December 30

Birds Heading South

first_imgDear EarthTalk: What are the major issues with protecting migratory birds that groups like the Nature Conservancy are working on? — Lorinda Bennet, Alnuquerque, NMMigratory birds, like other animals, need suitable habitat and food sources to survive. But unlike other animals which stay primarily in one place, migratory birds depend on the availability of food and habitat all along their migration paths, which for some are thousands of miles long. Changing environmental conditions along routes can hinder birds’ ability to survive their often arduous long distance journeys.Some 1,800 of the world’s 10,000 bird species migrate long distances every year. Typically birds fly to the far north in the summer to feed and return south for the winter to breed, but many variations and exceptions exist. The long-distance record holders are Sooty Shearwaters, which migrate 9,000 miles between nesting sites in the Falkland Islands and feeding sites in the North Atlantic Ocean off of Norway.Chief among environmental threats to migratory birds is habitat destruction. Human development of wetlands areas leaves many birds without suitable habitat for stopovers and even wintering sites. Global warming only twists the knife by making usual stopover sites even less hospitable. Biologists see that widespread climate change is already starting to have a negative effect on the timing of migration cycles and breeding patterns, leading to population declines in species already considered threatened. Hunting is another threat to birds which pass over countries without the resources or will to enforce protections. Obstructions such as power lines, wind farms and offshore oil rigs also negatively affect migratory birds.A large number of international treaties and domestic laws provide protection for migratory birds. For example, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 affirms the U.S. government’s commitment to international conventions protecting migratory birds (and their eggs and nests) passing through Canada, Japan, Mexico and Russia at some point during their annual travels. Upwards of 1,000 different bird species, as listed on the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s Migratory Bird Program website, are protected under this Act. A similar treaty called the African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbird Agreement seeks to protect migratory birds along another of the world’s major migratory bird flyways.While governments only do so much to protect migratory birds, private non-profits are working hard—and devoting millions of dollars—to try to take up the slack. One of the leaders in this battle is the Nature Conservancy, which employs hundreds of ornithologists and planners who identify networks of habitats needed by bird species throughout North America, Latin America and the Caribbean and then work to protect these crucial areas for current and future generations of migratory birds. 1 2last_img read more

September 16

Syracuse football loses shootout to Pittsburgh, 76-61, in season finale

first_imgPITTSBURGH — When Dino Babers strolled into his postgame press conference, he looked at the podium in front of him and paused.“I gotta stand here after all that?” he said jokingly after seeing the podium in place of his typical table and chair. “And no steps to get up here?”Syracuse and Pittsburgh navigated through “all that” — 165 plays, 1,312 yards, nine punts, 19 kickoffs, 20 touchdowns, 58 first downs and a breakdown of defense and the stereotypes of Northeast football — in 3 hours, 43 minutes. After the Orange’s win over then-No. 17 Virginia Tech on Oct. 15, it appeared Syracuse had contained its defensive problems, but they returned and tainted an other-worldly offensive performance Saturday.In the fourth quarter, Pitt quarterback Nathan Peterman blazed 42 yards nearly untouched until Rodney Williams fought through a stiff arm to bring Peterman down at the 1-foot line. On the next play, running back James Conner leapt over a pile of Pittsburgh and Syracuse players and pushed the Panthers to 76 points, breaking Syracuse’s previous points allowed record. That record stood 125 years, since 1891, when Union blasted the Orange for 75 points.“Yeah, we went of kickoff return like 15 times,” SU junior linebacker Zaire Franklin said. “That’s ridiculous. That field goal block, I mean … It was kind of stupid.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textIn the Orange’s (4-8, 2-6 Atlantic Coast) 76-61 season-ending loss to Pittsburgh (8-4, 5-3), the two teams set the record for points in an FBS football game. By the end of the third quarter, Syracuse had fallen behind, 56-34. The Orange’s biggest deficit in the game came with just over five minutes left in the third when it trailed, 56-27.The offensive back-and-forth veiled that, despite the historic afternoon, Syracuse’s first season under Babers finished. Babers missed the postseason for the first time as a head coach. The Orange failed to earn a bowl berth for the third straight season. When Syracuse introduced John Wildhack as its director of athletics in July, Wildhack praised Babers’ offensive system. Like many fans, Wildhack said he bought in.But it’s been Babers’ Tampa-2 defense Syracuse has failed adjusting to. On Saturday, Pitt exposed SU’s defense again.“It’s going to get better,” Babers said after the game.“The thing you have to remember is that this year the players were thinking and next year they won’t be,” Babers added later.The Orange has struggled transitioning to the Tampa-2 in part because former head coach Scott Shafer’s defense took the opposite philosophical approach. Shafer’s system is more high-risk, high-reward, while the Tampa-2’s strength is preventing big plays. Despite the theoretical workings of the Tampa-2, SU has struggled with big-play touchdowns this season.Pittsburgh brutalized Syracuse’s defense with its use of motion and wide receiver Quadree Henderson. Early in the second quarter, the Panthers measured Syracuse’s defensive reaction to motioning players on jet sweeps on three consecutive plays in the red zone. Pittsburgh scored on the third, handing the ball to George Aston, who stiff-armed Kielan Whitner and dove into the end zone to give Pitt a 21-14 lead.On the very next drive, Henderson ran for 34 of Pittsburgh’s 69 yards on a play similar to the ones the Panthers had teased in the red zone. Pitt used similar plays again in the second half to spring Henderson for a 66-yard touchdown and Maurice Ffrench for a 77-yard touchdown on consecutive Pitt offensive plays. The Panthers gained 644 yards on 59 plays, good for 10.9 yards per play, and averaged a touchdown every 5.4 plays.“They definitely showed things we hadn’t seen on film necessarily in our game plan,” SU junior linebacker Parris Bennett said.The Orange briefly countered, cutting its deficit from 29 to 15 early in the fourth quarter with its season nearly lifeless. A win likely would have sprung Syracuse into a bowl game and cut short SU’s prior ineptitude, at least reflecting the culture change players so often talk about in a game’s result.Instead, it never closed the gap. Each time SU scored, it allowed Pitt to do the same. Seven of the last eight drives of the game ended with touchdowns, packing 47 of the game’s 137 points in the final 11 minutes, 16 seconds. Instead, the questions after the game were about Babers’ name being mentioned in another coaching search. Instead, SU’s season ended Saturday. Comments Published on November 26, 2016 at 7:37 pm Contact Chris: [email protected] | @ChrisLibonati Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more