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Author Topic: Birds are Vanishing From North America  (Read 765 times)

Yowbarb

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Birds are Vanishing From North America
« on: September 23, 2019, 01:15:21 AM »
Yowbarb Note:  The bird population of the US and Canada has dropped by 29% since 1970!  :'(
I knew pesticides were a big problem for bees and birds but had no idea how bad this situation was. I just ran across this article and it is making me cry... literally. Especially when I realized I am not hearing the birds so much now...
"found that pesticides called neonicotinoids make it harder for birds to put on weight needed for migration, delaying their travel." 

Video  https://youtu.be/dV1PMs0C5Eo   Call of a House Sparrow  3:08
...

The New York times

By Carl Zimmer
Published Sept. 19, 2019
Updated Sept. 22, 2019

MATTER

Birds Are Vanishing From North America

The number of birds in the United States and Canada has declined by 3 billion, or 29 percent, over the past half-century, scientists find.

The skies are emptying out.

The number of birds in the United States and Canada has fallen by 29 percent since 1970, scientists reported on Thursday. There are 2.9 billion fewer birds taking wing now than there were 50 years ago.

The analysis, published in the journal Science, is the most exhaustive and ambitious attempt yet to learn what is happening to avian populations. The results have shocked researchers and conservation organizations.

In a statement on Thursday, David Yarnold, president and chief executive of the National Audubon Society, called the findings “a full-blown crisis.”

Experts have long known that some bird species have become vulnerable to extinction. But the new study, based on a broad survey of more than 500 species, reveals steep losses even among such traditionally abundant birds as robins and sparrows.

There are likely many causes, the most important of which include habitat loss and wider use of pesticides. “Silent Spring,” Rachel Carson’s prophetic book in 1962 about the harms caused by pesticides, takes its title from the unnatural quiet settling on a world that has lost its birds:

“On the mornings that had once throbbed with the dawn chorus of robins, catbirds, doves, jays, wrens, and scores of other bird voices, there was now no sound.”

Kevin Gaston, a conservation biologist at the University of Exeter, said that new findings signal something larger at work: “This is the loss of nature.”

Common bird species are vital to ecosystems, controlling pests, pollinating flowers, spreading seeds and regenerating forests. When these birds disappear, their former habitats often are not the same.

“Declines in your common sparrow or other little brown bird may not receive the same attention as historic losses of bald eagles or sandhill cranes, but they are going to have much more of an impact,” said Hillary Young, a conservation biologist at the University of California, Santa Barbara, who was not involved in the new research.

A team of researchers from universities, government agencies and nonprofit organizations collaborated on the new study, which combined old and new methods for counting birds.

For decades, professional ornithologists have been assisted by an army of devoted amateur bird-watchers who submit their observations to databases and help carry out surveys of bird populations each year.

In the new study, the researchers turned to those surveys to estimate the populations of 529 species between 2006 and 2015.

Those estimates include 76 percent of all bird species in the United States and Canada, but represent almost the entire population of birds. (The species for which there weren’t enough data to make firm estimates occur only in small numbers.)

While some species grew, the researchers found, the majority declined — often by huge numbers.

“We were stunned by the result — it’s just staggering,” said Kenneth V. Rosenberg, a conservation scientist at Cornell University and the American Bird Conservancy, and the lead author of the new study.

“It’s not just these highly threatened birds that we’re afraid are going to go on the endangered species list,” he said. “It’s across the board.”

Weather radar offered another way to track bird populations. Dr. Rosenberg and his colleagues counted birds recorded on radar at 143 stations across the United States from 2007 to 2018. They focused on springtime scans, when birds were migrating in great numbers.

The team measured a 14 percent decline during that period, consistent with the drop recorded in the bird-watching records.

“If we have two data sets showing the same thing, it’s a home run,” said Nicole Michel, a senior quantitative ecologist at the Audubon Society who was not involved in the study.

Among the worst-hit groups were warblers, with a population that dropped by 617 million. There are 440 million fewer blackbirds than there once were.

Dr. Rosenberg said he was surprised by how widespread the population drop was. Even starlings — a species that became a fast-breeding pest after its introduction to the United States in 1890 — have dwindled by 83 million birds, a 49 percent decline.

Europe is experiencing a similar loss of birds, also among common species, said Dr. Gaston, of the University of Exeter. “The numbers are broadly comparable,” he said.

The new study was not designed to determine why birds are disappearing, but the results — as well as earlier research — point to some likely culprits, Dr. Rosenberg said.

Grassland species have suffered the biggest declines by far, having lost 717 million birds. These birds have probably been decimated by modern agriculture and development.

“Every field that’s plowed under, and every wetland area that’s drained, you lose the birds in that area,” Dr. Rosenberg said.

In addition to habitat loss, pesticides may have taken a toll. A study published last week, for example, found that pesticides called neonicotinoids make it harder for birds to put on weight needed for migration, delaying their travel.

Continued
« Last Edit: September 23, 2019, 01:43:03 AM by Yowbarb »

Yowbarb

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Re: Birds are Vanishing From North America
« Reply #1 on: September 23, 2019, 01:17:31 AM »
https://foe.org/neonicotinoids-glyphosate/

Neonicotinoids, Glyphosate & Organophosphates

R.R. Book

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Re: Birds are Vanishing From North America
« Reply #2 on: September 23, 2019, 07:20:32 AM »
Absolutely Barb - so many things working against the bird population right now.  Yet still certain local populations that can be nurtured and protected.

Yowbarb

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Re: Birds are Vanishing From North America
« Reply #3 on: September 24, 2019, 12:24:08 AM »
Absolutely Barb - so many things working against the bird population right now.  Yet still certain local populations that can be nurtured and protected.

R.R. thanks for your reply. I hope people will find out what they can do locally to help their local birds...

ilinda

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Re: Birds are Vanishing From North America
« Reply #4 on: September 24, 2019, 05:02:12 PM »
Absolutely Barb - so many things working against the bird population right now.  Yet still certain local populations that can be nurtured and protected.

R.R. thanks for your reply. I hope people will find out what they can do locally to help their local birds...
Where to begin?  There are probably many things we don't even think of, but one thing is especially if you have acreage, do not mow meadows or pastures at the end of summer.  This will mean seedheads will remain standing as  long as the weather allows, and unless they are beaten down by rain and snow, they might remain until spring.  Even if they have fallen down, birds can still eat the seeds off the ground.

Another thing is if you buy birdseed for winter feediing, try to find organic.  Otherwise, you may be buying a neonic-treated batch of seeds, which kills insects, and as mentioned above, is detrimental to birds.  It might even eventually kill them.  Feeding neonic-tainted seeds to birds is worse than not feeding them at all.

That covers the seed-eating birds, so what to do for the insect-eaters?  The most obvious thing is do not use any kind of insecticide at all.  Even if insecticide does not kill insects outright, it will be taken up by the insects, and while the insects are dying, the whole package--insect and pesticide--will be ingested by birds.

If people who are supporters of a given politician, instead of blindly and devotedly voting for that person, maybe it would be a good idea to investigate what that person's stance is, and actions already are on a given hot-button issue that is important.  For example, it is easy to check to see if a given President is in favor of allowing neonic pesticides to be used, or if s/he would ban them, or has done so.

The one issue of neonics sounds like one tiny issue, but think about it--if Rachel Carson is proved right, then where will our food come from?  Only some of our food does not need pollination, corn and sweet potatoes for two examples. 

Does anyone know how to hand-pollinate an apple tree with hundreds of blossoms?  But some apple trees require another, similar tree, a pollenizer tree, all of this in addition to insects for pollination.  Does anyone know how to hand-pollinate squash?  How about almonds?  The list goes on, but we know we're really up that creek if pollinators disappear, and it appears right now they ARE disappearing.  Who or what is going to stop that process?

 If we marched around the White House to protest the lifting of the neonic ban, we would probably all be rounded up and kept in detention.  If someone or some group filed a lawsuit against the EPA to force them to look at the science honestly, they would stall around year after year, all the while allowing neonics to be sprayed with ever-increasing frequency.  Where will it end?

A few years ago many people were picketing Lowes and other retailers to stop selling neonic-tainted ornamentals which are attractive to insects, because the people were taking basically honeybee poison in the form of an attractive plant!  While those actions were very admirable, they are not enough.

 At least the European Union has had the sense to ban all neonics.

R.R. Book

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Re: Birds are Vanishing From North America
« Reply #5 on: September 25, 2019, 06:44:58 AM »
Lots of good food for thought Ilinda.  Don't autumn mums contain natural neonicotinoids?  I confess to having some of those on the porch, but fortunately the bees seem to avoid them.

So for those wanting to plant beneficial plants for wildlife this fall, I hate to say it, but autumn mums should probably not be at the top of the list - maybe instead consider lemon balm, etc.?

Yowbarb

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Re: Birds are Vanishing From North America
« Reply #6 on: September 26, 2019, 12:01:37 PM »
Absolutely Barb - so many things working against the bird population right now.  Yet still certain local populations that can be nurtured and protected.

R.R. thanks for your reply. I hope people will find out what they can do locally to help their local birds...
Where to begin?  There are probably many things we don't even think of, but one thing is especially if you have acreage, do not mow meadows or pastures at the end of summer.  This will mean seedheads will remain standing as  long as the weather allows, and unless they are beaten down by rain and snow, they might remain until spring.  Even if they have fallen down, birds can still eat the seeds off the ground.

Another thing is if you buy birdseed for winter feediing, try to find organic.  Otherwise, you may be buying a neonic-treated batch of seeds, which kills insects, and as mentioned above, is detrimental to birds.  It might even eventually kill them.  Feeding neonic-tainted seeds to birds is worse than not feeding them at all.

That covers the seed-eating birds, so what to do for the insect-eaters?  The most obvious thing is do not use any kind of insecticide at all.  Even if insecticide does not kill insects outright, it will be taken up by the insects, and while the insects are dying, the whole package--insect and pesticide--will be ingested by birds.

If people who are supporters of a given politician, instead of blindly and devotedly voting for that person, maybe it would be a good idea to investigate what that person's stance is, and actions already are on a given hot-button issue that is important.  For example, it is easy to check to see if a given President is in favor of allowing neonic pesticides to be used, or if s/he would ban them, or has done so.

The one issue of neonics sounds like one tiny issue, but think about it--if Rachel Carson is proved right, then where will our food come from?  Only some of our food does not need pollination, corn and sweet potatoes for two examples. 

Does anyone know how to hand-pollinate an apple tree with hundreds of blossoms?  But some apple trees require another, similar tree, a pollenizer tree, all of this in addition to insects for pollination.  Does anyone know how to hand-pollinate squash?  How about almonds?  The list goes on, but we know we're really up that creek if pollinators disappear, and it appears right now they ARE disappearing.  Who or what is going to stop that process?

 If we marched around the White House to protest the lifting of the neonic ban, we would probably all be rounded up and kept in detention.  If someone or some group filed a lawsuit against the EPA to force them to look at the science honestly, they would stall around year after year, all the while allowing neonics to be sprayed with ever-increasing frequency.  Where will it end?

A few years ago many people were picketing Lowes and other retailers to stop selling neonic-tainted ornamentals which are attractive to insects, because the people were taking basically honeybee poison in the form of an attractive plant!  While those actions were very admirable, they are not enough.

 At least the European Union has had the sense to ban all neonics.

ilinda, excellent ideas. You and R.R. have lots of good practical ideas which the Town Hall Readers can put into practice. I need to re-read and do many of these things.

Re the the EU: They have banned lots of GM and pesticides and harmful substances and also bad animal practices. UK had backslid on GM possibly, lots of pressure on them...
RE marches on the White House there have been LOTS of marches and lots of signs included about the environment as well as environmental activist trying to keep laws in place and adding to them, sometimes to no avail, but here is lots of action on  these matters. It doesn't always get in the media but it has been an ongoing battle for decades.

I agree when it comes to politics people need to look at what the person has actually done. I am trying to avoid partisan politics and not come across as critical, but I feel a lot of people who are devoted to a certain somebody would be surprised at how this person has undermined the EPA and turned the clock backwards regarding protection of our waters, and harmful substances. People need to learn to google things for themselves and not just depend upon their local talk radio hosts or just one TV news show, or hearsay for their information.
I do realize most people are struggling day to day for survival, working very hard and perhaps do not feel they have the time to reach for further information, God Bless them... It's their planet too and most would really not want things to go backward, many love this Earth and all God's creatures and would be shocked at some things which have been done if they only knew... Laws and practices which took decades to put in to place have been reversed, rivers are being polluted again in some areas, based upon actual laws which passed in the past couple of years. The air quality after a few years of steady improvement is now far worse. I realize PX and volcanism are dirtying up the air and bringing more destructive levels of rain and weather changes (I feel that is true) we still need to do what we can to take responsibility for the air, water, creatures, etc.  No reason  to abandon all that. so, all you MODs - you are all very knowledgeable...much appreciated...
Barb T.
« Last Edit: September 26, 2019, 12:13:21 PM by Yowbarb »

Jimfarmer

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Re: Birds are Vanishing From North America
« Reply #7 on: September 26, 2019, 05:55:43 PM »
Quote
undermined the EPA ... No reason  to abandon all that.

If the situation were "business as usual", I would agree with you.  (I have MSc in Environmental Science)  However, the PX flyby changes everything.  Food production is already seriously reduced, and weather extremes  are worsening.   After the pole shift, the climate will change drastically in most regions of Earth, and sunlight will be blocked by ash, smoke, and clouds for years afterwards.  There will be massive die-offs of flora and fauna.  People inland will be eating bugs and worms, if any of those survive.

Now, I don't know what the junta's economic plan is,  but it should be to maximize production and increase reserves above all else for as long as possible before the pole shift.  (And to eliminate malpractice in governance.)

After the flyby, survivors will not be concerned with regulations, and all regulators and enforcers will abandon post to be with their families 24/7, scrounging for edibles while they all starve.  Most government departments and agencies will cease to function.

Now, possible palliatives are 1) help by Galactics, and 2) ascension.  In any case, the situation will not be "business as usual" during and after the flyby.


« Last Edit: September 27, 2019, 12:57:43 PM by Jimfarmer »

ilinda

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Re: Birds are Vanishing From North America
« Reply #8 on: September 26, 2019, 06:31:59 PM »
Lots of good food for thought Ilinda.  Don't autumn mums contain natural neonicotinoids?  I confess to having some of those on the porch, but fortunately the bees seem to avoid them.

So for those wanting to plant beneficial plants for wildlife this fall, I hate to say it, but autumn mums should probably not be at the top of the list - maybe instead consider lemon balm, etc.?
That is new to me--that autumn mums contain natural neonics.  I don't know if that's true or a rumor started by the pesticide industry!  LOL 

If it is true, then the insects who avoid the plants are doing so because of their innate ability to detect something in Nature that is not in their best interests.  But the neonicotinoid pesticides would have to be different because every single cell of the neonic-treated plant contains the pesticide.  It is systemic, which means it is present throughout the entire system of the plant.  That is the big difference between systemic pesticides and earlier pesticides, which may have only been on the skin of apples, or surface of collard leaves, etc.  But neonic treated crops are completely "saturated". 

The levels, or the chemistry of neonics in food crops may be different enough that they don't repel insects, for example honeybees who gather nectar from a neonic-tainted crop.   They take that back to the hive to poison everyone, and many bees may be doing the very same thing, and then we've got Colony Collapse.  It's probably not that simplistic, but you get the picture.

If the thing about autumn mums is true, I'm betting that the mums exude some sort of plant pheremone or volatile substance which is repulsive to insects.  I have seen that phenomenon in reverse:  I watched a Monarch butterly a few years ago, and as it glided over a patch of common milkweed, it circled above, similar to an out-of-gas airplane looking for a place to land.  But the butterfly was detecting a scent or volatile substance and was zeroing on the exact location by flying in smaller and smaller circles, until it obviously located the source of scent and went straight down to the milkweed flower.  I had never seen that before and it was really cool.

R.R. Book

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Re: Birds are Vanishing From North America
« Reply #9 on: September 27, 2019, 06:20:24 AM »
That theory does make logical sense to me too Ilinda.

ilinda

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Re: Birds are Vanishing From North America
« Reply #10 on: September 28, 2019, 09:04:10 AM »
From yesterday's post by Jim Farmer re the https://www.earthfiles.com article:

Posted on September 20, 2019
“Nature Is Unraveling.” United States and Canada Have Lost 3 Billion Birds Since 1970.


Am wondering which birds others have noticed in decline?  Here we notice that in general spring is quieter--not quiet, but quieter than years ago.  Specifically, we have named many birds we don't see as much including Indigo Bunting, Cardinal, Rufous Sided Towhee, Goldfinches, kildeer, bluebirds, Ruby-crowned kinglet, hummingbirds, marsh wren, and the list goes on and on.

The kildeer used to nest down on the gravel of the beach of the Black River here in Reynolds County, but since ATV's have proliferated and trespass everywhere, they drive across the river illegally, as well as drive all over the beaches, smashing nests, and probably the babies as well.

Many, including some not listed above, are migratory and the habitat where they go in our winter is probably being degraded in similar fashion.  And think of all the new acreage in Brazilian Amazon rainforest that is being burned and cleared now for cattle and GM soy fields.  It never seems to be encouraging to ponder the fate of birds, insects, and wildlife in general, and of course what happens to them also happens to us, but I worry more about the wild ones who don't understand what is happening.

Yowbarb

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Re: Birds are Vanishing From North America
« Reply #11 on: September 28, 2019, 12:06:22 PM »
For years now, I figured i didn't hear as many birds because I have so many cats... and also the heat... but it breaks my heart to realize finally the numbers probably really did decline. Haven't looked up the facts for this area, not yet.

When I read that article, I remembered vividly the cacaphony of bird sounds which started at 6 AM, up on our tile roof, in Santa Monica, CA. The sparrows were living all up in the tiles. It was a more temperate better climate for sparrows than here, but even so, I just don't see them or hear them much at all.  The one place I still see sparrows is near restaurants where people eat outside, and near fast food places.

In Santa Monica and also San Diego areas every time there was rain or after people watered their lawn, dozens of blackbirds would appear on the lawn to eat insects, realizing now, I just do not see them any more. Years later in Hollywood, CA we had lots and lots of sparrows, mockingbirds up in the trees. Farther inland hundreds of crows; a little cooler, or higher elevations, more bluejays, etc.
We do have lots more predatory birds out here on the eastern areas - that may have something to do with it. Hawks, lots of eagles and also crows prey upon the birds in nests... In earlier decades, pretty sure people used to just shoot the crows when they got to be so many... nothing against crows but huge, huge flocks of them and they eat crops seeds and little birds. Seems that has got out of balance.
But the main reasons for the decline in bird population is the chemicals, as the article said...

ilinda

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Re: Birds are Vanishing From North America
« Reply #12 on: September 29, 2019, 08:11:45 PM »
Your post reminded me I haven't heard or see mockingbirds this year.  It was always actually humorous to hear them going through their repertoire, as some of the "songs" sounded almost like cell phones or machinery.  It was so cool to listen to. 

There are so many neither of us is naming that we haven't seen and may not ever see again.


ilinda

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Re: Birds are Vanishing From North America
« Reply #13 on: October 02, 2019, 02:06:06 PM »
Something we're observing might be related to the fact of birds disappearing:

Last year to some extent, and this year, to a much greater degree, dragonflies were plentiful from early spring, and still around as of today October 2.  Ordinarily we see dragonflies beginning in about August when they are busy flitting, dipping, and diving for smaller insects. 

This year we saw them in huge numbers beginning at least on April 21, which was their first mention in 2019 wildlife journal.  Couldn't figure out why we are seeing them from April through October, rather than from August on. 

Then remembered our discussions here and realized the smaller insects, ordinarily eaten by birds (bluebirds, Phoebe, etc.) are still around, so they serve as food for dragonflies which now can enlarge their feeding times in spring and summer.  It 's just a good guess for now, but it makes perfect sense.

Jimfarmer

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Re: Birds are Vanishing From North America
« Reply #14 on: October 03, 2019, 12:35:36 AM »
Quote
Something we're observing might be related to the fact of birds disappearing:
Interesting.   Also, recall from  "Re: 2019 Daily Headlines, MSM & NON-MSM Reportings
« Reply #340 on: September 27, 2019":

From   https://www.earthfiles.com/
*  September 26, 2019  Why Are So Many Earth Insects Dying? ... “This Oct. 15th, 2018, PNAS report is one of the most disturbing articles I have ever read.”   –  David Wagner, Ph.D., Prof. of Ecology,  Univ. of Connecticut.

Less food for birds leads to fewer birds, of course.

 

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