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Monthly Archives: May 2012

The effects of water contamination on songbirds in the Marcellus shale area

The Countryside Conservancy and the South Branch Tunkhannock Creek Watershed Coalition will be presenting “Birds as indicators of surface water contaminants in the Marcellus Shale region of Pennsylvania” by Dr. Jeffrey Stratford on Monday, June 4th, at 6:30 pm at the Environmental Learning Center in Lackawanna State Park.

Dr. Jeffrey Stratford is a biologist at Wilkes University trained in tropical ornithology, forest fragmentation, and urban ecology. Dr. Stratford’s research for the last two years has taken him throughout the northeastern quadrant of Pennsylvania, focusing on whether or not any contaminants from hydrofracking have made their way into terrestrial birds.

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Clean Water – Healthy Communities

For centuries, our water resources have supported life and economic development in Pike and Wayne Counties, influencing our landscape in many ways. Today, it is necessary to encourage the growth and liveliness of our society, while supporting the health of the natural water resources, essential to the quality of life we enjoy in our community. The Conservation Partnership is offering a series of programs for you to learn more about how our water resources support our community and simple ways to be a responsible steward of our clean water.

Click here to view a flyer from the Conservation Partnership with information about programs providing opportunities for you to learn more about the water quality that supports Pike and Wayne Counties.

Climate Change has Impact on Birds

The release of vast amounts of carbon into the atmosphere is having dire consequences for bird populations, as this summary report describes.

With warmer winter temperatures becoming the norm, many animals are having difficulty adjusting for various reasons. A recent study of 59 North American birds species found that the adaptions are going slowly. For example it took 35 years for many bird species to move farther north for winter temperatures to match where they historically lived. The work was conducted at Yale University and supported through funding from the National Science Foundation. The researchers studied 35 years of data from the Audubon Christmas Bird Count and found that there is a strong delay in response to climatic change. For example, Black Vultures have spread north to winter as far a Massachusetts where current winter temperature is similar to what Baltimore, Maryland was in 1975. On the other hand, the endangered Red-cockaded Woodpecker did not alter its range at all despite the warming trend, possibly because its very specific habitat requirements precluded a range shift. Researcher Frank La Sorte at Cornell Lab of Ornithology, comments… “when you think about it, it makes sense that species move slower than the rate at which climate is changing they’re not just tracking temperature—many of them need to follow a prey base, a type of vegetation, or they need certain kinds of habitat that will create corridors for movement.”

Variability in climate warming is likely to affect how species respond, too, La Sorte said. “But accelerated warming, which is likely as global carbon emissions continue to increase, may put additional strain on birds. The study highlights these challenges and the high potential climate change has for disrupting natural systems.”

Scientists say that 350 parts per million carbon in the atmosphere is the safe limit for humanity. We are presently at 392 ppm and that needs to be reduced quickly for a healthier future.

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