Birds are disappearing from the forests near Los Alamos


Canary in a coal mine

❝ Researchers at Los Alamos National Laboratory recently published a paper about bird populations on the Pajarito Plateau…

Jeanne Fair’s team conducted this study from 2003 to 2013 on several hundred acres on the Pajarito Plateau. It revealed a 73 percent decrease in the abundance of birds and a 45 percent decrease in the diversity of birds…

❝ Fair is a scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory with a focus on epidemiology and animal disease ecology. She is the principal investigator for a long-term research project on the impacts of contaminants on avian populations…

I still chuckle when someone “discovers” that previously-acceptable levels of radioactive exposure and contamination are no longer OK. Forgive my cynicism; but, I worked in a research lab decades ago where half the scientists and researchers told exactly the same tale of work and radiation. Whichever lab handed over their paychecks in the name of “defense” and atomic weapons – made no difference. Every couple of years new research was announced describing how the level of radiation they were accumulating was considered safe no longer. They’d have to move on to a new job, less radiation, until they finally ended up on my turf – developing metallurgy for atomic power generating electricity. No radioactive sources on the premises.

I pay heed to those scientists whose analysis concludes that NO level of added atomic radiation is safe.

5 thoughts on “Birds are disappearing from the forests near Los Alamos

  1. Koyaanisqatsi says:

    “TA-21 cleanup enters second phase” (Los Alamos Monitor April 1, 2019) https://www.lamonitor.com/content/ta-21-cleanup-enters-second-phase “Located on DP Mesa, Tech Area 21 was built during the spring and summer of 1945 and was used for chemical and metallurgical work, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
    The site was eventually divided into two areas, DP East and DP West.
    East was for Tritium research, and West was for inorganic and biochemistry research. The site was mostly closed down in 1977 as work was transferred to a new plutonium facility.”
    Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), Site-Wide Environmental Impact Statement for TA-21 (2004) https://www.lasg.org/maps/pages/contents/21contents.htm
    See also Site-wide Technical Area Boundaries Map https://www.lasg.org/maps/pages/contents/TAmainmap.htm

  2. Cassandra says:

    “Birds are vanishing from North America” (New York Times 9/19/19) The number of birds in the “United States and Canada has fallen by 29 percent since 1970, scientists reported on Thursday. There are 2.9 billion fewer birds taking wing now than there were 50 years ago.
    The analysis, published in the journal Science, is the most exhaustive and ambitious attempt yet to learn what is happening to avian populations. The results have shocked researchers and conservation organizations.
    Experts have long known that some bird species have become vulnerable to extinction. But the new study, based on a broad survey of more than 500 species, reveals steep losses even among such traditionally abundant birds as robins and sparrows.

  3. Miner's canary says:

    “As the climate warms, birds are shrinking and their wingspans are growing, according to a new study.” (BBC News) https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-50661448
    The authors say the study is the largest of its kind and that the findings are important to understanding how animals will adapt to climate change.
    “We found almost all of the species were getting smaller,” said lead author Brian Weeks, an assistant professor at the school for environment and sustainability at the University of Michigan.
    “The species were pretty diverse, but responding in a similar way,” he said. “The consistency was shocking.”

    “Bye-bye, birdie: Study finds North American birds getting smaller” (Reuters) https://www.reuters.com/article/us-science-birds/bye-bye-birdie-study-finds-north-american-birds-getting-smaller-idUSKBN1Y82NJ “Over the four decades, body size decreased in all 52 species. The average body mass fell by 2.6%. Leg bone length dropped by 2.4%. The wingspans increased by 1.3%, possibly to enable the species to continue to make long migrations even with smaller bodies.
    “In other words, climate change seems to be changing both the size and shape of these species,” said biologist Brian Weeks of the University of Michigan’s School for Environment and Sustainability, lead author of the study published in the journal Ecology Letters.

    Ecology Letters: “Shared morphological consequences of global warming in North American migratory birds” https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/610329v1.full
    See also “Bergmann’s rule” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bergmann%27s_rule

    • eideard says:

      American politicians (mostly male) – and the pimps who own then – won’t do much about climate change unless (gasp) they notice their dicks are getting smaller…

  4. p/s says:

    “Fifty years of data show new changes in bird migration” (American Ornithological Society Publications Office 2/20/20) https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2020-02/aosp-fyo021320.php “Although the researchers emphasize that their findings can’t be explicitly linked to climate change without incorporating climate or environmental data, they believe similar methods could be useful for tracking the effects of climate change on birds. “The protraction of fall migration means that the season is getting longer overall, but it could also mean that the breeding season may be shifting, ending earlier for some individuals but later for others. To determine what this means in the context of breeding season shifts in timing, additional studies that incorporate both arrival on the breeding grounds and, importantly, departure from them are needed”. “More studies of these patterns of fall migration timing and, even more so, both spring and fall migration timing across years are needed to gain the complete picture of how species are changing migration timing.”
    “Seasonally-specific changes in migration phenology across 50 years in the Black-throated Blue Warbler” https://academic.oup.com/auk/article-lookup/doi/10.1093/auk/ukz080.

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