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BIRD: At 25, Backyard Bird Count Shows Power Of Citizen Science




Steve and Janet Kistler of Hart County, Kentucky, will definitely take part in the Great Backyard Bird Count when it starts on Friday. Since the now-global tradition began 25 years ago, they have done so yearly.

This will be the first count for Moira Dalibor, a middle-school math teacher in Lexington a couple of hours away. She’s leading a group of students and parents to a nursery for a data-gathering exercise.

They’ll be among hundreds of thousands of people worldwide, counting and recording over four days. The Great Backyard Bird Count, or GBBC, was completed by approximately 385,000 people from 192 countries last year.

“Every year, we see increased participation,” says Becca Rodomsky-Bish, project leader at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in Ithaca, New York, which organizes the count with the National Audubon Society and Birds Canada.

Tens of thousands of people submitted checklists in India, which had the highest participation outside of the United States last year — a 28% increase from 2021.

This global data is fed into the eBird database, which scientists use to research bird populations, which have declined dramatically in recent decades. It’s part of a growing trend of “citizen science” projects in which volunteers gather data about the natural world for researchers to use.

And, according to Steve Kistler, the more people interested in bird watching, the better.


Many Watchers Use eBird

“It’s fun and important to get the numbers, but it’s just a joyful thing to do,” says Kistler, who leads watching trips locally and internationally.

Many bird watchers use eBird all year, and it has amassed massive amounts of data — often between 1 million and 2 million bird checklists per month from around the world in the last few years, according to Rodomsky-Bish.

These figures assist researchers in tracking the ups and downs of various species, which aids in determining the direction of conservation efforts.

“We’re losing the net number of birds worldwide,” says Rodomsky-Bish.

Cornell University researchers discovered 3 billion fewer birds in North America in 2019 than in 1970.

“The bad news is that the declines in the data are coming out strong and hard,” Rodomsky-Bish adds. “The good news is that we wouldn’t know if we didn’t have that data. And this enables many areas to take direct action.”

According to her, the pandemic contributed to the increased interest in the GBBC and birds in general.

“Birds were company during this period of isolation,” she says, and observing them “is an accessible way to connect with the natural world. There are flyers everywhere. You are not required to leave your home. They will arrive… They’re also charming. They’re entertaining and fascinating to watch.”


Birds were company during this period of isolation

Compared to other counts, such as Audubon’s 123-year-old Christmas Bird Count and the Cornell Lab’s Project FeederWatch, the GBBC is user-friendly.

How it works: Participants observe birds by looking out the window for 15 minutes or traveling to a nature preserve. Organizers recommend the Merlin bird ID app for distinguishing birds based on size, shape, song, or other characteristics. Along with their phones, many participants carry field guides and binoculars.

They then enter their discoveries into the eBird app.

“‘I can contribute to science — it’s simple,’ anyone can say. “If I can identify one bird in four days, I’ve done my job,” says Rodomsky-Bish.

She says that counting in February gives a good picture of the situation before many birds start their yearly spring migrations.

Dalibor, who teaches at the Redwood Cooperative School in Kentucky, has been learning how to use the Merlin app and researching local species. The children will use pencils and clipboards to record bird sightings, and parent volunteers will enter those numbers into phones.

“It’ll be authentic data we collected ourselves that real scientists will use. Being connected to the larger world has a purpose and action behind it, which is unique for them,” Dalibor says.


50 grackles fly by in a flock; you get pretty good at estimating

Ganeshwar SV, director of the Salem Ornithological Foundation in India, prioritizes instilling a love of nature in young children. He works with schools to get them involved in conservation programs, such as the GBBC, and says the goal is “not to count but to enjoy birds.”

“It’s not uncommon for children to wander around in rural areas and use catapults (slingshots) to kill them,” he says. “The same hands that used catapults to hit them are now building nest boxes and taking notes on birds and their behavior.”

He claims that the students do not have smartphones and “wouldn’t have seen a binocular in real life.” They keep track of their sightings in notebooks.

Steve Kistler, in rural Kentucky, advises beginners to “start easy, birding around the home. Or go out with a group that day.”

“If 50 grackles fly by in a flock, you get pretty good at estimating,” he says, dismissing exact counts. We don’t need to have it down to the last grackle for what you’re doing.”

Bird counts can also become competitive.

“If you can outnumber last year’s species count, that’s a good day,” Kistler says.




Spring Equinox 2023: Traditions Of Renewal Echo Into The Modern World




Thomas Nashe, a 16th-century British poet and playwright, undoubtedly anticipated spring in his own vibrant, singsong manner:

The flowers kiss our feet; the fields breathe sweetly.
Young couples encounter each other, elderly women sit,
These melodies welcome our ears in every street: cuckoo, jug-jug, pu-we, and witta-woo!
The beautiful season of spring!

Lovely spring, indeed. This is the season to take in the advancing daylight, hear the chirping of birds, smell the blooming flowers, and feel the sun’s rising heat.

All of them point to the impending spring equinox in 2023. The Northern Hemisphere’s official first spring day symbolizes rebirth, a period of tradition, and a peaceful balance between day and night.


Some people prefer to have everything planned up to the minute of Spring.

According to EarthSky, the spring equinox will occur on March 20 at precisely 21:24 UTC (Coordinated Universal Time). The way that works at various locations throughout the world is as follows (all times are converted to Daylight Saving Time):

Hawaii’s Honolulu: 11:24 a.m.
• Victoria, Canada, and San Francisco, California: 2:24 p.m.
• Guadalajara, Mexico, and Santa Fe, New Mexico: 3:24 p.m.
• Kingston, Jamaica, and Minneapolis, Minnesota: 4:24 p.m.
• Charleston, South Carolina, and Montreal, Canada: 5:24 p.m.
6:24 p.m. Halifax (Canada).


Here are some more locations to visit when crossing the Atlantic:

• 9:24 p.m. in Dublin (Ireland) and Accra (Ghana).
• 10:24 p.m. in Paris (France) and Algiers (Algeria).
• Alexandria, Egypt and Helsinki, Finland: 11:24 p.m.

For time zones east of those mentioned above, the equinox occurs on March 21 on Tuesday. A few more locations

• Addis Ababa (Ethiopia) and Istanbul (Turkey): 12:24 a.m.
• 1:24 a.m. in Dubai (United Arab Emirates).
2:54 a.m. • Mumbai (India).
• Hanoi (Vietnam) and Bangkok (Thailand): 4:24 a.m.
Singapore time is 5:24 a.m.
• Osaka (Japan) and Seoul (South Korea): 6:24 a.m.

For a list of significant cities, click here. You can also use this link to find exactly when the spring equinox occurs where you live.

People in the Northern Hemisphere anticipate longer days, blooming flowers, and increased greenery. However, for those who live south of the equator, the equinox signals the beginning of fall.

Therefore now is the time for South Africans, Aussies, and Chileans to anticipate the cooler fall weather.

None of this truly matters to people living near the equator (in cities like Singapore or Quito, Ecuador). Year-round, they experience around 12 hours of sun and darkness.


The same concept is conveyed if “vernal equinox” is ever used.

The Latin word “equinoxium,” which means “equality between day and night,” is where the word “equinox” originates. Vernal, which is Latin for “spring,” also denotes.

An ideal line connecting the North and South Poles forms the axis around which the Earth revolves. It is called the axis, which rotates to give us day and night.

Yet, according to NASA, the axis tilts at a 23.5-degree angle. As a result, for half of the year’s orbit around the sun, one hemisphere of the planet will receive more sunlight than the other. This variation in sunshine initiates the seasons.

Between late June and late December, the effect is at its strongest. These are the solstices, and particularly close to the poles, they have the greatest changes between day and night. (This explains why it is so gloomy for such a long period each day in the winter in regions like Scandinavia and Alaska.)

Yet, you’ve probably noticed that the days have been getting longer and the nights shorter in the Northern Hemisphere since the winter solstice three months ago in December. We have now reached the spring equinox!

Future solar exposure will favor the Northern Hemisphere over the Southern Hemisphere. Because of this, the temperature rises as we approach the summer solstice in June.


The “almost” equal hours of day and night are caused by the complicated method used to calculate sunrise

On the equinox, you get a little bit more daylight than darkness, though how much more varies on where in the world you are.

How is that possible when there should be 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of darkness?

According to the US National Weather Service, the “almost” equal hours of day and night are caused by the complicated method used to calculate sunrise and the refraction of sunlight in our atmosphere.

The sun “appears above the horizon when the real position of the sun is below the horizon” due to these light beams being bent. Higher latitudes have longer days than the equator because the sun rises and sets more slowly as you move nearer the poles.

We had that truly equal day/night divide a few days before the spring equinox. It’s known as the equinox.

According to the website EarthSky, the equinoxes—spring or autumn—are excellent times to get your bearings if you enjoy watching the night sky. Just twice a year, on the equinoxes, does everyone on the Earth experience the sun rising in the east and setting in the west?

It is “a terrific day for finding east and west from your yard or another preferred place for studying the sky,” according to EarthSky. Just step outside at dusk or dawn and pay attention to where the sun appears in well-known locations.

Another interesting fact is that the sun sets faster in both hemispheres during equinoxes than during solstices. The cause? According to EarthSky, the setting sun strikes the horizon at the sharpest angle possible to the planet.


When the Earth’s tilt is the greatest, the sun sets more slowly during solstices

When the Earth’s tilt is the greatest, the sun sets more slowly during solstices. The impact also intensifies as you move further from the equator. Because of this, during the days leading up to the summer solstice, the sun never sets at all in the Arctic Circle.

People have gathered in England at the enigmatic Stonehenge for centuries to observe solstices and equinoxes. If you prefer small crowds, the equinoxes normally draw fewer people than the solstices. English Heritage arranges the festivities.

The Mayan location of Chichén Itzá in Mexico has unique connections to the equinox. On the equinoxes, a shadow tracing the outline of a snake of light (Kukulcán) descends the steps of the majestic pyramid known as El Castillo at the location.

Nevertheless, other ancient locations participate in the custom as well.

The annual Daffodil Day celebration will occur at Seattle’s Pike Place Market. While supplies last, market visitors will receive a complimentary bunch of daffodils.

The annual Cimburijada, or “Festival of Scrambled Eggs,” takes place in Zenica, a Bosnia and Herzegovina northwest of Sarajevo, on the first spring day.

Every culture in the globe observes the equinox. To name a few:

The Persian New Year is called Nowruz. It also goes by the names Nauryz, Navruz, or Nowrouz and means “new day.”

It doesn’t just happen to fall on the first day of spring. The Iranian calendar is a solar calendar, which means that time is established by Earth’s rotation around the sun by astronomical observations. Hence, the vernal equinox always marks the beginning of the year.

It’s a celebration of fresh starts, ushering in prosperity and the future while letting go of the past. Families use this time to buy new clothes, thoroughly clean their closets, and organize their houses.

According to, trying to stand an egg upright during the spring equinox is a well-liked game in China. The practice is claimed to have originated thousands of years ago, and it is said that anyone who can make an egg stand would be lucky. And native spring veggies are eaten by people all around China.

Vernal Equinox Day is a public holiday in Japan (on Tuesday, March 21, this year). Although Japan has undergone extensive modernization, its citizens still follow ancient customs like visiting family cemeteries and hosting reunions to celebrate the spring equinox.


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Arctic Sea Ice Thins In 2 Big Jumps, And Now More Vulnerable



arctic sea

According to a new study, climate warming targeted the critical thickness of the Arctic sea ice in two abrupt huge gobbles rather than gradually.

According to the study that underlines the significance of two large “regime shifts” that altered the character of the Arctic, sea ice swiftly lost more than half its thickness a little more than 15 years ago, becoming weaker, more susceptible to melting, and less likely to return.

Both 2005 and 2007 saw those significant bites. Before, it was challenging to leave the Arctic due to the older and misshaped sea ice. This allowed the arctic region to serve as the globe’s air conditioner during hotter summers. Yet as the ice in the Arctic gets younger, thinner, and easier to push out, it puts that vital cooling mechanism at greater risk, according to the study’s principal author.

Until 2007, 19% of the Arctic sea ice was at least 13 feet (4 meters) thick, making it taller than most elephants. Today, only 9.3% of the ice is at least that thick. The study published in Wednesday’s issue of Nature also found that the average ice age had decreased by more than a third, from 4.3 years to 2.7 years.

arctic sea

“The long-term impact of climate change on the Arctic sea ice” was cited.

A sea ice expert at the Norwegian Arctic sea Institute named Hiroshi Sumata is the study’s principal author. “Ice is considerably more vulnerable than before because it’s thinner; it may quickly melt,” he added. He asserted that all life forms in the Arctic depend on thicker sea ice.

The finding demonstrates “how the Arctic sea ice environment has experienced a fundamental transition,” according to Walt Meier, a scientist at the National Snow and Ice Data Center who wasn’t involved in the study. The reason the sea ice has yet to recover from those significant decreases is explained in this research.

Because satellites can easily assess the extent of Arctic sea ice, which is easier to measure than volume, previous studies focused more on that aspect of the ice’s distribution. Sumata overcame the difficulties of measuring from space by concentrating his observations on that ground-based choke point, where Greenland ultimately pushes 90% of the ice out of the Arctic through the Fram Strait.

He discovered that the first ice was becoming thinner and more uniform as it became younger, making it simpler to push across the Fram Strait. According to Sumatra, younger, sleeker ice is easier to force out of the Arctic than older, thicker ice because it lacks the odd edges and shapes that make thicker ice more difficult to force out.

The National Snow and Ice Data Center’s Mark Serreze, who was not involved in the study, noted that although scientists were already aware that sea ice was becoming thinner and less extensive, this “flushing” is crucial.

arctic sea

This cycle of warmer water made it more difficult for arctic sea ice to develop, survive, and thicken.

In an email, Serreze explained that because of these flushing episodes, the Arctic Ocean’s ice had had less time to develop and is more resistant to melting off. Yet because the Arctic is rapidly rising, it’s probably too late to hold out hope that the Arctic Ocean will recover.

According to Sumata, the periods of warm, expansive, ice-free open water in the Arctic in 2005 and 2007 likely exceeded those of previous summers. The dark ocean absorbs the sun’s heat and warms up while the white ice reflects it, a phenomenon known as ice-albedo feedback. According to him, this cycle of warmer water made it more difficult for arctic sea ice to develop, survive, and thicken.

Once the water has absorbed that heat, it isn’t easy to cool off. So, more significant warming shifts could occur in the future, making the ice thinner and weaker, but scientists warned against expecting quick cooling shifts that will cure the planet.

Sumata and Serreze predict that those unexpected warm leaps will occur shortly and are astonished that they haven’t yet. In 20 to 30 years, according to recent predictions, areas of the Arctic sea Ocean will be free of ice during the summer.

Even to regions hundreds of kilometers away that don’t freeze up, the thickness of the sea ice and the general health of the Arctic are vital, according to Sumatra.

The north and south poles act as the planet’s air conditioning system and radiator. Therefore it will impact the entire planet, according to Sumatra. And what we saw suggests that the air conditioner isn’t functioning properly.

arctic sea ice


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2023: Japan Bids Teary Farewell To Pandas Sent To Reserve In China




TOKYO, Japan — Japanese panda fans wept as their idols Xiang Xiang, “super papa” Eimei, and his twin daughters were flown to China on Tuesday to swap their zoo home for a protected facility in Sichuan province.

Hundreds of people waited outside Tokyo’s Ueno Zoo, taking photos, wiping their tears with handkerchiefs, and waving at a white truck carrying Xiang Xiang as it drove slowly past them on its way to the airport. Others flocked to Narita International Airport to say their final goodbyes as Xiang Xiang’s plane took off.

On Sunday, the final public screening of Xiang Xiang was limited to 2,600 lucky people who won their tickets in an extremely competitive lottery with over 500,000 applicants.

On the flight to Chengdu, Xiang Xiang was escorted by two zoo employees. The Ueno Zoo tweeted that she was in good health and relaxed during her departure procedures at the airport, where she ate her favorite snacks of bamboo shoots and apples.

Yutaka Fukuda, director of the Ueno Zoo, said he would miss her because he has watched her grow since her birth in 2017. “I want to thank her for bringing joy to so many people,” he said. “I hope that after she safely completes her journey, she will contribute to panda conservation research.”


The term “celebration” refers to the act of celebrating a birthday.

China sends pandas to other countries as a gesture of goodwill but retains ownership of the animals and any cubs they produce. The animals are native to southwestern China and are the country’s unofficial mascot.

Three more pandas appeared in front of the public for the last time on Tuesday at the Adventure World zoo in the central Japanese coastal town of Shirahama, one day before they returned to China. They are Eimei, an elderly male sent from China in 1994 and has since fathered 16 cubs, earning him the moniker “super papa,” and two of his Japanese-born daughters, Ouhin and Touhin.

The term “reproductive technology” refers to using technology to help people. They were uninterested in males at the Japanese zoo. Four other female pandas will remain, and the park is looking for a male panda to be sent from China.


Japanese people cry as they bid farewell to the popular panda.

Visitors could leave messages for their favorite pandas by signing them. “Thank you, Eimei, and stay healthy and long!” one of them exclaimed. Local media carried their biographies and histories and adorable photos of them as children.

Despite strained political ties between Japan and China, pandas, according to Japanese fans, have connected people in both countries and contributed to friendship. The Chinese Embassy described them as “the cutest messengers of friendship” who have united people’s hearts in both countries and expressed hope that the Japanese would continue to follow their progress after they returned to China.

Pandas, which infrequently reproduce in the wild and feed on bamboo, are among the world’s most endangered species. There are approximately 1,800 pandas in the wild, with another 500 in zoos or reserves, mostly in Sichuan.



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