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Posts Tagged ‘Annual Cycles’

I was out walking at the Yolo Bypass National Wildlife Refuge, yesterday, and was treated to the sight of a flock of about 30 White-faced Ibis flying overhead. This is one of the species that I always look forward to seeing in the summer, here in Central California. They are beautiful and elegant birds, and seeing them always seems somewhat exotic feel, like you are in the tropics somewhere. The breeding range of this ibis is highly variable from year to year depending on water levels and food availability. Large numbers may nest in a general area one year, and none may be there the next. The total range that they can potentially breed in encompasses a huge area of the western U.S. This makes monitoring of their population levels rather hard because any survey would have to regularly cover the entire potential breeding area to accurately count the actual number of birds in any given year. No small task! Due to the fact that the White-faced Ibis often feeds in agricultural lands, they may be exposed to many of the pesticides and fertilizers that are used in growing our food. This heightened exposure potential makes them a possible “canary in the coal mine,” and so a particularly important species to monitor. This species’ winter range mostly resides in Mexico, and little or nothing is known about this part of their annual cycle, a fact that is true of so many bird species. A wonderful bird that I hope you all can get out and enjoy before they head south in a few weeks!

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