Conservation


Conservation Corner by Suzan Delozier

MIGRATORY BIRD TREATY ACT
The National Audubon Society is asking birders and all those who enjoy watching birds to send a letter to President Obama urging him to strengthen the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. This act came into being 100 years ago because of the trade in feathers that threatened to wipe out many bird species. According to Audubon, the law needs to be updated to protect birds from ‘21st century threats such as oil pits, power lines, communications towers and other deadly hazards.’ There is still time for President Obama to do this. Sign and send the letter at https://action.audubon.org/onlineactions/rXX3GXqnmEGeiqP9erh9qA2

IT’S ELECTION YEAR – DO YOU KNOW YOUR PRESIDENTS? The Sierra Club has a short online quiz on the environmental legacies of our presidents. One of the questions is: Which president signed the first piece of legislation to preserve Yosemite Valley and the Sequoia groves of California? a. Abraham Lincoln c. William Howard Taft b. Ulysses S. Grant d. Harry S. Truman You can find the whole quiz at here. Answer at bottom of Conservation Corner.

WEBSITES FOR BIRDERS AND GARDENERS
Cornell offers websites to enhance the enjoyment of birds year-round. On www.yardmap.org you can map your garden and create a bird friendly habitat. www.ebird.org allows the birder to keep track of checklists while contributing to citizen science. During the fall and winter, you can record the birds at your backyard feeders with Project Feeder Watch located at http://feederwatch.org/ (the only site with an annual fee).

“Jersey-Friendly Yards – Landscaping for a Healthy Environment” (www.jerseyyards.org) is a project of the NJ Department of Environmental Protection, Barnegat Bay Partnership and Ocean County Soil Conservation District. The goal of Jersey-Friendly Yards is clean water for drinking, fishing, swimming as well as for wildlife and the environment. It has a Jersey friendly plant database, a Jersey friendly interactive yard tool, information on rain barrels, lawn care, pollinators, pest management, and much more.

THE RUSTY PATCHED BUMBLE BEE
At the beginning of this month, the US Fish and Wildlife Service announced the listing of seven Hawaiian bees to the endangered species list. This was a first for any bees in the US. The listing followed years of study by the Xerces Society, state officials and independent researchers. Responding to information provided by the Xerces Society and other groups, the Fish and Wildlife Service now has proposed listing a bee that was once common in New Jersey as an endangered species. This bee is the rusty patched bumble bee.

The rusty patched bumble bee (Bombus affinis) was once common throughout the east and the upper Midwest but it is estimated that they have disappeared from 87% and possibly more of their former range. The worker bees have a rust-colored patch in the middle of their second abdominal segment. This bee is an excellent pollinator of wildflowers, cranberries, apples, plums and other important crops. All wild bumble bees face several threats including fragmentation of their habitat, use of highly toxic pesticides containing neonics, use of herbicides like Round Up that contain glyphosate which kills nectar plants, and the loss of native plants (which our bees co-evolved with) due to invasive non-native plants. Commercially bred bumble bees, which have been shown to carry a high pathogen load, interact with wild bees near greenhouses and spread the diseases to the wild bees. Finally, climate change may also have a negative effect.

https://environmental-action.webaction.org/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=18757&utm_source=Salsa&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=EAC4-FCNS:WILDLIFE-1016&utm_content=EM0:01A:0BH-AAP&uid=515381 One third of US crops are pollinated by bumble bees. The Xerces Society believes that endangered species protection is the only way to give the rusty patched bee a chance to survive. You may express your support for the proposal by signing a petition at https://environmental-action.webaction.org/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=18757&utm_source=Salsa&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=EAC4-FCNS:WILDLIFE-1016&utm_content=EM0:01A:0BH-AAP&uid=515381. For more information on the rusty patched bee and all pollinators go to http://www.xerces.org/rusty-patched-bumble-bee/ Additional source: http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-bumblebee-idUSKCN11R2TI Also, there is a 20 minute video at http://www.rustypatched.com/ called “A Ghost in the Making: Searching for the Rusty-Patched Bumble Bee” which follows the quest of one man to find and photograph the bee.

Answer to above question – A. Lincoln


HUMANS, ANIMALS, AND NOISE POLLUTION
In the May 2016 issue of our newsletter, the effect of light pollution on humans and animals was discussed. Often we do not think about the effect of noise pollution on people and animals. The February 2016 edition of Bay Nature magazine (see www.baynature.org) included an article about white-crowned sparrows in the San Francisco area and how the birds are changing their song in order to cope with human generated noise. One way that males have adapted to the noise is to sing at a higher frequency in order to be heard. However, evidence shows that females may prefer males that sing at a normal, lower frequency resulting in a possible negative impact on mating. Noise can affect an animal’s ability to locate prey, find a mate, communicate, and avoid predators.

What can be done about noise?
  • Traffic noise can be reduced by developing quieter roads and cars and installing noise-reduction barriers around major traffic areas. Lower speed limits also reduce noise.
  • Before construction on houses and industrial sites is allowed detailed environmental assessment should be done. Use of better materials and improved site planning is also necessary.
  • Establish ‘quiet zones’ for marine life. Developing greener technologies including quieter ships, hull shapes and machinery is being looked at by industry and government.
Noise won’t suddenly disappears. We won’t suddenly stop driving. But an awareness of the harm done by noise may spur the development of quieter technologies. Science will certainly be of help. People need to be active in getting legislation passed restricting noise. And we can all take small steps to mitigate our own noise. (Source: http://www.nova.org.au, key in ‘noise pollution and the environment’ in the search field.)


PETITION TO STOP SEISMIC AIRGUN BLASTING IN THE ATLANTIC
Oceana (www.oceana.org), an organization dedicated to ocean advocacy, asks that citizens tell NOAA (The National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration) to deny the use of seismic air-gun blasting used by gas and oil companies in the Atlantic Ocean. The blasts are so loud that they can be heard 2500 miles from the source and pose a threat to the last remaining North Atlantic right whales. Find the petition here.

HUMMINGBIRDS ON THE MOVE
Adult male ruby-throated hummingbirds migrate first, giving juveniles and adult females more time to fuel up (less competition from the adult males) and to prepare for their migration. How can you tell a juvenile male from the females? Juvenile males have noticeably streaked throats. The streaks can be green, black, or tan. A few red feathers may peek through. These little birds must eat 1.5 to 3 times their body weight each day and so must visit hundreds of flowers a day. Your garden and feeders are an important resource for them. Visit Journey North at http://www.learner.org/jnorth/ in the Spring to track the progress of hummingbirds headed north and to record your sightings if you wish. www.Hummingbirds.net/ also tracks the ruby-throated hummingbird's progress north.

A WEBSITE DEDICATED TO FORESTS
American Forests is an organization dedicated to protecting and restoring forests not only in wild places but in urban environments. Its website is www.americanforests.org/ and contains mounds of information on the relationship between forests and life on our planet. It has a question and answer page about tree care, a carbon footprint calculator, and an action center to enable citizens to become involved. And if someone says to you that planting trees does not benefit people and the planet consider these few points.