Saving bees is saving
According to analysis
of four decades of Audubon's Christmas Bird Count released in February 2009
birds seen in North America
during the first weeks of winter have moved dramatically northward - toward
colder latitudes - over the past four decades.
movement occurred among 58% of the observed species - 177 of 305.
than 60 species moved in excess of 100 miles north.
Among all landbirds
in the study, 64% showed significant northward movements, including more than
70% of all woodland birds and 70% of the frequent feeders.
interior waterbird species moved north, including a wide variety of ducks, such
as Red-Breasted Merganser,
American Black Duck, and
coastal waterbirds including Black
Turnstone (a shorebird), Black-Bellied
Plover (a shorebird) and Northern
Gannet (a large fish-eating bird) moved north.
including Eastern and Western
Meadowlarks, Vesper Sparrow, and
Burrowing Owl, overall did not move
due to lack of available habitat.
Rising winter temperatures make
northern latitudes increasingly more
hospitable to many species commonly found farther south.
Christmas Bird Count has documented shifts to the north or inland for the
majority and for nearly every kind of North American bird species.
"Whether seen in the movement of the birds, or the melting of ice caps,
the evidence cannot be
denied - ecological disruption is underway.
Failure to prevent the
worst impacts of global warming would undermine much of the
that Audubon has accomplished for more than a century." - A Briefing for
Policymakers and Concerned Citizens on Audubon's Analyses of North American
Bird Movements in the Face of Global Warming, February, 2009; Audubon Christmas Bird Count and Climate Analysis by
Daniel K. Niven, Gregory S. Butcher and G. Thomas Bancroft; Audubon
California Climate Research by William B.Monahan and Gary
State of the Birds, USA 2009
Hawaiian birds and oceanic birds appear to be most at risk.
Grasslands and aridlands and their associated bird species have shown
the most rapid decline in the past 40 years.
Some declines have been
shown in birds that depend on forest habitats.
More than one-third of
all US listed birds occur in Hawaii with 71 species becoming extinct since
humans colonized the islands.
At least another 10 species are unrecorded in
recent decades and are thought to be extinct.
At least 39% of US birds
restricted to oceanic habitats are declining.
Wading birds and other
wetland birds have either held their own, or are increasing.
aridland birds, 39% are species of conservation concern, including at least 10
federally listed as endangered or threatened.
60% of all aridland
species and 76% of aridland obligate species have declined.
federally listed species or populations listed as endangered are:
Northern Aplomado Falcon,
San Clemente Loggerhead Shrike,
Least Bell's Vireo,
Black-Capped Vireo, and
Aridland species or populations listed as threatened are:
Western Snowy Plover,
Inyo California Towhee, and
San Clemente Sage Sparrow.
46 grassland-breeding birds, 48% are species of
including four species populations that are federally endangered:
Northern Aplomado Falcon,
Masked Northern Bobwhite,
Attwater's Greater Prairie-Chicken,
and Florida Grasshopper Sparrow.
Six species that breed in the Great Plains of the US and Canada and
winter in Mexico's Chihuahuan grasslands, Sprague's Pipit,
Chestnut-Collared Longspur, and
McCown's Longspur have shown
population declines of 68-91%. In addition, Lesser Prairie-Chicken is a candidate for
listing under the Endangered Species Act.
In the last three months of
2006, a new phenomenon began to occur in honey bee colonies which scientists
called Colony Collapse Disorder.
Losses range from 30-90% of bee
Beekeepers in the mid-Atlantic and Pacific Northeast regions
also reported significant losses of more than 50%.
Losses have been
reported in migratory operations wintering in California, Florida, Oklahoma and
Honey bee colony losses also have been reported in Canada and
Colony losses are occurring mostly because bees are failing to
return to the hive (which is largely uncharacteristic of bee behavior), bee
colony losses have been rapid and colony losses are occurring in large
The 1980s saw two periods of large
die-offs due to Varroa and tracheal mites.
are said to have eliminated most feral bee colonies in the mid-1990s.
The pathogen Paenibacillus larvae is the most serious honey bee
pathogen and causes American foulbrood (AFB), which is a disease of larval
Mite and pathogen infestations have caused beekeepers to use
miticides and/or antibiotics.
High levels of bacteria, viruses, and
fungi have been found in the guts of the recoverable dead bees.
high infection levels are compromising the immune system of
the honey bees.
Several new pesticides have recently been put on the
market, many of which have now been banned in Europe.
One class of
insecticide which may
be part of the problem are neonicotinoids, which contain the active ingredient
imidacloprid, and similar other chemicals, such as clothianidin and
Imidacloprid is a systemic insecticide that acts as an
insect neurotoxin by interfering with the transmission of stimuli in the insect
Clothianidin adversely affects
insect immunity and promotes replication of a viral pathogen in honey
Thiamethoxam is a broad-spectrum, systemic insecticide,
absorbed quickly by plants and transported to all of its parts, including
pollen, where it acts to deter insect feeding.
Honey bees are affected
by such chemicals.
It is more than likely the combination of chemicals
is causing the collapse with 'neonicotinoids' being the tipping
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