo

Post has attachment
Rats on Alaska’s “Rat Island” have been eliminated and the American Black Oystercatcher (and other birds) are rebounding. https://goo.gl/gozyD4

Rodents can be as deadly to nesting oystercatchers as foxes or misguided oil tankers. Hawadax Island is part of the Rat Islands Group in the Aleutians, named for obvious reasons. Half way between Alaska and Russia, its rats were eatng every bird egg and chick they could find. Arctic foxes introduced to the island ate the birds as well as rats.

The foxes were eliminated in 1984.

In 2008, it was the rats’ turn. In the fall, after the avian breeding seasons concluded, and the rats had little else to eat, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service dispersed grain laced with rat poison. All the rats died, but the rebound of birds surprised researchers.

Read more -- https://goo.gl/gozyD4

Photo

Post has attachment
In winter, the iconic Greater Sage-grouse only eats protein-rich sage leaves. https://goo.gl/BpWCNR

The ecological support for sagebrush-obligate species, including the sage-grouse, has shattered like a dropped dinner plate.

Thousands of miles of overhead power lines, roads, wildfires, housing subdivisions, wind-energy and oil and gas infrastructure, and invasive plant species are part of “a death by 1,000 cuts” to sage-grouse habitat said Obama Administration Interior Secretary Sally Jewell. Sage-grouse numbers have fallen by roughly 90% since the 19th Century.

However, while under intense pressure not to restrict additional development, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 2015 said conservation efforts had “significantly reduced threats to the Greater Sage-grouse across 90% of the species’ [remnant] breeding habitat.” As a result, the service said the sage-grouse does not warrant protection under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.

Read more – https://goo.gl/BpWCNR
Photo

Post has attachment
A pair of California Condors became parents in 2016 thanks to an improbable wildlife spy team that included cliff-climbing biologists, a zoo, and a live Internet cam. https://goo.gl/K3Kosz

The spectacle began on a morning in March 2016, after the sun came up. The nest cam at Hopper Mountain National Wildlife Refuge revealed that the egg of condors #111 and #509 was missing. A predator probably took it.

The biologists leading the California Condor Recovery Program may not think of themselves as #007s , but without hesitation they sprang into action as wildlife special agents.

They immediately replaced the missing egg with a lookalike dummy.

The parents didn't seem to notice.

In fact, the condors incubated and protected what they seemed to think was their own egg. On the surface, the remote Ventura County, California, scene looked calm.

However, a sense of urgency shot through the zoo, a kingpin in the recovery program. Luckily, a captive-bred egg in a zoo incubator was close to hatching.

On April 2, the special agents substituted that egg for the dummy in the Hopper Mountain nest. Amazingly, the parents instantly accepted the zoo egg. To thousands of nest-cam viewers it must have looked like another ho-hum day in the recovery of a critically endangered bird.

Read more – https://goo.gl/K3Kosz
Photo

Post has attachment
Summer climbers, rafters, mountain bikers, hikers and urbanites seeking nature love the Canyon Wren, one of North America's least-observed songbirds.

It scurries mouse-like amid cracks, boulders and talus of remote canyons from British Columbia in Canada to Chiapas, Mexico.

Edward Abbey, essayist and author of Desert Solitaire: A Season in the Wilderness, opposed the dams that inundated the deep canyons of the Colorado and other Mountain West rivers in the U.S. He viewed the animals living in those canyons as icons of beautiful, lonely places. Walking the isolated canyons of Guadalupe Mountains National Park in West Texas, Abbey wrote a remembrance of its oak-lined canyons:

"...For a long time, we sit in the shade of the blessed trees, listening to canyon wrens, to the scream of a red-tailed hawk high against the cliffs, to the moan of the wind. We watch the evening sun go down beyond the dry lakes of salt and the far northwestern mountains out in New Mexico. This is a harsh, dry, bitter place, lonely as a dream. But I like it."

Read more – https://goo.gl/q7iPhH
Photo

Post has attachment
Captive-bred Whooping Cranes may never meet the primary goal of a massive 14-year effort: formation of a self-sustaining wild flock.

Scientific studies ever-so-tenderly state in their final paragraphs that captive-bred Whooping Cranes face “serious challenges” in reproducing in the wild.

On the contrary, a wild flock of endangered cranes that breeds in northern Canada and winters in Texas is expanding. Conservation of that flock receives much less financial support than the failed captive-breeding effort.

A study published June 13, 2016, in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences showed that traits gained by individual beetles in their early, or natal, environments “carry over” and persist over their lifetimes. Similar results, found in everything from plants to elephants, document that individuals introduced into new environments are held back by their natal experiences.

Hundreds of captive-bred Whooping Cranes have been released in Wisconsin and Florida. They survive about as well as wild cranes, but their extremely low reproductive rate poses a “serious challenge,” according to a 2014 report in the journal Ecological Applications.

Only 80 pairs of captive-bred Whooping Cranes released into the Eastern Migratory Flock had actually formed nests by 2010. Chicks hatched from only 12 nests, and only 3 chicks actually fledged. The study didn’t indicate if any of the 3 fledged chicks survived. (Nine chicks fledged from 63 nests in a non-migratory flock of captive-bred Whooping Cranes in Florida through 2007.)

The International Crane Foundation, a non-profit organization based in Baraboo, Wisconsin, operates a captive-breeding program for Whooping Cranes there. Its scientists had hoped that the cranes it produced by artificial insemination, fed and taught to migrate by humans wearing crane costumes would eventually figure it out.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if they originally thought all they had to do was get them to adulthood, and it would be fine,” Rudolph said. “But the natal environment has lasting consequences. Maybe there is something you can do about it, but maybe not.”

Read more – https://goo.gl/DB1Aep
Photo

Post has attachment
Spectacled Eiders, whales and walruses are tracking north in a warmer Arctic to find their primary prey – seabed mollusks and invertebrates.

The year-to-year maximum extent of Arctic ice varies, but the average winter coverage has hit historic lows. Less ice accelerates the loss of more ice, according to a June 9, 2016, paper in Nature Communications.

As millions of square miles of white, heat-reflecting ice are replaced by dark, heat-absorbing open water the warming process actually accelerates, enhancing the polar-warming effect.

Large sea ducks called Spectacled Eiders have recently shifted 2 of their 4 molting areas as much as 56 miles (90 km) northeast over the past 20 years, according to a June 1, 2016, paper in The Condor. The shift reflects the more northerly abundance of bottom-dwelling mollusks.

Read more (with VIDEO) - https://goo.gl/q8oEKO
Photo

Post has attachment
Fat is a migrating songbird’s best friend.

A spring bulge is important to small colorful warblers that migrate north from Central and South America to the U.S. and rest at the southern shore of Lake Ontario before continuing to Canada.

Adipose tissue is fuel for Blackpoll Warblers and 10 other warblers that make the spring trip, but why do they carry more than they seem to need?

A paper published June 1, 2016, in the journal The Auk solves a riddle about the why songbirds pile on so much extra fat for spring migration.

Read more -- https://goo.gl/Bo9097

(Photo: Kevin Colton)
Photo
Wait while more posts are being loaded