Sunday, April 29, 2012

Note from the author

Principalis, the very last of the ivory-billed woodpeckers, has carried the Staff of Aves and led the bird council in relative harmony for most of his life. Soon, his successor will be hatched from the cardinal family and the process will begin anew. This is the avian way.

But now changes have come, and Principalis must find a way to bring all birds together, to adapt to the growing threats to their way of life.

Tyto Alba, the disgraced barn owl in exile, feels differently. Now these differences have ignited a firestorm over why some birds feel they are better, more deserving, and rightful heirs to the Staff of Aves. Tyto’s long banishment from the council will end soon, bringing with it a new Tyto, a kinder, gentler, and much more devious Tyto.

When the barn owl puts his wicked plan in motion, no bird is safe,especially Principalis and the newly laid egg of his successor.

"Aves – The Age of Engagement" is a stand-alone 48,000-word independent reader children’s book, the first of a series. This is my first novel.

Welcome to the avian world.

- C.J. Berry

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

This is not an anomaly.

Water shortage causes avian cholera outbreak, killing 10,000 migrating birds
More than 10,000 migrating birds have died this year in Oregon and California from an avian cholera outbreak caused by water shortages in the Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimates that the death toll could end up being as high as 20,000 birds in the coming months.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Study shows birds are slowly adjusting to climate change

ALBANY, N.Y.—A new study based on the National Audubon Society's North American Christmas Bird Count finds birds have taken decades to adjust their ranges northward in response to warming winters.

Frank La Sorte, a post-doctoral researcher at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in Ithaca, was lead author of the study published online this month by the Journal of Animal Ecology. He said animals adjust to rising minimum winter temperatures by shifting their ranges northward. Since birds are highly mobile and migrate north and south with the changing seasons, they're better able to shift their ranges than less-mobile, non-migrating species, like amphibians.
AP photo

But the study of 59 bird species found it's not all that easy or quick. And some birds are better equipped to follow the changing climate than others.

Take black vultures. While the minimum winter temperature increased from 1975 to 2009, it took black vultures 35 years to catch up with the trend. Over that time, they have spread northward as far as Massachusetts, where winters now are similar to Baltimore's in 1975.

On the other hand, the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker hasn't moved at all. La Sorte said that could be because they have such specialized habitat needs, found only in the sandy longleaf pine forests of 11 southern states. "It might be good to go in and look at how well they're coping" with the rising temperature, La Sorte said Tuesday in an interview. "It depends on their physiological tolerance, and changes in the prey base."

Read full story here:

Friday, February 17, 2012

This is what Principalis warns about in "Aves"

Apparently, our woodpecker friend isn't just a loon.

SUMMIT COUNTY — Global warming is likely to drive hundreds of bird species to extinction in coming decades, as more intense and frequent extreme weather events destroy habitat and make foraging impossible.

“Birds are perfect canaries in the coal mine – it’s hard to avoid that metaphor – for showing the effects of global change on the world’s ecosystems and the people who depend on those ecosystems,” said Çağan Şekercioğlu , an assistant professor of biology at the University of Utah.
Şekercioğlu recently reviewed 200 scientific studies on climate change impacts to birds, concluding that 600 to 900 species are likely to go extinct by 2100. For context, there area about 10,000 bird species worldwide. The research suggests that each degree of warming could lead to the extinction of an additional 100 to 500 species.

Read full story here:

Courtesy photo

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Truth is stranger than fiction

Sounds a lot like a scene in the book, except it's an Associated Press story.

 Wed, Dec 14, 2011
ST. GEORGE, Utah (AP) — Thousands of migratory birds were killed or injured after apparently mistaking a Wal-Mart parking lot,football fields and other snow-covered areas of southern Utah forbodies of water and plummeting to the ground in what one state wildlife expert called the worst mass bird crash she'd ever seen.
Crews went to work cleaning up the dead birds and rescuing the injured survivors after the creatures crash-landed in the St. George area Monday night.
AP photo
By midday Wednesday, volunteers had helped rescue more than 3,000 birds, releasing them into a nearby pond. There's no count on how many died, although officials estimate it's upwards of 1,500.

Read the full story here:

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

This story says it all: 13.7 million birds die every day in the U.S.

At the beginning of this month when about 5,000 red-winged blackbirds fell from the sky in one night in Arkansas, biologists were called on to put a damper on public speculation about pesticides and secret military tests by reminding everyone how many birds there are and how many die. They often do so as a result of human activity, but in far more mundane and dispiriting ways than conspiracy buffs might imagine.

Five billion birds die in the U.S. every year,” said Melanie Driscoll, a biologist and director of bird conservation for the Gulf of Mexico and Mississippi Flyway for the National Audubon Society.

Read full story here:

Monday, January 17, 2011

Aves: A fiction novel based on facts.

This appeared in the New York Times Jan. 17, 2011: 

Pesticides kill 72 million birds directly, but an unknown and probably larger number ingest the poisons and die later unseen. Orphaned chicks also go uncounted.

And then there is flying into objects, which is most likely what killed the birds in Arkansas. The government estimates that strikes against building windows alone account for anywhere from 97 million to nearly 976 million bird deaths a year. Cars kill another 60 million or so. High-tension transmission and power distribution lines are also deadly obstacles. Extrapolating from European studies, the Fish and Wildlife Service estimates 174 million birds die each year by flying into these wires. None of these numbers take into account the largest killer of birds in America: loss of habitat to development.
All of this explains why about a quarter of the 836 species of birds protected under th eMigratory Bird Treaty Act are in serious decline. For a third of the other birds there is not enough information to be sure about the health of their populations.

Read full story here.