Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Test Your Knowledge of Global Warming

Take the Test Your Knowledge of Global Warming quiz courtesy of the National Audubon Society Website. I finally got around to watching Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth a few nights ago so I had most of the answers fresh in my mind, but it's a good review nonetheless.

Also found in this section of the site is information about global warming's impact on wildlife and birds specifically. These include changes in migration timing, range and loss of habitat.

Here's an excerpt from the Audubon site:

Under two scenarios of global climate change, there will be major shifts in the
ranges and abundances of many of the 150 common bird species in the Eastern
United States over the next 100 years or so; 50-52% of species will decrease in
abundance by 25% or more, while 37-40% of species will exhibit range reductions
of 25% or more.

Another impact is the effect on pest outbreaks when changes in bird migration patterns cause insectivorous birds to miss the peak of seasonal bug populations.

Way back in my very first post I mentioned an old book I have that was passed down to me from my grandmother it's Chester A. Reed's Land Birds guidebook in the Bird Guide series. He hailed from Worcester, Massachusetts and the book was written in 1907. In his introduction he provides some interesting foresight into the future of bird populations and speculates as to what the causes of extinction will be. Global warming was not one of them, but it's still interesting to get the perspective of an ornithologist from that era.

He writes:

It is an undisputed fact that a great many of our birds are becoming more scarce each year, while a few are, even now, on the verge of extinction. The decrease in numbers of a few species may be attributed chiefly to the elements, such as a long-continued period of cold weather or ice storms in the winter, and rainy weather during the nesting season; however, in one way or another, and often unwittingly, man is chiefly responsible for the diminution in numbers. If I were to name the forces that work against the increase of bird life, in order of their importance, I should give them a: Man; the elements; accidents; cats; other animals; birds of prey; and snakes. I do
not take into consideration the death of birds from natural causes, such as old
age and disease, for these should be counterbalances by the natural increase.

There are parts that each one of us can play in lessening the unnatural dangers that lurk along a bird's path in life. Individually, our efforts may amount to but little, perhaps the saving of the lives of two or three, or more, birds during the year, but collectively, our efforts will soon be felt in the bird-world.

He goes on to discuss the need for enforcement of game laws, the practice of farmers burning over their land in the spring, winter hardships, accidents involving steeples, lighthouses, telephone and telegraph wires, nests becoming dislodged and falling due to movement of man, cattle and horses, and even accidental death caused by fatigue while crossing large bodies of water.

Another interesting hazard he discusses is that of domesticated and feral cats. This is something I find very interesting since it had never occurred to me before, despite having grown up with a cat that was an active hunter. It seemed natural to me despite the fact that cats are an introduced species that enjoy the luxury of having a constant supply of food at home that allows them to hunt for fun, based on instinct. I found an interesting article on the subject that I'll share in my next post.

I found information about Chester A. Reed and his father, Charles K. Reed on a feather trade website. It mentions the Bird Guide that I reference above, and claims that the three-book series was popular with the amateur naturalist and even has a picture demonstrating its illustrations and layout.

If anyone has more information about the Reeds and this the Bird Guide series please let me know. I'm interested to know how many of these books are still kicking around and if they're still used (I personally have referenced it and found it to be helpful in identifying birds).

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