North American Birds

VOLUME 69 NO3 2016

A Quarterly Journal of Ornithological Record Published by the American Birding Association. The mission of the journal is to provide a complete overview of the changing panorama of our continent’s birdlife.

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Page 44 of 211

V O L U M E 6 9 ( 2 0 1 6 ) • N U M B E R S 3 / 4 355 T H E C H A N G I N G S E A S O N S : R E T R O S P E C T before 11/8. Perhaps we had already passed the threshold, perhaps the feedback loop would doom us already, but we had begun to acknowledge, worldwide, that we were poisoning ourselves and all fellow creatures and that to act was imperative. The election. Fueled by Russian-funded propaganda and data-breach campaigns, and abetted by a renegade Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigations, an avowed enemy of science—and of humane- ness and decency—is poised to begin the process of dismantling fifty years of hard- won environmental protections and to re- verse course on climate change agreements. If one is to believe the rhetoric, the potential for irreversible ecocide is very high. Our only hope at this point is that the terror- mongers, the anti-scientists who will inhab- it the United States government, as well as those who would be their puppet-masters abroad, can be foiled in their plans to con- vert our planet's remaining "resources" into capital for themselves and cronies. On the day after election, we cannot yet fathom how to stop these enemies of the en- vironment, of life. One thing is sure: if we are to survive, we must. And another is sure: that our focus on birdlife must metamor- phose to a deeper devotion to preserving the planet. We are deft in detailed documenta- tion; we must gather our discipline to anoth- er cause, the defeat of the Hydra of atrocity And our voices, our data contributed to the scientific chorus, joined eventually by leaders of industry and the militaries and sensible politicians, that led to the Paris Agreement, which went into force four days vember 2016 do not permit that. Together, readers, we have seen, over the past two decades very distinctly, that our planet is in peril—not just for the wilderness and its inhabitants, but for human inhabitants as well. With each passing year, we have seen the upheavals of climate and its impacts on the avifauna, sometimes dramatic impacts. We now shrug at whistling-ducks and ca- racaras in Canada; we half-expect Elegant Tern and Brown Booby in the Niagara River gorge; we note without awe Phainopepla in Idaho, Yellow-green Vireo in Massachusetts, Gray Thrasher in California. We are losing the capacity to be surprised by the pertur- bations we witness. Each year, the bar has been raised until, at some point, there was no higher rung. In recent years, our voices had just be- gun to be heard in the corridors of power, where, if not love of planet perhaps but self- interest had begun to calculate the calami- tous impacts of a warming planet on sea levels, on precipitation and thus floods and droughts, on the jet stream and thus hot- ter summers and brutal winters, on marine resources, on crops, on water resources, on geopolitical balances of power. The list of impacts is endless. And a world in ecologi- cal turmoil is sure to see widespread unrest among humans. Figure 20. A species not known in New Mexico since the close of the Pleistocene, this young California Condor, originating from the Arizona release program, provided a novel yard bird at Los Alamos, Los Alamos County 24 April 2015. Photograph by Joe Fitzgibbon. Figure 21. Common Merganser has not been documented breeding in Tennessee since 1899, but the species has been reoc- cupying historic range in the southern Appalachians in adjacent states for several years. In 2015, there were multiple reports of lingering female Common Mergansers in northeastern Tennessee, not far from a known breeding location in Polk County, North Carolina. These birds were at Boone Lake, Sullivan County on 10 July. Photograph by Adam Campbell.

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