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

Age 64, albatross returns to nest again

Sixty-four years old, the world’s oldest living tracked bird has returned to its nesting ground at the Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge. This Layson Albatross so far has raised as many as 36 chicks. Officials at the refuge say the bird could be older. It depends on when she began breeding, usually when at least five years old. Wisdom was banded in 1956. Layson Albatross usually lay one egg. Incubation lasts 130 days. With a wingspan of seven feet, this species ranges far in search for food. It is estimated that in her lifetime Wisdom has flown about six million miles.


Some birders in South Dakota are expressing concern about the Great Kiskadee being seen south of Aberdeen. They worry that this tropical species will not survive winter weather. It has been suggested that the bird be captured, and either cared for or returned to its usual range. Other birders have pointed out that the kiskadee is most likely here because of a faulty navigation system. Giving the bird a chance to breed and pass that glitch to offspring is viewed as a bad idea. The kiskadee is on its own, so far with success. It was last reported as seen on Nov. 28.

Why not Fahrenheit in news stories about climate change?

NOTE: In the news story on today's StarTrib front page discussing the Paris climate talks Assciated Press reporter Seth Borenstein does refer to temperatures in degrees Fahrenheit. Good for Seth!




I understand that Celsius is the temperature measurement used by science. So we read that the world’s temperature increase will be about 3.5 degree Celsius by the year 2100. Why do we use a scientific measurement term that few people in the U.S. understand? The problem is that 3.5C degrees sounds much better than the Fahrenheit equivalent of about 8 degrees. We all understand Fahrenheit. Few of us can convert Celsius. If news sources were talking about warming in terms of the thermometer hanging on your porch (8 degrees by the year 2100) we might pay more attention.


(Think of it this way: What is football TV broadcasters said, "It's second down for the Vikings, and seven meters to go." Wouldn't you say, what the hell?)


I will be dead in the year 2100. My youngest granddaughter will be 92, so the year 2100 is very real. She should be around for whatever horror +8 degrees will bring. Prof. Curt Stager, author of the book “Deep Future: The Next 100,000 Years of Life on Earth,” believes humans will still be around at that time. Conditions will be nasty, though.


China is being straightforward about the impact on climate change on that country. A report in The New York Times today, Monday, Nov. 30, the day the Paris climate talks begin, acknowledges climate impact in China, and the need for change. That might be one benefit of a single-party government where the boss has not only the final word but all of the words. Deniers have no vote.


In the carbon dioxide department, measurements at Mauna Loa in Hawaii, at a facility run by the  National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration, show current levels once again over 400 parts per million. The reading for Nov. 28 was 400.63 parts per million. This week last year the CO2 average was 397.78. Levels go up at this time of year because deciduous trees have lost the leaves that help remove CO2 from the atmosphere. El Nino also is having an impact. Scientists are predicting that the carryover from this will mean 400+ CO2 levels will be a given in days, months, and years to come. It’s a milestone, I guess, tied around our necks.


The past October was the warmest since 1880. The web page is my source for 3.5° Celsius. It says: “By 2100, we know that the earth faces atmospheric CO2 level of about 675 parts per million (ppm) and a global average temperature increase of about 3.5° Celsius above pre-indutsrial levels.”


Meanwhile, on Greenland this summer, in July, over 50 percent of the island’s surface ice was melting. Lot of water.


July 2015 was the warmest month on Earth since 1882, when records began to be kept. It was the 365th consecutive month of above average temps.


The CO2 average at Mauna Loa for the month of November was above 400 ppm. This is plotted on what is called the Keeling Curve. It is named for the scientist who created it. You can see the graph at scripps.ucsd,edu/programs/keelingcurve/. Also check


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