SCIENTIFIC NAME:Mergus serrator POPULATION: 370,000 TREND: Stable HABITAT: Breeds on wooded lakes and tundra ponds; winters mainly on salt water.
The handsome Red-breasted Merganser is a welcome sight along coastlines during the winter. This sea-going duck is notable for its long, red, serrated bill, which gives it the species name serrator.
One of the Red-breasted Merganser’s notable features is a shaggy-looking double crest, which reminds some of a bad case of “bed head.” The colorful male sports a metallic-green head, white neck band and wing patches, a red bill and eyes, and a reddish, black-speckled breast, for which the bird is named. The female is mostly gray with an orange-brown head.
Every year in early spring, Lane Green sets half of his property—100 acres of longleaf pine forest in the Red Hills region of the Florida Panhandle—on fire. Green, 73, has been burning this land since the time he learned to walk. His father would jury-rig a torch using a wire hanger and piece of cloth and tell him to drag it through the brush along the road—just as Green’s father had been taught before him, his granddad before him, and his great-granddad before him. When Green was young, his favorite time to burn was at night, when the air was cool, and the fire, creeping and crackling, looked as if the stars had been scattered across the ground.
Scientists and land managers almost universally agree that prescribed fire is the single best tool available to help mitigate wildfire risk. Landowners in the American Southeast use more prescribed fire than in any other part of the country. But across much of the American West—which has captured an outsize proportion of the public imagination around wildfire—scientists say land management agencies aren’t using fire nearly enough.
PLANET EARTH IN SILHOUETTES has over 1,500 members and over 23,000 photos.
Protecting all birds across the Western Hemisphere, but 25 are a special focus for us. These birds range from the rare Marvelous Spatuletail of Peru to the wide-ranging Bobolink, a familiar but rapidly declining species.
The Canudos Biological Station, located in Brazil’s Bahia Department, is a pioneering initiative managed by Biodiversitas Foundation that protects one of the planet’s most endangered and admired birds, theLear’s Macaw(EN). Thanks to focused conservation efforts, the species’ numbers have increased from a few dozen in the late 1980s to approximately 1,700 today. The 3,274-acre reserve is striking: Its sandstone canyons are weathered into odd forms, cloaked in Caatinga habitat with giant cacti and unique flora, including the Licuri Palm, an important food for the macaw.
In addition to the Lear’s Macaw, you are likely to see other northeastern Brazil endemics, including the Broad-tipped Hermit (LC), Red-shouldered Spinetail (LC), and Cactus Parakeet (LC). Also, watch for the Black-bellied Antwren (LC), Barred Antshrike (LC), Red-legged Seriema (LC), and Blue-winged Macaw (NT), among others. In the evenings, a guide-led night walk might reveal the Rufous Nightjar (LC) and several owl species.
BREAKING: Greenpeace and Mosquito Fleet activists are LIVE in Seattle Harbor blocking a Kinder Morgan barge from entering into the oil company’s facility to protest its threats to Indigenous rights, our water and our climate.