People opposed to a clean economy argue that birds get killed by wind turbines so therefore we shouldn’t build wind farms. Of course, those same people would argue that we should stick to planet-killing fossil fuels instead; somehow, in their minds using fossil fuels is better than renewables when it comes to protecting nature. To hopefully put this ridiculous debate to bed The Economist has stepped in. The magazine that is trapped in the last century agrees that when it comes to power generation and protecting nature that renewable energy is best.
But Dr Katovich did not confine his analysis to wind power alone. He also examined oil-and-gas extraction. Like wind power, this has boomed in America over the past couple of decades, with the rise of shale gas produced by hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, of rocks. Production rose from 37m cubic metres in 2007 to 740m cubic metres in 2020.
Comparing bird populations to the locations of new gas wells revealed an average 15% drop in bird numbers when new wells were drilled, probably due to a combination of noise, air pollution and the disturbance of rivers and ponds that many birds rely upon. When drilling happened in places designated by the National Audubon Society as “important bird areas”, bird numbers instead dropped by 25%. Such places are typically migration hubs, feeding grounds or breeding locations.
Seabirds like the puffin are cute and curious things, and it turns out that if we help them thrive we can help the carbon cycle. Habitats that are good for seabirds can sequester carbon efficiently and due to the level of nutrients can provide energy for other lifeforms. The key for seabirds is their colony size, right now they are tiny and spirited; instead, by getting colonies to be in the same area the benefits are exponential due to more robust biodiversity.
Restoring seabirds could bolster ocean ecosystems and their ability to draw down carbon dioxide, said Hans-Otto Pörtner, a climate scientist at the Alfred Wegener Institute in Germany, who recently co-authored a research paper in Science that spells out the the connections between biodiversity, ecosystem protection and climate stabilization.
In addition to direct CO2 emissions from burning fossil fuels and other industrial processes, the disruption of ecosystems and biodiversity declines have also significantly contributed to rising atmospheric greenhouse concentrations that are heating up the planet, he said.
“Biodiversity loss contributes to climate change through loss of wild species and biomass,” the paper concluded. “This reduces carbon stocks and sink capacity in natural and managed ecosystems, increasing emissions.”
In Iceland puffins get help from humans who volunteer on the Puffling Patrol to ensure that the little birds can thrive. When baby puffins, known as pufflings, hatch they usually head to the sea from their nests on shore, but when bright lights are nearby they’ll go towards the light. To get these pufflings away from dangerous lit areas like roads, factories, or other human made structures volunteers escort the birds to the water. It’s adorable and helpful.
They’re part of the Puffling Patrol, a Heimaey volunteer brigade tasked with shepherding little puffins on their journey. Every year during the roughly monthlong fledging season, kids here get to stay up very late. On their own or with parents, on foot or by car, they roam the town peeking under parked vehicles, behind stacks of bins at the fish-processing plants, inside equipment jumbled at the harbor. The stranded young birds tend to take cover in tight spots. Flushing them out and catching them is the perfect job for nimble young humans. But the whole town joins in, even the police.
No one knows exactly when the tradition started. Lifelong resident Svavar Steingrímsson, 86, did it when he was young. He thinks the need arose when electric lights came to Heimaey in the early 1900s. Saving the young birds likely began as “a mix of sport and humanity,” Steingrímsson tells me in Icelandic translated by his grandson, Sindri Ólafsson. Also, he says, people probably wanted to sustain the population of what was then an important food source.
Radiology is very complex and even doctors with years of training and experience can make misdiagnoses. So far AI systems haven’t been competitive with humans; however, pigeons are. Researchers trained pigeons to identify cancers in radiology images and concluded that the birds are just as good, if not better, than human observers. With the increasing costs of healthcare maybe paying workers in birdseed is a potential solution.
We report here that pigeons (Columba livia)—which share many visual system properties with humans—can serve as promising surrogate observers of medical images, a capability not previously documented. The birds proved to have a remarkable ability to distinguish benign from malignant human breast histopathology after training with differential food reinforcement; even more importantly, the pigeons were able to generalize what they had learned when confronted with novel image sets. The birds’ histological accuracy, like that of humans, was modestly affected by the presence or absence of color as well as by degrees of image compression, but these impacts could be ameliorated with further training. Turning to radiology, the birds proved to be similarly capable of detecting cancer-relevant microcalcifications on mammogram images.
We all love cats, they’re curious and fluffy and provide mixed feedback on whether they like you or not. We all love birds too, that’s why we shouldn’t let them meet. If you are a cat owner please please please keep your cat inside. Cat’s account for millions of bird deaths every year and are a major influence on the decline of bird populations.
Domestic cats are a threat to birds because they don’t eat what they kill, and keep on killing for fun. There is an easy solution to save wonderful birds: keep your cat inside.
Marra tells the story of Tibbles the cat, who traveled with her owner to an untouched island south of New Zealand in 1894. There, she single-pawedly caused the extinction of the Stephens Island wren, a small, flightless bird found only in that part of the world. Most cats arenâ€™t as deadly as Tibbles, but your average outdoor pet cat still kills aroundÂ two animals per week, according to the Wildlife Society and the American Bird Conservancy. The solution for these cats is simple, says Marra:Â Bring them indoors. TheÂ Humane Society of the United States agrees.