The federal government has pushed back the possible threatened listing of two rare plants that could affect farmers in southeast Washington. Umtanum desert buckwheat and the White Bluffs bladderpod have become very controversial, because part of the plants’ habitat spans valuable crop ground.
It’s a big topic of conversation at the Country Mercantile restaurant where many Franklin County farmers lunch. Ami MacHugh is an area cherry and horse farmer whose land could be affected by the possible federal protections.
THUD. It’s the sickening sound of a bird hitting your window. You hope it’s just stunned; that it will fly off. But there it is: A motionless lump of feathers on the ground. Before you bury it or toss it in the trash, consider an alternative. Some Seattle residents are donating these avian casualties to science.
Just as humans aren’t born knowing how to talk, birds aren’t born knowing what songs to sing. Take the song sparrow: Their songs are combinations of buzzing, trilling and music notes. Each song sends a message: “This is my territory,” or “Don’t mess with me.”
An aggressive sparrow mimics another bird's song, like a sort of playground argument. “Stop copying me.” “Stop copying me.” “Stop it!” “Stop it!” – until it comes to blows. Michael Beecher has been studying sparrow communication for nearly 30 years. Katy Sewall joins him in the field to start a sparrow fight.
Earth is an always-changing planet. Earthquakes thrust new mountains upward, sea ice melts, oceans rise, deserts spread, species die, civilizations collapse. Award-winning writer and commentator Craig Childs traveled to the desolate places on Earth where forces of nature are forever remaking the planet. He joins us to discuss his newest book, “Apocalyptic Planet: Field Guide to the Everending Earth.”