November, the first of the gray months here in the Midwest. But it’s also the month of Thanksgiving, and here are few small reasons to give thanks for the amazing array of life we share the planet with:
- Due, in part, to programs that encourage farmers to plant bee-friendly vegetation at the edge of their fields, native bumblebees are making a comeback in England. Shrill carder bees are one of five endangered bee species (the other are the large garden bumblebee, the shrill the shanked carder bee, the moss carder bee, and the brown banded carder bee) whose population and distribution has surged, and the species are now being seen in area where they have been absent for the last quarter-century.
- California’s population of wild free-flying California condors has reached one hundred birds, the highest count in more than fifty years.
- I often document the discovery of new species in these good news posts, but scientists have really hit the mother load in Papua New Guinea, where a recent survey of remote rainforest resulted in the identification of 200 new species. The discoveries include a small brown mouse with a shocking white tail. "For some lesser known groups only half of the things that we document actually have names, we aren't even a fraction of the way there," said Steve Richards, one of the scientists who lead the expedition.
- Speaking of new species, a new kind of snub-nosed monkey was discovered in Myamar. Best fun fact about the little critter: apparently its nose is so upturned that the monkey sneezes every time it rains. Paging Dr. Seuss…
- In 1932 there were less than twelve black bears left in Mississippi. But in the last thirty years, thanks to a combination of state and federal protections, the State’s black bear population has steadily climbed. Today, there are 120 black bears in the Magnolia State.
- White-tailed sea eagles, which were hunted to extinction in Britain over fifty years ago are making a comeback in Scotland. After a reintroduction effort, scientists documented a record fifty breeding pairs in western Scotland. Nineteen more young eagles were also just released in eastern Scotland (Fife).