by Carole Jorgensen
1) a study on reed warblers in England showed that they can navigate using magnetic fields, using them almost like GPS. When moved in a cage from England to outside their range in Russia, they were able to use magnetic fields to find their way back to their migratory route. A follow up study on garden warblers showed that the magnetic mechanism was not associated with their eyes. (Amazing the studies done on animals to try to understand their complex abilities!). https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-60383-x
2) California condor populations had dropped to 22 birds by 1982. Extensive and labor intensive reintroductions have brought the population back to nearly 500 birds by 2019. However, the condors have come up with a new way to reproduce…facultative parthenogenesis. i.e.—no males contributed. This extremely rare occurrence was documented last October in the Journal of Heredity, noting that cells in the female were able to act as sperm to fertilize her own eggs. The bad part of this good news is that neither of the offspring produced by this method lived past 8, instead of the 60 year lifespan (and of course weren’t able to reproduce as young’ns.
3) A study in the National Academy of Sciences https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/11/201124150845.htm published that regulations to reduce ozone pollution for people may also have avoided the deaths of 1.5 billion birds over the last 40 years (They state that’s 20 percent of birdlife in the US today).
Thank you for your support of the preservation of Migratory Bird Treaty Act, telling Congress to support the Migratory Bird Conservation Act (not yet passed) and other environmental regulations designed to help you and the birds!
1) For those of you lucky enough to live in bear country, this doesn’t pertain to you, because you are dedicated wildlife lovers who have taken down your feeders and bear attractants. I, unfortunately, live in an area that has had several square miles of habitat destruction this year and I continue to fill my feeders until my native vegetation grows, even though I only have sparrows visiting these days. (They get hungry, too—when all surrounding habitat is turned to concrete and houses). When filling my port feeder, I found a little captive mouse that had crawled in a port but couldn’t crawl out. Fortunately, it had food and wasn’t there long enough to freeze to death, and was quite willing to be released. If you aren’t regularly filling your feeders, please take them down.
2) A running tally is being kept of birds affected by the California oil spill (Pipeline P00547). The Nov 4 update found that 82 of the 116 birds recovered were dead. Mortality is listed by species. https://owcn.vetmed.ucdavis.edu/pipeline-p00547-incident In comparison, estimates of birds killed in 2016 at the Berkeley Pit in Butte range into the thousands. 82,000 birds (likely far more) were affected by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. https://www.biologicaldiversity.org/programs/public_lands/energy/dirty_energy_development/oil_and_gas/gulf_oil_spill/a_deadly_toll.html
Flathead Audubon would love to get your help for the Conservation committee. You can alert the President (Currently Cory Davis) of local projects or activities that are aiding conservation and birds (YAY), or might have adverse effects that could potentially harm birds. Early involvement can help Audubon suggest alternatives to avoid or reduce adverse effects.
Let us know about bird-friendly activities in our community—or in other areas you may know of. Good practices encourage following. Suggest topics of conservation concern you’d like the Audubon Flyer to address. We need your ideas and interests.
If you are a writer who has biological leanings, consider writing a short paragraph on bird conservation. For the truly dedicated, consider joining the Conservation committee to help us review the good (and potentially) bad projects in our area.