Birds In The News #5
Once more, my bird pals (fondly known as "my peeps") came through! We found stories about fossil birds and how people are making a difference in this world by helping birds, and we also found an avian database that is jam-packed with great information that birders, scientists and the public will find interesting for a variety of reasons (perhaps you have a photograph that you wish to donate to this project?) As a special feature, a reader kindly provided an amusing story and some photographs to delight you before I provide a counterbalance to the hilarity of the day (it's All Fools' Day today) by concluding this issue of Birds in the News with the penultimate example of foolishness. If you have interesting stories you've read, fun webcams you've found, photographs that you'd like to share with the public, or anything else that's "birdy", feel free to email them to me.
Birds in Science:
A Chinese scientist and his group claim they have discovered the earliest known fossil of a bird. Ji Qiang, a research fellow with the Geology Institute under the Chinese Academy of Geological Sciences, claims that the fossilized Jinfengopteryx elegans is more primitive than archaeopteryx, previously considered the world's earliest bird. Unfortunately, no pictures are included with the story.
Avibase, the world bird database the brain child of birder Denis Lepage of Quebec, seeks thumbnail photographs for inclusion in this massive avian taxonomic information project that is freely available to the public. Available in 13 languages, this on-line database provides a vast amount of information, ranging from range maps to species profiles. Take a peek and give feedback to Denis on this incredible undertaking.
People helping Birds:
Egg thieves run rampant in the UK, a problem that could easily extinguish an entire species. As a result, At Newton Marsh in Lancashire, United Kingdom, nesting black-tailed godwits, Limosa limosa, are provided with a 24-hour guard while they nest and raise their chicks. Black-tailed godwits, also known as the red godwit, are large and elegant wading birds that live in wet meadows, estuaries, salt water lagoons and salt marshes. They spend their winters in Africa. They are one of the rarest breeding bird species in the UK.
Congratulations are in order for the kakapos, Strigops habroptilus, who live on the southern tip of New Zealand and to the team of people who are hoping to keep them from slipping into the mists of extinction. Kakapo breeding success tells the story of the newest kakapos born into the world and has several pictures, including this very cute picture of the first kakapo chick born in 2005. (Aren't this chick's tiny, perfect feet impressive?)
This website is devoted to Pink Floyd, the Chilean flamingo, Phoenicopterus chilensis, who has delighted and surprised tourists throughout the northwestern United States. Pink Floyd escaped from the Tracy Aviary in Utah in 1988 and has lived free ever since. This website tracks Pink Floyd's movements.
Helping birds is a great way to help people, as so eloquently stated by one of the people who helped save this lucky bird's life; "It was one of those things that helps your soul".
Reader Photo Gallery:
Peek a boo with a wild bird. These photos and narrative appear here with permission from the photographer, Joy, an artist who watches birds in Washington State. Click on each picture to see a larger version in its own window. Enjoy!
Joy writes; Getting those shots was a fun moment for me because when I first saw the sapsucker I was quite a way off. Slowly I moved toward him thinking he would just fly away but he would just hide on the other side of the fence-post and allow me to get closer. Finally when I got real close he pretended he was hidden on the side and then looked over the top.
Who are the real fools here?
This story, Bharatpur sanctuary gasps to survive, serves as a tragic warning to the world regarding the dangers of overexploitation and destruction of ecosystems. In this case, conflicts between farmers and birds over fresh water have resulted in the birds losing their home. This story raises some questions; if water is so precious, then why are people sullying it by dumping raw sewage and other pollution into it, even while grabbing up more fresh water such that the birds are losing their only home? What will people do when they end up poisoning themselves with their filth? What will we all do when the entire ecosystem collapses due to overexploitation and destruction?
What happens when a bird's food source is systematically removed? As we go about our daily lives, some species are dying with a whimper, dwindling away until none are left. And for what?
The Time to Choose - the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment describes the very sobering scientific report released one week ago that predicted the collapse of most of the world's ecosystems within 50 years. The time to choose is now; what sort of world do we want to live in? It's our choice -- a choice that we cannot put off until tomorrow, a choice that we make every day, from how we get to work each day to who we vote for. What will be our species' legacy on this planet? Will we, too, become extinct after turning our home into a stinking disease-ridden toilet? If so, I am appalled and depressed beyond all words and beyond all hope.
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Non-academic job applications: 2 (science education coordinator, personal assistant to a CEO)
Academic rejections: 2 (I was one of 260 applicants er, rejections, for one of those positions)
Non-academic rejections: who knows? I have applied to almost twice as many non-academic positions as academic, yet I almost never receive any word at all about these positions. So-called "real life" employers obviously don't have any respect whatsoever for potential employees because they don't tell them diddly-squat about the status of their job applications.
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