Arizona Wildlife Notebook Revised – #Wildlife, #Arizona, #Conservation

Arizona Wildlife Notebook

A new edition of the “Arizona Wildlife Notebook” is available.

In the year, 2015, lethal heat waves and storms made it clear that humanity was changing the Earth.  Anyone who paid attention to the news knew that Earth’s animals and plants were disappearing.

Animal Declines

This figure from the review by the World Wildlife Fund (2014) shows that, from 1970 to 2010, Earth’s animals declined by 52%.

I have come to believe that nature conservation is the great challenge of our time. Human beings are imposing a mass extinction that will eliminate almost all animals on Earth. We may not be able to stop this, but I believe that the Notebook will be useful for anyone who hasn’t given up and wishes to work to protect Earth’s creatures.

Arizona Species Conservation Status

For this edition of the Notebook, I added more information on conservation.  The table below shows group status for species that AZGFD specialists consider critically imperiled (S1), imperiled (S2), and vulnerable (S3).  It also shows group status according to the Endangered Species Act (ESA) for Threatened (LT) and Endangered (LE) species.  I didn’t include butterflies, moths, damselflies, and dragonflies in this table because the status of most species in those groups is unknown.

Many species that the AZGFD says are critically imperiled are not given national recognition and protection by the U. S. Endangered Species Act (ESA).  It seems that only after species are mostly gone that protection becomes available.  Thus, the ESA achieves very little overall protection from biodiversity loss.


Species Group

Total  minus

Exotic & Extinct







18 (58%)




260 (58%)




40 (100%)




27 (40%)




64 (34%)




35 (46%)




6 (67%)




450 (52%)


The third column shows how many species AZGFD considers at risk.  For instance, all native Arizona fish species are at risk, and about one-third of native Arizona mammals are at risk.  Being “at risk” usually means that numbers are dropping.  The principal causes are construction of buildings and roads, and invasive plants and animals.

Click–Arizona Wildlife Notebook–for a free copy of the 168-page book formatted as a PDF “fillable form.” If you like the book, tell others. Write a review for Amazon: , or Goodreads:  If you would like to review a printed copy of the book, send a note using the form below.  Thank you.

Now that you’ve downloaded the book, you have a conversation-starter for tonight’s warm-up party for World Animal Day!

Sightings of Australia’s common birds are declining

Sightings of some of Australia’s most common birds, including those that have inspired folk songs and become mascots of football teams, are decreasing in parts of Australia, according to a major report on the health of the country’s bird population.

Among the species for which fewer sightings have been recorded are the laughing kookaburra, magpie and willie wagtail.

Released by Environment Minister Greg Hunt on the eve of Thursday’s Threatened Species Summit at Melbourne Zoo, the State of Australia’s Birds 2015 report’s surprise finding was that it was the country’s “common birds” that weren’t faring so well.

Sourced through from:

GR:  This is being reported around the world, and not just for birds; most species are declining.

Operation Owl: boxes help save these beautiful bellwethers of biodiversity

A Working-based volunteer group strives to create habitats for these nocturnal birds and inspire children to help in conservation, discovers Patrick Barkham.

“These mostly nocturnal birds of prey are an enduring symbol of wisdom and mystery in our culture and children’s books. Harry Potter has triggered a renewed fascination with them. Everyone seems to love owls but there is a problem: populations, particularly of barn owls, have massively declined because of habitat loss but also partly because there are no homes for these much-loved species.

“The possibilities for inspiring schools and young people are endless: owls are a keystone species, bellwethers of biodiversity, and Operation Owl hope that sparking local interest in owls at the apex of a food chain will help people treasure prey species – voles, shrews and invertebrates – and the healthy grasslands, heathlands and woodlands on which they all depend” (Source:

How to set up your own Operation Owl

1-IMG_2241GR:  At least three species of owls live all or part of the year around my place.  We have a Barn Owl, Northern Pygmy-Owls, and Great Horned Owls.  Last fall I installed a Barn Owl box, and I hope to have residents this summer.  Our local Barn Owl story is here.

Recovery Strategy for the Golden-winged Warbler


Environment Canada of the Canadian Wildlife Service has called for comments on their proposed recovery strategy for the threatened Golden-winged Warbler.  The public notice with contact information are in the image below.  Follow the link and look under December 31, 2014.

Golden-winged Announcement

Are human behaviors affecting bird communities in residential areas?

A new study from the Wildlife Conservation Society shows that habitat alteration may be less important than other factors- such as human behavior- in driving the effects of “exurban” development on bird communities.  Source:

GR:  This limited study needs repetition.  Its results suggest that the human impacts identified in other studies overwhelm the contribution of natural habitat diversity.  Thus, regulation of human activity can be equal across habitats, and need not vary with habitat structural diversity.  The human activities include initial construction that eliminates habitat, introduction of exotic species, movements, noise, lighting, and pets that degrade habitat quality.  We really need to stop destroying habitat.  A first step is revising our building and zoning codes to combine new residences and community activities into single tall buildings.

Collapse of Avian Biodiversity in the Pacific – MAHB

We arrived off Ducie Island at dawn on October 12. The rough seas and the air above the low atoll in the Pitcairn group of the South Pacific were alive with birds.

Our last stop was Easter Island, one of the most isolated islands in the world, some 1200 miles east of the Pitcairn group and 2000 miles from South America.  Easter Island is the site of an ecocatastrophe, made famous by Jared Diamond.[4]  All of its native birds are extinct, replaced by a collection of “garbage birds” (ones not sought by bird-watchers), especially the wide-ranging South American Diuca finch pictured here, which flits among the looming stone heads.

The state of the birds on these islands is a harbinger of a catastrophe that looms globally,


GR:  Our leaders could promote nature preservation.  Our college planning departments could recommend zoning and construction changes that would avoid so many animal deaths.  Without leadership and rules, our urban population will remain unconcerned with the fate of wild animals.  Perhaps a few hundred years from now people will have learned to appreciate the species that remain.  For those of us afflicted with biophilia, this is a painful prospect.  Would it be effective to conduct petition campaigns aimed at our planning education and government departments?

Protections blocked, but sage grouse work goes on

(AP)—U.S. wildlife officials will decide next year whether a wide-ranging Western bird species needs protections even though Congress has blocked such protections from taking effect, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said Wednesday.


GR:  And the prize goes to……….Homo sapiens!  The U. S. Congress has protected the grazing and mining industries from the endangered Sage Grouse.  Thank you Thank you.  Nothing can stand against us!  Cheers, cheers, cheers!

The Patterns of Bird Population Irruptions


“An irruption is the sudden change in the population density of an organism. In North American birds, irruptions often refer to the movement of northern-wintering species to the south in years of low food availability. You can recognize irruptive movement patterns at your feeders: some winters you may see a species at your feeders in great numbers, but in other winters they don’t show up at all.”

Explore FeederWatch data and tell us what you can find


GR:  Here’s a volunteer citizen naturalist opportunity for everyone, but especially for those who love birds.

China’s New Great Wall Threatens One Quarter of World’s Shorebirds

GR:  Human disregard for other species is disgusting.

The following by Richard Conniff.

Every spring, tens of thousands of plump, russet-breasted shorebirds drop down onto the wetlands of China’s Bohai Bay, ravenous after traveling 3,000 miles from Australia.

This Yellow Sea stopover point is crucial for the birds, called red knots, to rest and refuel for the second leg of their journey, which will take them another 2,000 miles up to the Arctic tundra.

Unfortunately for the red knots, the intertidal flats of Bohai Bay are rapidly disappearing, cut off from the ocean by new sea walls and filled in with silt and rock, to create buildable land for development.  In a society now relentlessly focused on short-term profit that seems like a wonderful bargain, and the collateral loss of vast areas of shorebird habitat merely an incidental detail. As a result, China’s seawall mileage has more than tripled over the past two decades, and now covers 60 percent of the mainland coastline. This “new Great Wall” is already longer than the celebrated Great Wall of China, according to an article published Thursday in Science, and it’s just getting bigger every year—with catastrophic consequences for wildlife and people.


Winter Finch Forecast: Help Monitor Wild Bird Health

GR:  Here’s another great citizen naturalist opportunity.  Birds, like butterflies, are excellent indicators of ecosystem health. Join the Cornell Lab of Ornithology FeederWatch project beginning November 8, 2014, and make a contribution.

The following by Susan B. Whiting of the Vineyard Gazette

Every fall Ron Pittaway who is the Field Ornithologist for Ontario, Canada makes a winter finch forecast. One of the Vineyard birders always reminds me of same, this year it was Bob Shriber. Ron Pittaway’s forecast is based primarily on tree seed crop availability of spruces, birches and mountain-ashes. The general forecast predicts there will be a “mixed bag” of finch movements. For example purple finch and common redpolls will be seen on-Island as their foods of choice are less plentiful up north where these finches breed. The same is true of red crossbills. Ron Pittaway notes that although there are good spruce cone crops for the pine siskins, there will probably be some movement of these delicate finches into our area. So make sure that your feeders have not only sunflower seeds for the purple finches, but niger seed for the redpolls and siskins. Enjoy these finches they will probably be with us between now and April.