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An open conversation about the birds in your back yard and beyond

Tree Swallows almost always use feathers in nest construction

Tree Swallows almost always use feathers as nest construction material. I’ve found as many as a dozen in one nest. The feathers are usually white. I see this in the nest boxes I tend at a golf course in Wayzata. I have no idea where the birds find the feathers. Farms, farms with chickens, are few here, even in the western parts of the county. I used Trumpeter Swans feathers for these photos, feathers found near a Carver County pond owned by a friend. (The swans come to open water in the winter. )The swallow here struggled with the feathers, failing with larger, succeeding with smaller, fluffy feathers. This male Tree Swallow had encouragement but no help from its mate. Researchers say the feathers keep nests warmer. So, why don’t other cavity-nesting birds, like chickadees and woodpeckers, do the same?

CO2 content of atmosphere has passed a mark millions of years old

The carbon dioxide content of the Earth’s atmosphere was 411.276 parts per million (ppm) on May 15. On that date one year ago the count was 406.97 ppm.


A record high of 412.63 ppm was recorded on April 26. 


“Scientific American” magazine had this to say about the April 18 reading, the first time the measurement passed the 410 ppm mark: ”On April 18, the Mauna Loa Observatory recorded its first-ever carbon dioxide reading in excess of 410 parts per million (it was 410.28 ppm in case you want the full deal). Carbon dioxide hasn’t reached that height in millions of years.”


Measurements are made by two independent CO2 monitoring programs (NOAA and Scripps) at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii, about 3,400 metres above sea level.




“We’re just entering a new era in earth’s history,” Dr. Shakun said (Dr. Jeremy Shakun, Harvard). “It will be an unrecognizable new planet in the future. I think the only question is, exactly how fast does that transformation happen?”


New York Times, April 12, 2017, Justin Gillis writing about climate

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