Traffic noise reduces birds’ response to alarm calls — ScienceDaily

GR:  The sounds of human voices and machines interfere with wildlife feeding, mating, and response to danger. Just another of the many ways that we are destroying the wildlife and biodiversity of the Earth.

“A new study from The Condor: Ornithological Applications shows that traffic noise makes birds less responsive to alarm calls that would otherwise alert them to dangers such as predators.

“Megan Gall and Jacob Damsky of New York’s Vassar College tested how traffic noise affected the reactions of Black-capped Chickadees and Tufted Titmice to titmouse alarm calls, which warn birds that a predator is nearby. Using speakers set up near feeding platforms baited with bird seed, they recorded the birds’ responses to three different recordings — alarm calls alone, traffic noise alone, and a combination of the two. The traffic noise didn’t deter the birds from feeding, but five times as many birds approached speakers when the researchers played alarm calls on their own compared with when traffic sounds were added.

“There has been lots of work on how anthropogenic noise affects vocal production, but much less on the response of animals to signals in the presence of noise,” says Gall. “Additionally, a lot of this work focuses on song, but we were interested in how noise might affect responses to an anti-predator vocalization. These vocalizations are evoked by the presence of a predator and so are closely linked in time with a particular stimulus.”

“The study’s results suggest that traffic noise can reduce birds’ ability to hear an alarm call, potentially increasing their vulnerability to predators. “Gall and Damsky’s experiment helps us understand how human-caused noise can interfere with the transfer of information among animals in social groups,” according Florida Atlantic University’s Rindy Anderson, an expert in vocal communication in birds who was not involved with the study. “It’s interesting that the birds’ foraging behavior was not affected under any of the playback conditions, which suggests that the behavioral effects were due to the call playbacks being masked by noise, rather than the noise being simply aversive.”–Science Daily (Continue reading:  Traffic noise reduces birds’ response to alarm calls

The extinction crisis is far worse than you think

GR:  This CNN Photo/Video/Data essay has high-quality images and interviews.  Recommended.

“Frogs, coral, elephants — all are on the brink. Three quarters of species could disappear. Why is this happening? CNN explores an unprecedented global crisis.” –CNN (Continue:  The extinction crisis is far worse than you think)

Just Announced: “Birds of Dewey-Humboldt, Arizona” Won the AAA Book Festival

Winner for the Birds

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AAA Festival

CHICAGO, IL, November 11, 2016. Birds of Dewey-Humboldt, Arizona was just announced the winner of the Animals, Animals, Animals Book Festival.

I sent a draft of my book to the Animals Book Festival and it won! It seemed like a long shot, but you never know. The book won in the birds category. The award ceremony is in Chicago on December 3.

“Birds of Dewey-Humboldt, Arizona” Available Now

Book:  Birds of Dewey-Humboldt, Arizona

“Birds of Dewey-Humboldt, Arizona” is now available.  Click here for the book description.

Purchase from:

  • Independent bookstores with books in stock
    • Gifts and Games, Humboldt Station, Humboldt, AZ, (928) 227-2775
    • Other bookstores can order the book from their distributor.
  • Internet

The birds

This section could be titled “Some of The Birds.” The birds below are a sample of the 127 birds I’ve seen in Dewey-Humboldt. Note:  The photos are copyrighted.

Click on a photo for larger image, caption, and photographer.

Birds of Dewey-Humboldt, Arizona

Birds of Dewey-Humboldt, Arizona

front-cover-with-white-borderThere is a new book on the birds of Dewey-Humboldt, Arizona. The book has photographs, notes on seasonal abundance, and conservation status for the 127 species I’ve seen around my home on the Agua Fria River in the center of town.

My place is on the edge of a small 20-acre willow-cottonwood forest growing along the Agua Fria River. The forest is the dark green patch in the lower right-center of the header photograph. The river is perennial through the forest and there are large stock-watering ponds that are now used only by wildlife. Without houses or trails in its core area, the forest is a safe zone for wildlife. Thousands of birds stop to rest and forage, and many spend their summers there. Rare birds such as the Southwest Willow Flycatcher, Common Black Hawk, and Gray Hawk build nests and raise families.

Yellow-billed Cuckoo by mdf

Yellow-billed Cuckoo by mdf

In August, 2016, Felipe Guerrero identified the calls of mature Yellow-billed Cuckoos near the edge of the forest and we photographed a fledgling.  Western North American populations of the Cuckoo are in steep decline. The species is rare in central Arizona where I live, and rarer still to be producing fledglings here.

The final version of the book will be in print next month. Advance review copies in PDF format are available. Please download a copy and give me your feedback.

>>Download Birds of Dewey-Humboldt, Arizona.

Preparing The Book

In 1997, I began making lists of the birds and other wildlife I saw around my 20-acre farm on the Agua Fria River in the town of Dewey-Humboldt, Arizona. After a few years, I gathered the lists together in one notebook. While doing this, I researched the various species groups (birds, grasshoppers, mammals, etc.) and compiled lists of all the species known to live in or to visit Arizona. The Arizona Wildlife Notebook, published in 2014, includes lists of all those species categorized in eleven groups (amphibians, ants, birds, butterflies and moths, dragonflies and damselflies, fish, grasshoppers and other singing insects, lizards, mammals, snakes, and turtles). The book gives common and scientific names and estimates of species health and stability. It’s a handy tool for recording species anywhere in the State of Arizona.

Birds of Dewey-Humboldt Arizona, is a chapter from the full notebook with added details and photographs for observed species. The book is a report to my community that I hope stimulates others to record their bird sightings.

I recommend uploading bird sightings to the online checklist program at http://ebird.org. Operated by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society, eBird provides basic information on bird abundance and distribution at various spatial and temporal scales. Placing sightings on the eBird website will help ornithologists and other naturalists working on bird conservation.

This book has common and scientific names alphabetized by common name, and it has an index. Finding a bird name can be tricky because the common name isn’t always what we think. For instance, the list gives Arizona’s two Robin species as “American Robin” and “Rufous-backed Robin.” The index is often more helpful. For Robins, it lists the species as “Robin, American” and “Robin, Rufous-backed.” It also gives page numbers for both species’ scientific names.

Caveat: My notes on dates of first sightings probably reflect the date I learned to identify a species, not the date the species first appeared near my home.

Protecting Birds

The past decade’s droughts, storms, and spreading deserts show that humanity is changing the Earth. Research coming from many sources shows that worldwide animal extinctions are occurring 100 times faster than in Earth’s previous mass-extinction events recorded in the fossil record.

Extinction isn’t the only concern. Total loss of a species results after years of decline. The Living Planet Index, which measures abundance levels of 14,152 monitored populations of 3,706 vertebrate species, shows that a worldwide crash is occurring. On average, monitored species declined by 58% between 1970 and 2012.

Loggerhead Shrike

Loggerhead Shrike

One of the oldest and most familiar citizen-participation activities is the Audubon Society’s Christmas Bird Count. Wildlife biologists have used the Bird Count to monitor bird species populations. A recent analysis of the Count’s results show that many U.S. bird species are declining. Some of our most familiar birds appear in current counts less than half as often as they did just 50 years ago. For example, over the past 50 years, sightings of Loggerhead Shrikes, a common Arizona species, declined by 72%. The Shrike in the photograph at left is the only one I have seen in 19 years of watching at my place.

Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) wildlife biologists conclude that at least 58% of Arizona’s native birds are definitely declining and . Another 20% are of possible long-term concern. The U.S. Endangered Species Act protects only 1% of Arizona bird species.

The reason for the declining numbers is not a mystery. Researchers have shown that the declines are due to the impact of human activities, chiefly:

  • habitat destruction (building and farming)
  • resource harvests (logging, livestock grazing, and water diversion)
  • habitat deterioration caused by introduced invasive plants
  • habitat poisoning with pesticides, toxic wastes, and in the case of the oceans, acidification due to CO2 increases and increases in organic runoff from the land.

The human impact is a direct result of human construction, land clearning, and resource consumption. Our total global population is nearing 7.5 billion and we are using the Earth’s renewable resources faster than natural processes replenish them.

Unless we control our population and consumption or unless drought, disease, pollution, and rising temperature control them for us, the environmental impacts of our growth will eventually eliminate upwards of 80% of our bird species.

I believe nature conservation was the great challenge of the 20th Century, and we failed the challenge. Human beings are imposing a mass extinction that now appears destined to wipe out most animals on Earth. I hope readers of this book will recognize the danger and help me find ways to stop the extinctions.

Bird Species Numbers

According to the information published by AZGFD, 551 bird species and subspecies occur in Arizona. Regular residents number 451.

  • World estimate: 10,000
  • U.S. estimate: 1,000
  • Arizona total: 551
  • Arizona birds regularly present: 451
  • Arizona regulars of concern (S1 to S3): 260 (58%)
  • Arizona regulars of possible long-term concern (S4): 95 (21%).
  • ESA Arizona regulars listed endangered: 6 (1%)
  • ESA Arizona regulars listed threatened: 1 (<1%)
  • ESA Arizona regulars of concern: 26 (6%)

Book Details

  • Title:               Birds of Dewey-Humboldt, Arizona
  • Pages:           128
  • Identifiers: ISBN 978-1539511786 | LCCN 2016918263
  • Subjects: LCSH Dewey-Humboldt (Ariz.) | Agua Fria River Valley (Ariz.) | Birds–Arizona. | BISAC NATURE / Birdwatching Guides
  • Classification: LCC QL684.A6 .R63 2016 | DDC 598.09791–dc23
  • List Price:       $24.95
  • Description:  This book describes the birds seen around the author’s home in the center of Dewey-Humboldt, a small Arizona town. A desert stream, the Agua Fria River, passes through the town and across land owned by the author. At the confluence of two small tributaries, the river flood plain supports a 20-acre willow-cottonwood forest. Without houses or trails in its core area, the forest is a safe zone for wildlife. Thousands of birds belonging to more than 100 species stop to rest and forage in the small forest. The Southwest Willow Flycatcher (on the U. S. Endangered Species List) and several other rare bird species use the forest to build nests and raise families. The book lists 127 species observed in and around the forest. For each, the book includes seasonal abundance, conservation status, and a photograph.
  • The book will be available from:
  • Independent bookstores with books in stock

    • Gifts and Games, Humboldt Station, Humboldt, Arizona
  • Internet

 

 

Local wind farm fatalities may affect whole bird populations | Anthropocene

GR:  The mortality rate suggests that wind turbines will result in loss of almost all the western U. S. Golden Eagles.

“Hundreds of thousands of birds are killed each year by wind turbines worldwide. But few studies have looked at the demographic consequences of this local-scale mortality for a species as a whole.

“Now, researchers have gathered evidence that deaths of golden eagles (Aquila chrysaetos) at a single wind farm in northern California may have effects on the entire western US population of this species.

“The researchers studied 67 golden eagles killed by wind turbines at the Altamont Pass Wind Resource Area, one of the largest and oldest wind farms in the country.

“Eagles tend to use that habitat around the turbines. It’s windy there, so they can save energy and soar, and their preferred prey, California ground squirrels, is abundant there,” says J. Andrew DeWoody, professor of genetics in the Department of Forestry and Natural Resources at Purdue University. “As they soar, these eagles are often looking straight down, and they fail to see the rapidly moving turbine blades. They get hit by the blades, and carcasses are found on the ground under the turbines.”

More: Local wind farm fatalities may affect whole bird populations | Anthropocene

We have Monarch Caterpillars!

Monarch Butterfly Caterpillars

I’ve been checking the little patches of Narrowleaf Milkweed around my place several times a day and this afternoon found two caterpillars!  I hope these are the first of many more.  Here they are:

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This was a great day for wildlife at Coldwater Farm.  Today, with expert help from Felipe Guerrero, I saw a Southwest Willow Flycatcher, a Yellow-billed Cuckoo, and a Gray Hawk along with lots of more common species.  The Cuckoo was a youngster, indicating that at least one nesting pair raised at least one chick this year.  The Cuckoo makes a very distinct call, and thanks to Felipe, I learned it and realized I’ve heard it around the place for years.  I will do everything I can now to increase the protection for this habitat for these rare birds.  We got photos.  Felipe’s are best and I’ll see if I can post them later.

Avian Botulism Stimulated by Global Warming?

GarryRogersRegarding the bird deaths, there is a good chance that global warming will increase incidents such as this since warm weather triggers production of the toxin by bacteria in the soil and warm water. Outbreaks decline with rain and cooler weather.

Earth Report

65-Year-Old Bird Hatches Her 30th Baby

Ew160226b

The world’s oldest known wild bird has become a mother yet again at the age of 65, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The Laysan albatross, known as Wisdom, was first tagged in 1956 and has been monitored as she has reared more than 30 chicks and flown over 3 million miles during her lifetime.

Wisdom is currently raising her chick Kukini, which means “messenger” in Hawaiian, on Midway atoll in the central Pacific.

Her mate, Akeakamai, or “lover of wisdom,” was sitting on the nest when the chick hatched on February 1.

New Zealand – Botulism Among Wetland Birds

Hundreds of birds in a South Auckland wetland have been killed in a botulism outbreak.

The Department of Conservation and Fish and Game are working with the Pukorokoro Miranda Shorebird Centre to contain the outbreak.

The wetland is home to tens of…

View original post 29 more words

Environmentalists sue for more rules to protect sage grouse

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — “Environmental groups sued Thursday to force the Obama administration to impose more restrictions on oil and gas drilling, grazing and other activities blamed for the decline of greater sage grouse across the American West.

“A sweeping sage grouse conservation effort that the government announced last September is riddled with loopholes and will not be enough to protect the bird from extinction, according to the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Idaho.

“It follows several legal challenges against the same rules from the opposite end of the political spectrum. Mining companies, ranchers and officials in Utah, Idaho and Nevada argue that the administration’s actions will impede economic development.

“The ground-dwelling sage grouse, known for their elaborate mating ritual, range across a 257,000-square-mile region spanning 11 states.  From: bigstory.ap.org

GR:  Once again, private funding is required to force a public agency to do its job.  Human land use has already damaged much of the sage grouse habitat.  This lawsuit is particularly important, because protecting the bird’s full range will protect the remnants of habitat needed by it and many other species.

One of the first human land uses that will have to end is cattle grazing.  More lawsuits paid by private citizens will likely be required, but destructive grazing has already diminished the carrying capacity of the land so much that the number of cattle has declined substantially.  Wildlife has declined even more.  The reduced cattle production will dampen the desires of the livestock industry and their public government officials to fight to retain the right to continue the destruction.  One day, sage grouse and other members of its ecosystem might be safe at home on the range.

AZGFD.gov Sunday is last day to hunt Arizona’s quail

PHOENIX — “With nothing but sunshine and spring-like temperatures in the weather forecast for this weekend, there’s really no excuse for hunters not to get out in the field and chase quail one last time.
“The season for the state’s three main species – Gambel’s, scaled and Mearns’ – ends Sunday, Feb. 7. The general bag limit is 15 quail per day in the aggregate, of which no more than eight may be Mearns’ quail. The general possession limit is 45 quail in the aggregate, of which no more than 15 Gambel’s, scaled or California quail in the aggregate may be taken in any one day. The 45-quail possession limit may include 24 Mearns’ quail, of which no more than eight may be taken in any one day.”  azgfd.net

GR:  Many of these beautiful birds will die over the next 72 hours.  Shouldn’t killers be given psychiatric treatment rather than living targets?