A western-yellow-billed cuckoo
Courtesy of the U.S. Fish and Wilderness Service


The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reopened the public comment forum concerning the western yellow-billed cuckoo being added to the threatened species list for a second time in response to public demand and to allow researchers more time to finish collecting scientific information.

The western yellow-billed cuckoo, which feed on insects in areas near rivers and stream, migrates from South America to western North America to breed. More than 90 percent of the western yellow-billed cuckoo’s habitat in western America has either been lost or degraded, biologists say, due to agriculture use, dams and river flow management, bank erosion, overgrazing and competition from exotic plants.

The yellow-billed cuckoo’s addition to the federal list of threatened or endangered species has been more than 15 years in the making. Once it was established by the Service that the western yellow-billed cuckoo were a distinct population segment — they had distinct differences in physical, biological, ecological and behavioral factors — the birds were added to the candidate list in 2001. The publication of the proposal to add this distinct population as a threatened species happened during the government employee furlough, which caused the public notification to be postponed. Because of this time lapse and the demand of the public for more time, the Service decided to reopen the comment period for another 60 days, and then it was reopened a second time to make sure that every individual, researcher or organization that wanted to contribute had a sufficient amount of time to do so.

“Before any final decisions are made regarding listing the western yellow-billed cuckoo, the Service will compile and assess all comments received during the public comment periods,” says Robert Segin, public affairs officer for the mountain-prairie region of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “The Service will also seek the expert opinions of at least three appropriate and independent specialists with scientific expertise to review our determinations.


Getting up early and going for a stroll in the morning pays off. A Northwestern University study revealed that individuals who experience more light in the beginning of the day had a lower body mass index than those who experienced more light in the later part of the day.

“Light is the most potent agent to syn chronize your internal body clock that regulates circadian rhythms, which in turn also regulate energy balance,” stated Phyllis C. Zee, one of the authors of the study, and the director of the Northwestern Medicine Sleep and Circadian Rhythms Research Program at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, in Northwestern University’s press release. “The message is that you should get more bright light between 8 a.m. and noon.” The study, published in the Public Library of Science ONE on April 2, indicates for the first time that timing, intensity and duration of light exposure is connected to an individual’s weight. According to Zee, not receiving sufficient light exposure at the appropriate time of the day could de-synchronize an individual’s internal clock, which is known to alter metabolism and could lead to weight gain.

Researchers found that for every hour later the light exposure occurred, there was a 1.28 unit increase in body mass index on average among their 54 participants. Lighting conditions in the average work environment are around 250 lux shy of the 500 lux necessary for the light exposure to have a lowering effect on an individual’s body mass index. Even on a cloudy day, the light intensity is twice that of the necessary 500 lux, and as little as 20 minutes of adequate light exposure does the trick.