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

 

 

Invasive Species and the Bighorn Sheep Die-off in Montana Mountains, Nevada

Invasive Species

GarryRogersGR: Human-introduced animals, plants, and disease organisms have destroyed many species and ecosystems. This aspect of the human impact on nature became a global disaster in the 1500’s as we began crossing the oceans. In the lands we reached, we rampaged about with no thought of the seeds stuck to our boots or the diseases carried by our livestock. Then we developed nature. We cut the soil and filled it with pipes and wires and then we entombed its microorganism ecosystem with pavement. We damned streams, dried up springs, cut the forests, stripped the land with cattle and sheep, and we poisoned the water and air. Now comes our grand slam: We’ve added sufficient greenhouse gasses to the atmosphere to give our climate warmer temperatures, droughts, fires, and stronger storms.

How do we react to all that we’ve done? In the current time of competition between oil producers, for example, the temptation to burn more of the cheaper gasoline doesn’t horrify us, no, we call the lower prices a consumer blessing. Fuels Supplied

And so, in all that we do, our species appears to be striving for maximum destruction of earth ecosystems. Here are a few essays I wrote about how this works with invasive plants.

The following article is by Ken Cole on the Wildlife News website (February 19, 2016).

Bighorn sheep by Ken Cole

Bighorn sheep photo copyright by Ken Cole

“On Sunday and Monday, February 14-15, 2016, USDA Wildlife Services took to the skies and shot the remaining 24 bighorn sheep in the Montana Mountains of northwest Nevada at the request of Nevada Department of Wildlife.

“While the exact source of the disease outbreak is not known, it is not surprising that the bighorn sheep in this area are suffering this fate because there are two domestic sheep grazing allotments – the Bilk Creek allotment and the Wilder-Quinn allotment – in the middle of this area and BLM ignored the disease threat that they pose to bighorn sheep.

“In 2012 the BLM began the permit renewal process for one of the allotments – the Bilk Creek allotment – and Western Watersheds Project submitted comments notifying them of our concern about the risk that domestic sheep posed to bighorn sheep in this area. It is well know that domestic sheep are carriers of pathogens that result in deadly pneumonia to bighorn sheep and that even just one nose-to-nose contact between these related species can result in a disease outbreak that commonly kills up to 90% of a herd and kills the offspring of the remaining animals for up to a decade.

“In 2013 the BLM issued the Final Environmental Assessment that dismissed those concerns . . . . ”  Read more at:  http://www.thewildlifenews.com/2016/02/19/bighorn-sheep-die-off-in-montana-mountains-nevada-is-it-any-wonder.

2015 poaching stats: what do they mean?

GR:  We can’t seem to put the brakes on for wildlife or habitat. Our population growth and our homocentric lack of concern for other species is devastating nature.

White-Rhino

Fight for Rhinos

South Africa DEA (Department of Environmental Affairs) has released the “official” 2015 rhino poaching statistics – 1175. This is a decrease from 2014 which was 1215.

Reason for optimism?

Keep in mind the following: Kruger is the size of Israel, not all carcasses are recovered in a timely manner, or at all.  The statistics also do NOT include the following:

  • poaching survivors (like Hope)
  • orphans whose mothers are killed, but they are NOT rescued and do not survive alone
  • unborn baby rhinos

While the DEA pat themselves on the back for a “decline” in numbers, reality is this month, there have already been 37 poached at the time of this post, and the orphanages are seeing no shortage of rescued orphans.

In fact there had been a 10% INCREASE in poaching activity in Kruger National Park, where the majority of poachings occurred.

Instead of taking the numbers as a fact, we must look at them as only an…

View original post 28 more words

Eye on the Ball– #ClimateChange, #Biodiversity, #NatureConservation, & #SarahPalin

Nature Conservation

GarryRogersThe excellent article introduced below is about nature conservation from the human viewpoint.  The argument is that the current mass extinction of wild plants and animals has harmful consequences for the future of the human species.  It most certainly has, but the author’s desire to inform his audience misses its target because it gives a biased view of the problem. The article does not consider the rights of other species. This “homocentric” view of nature assumes that disappearance of other creatures is only important if it endangers humans.

Aldo Leopold and other conservationists realized that this viewpoint is unsustainable. Unless we accept the equality of all Earth’s species, including our own, our conservation efforts will always fail.  With its runaway enthusiasm for untested proposals, our species will take chances with the lives of other species. Experiments aimed only at benefiting our species, experiments that do not respect the rights of other species, experiments that will sometimes have unforeseen consequences, will gradually nibble away at nature until our ecosystems collapse and wash into the sea (carrying us with it).

Unless we begin to respect the rights of all species, we will exert constant damage on the Earth and ourselves.

 

Our real Sarah Palin nightmare: We debate sideshows and phony problems — while this very real threat looms undiscussed

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, right, endorses Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump during a rally at the Iowa State University, Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2016, in Ames, Iowa. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, right, endorses Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump during a rally at the Iowa State University, Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2016, in Ames, Iowa. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

“It’s an amazing fact that the contemporary world is marked by a growing number of problems that are genuinely global in scope. Some of these problems even have existential implications for the survival of human civilization — yet instead we spend too much time discussing smaller threats, including North Korea, ISIS, Oregon militias and even Sarah Palin. One such problem is anthropogenic climate change — a catastrophe whose effects are anticipated to be “severe,” “pervasive” and “irreversible.”

“But climate change isn’t the only problem of this sort. In fact, for many who spend their lives studying environmental issues, it can be frustrating to see climate change — a highly contentious issue among non-experts, despite a scientific consensus about its reality and causes — dominate the public discussion. The fact is that biodiversity loss constitutes an equally worrisome (albeit related) threat to the future of humanity.

“Consider some cold hard facts. According to the 3rd Global Biodiversity Report (GBO-3), the total population of vertebrates — a broad category that includes mammals, birds, reptiles, sharks, rays and amphibians — living within the tropics declined by a shocking 59% from 1970 to 2006. Take a moment to let this sink in. In only 36 years, more than half of the vertebrate population between the Tropic of Capricorn and the Tropic of Cancer disappeared.”— Read More: , Salon.

Links:

Population

Conservation