Fawn Station – A Fresh Perspective
Our youngest Guest Editor shares stories and snippets on wildlife, conservation and the environment.
With cities growing phenomenally by the day, birds need to learn to adapt to this new environment; and adapt they have! Some birds have become so successful in doing so, that small populations of these birds are flourishing in urban habitats. For example, in Delhi, Bank Mynas (in pic), which once nested in river and canal banks are now nesting on walls under flyovers. So the next time you pass under a flyover, especially in the outlying areas of the city, do not be surprised if you come across a colony of Bank Mynas nesting in drain holes.
The Bank Mynas belong to the starling family who have already shown that it can adapt to city environments, and even to entirely new continents. After all, starlings were an introduced species in the New World. Like starlings, pigeons too, are very urban and have become one of the most successful species on our planet. Even some rare wild birds have adapted to city life. One of the most famous examples for this can be found in Germany where White Storks (Ciconia ciconia) nest on rooftops of houses.
Not all such adaptations are welcome, though. In Nairobi, Kenya, scavenging birds such as the Marabou Storks (Leptoptilos crumeniferus) nest on lamp posts and traffic signals and are drawn to the city by garbage. Even in Guwahati, Assam, the garbage dump is home to an endangered relative of the Marabou Stork, the Greater Adjutant stork. Similarly, the Jorbeed carcass dump in Bikaner, Rajasthan, attracts a huge number of Eurasian Griffons every winter.
As cities grow, they encircle little patches of wilderness. The Aravalli Biodiversity Park in Delhi is in the middle of the city; so is the Pallikaranai marsh in Chennai. Birds that live in these habitats have to get used to city life. At the Pallikaranai marsh, you can see pelicans flying through the tall buildings that surround their precarious habitat. City rules are thus no different from the jungle – only the fittest survive!
Sir David Attenborough gets a species named after him in the UK
Sir David Attenborough is one of the world’s best known naturalists and personalities. He has got species named after him all over the world – the Sir Davidia flowering plant in Gabon, Attenborough’s Pitcher plant in the Philippines and even the Attenborousaurus, a Jurassic era dinosaur – but until now, there was no species named after him in his home country, UK. That changed recently, according to The Daily Telegraph, when a wildflower species found in South Wales was named as Attenborough’s Hawkweed.
Rare fox seen in Yosemite
National Geographic reports that the Sierra Nevada Red Fox was seen in California’s Yosemite National Park recently. The fox was seen twice – once in December and once in January – within the park for the first time since 1916. According to the magazine, there are fewer than 50 such foxes in all of North America. The population of the fox was decimated in the 19th and early 20th centuries by hunting and trapping.
2014 was the warmest year on record
Quoting the World Meteorological Organization, Salon Magazine reports that 2014 was the hottest year so far. Although it was not hotter than the previous hottest years (2005 and 2010) by much, it was still hot. Interestingly, all years since 2000 are among the hottest 15 years since the 19th century. This clearly shows that global warming is a very real problem indeed.
This article first appeared in the March 2015 edition of Saevus magazine.