Thursday, December 18, 2014

Cheep trick? Peep is "bird of the week"

Call it a cheep trick if you will, but the American Bird Conservancy has done it again.

Cheep trick? Peep is "bird of the week"

Marshmallow Peeps by Just Born
Marshmallow Peeps by Just Born

Call it a cheep trick if you will, but the American Bird Conservancy has done it again.

They have named the Peep -- that marshmallowey Easter candy -- their bird of the week.

They took similar action last year about this time, and perhaps thought that was the end of it. But no.

Earlier today, ABC president George Fenwick said he was "bowing to a tidal wave of public opinion" and would, indeed, declare Marshmallicious delicious  to be the Easter bird of the week.

And there's more!  The conservancy has decided the Peep is actually FOUR species.

Here's the explanation, from the ABC press release:

Up until now, scientists have recognized only the familiar “yellow” form of Peep as a full species; but there is currently support in the ornithological community for granting separate species status to the blue, teal, pink, and purple forms, currently considered color morphs.

“There simply isn’t any evidence that these forms interbreed,” said ABC senior scientist Dr. David Wiedenfeld. “While they can often be found roosting in the same box, the fact is that nobody has ever seen an intermediate bird between the color morphs,” he added. “The presence of occasional orange and other colored birds in the population may represent occasional aberrant individuals, but any new taxonomic changes will require further study.”

Scientists know a lot about the Peep, apparently.

"Peeps typically make their appearance in the springtime, with numbers peaking in April. Despite their ubiquitous distribution and social nature, their migratory paths, wintering, and breeding areas are little known," the ABC reports. 

Further, "During their breeding season, Peeps can easily be found in suburban backyard habitats, where they lay clutches of colorful eggs in nests of brightly-colored plastic grasses. Adult and immature Peeps can be quickly located by their sweet calls and neon plumage."

And at last:  "Although Peeps are heavily consumed, their populations appear to quickly rebound in subsequent years and therefore they are not a species of conservation concern."

So chomp away!

Sandy Bauers Inquirer GreenSpace Columnist
About this blog

GreenSpace is about environmental issues and green living. Bauers also writes a biweekly GreenSpace column about environmental health issues for the Inquirer’s Sunday “Health” section.

Sandy Bauers is the environment reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer, where she has worked for more than 20 years as a reporter and editor. She lives in northern Chester County with her husband, two cats, a large vegetable garden and a flock of pet chickens.

Reach Sandy at sbauers@phillynews.com.

Sandy Bauers Inquirer GreenSpace Columnist
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