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Blog Birding #421

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At the American Ornithological Society Blog, Stephanie DeMay explains how Red-cockaded Woodpeckers are responding to climate change.

How each species will respond to climate change is a research area full of unanswered questions, with important implications for the world our children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren will experience. These are not the questions I was hired to answer; my job was to partner with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and lead an analysis of the viability of Red-cockaded Woodpecker populations across their wide range in the southeastern United States.

At, Phuong Le explores the moral dilemma surrounding the decision to cull Barred Owl to save Spotted Owls.

He eyed the big female owl, her feathers streaked brown and white, perched on a branch at just the right distance. Then he squeezed the trigger and the owl fell to the forest floor, its carcass adding to a running tally of more than 2,400 barred owls killed so far in a controversial experiment by the U.S. government to test whether the northern spotted owl’s rapid decline in the Pacific Northwest can be stopped by killing its aggressive East Coast cousin.

How do woodpeckers do what they do? Ron Dudley of Feathered Photography looks at their many adaptations.

But they have other adaptations too and after my recent Northern Flicker blog post Dan Gleason emailed me to say (among other things) “Your final photo of the flicker is perfect for showing how a woodpeckers’ foot really works” and then he went on to explain some of the anatomy and biology involved. He also covered some of the interesting and unique properties of woodpecker tails since my flicker image illustrated that well too.  I already knew most of the information Dan provided but not all of it and he pulled it all together cohesively for me. So with Dan’s permission, which he kindly provided, I’d like to relay some of what he told me in my own words as best I can.

The Conservation Reserve Program was long celebrated as an effective way to preserve habitat for grassland birds, but as these lands return to agricultural production those birds suffer. More from Greg Stanley at the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. 

Enrollment in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), which was created under the federal farm bill in the 1980s, peaked nationwide and in Minnesota in 2007. That year Minnesota farmers enrolled more than 1.8 million acres. But as demand for corn and soybeans grew over the past decade, farmers pulled land out of conservation leases and Minnesota enrollment has fallen steadily, to just over 1 million acres last year.

A federal judge blocked the Trump Administration’s attempt to roll back restrictions on oil and gas exploration, which is a win for Greater Sage-Grouse. Andy McGlashen tells the story at Audubon. 

As a result, the more restrictive set of management plans from 2015 are once again in effect until the courts reach an ultimate decision on the legality of this year’s rollbacks. The administration is likely to appeal Wednesday’s ruling, which affects more than 51 million acres of sage-grouse habitat in Idaho, Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, Nevada, California, and Oregon.

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