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Vanishing: Song for the Bobolink

In the diminishing refrains of a bird's call, signs of our world disappearing around us.

Insights + Opinion
A bobolink in Golden Gate National Recreation Area, San Francisco, CA. Jason Crotty / CC BY 2.0

What happens to us as the wild world unravels? Vanishing, an occasional essay series, explores some of the human stakes of the wildlife extinction crisis.

Our small family knew bobolinks from a bird refuge four hours away. Each spring my partner and I made the trip to Oregon's Malheur National Wildlife Refuge with our daughter in hopes of seeing the 90-plus species of migratory birds we typically spotted over the course of a binoculared weekend. As we headed West we anticipated the winnowing, sky-dance displays of Wilson's snipe, the oranges of Bullock's oriole flashing high in the cottonwoods, and the bright spots of sunshine that dart through riparian thickets — the yellow warbler.

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Brian Gratwicke / CC BY 2.0

The charismatic animals could serve as flagship species for ocean conservation, according to researchers, but only if we understand their extinction risks.

By John R. Platt

Last month conservationists working with SeaLife Aquarium in Australia dropped 18 biodegradable "hotels" into Sydney Harbor and Port Stephens to help one of the region's most endangered species: tiny White's seahorses (Hippocampus whitei).

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Jon Lovette / Photographer's Choice RF / Getty Images

Solar power has been an energy source of growing importance in recent years, as technology has advanced and the cost of solar panels has declined sharply. As a result, many smaller sun-powered products have become available, from solar phone chargers to solar generators to outdoor solar lights.

Whether you're looking for ground lights or flood lights, illuminating your outdoor spaces with a wired system can be both an electrical challenge and an eyesore. Convenience, sleekness and sustainability are just a few reasons so many people are looking for the best outdoor solar lights.

In this article, we'll go over how solar lights work, show you some of the best solar lights available and help you decide whether solar-powered lighting is a good choice for your home.

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A sign at Hoover Dam warns of "very dangerous levels" of heat in the forecast at Lake Mead near Boulder City, Nevada on July 1, 2021. David McNew / Getty Images

By Tara Lohan

It's hard not to think about how hot it's been — even if you live somewhere that has escaped the heat in the past few weeks. When British Columbia clocks temperatures of 121° F, it gets the world's attention. As it should.

Here are six reasons why we need to be paying more attention to heat waves.

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A Snow Leopard sits on a rock in its enclosure at Central Park Zoo during a snow fall on February 18, 2021 in New York City. Cindy Ord / Getty Images

By Ajay Bijoor

Efforts to broaden local participation for the conservation of this rare cat are currently ongoing across its global range.

Wildlife photographers have been known to wait weeks for the opportunity to capture the mysterious snow leopard on film. Climate change and other threats may soon make these beautiful cats even harder to spot, but a wide coalition has established a mission to protect them.

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Buffy-headed marmoset (Callithrix flaviceps) rare species of marmoset, threatened of extinction, photographed in Santa Maria de Jetib, EspÍrito Santo - Brazil.

Leonardo Mercon / VW Pics / Universal Images Group / Getty Images

By Carla B. Possamai and Sarisha Trindade

As the rainforests of Brazil disappear, so do their unique inhabitants. A tiny monkey represents the dangers faced by much of Brazil's biodiversity but also illustrates the opportunity we have to save them.

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A monkey seized from traffickers during Operation Thunderbird. Interpol / USFWS

By Danielle Beurteaux

In 2013 authorities at Bangkok's main airport busted a smuggler carrying 54 ploughshare tortoises from Madagascar crammed in a suitcase. The seizure of what amounted to about 10% of the critically endangered species' wild population made news around the world.

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Solar panels are seen in the desert. Blend Images / Michael DeYoung / Getty Images

By Tara Lohan

The Biden administration greenlighted a major new solar development in May. The Crimson Solar Project will stretch across 2,500 acres of public lands in the desert of Southern California and provide enough electricity to power 85,000 homes.

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Large-antlered muntjac resemble many other deer, except males have long, sharp canine teeth used for fighting. The species is critically endangered. Michael Nosek / Getty Images

By Minh Minh Nguyen

First recognized as a new species in 1993, the large-antlered muntjac is already critically endangered and heading fast toward extinction. As muntjac go, the large-antlered is the largest species, but muntjac in general are small members of the deer family Cervidae. The species is facing a "quiet extinction," hidden away in a miniscule global range in the Annamite Mountains of Laos and Vietnam.

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A container ship leaving port in California. Daniel Ramirez / CC BY 2.0

By Tim Lydon

You're right if you think you've been hearing a lot about container ships lately. One off the coast of Sri Lanka that was carrying 25 tons of nitric acid and other cargo suffered an explosion after containers caught fire on May 20 and burned for more than a week, littering the beaches with plastic pollution. And in March all eyes were on the Suez Canal, where a 1,300-foot-long container ship turned sideways and gummed up international trade with a six-day-long traffic jam. Maybe you've also had your shoes, bike or other online purchases delayed because of backed-up ports near Los Angeles.

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Andy Blackledge / CC BY 2.0

By Kelly Heber Dunning

As summer approaches, reports of the return of leisure travel are beginning to emerge following the unprecedented shutdown during the coronavirus pandemic. Many of the world's most popular tourism destinations have begun to plan an eventual reopening, exploring what their "new normal" will look like.

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A female white-bellied pangolin is seen at a pangolin sanctuary in St. Augustine, Florida. EdgeOfMidnight / Wikimedia Commons / CC by 4.0

By Charles Emogor

The white-bellied pangolin is one of eight evolutionary distinct pangolin species split equally between Africa and Asia. They're among the very few mammals with scales and have a tongue that, when pulled out of its cavity, is longer than their entire body, which measures about 30 inches. These gentle and somewhat quirky animals should be celebrated, but instead they're often killed for their unique scales, believed in some cultures to harbor medicinal properties.

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A single-engine tanker makes a water drop on a wildfire in central Washington on Aug. 9, 2018. Nick Pieper, BLM

By Tara Lohan

In early May scientists discovered a plume of smoke wafting from a smoldering sequoia that ignited during 2020's Castle fire, which set California's Sequoia National Forest alight last August.

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