Firstly, Shana Tova to all celebrating Rosh Hashana today! Now, hold onto the basket, while I pump some more air into this balloon, then we’ll launch into this week’s Around the World in 50 Weeks journey. Are you ready? Today we visit the great Lakes, Western Australia and North Carolina for some endearing, nearly lost species in need of our protection. P – R are our haiku letters today.
Piping Plover pair -
Chick caregivers, Mom and Dad
Prancing on shore shells.
Piping plovers breed only in North America in three geographic regions: the Atlantic Coast, the Northern Great Plains, and the Great Lakes. Atlantic Coast plovers nest on coastal beaches, sand flats at the ends of sand spits and barrier islands, gently sloped dunes and sparsely vegetated dunes. Both the male and female incubate the eggs and feed the young.
Piping plover populations were federally listed as threatened and endangered in 1986. The Northern Great Plains and Atlantic Coast populations are threatened, and the Great Lakes population is endangered.
It is particularly their winter breeding habitat, which is under threat. In recent decades, piping plover populations have drastically declined, especially in the Great Lakes. Breeding habitat has been replaced with shoreline development and recreation. Availability of quality foraging and roosting habitat in the wintering grounds is necessary in order to ensure that an adequate number of adults survive to migrate back to breeding sites and successfully nest.
For more information, visit: plover.fws.gov.
Quokka, friend to all.
A mini marsupial
deserves his homeland.
The short tailed wallaby or quokka, was one of the first Australian mammals seen by Europeans. The Dutch mariner Samuel Volckertzoon wrote of sighting “a wild cat” on Rottnest Island in 1658. They live in Western Australia around Perth, where there are a number of small scattered populations on the mainland, one large population on Rottnest Island and a smaller population on Bald Island. The islands are cat and fox-free.
Although numerous on the small islands, it has a very restricted range and the quokka is classified as vulnerable. On the mainland, where it is threatened most by introduced predatory species such as foxes, it requires dense ground cover for refuge. Agricultural development has reduced this habitat, and has thus contributed to the decline of the species. Cats and dogs, as well as dingoes, all non-indigenous species, have added to the problem, as have the clearing and burning of the remaining swamplands.
Amazing Fact: Quokkas recycle a small amount of their bodily waste.
Red Wolf, tawny, slight.
Almost a no, never more;
restored to his niche.
The red wolf was declared extinct in the wild in 1980 after the last known wild wolves were captured and taken out of the wild to begin a captive breeding program. There are now an estimated 200 individuals found in North Carolina and other areas where they have been reintroduced. The red wolf is slightly smaller than its relative, the gray wolf, its build is more slender, and its head more elongated. Its coat is tawny red with some gray and black areas. Its back tends to be darker in color and its tail has a black tip.
Red wolves once lived in a variety of habitats, including swamps, forests, wetlands, bushlands, and even agricultural lands with enough forest cover. They hunted rodents, deer, and other small mammals like raccoons and rabbits. Red wolves are nocturnal and prefer to live in packs consisting of the mating pair and their offspring.
The red wolf species was nearly wiped out because of human population growth, hunting, and the clearing of forest, eliminating much of its habitat. Red wolves preyed upon livestock, and many were killed by farmers and ranchers. Reintroduced populations are said to be growing and thriving, as most wolves that are recaptured and tested are said to be healthy.