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BIRD OF THE WEEK
SCIENTIFIC NAME:Passerina cyanea
POPULATION: 78 million
HABITAT: Shrubby areas such as old fields, hedgerows, and forest edges.
A male Indigo Bunting in breeding plumage is a glorious symphony of shimmering blues, turquoises, and purples. But these beautiful colors are illusory.
Bunting owes its glorious appearance to an optical trick — the diffraction of light through its feathers. In poor lighting, the bunting’s glorious colors disappear and it becomes a plain, dark-colored finch.
But Indigo Buntings are more than a treat for the eyes — this species also helped reveal some important secrets about how birds migrate.
Reclaim Childhood promotes leadership skills and interaction between different refugee and local communities through participation in sport.
Reclaim Childhood, a non-profit sports programme for refugee and local girls in Jordan. The programme’s aims are threefold: to provide a safe space for girls to play, to connect different refugee and local communities that may not otherwise interact, and to empower women and girls through participation in sport.
POPULATION: Estimates vary widely, from less than 1 million to more than 5 million.
IUCN STATUS: Vulnerable
HABITAT: Breeds where boreal forest meets wetland. Winters in wooded wetlands.
Rusty Blackbird lost between 85 and 95 percent of its population, making it one of the fastest declining North American landbirds. The only North American blackbird more troubled is the Tricolored Blackbird, a localized and declining bird of West Coast wetlands.
At first blush, the Rusty Blackbird’s growing scarcity makes no sense. After all, much of the bird’s breeding range in the boreal forest is remote and roadless, so human impact seems a less likely factor than in areas with cities and suburbs.
For now, scientists strongly suspect a few factors at play in the bird’s decline:
Climate change, which may cause wetlands to dry up more frequently, and also may throw off peak times for aquatic and other insects, affecting blackbird breeding.
Destruction of wetlands for agriculture in the United States wintering range, combined with degradation of remaining habitat.
A combination of these and other threats, including the poisoning of blackbird flocks and infiltration of Red-winged Blackbirds and Common Grackles into degraded habitats, where these birds likely compete with Rusty Blackbirds.