Colorful Puffleg (Eriocnemis mirabilis)
Endemic to a tiny area in the western Andes of Colombia, this resplendent hummingbird remained undiscovered until 1967. Unfortunately, the mild Andean climate of the puffleg’s habitat has made it very attractive to human settlers, who have been clearing the cloud forest for crops and cattle grazing.
In 2005, ABC and its Colombian partner Fundación ProAves established the 3,341-acre Mirabilis-Swarovski Bird Reserve, to protect a core area of habitat from deforestation, and to ensure that this species survives for future generations. This reserve also protects the critically endangered Munchique Wood-Wren, endangered Chestnut-bellied Flowerpiercer, and other vulnerable bird species.
(via: American Bird Conservation) (photo: Luis Mazariegos)
Yellow-billed Loon (Gavia adamsii)
The Yellow-billed Loon is the largest of the world’s five loon species. It can be told from the Common Loon, which it resembles, by its larger yellow or ivory-colored bill. This species has very specific habitat requirements, needing deep, clear, clean bodies of water for successful breeding. Its nest is a small depression in a hummock constructed of mud or peat and lined with grasses, built close to the water’s edge. It feeds largely on fish, but takes some invertebrates and vegetation.
Threats include fishing bycatch, marine pollution coastal oil spills in both its breeding and wintering ranges (as many as 870 Yellow-billed Loons were killed in the Exxon Valdez spill), oil and gas development, rising sea levels caused by climate change, and subsistence harvest by Native Alaskans.
The Yellow-billed Loon was designated a candidate species for listing under the Endangered Species Act in 2009. Unfortunately, it is still awaiting the attention it requires.
(via: American Bird Conservancy) (photo: Luke Seitz)
Swainson’s Warbler (Limnothlypis swainsonii)
… a small species of New World warbler. Adults grow to 12.5–16 cm (4.9–6.3 in) in length and 11–20.5 g (0.39–0.72 oz) in weight. The wingspan averages at 23 cm (9.1 in). They feed on insects and other invertebrates.
Swainson’s Warblers are uncommon, mostly found in flooded swamplands and canebrakes of the south-eastern United States. They are a migratory species, with part of the population migrating southeastwards to the Greater Antilles and the other southwestwards to the Yucatán Peninsula region in winter. Pairs form and stake out and defend a territory for nesting. Nests are fairly large and bulky, constructed from moss, grass, and small leaves situated above ground in a tangle of tall reeds or vines. The female will lay between 3 to 5 eggs…
(read more: Wikipedia)
- illustration from Warblers of North America (1907), by Louis Fuertes Aggasiz
A Late Pummeling For Earth
by Richard A. Kerr
From the Mars-size object that slammed into our planet 4.5 billion years ago, forming the moon, to a bombardment that boiled off early oceans as recently as 2.5 billion years ago, Earth has taken some massive stonings in its lifetime. Now scientists think they know where the rocks were coming from. In a paper published online today in Nature, planetary dynamicists finger the now-depleted inner edge of the asteroid belt, located just outside the orbit of Mars.
Researchers had previously proposed that Jupiter and Saturn wandered toward the sun about 4 billion years ago, gravitationally slinging asteroids toward Earth as they went. But new computer simulations suggest that these planets would have also flung some innermost asteroids into inclined, but not perfectly stable, orbits. Slowly, these asteroids escaped from these orbits, pummeling Earth for billions of years to come.
(via: Science NOW) (image: Don Davis/NASA)