Thursday, July 22, 2004

Flaming Wildfire Bird
According to news reports (http://www.cnn.com/2004/US/West/07/19/wildfires/), the recent 5,700 acre Foothill wildfire in Los Angeles County, California was caused when a Red-tailed Hawk flew into a power line and caught fire, falling to the ground and igniting dry vegetation. Powerlines remain a hazard to many birds, and in this case, created a human risk. Earlier this spring, a bird grounded a powerline causing an outage at the Los Angeles International Airport control tower, delaying about 100 flights (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/4723808/).

Thursday, July 15, 2004

West Nile Mosquitoes Most Likely To Come From Backyards
A recent news report from Iowa claims that the mosquitoes that carry West Nile Virus are more common in polluted water--the kind most commonly found in backyard bird baths, dog dishes, and old discarded tires. West Nile is killing large but unknown numbers of birds, and backyard birds living in proximity to these mosquitoes may be at greatest risk.

More info on urban mosquitoes and West Nile can be found here, here, and here.

Effects of West Nile on bird populations remain unknown, though there are reports of widespread bird deaths in the midwest, and numbers of crows in the midwest appear to be down. Now there is concern about industrialization and mining creating habitat for West Nile mosquitoes in rural areas where they are impacting vulnerable Sage Grouse populations in the Mountain West (more here, here, and here).

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Ever wish you could influence electoral politics for the benefit of birds and wildlife? Tired of hearing how special interests are buying candidates, but you don't have enough money to buy your own? Join with others to support candidates that will do the right thing for birds, wildlife, and the environment by contributing to a new environmental Political Action Committee--BirdPAC.

BirdPAC is the political muscle behind more than 52 million Americans who go bird watching, bird hunting, study birds, and are passionate about protecting bird habitats. BirdPAC represents bird lovers and raises the awareness of bird conservation issues with decision makers who want bird enthusiasts as their friends.

In addition to being the fastest growing outdoor pastime, enjoying birds is big business responsible for generating billions of dollars in retail sales and taxes while providing hundreds of thousands of jobs. Yet birds and bird enthusiasts do not receive the recognition or representation they deserve. Contribute to BirdPAC today and help give birds a voice by electing lawmakers who will advocate for birds, their habitats, bird watchers, bird hunters and better bird science tomorrow. Contribute today!

Thursday, July 08, 2004

Wind Farms Bad For Birds?
The potential use of wind farms as a "green" source of energy remains a controversial topic. While some observers declare that modern windmills are more bird-friendly (also here) than the disastrous Altamont turbines in California that have killed thousands of raptors over the past 20 years, others claim that power companies are hiding the true effects of wind farms on birds (See Mark Duchamp's critique here, with many links--including the claim that wind farm electric generation does not reduce greenhouse emissions). An additional critique of windfarms is provided by Country Guardian.

While modern societies need to find alternative energy sources, care must be taken to ensure that new technologies do not destroy wildlife populations.
Birds and Global Warming
Climate change attributable to human urban industrial activity will potentially alter bird distrubutions and abundance in significant ways. Check out the 2000 EPA report and additional articles here, here, here, and here.

Perhaps the best online source of information on global warming and birds is at the American Bird Conservancy's Website. ABC's Jeff Price has been studying this for years, and is the director of this program (a great guy, I've birded with him on the Kennedy Ranch in South Texas and led some bird tours with him for the Harlingen Birding Festival back in 1996).

Good sources of info on global warming in general can be found by following the links at Disinfopedia. Since 82% of greenhouse gas emissions come from burning fossil fuels for electricity and driving around urban areas, our urban lifestyles are having a huge impact on global wildlife populations. The latest example is the huge population decline in the rare Ivory Gull as its seasonal foraging patterns are disrupted by the shrinking polar ice cap.

Monday, July 05, 2004

Nebraska Alliance for All-Bird Conservation
On May 8, 2003, representatives from state agencies and conservation groups met at Platte River State Park for the first meeting of the Nebraska Alliance for All-Bird Conservation. While traditional bird conservation efforts are often imposed by agencies in a top-down fashion, the Nebraska efforts seek to emulate new grassroots, coalition, and community-based strategies for integrated bird conservation.
Each state, county, and community should have a bird conservation plan and working group to seek community-based strategies and efforts to protect populations of local birds. Someday, bird conservation groups will be formed for every neighborhood group, city, county, state, bird conservation region, nation, continent, and hemisphere. There is plenty of work for everyone--but in Nebraska and scattered places across the globe, a glorious future of community-based bird conservation is beginning.

© Copyright 2004 Rob Fergus All rights reserved.