Antarctic Adélie penguins, new count

This video says about itself:

14 March 2017

Scientists have their best estimate yet of how many Adélie penguins live in East Antarctica, numbering almost six million, 3.6 million more than previously estimated.

Read more about this here.


Trump’s United States Supreme Court nominee Gorsuch, bad news

This video from the USA says about itself:

College Classmate: Neil Gorsuch Attacked Anti-Apartheid & Civil Rights Protesters & Defended Contras

20 March 2017

As Neil Gorsuch begins his Supreme Court confirmation hearings, we look at his extreme right-wing political positions as a student at Columbia in the 1980s and speak with his former classmate, Jordan Kushner.

This video from the USA says about itself:

20 March 2017

As confirmation hearings begin for Neil Gorsuch, Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court, we look at his record on voting rights and speak with Ari Berman, senior contributing writer for The Nation. His recent piece is headlined “In E-mails, Neil Gorsuch Praised a Leading Republican Activist Behind Voter Suppression Efforts.”

This video from the USA says about itself:

20 March 2017

Confirmation hearings begin today for Neil Gorsuch, President Trump’s pick to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court. If confirmed by the Senate, Gorsuch would give conservatives a narrow 5-4 majority on the court. When he was first nominated, Gorsuch praised Antonin Scalia.

As a judge on the Tenth Circuit, Neil Gorsuch ruled in favor of Hobby Lobby in the case deciding whether the company could refuse to provide birth control coverage to employees as required by Obamacare. Judge Gorsuch also has a long history of ruling against employees in cases involving federal race, sex, age, disability and political discrimination and retaliation claims. For more, we speak with Fordham law professor Zephyr Teachout. She recently ran for a congressional seat in upstate New York. Her recent piece for The Washington Post is headlined “Neil Gorsuch sides with big business, big donors and big bosses.”

Himalayan mountain birds, new study

This video from India says about itself:

Barbets and other birds of the lower Himalayas

4 October 2011

Birds of Dehra Dun and Chakrata:

Great Barbet, Blue-Whistling Thrush, Black-Lored Tit, Grey-Hooded Warbler, Green-Backed Tit and Ruddy Shelducks.

According to Wikipedia:

“The Ruddy Shelduck, Tadorna ferruginea, is a member of the duck, goose and swan family Anatidae. It is in the shelduck subfamily Tadorninae. In India it is known as the Brahminy Duck.

There are very small resident populations of this species in north west Africa and Ethiopia, but the main breeding area of this species is from south east Europe across central Asia to southeast China. These birds are mostly migratory, wintering in southern Asia.

Although becoming quite rare in southeast Europe and southern Spain, the Ruddy Shelduck is still common across much of its Asian range. It may be this population which gives rise to vagrants as far west as Iceland, Great Britain and Ireland. However, since the European population is declining, it is likely that most occurrences in western Europe in recent decades are escapes or feral birds. Although this bird is observed in the wild from time to time in eastern North America, no evidence of a genuine vagrant has been found.”

From the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in the USA:

How Do Birds Cope With Thin Air at High Altitudes?

The higher you go, the less oxygen you get with each breath and the tougher it is to be active. Just imagine how birds feel at high elevation as they go about their high-energy, high-exertion lifestyles. To understand how birds cope, researcher Sahas Barve turned to the steep Himalayan mountains of his native India. Intriguingly, he found that migrant songbirds had a different approach than the birds that live high year round. Find out how they do it.

New bird species discovery in Colombia

This video from Colombia is called Endemic Tatamá Tapaculo – Scytalopus alvarezlopezi – Apia, W Andes.

From Sci-News:

Tatama Tapaculo: New Bird Species Discovered in Colombia

Mar 20, 2017 by Sergio Prostak

A new species of tapaculo — called the Tatama tapaculo (Scytalopus alvarezlopezi) — has been discovered in the cloud forests of Colombia’s Western Andes.

The Tatama tapaculo was first spotted in June 1992 in Colombia’s Risaralda department by Dr. F. Gary Stiles, an ornithologist at the Institute of Natural Sciences at the National University of Colombia.

Now studies of the bird’s vocalizations and DNA have confirmed it to be a unique species.

The discovery is outlined in the April 2017 issue of The Auk, the official publication of the American Ornithologists’ Union.

“We take pleasure in naming this species in honor of Humberto Alvarez-Lopez, the ‘dean of Colombian Ornithology,’ for his many contributions to the knowledge and study of this country’s birds over nearly half a century,” Dr. Stiles and co-authors said.

“We suggest the English name of the Tatama tapaculo for Scytalopus alvarezlopezi because the majority of localities for this species are in the middle sector of the Western Andes near the border between Risaralda and Choco Departments, in which the most prominent and best-known mountain is Cerro Tatama.”

The tapaculos, a group of passerine birds in the family Rhinocryptidae, are small to medium-sized birds, with a total length between 10 and 23 cm and a weight between 10 and 185 grams.

They have short, broadly rounded wings, straight bill, longish legs, strong feet for scratching in the earth; most with short tail.

Most species are reddish brown or gray, with spots or bars; those of woodlands are darker than those of open scrub country.

The Tatama tapaculo is a medium-sized, blackish tapaculo.

“Males are black above, the rump slightly tinged dark brown; dark grayish-black below; the posterior flanks, extreme lower abdomen, and crissum are broadly and slightly indistinctly barred black and dark rufous; the primaries and tail are dark brownish-black,” the researchers said.

“Female and juvenile plumages are presently unrecorded.”

The new species forms part of a distinctive clade of Scytalopus tapaculos that also includes the Stiles’s tapaculo (S. stilesi) and the Magdalena tapaculo (S. rodriguezi), which occur on the Central and Eastern Andes of Colombia, and the Ecuadorian tapaculo (S. robbinsi) from Ecuador.

The bird is easily diagnosable from its near relatives by its song and mitochondrial DNA; differences in plumage exist but are more subtle.

It inhabits dense understory vegetation on the floors and lower slopes of ravines in cloud forest at elevations of 1,300 to 2,100 m.

Dr. Stiles and his colleagues — Dr. Oscar Laverde-R. of the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana and Dr. Carlos Daniel Cadena of the Universidad de Los Andes — believe that the Tatama tapaculo is not threatened at present, but could be potentially vulnerable due to its restricted distribution.

“At present, we would consider the Tatama tapaculo to be ‘Nearthreatened’ or at most, ‘Vulnerable,’ because of its limited distribution and restriction to intact forest, but because its habitat — at least in the Tatama region — is fairly continuous and for the most part not threatened, and because it is locally common to abundant, we see no reason to raise any higher red flags,” they explained.

“However, because of the potential effects of climate change, its abundance and elevation range should be monitored into the future.”

New national parks in Argentina

This 2014 video, in Spanish, is called Mar Chiquita, Miramar Córdoba.

From BirdLife:

14 March 2017

Argentina will have two new National Parks

At the stroke of a pen, the largest saltwater lake of South America, Mar Chiquita, and the nearby Estancia Pinas are now set to become National Parks.

Clouds of up to half a million phalaropes cover the sky, almost blocking the sun. The horizon then turns pink with over 100,000 Chilean flamingo Phoenicopterus chilensis living and nesting there. The gold of the grasslands, protecting the enigmatic maned wolf Chrysocyon brachyurus, is so bright it makes your eyes squint. The water covers everything as far as the eye can see, but the sounds and colours of the birds stand in a festival for the senses capable of moving any human being: Mar Chiquita is a true “sea of ​​nature”.

This is the daily life at Mar Chiquita and the Dulce River, the largest salt lake in South America, a Wetland of International Importance according to the Ramsar convention and one of the five Important Bird Areas (IBAs) in danger of Argentina.

A few years ago Aves Argentinas (BirdLife in Argentina) set out to work to achieve the effective conservation of many of its IBAs, especially those categorized as “in danger”. This was the case 3 years ago with Buenos Aires Lake, fundamental for the future of the Hooded Grebe Podiceps gallardoi, which today is largely covered by Patagonia National Park.

The time has now come for Mar Chiquita. Although currently listed as a Multiple Use Reserve it has several problems of forest clearing, unplanned use of water resources and tourism, and illegal hunting that affect it negatively. This is why Aves Argentinas, with the objective of turning it into a National Park, began work in the area, identifying fiscal areas that could be joined to the protected area and getting donors for eventual land purchases. Local actors, researchers, environmental educators, the Bird Watchers Club and villagers were all involved in the process. Little by little, the idea of a National Park took shape and strength.

The provincial and national governments then became enthusiastic about the project. The National Park Administration gave its approval and on Monday March 6 all parties signed an agreement to begin work on the creation of the new National Park – which could exceed 700,000 hectares and so will become the largest National Park in Argentina.

It will become one of the most important national protected areas as it includes some of the most densely populated sites for birds in the country. It will undoubtedly become a favourite for birdwatching tourism in particular – which today attracts more than 40,000 foreigners each year to Argentina.

In a region that has been left behind, the new National Park is also a possibility for economic development. Within the framework of this agreement, Aves Argentinas integrates an advisory committee together with the local organization Yaku Sumaq and representatives of the Austral University.

Undoubtedly it might bring as well an auspicious future for migratory birds: shorebirds such as the Wilson’s Phalarope Phalaropus tricolor, Red Knot Calidris canutus, Hudsonian Godwit Limosa haemastica or the American Golden Plover Pluvialis dominica congregate there in large numbers.

In the northern grasslands there are rare and little-known species such as Dot-winged Crake Porzana spiloptera, Sickle-winged Nightjar Eleothreptus anomalus or Bay-capped Wren-spinetail Spartonoica maluroides.

In the few pieces of the Chaco plains that remain on the southern and eastern edges of the lagoon – the areas most affected by the advance of agriculture – there are still birds threatened by wildlife traffic such as the Ultramarine Grosbeak Cyanoloxia brissonii and even some of the rarer Yellow Cardinal Gubernatrix cristata.

In addition to the big news, the agreement signed between the national government and the province brought another round of good news as it also establishes the joint work for the creation of another new National Park in Estancia Pinas, a 100,000 hectare site of dry chaco plains in the west of the Córdoba province (central Argentina).

In this site we can find populations of Chaco Eagle Buteogallus coronatus, among many other bird species, and the last populations of guanacos Lama guanicoe of the province. Furthermore, populations of the recently discovered Chacoan peccary Catagonus wagneri, an endangered species that was believed extinct until decades ago.

As Aves Argentinas celebrates its centenary, the BirdLife community rejoices the good news – the result of years of hard work. Without a doubt, great news for people, birds and nature.

Conserving the natural grasslands of South America. As agriculture, forestry, roads and urbanization brought economic development to the vast grasslands of South America, the area of this important ecosystem was reduced by half. Luckily, ranchers and conservationists are joining forces to save these vital lands: here.