Today we’ll start this little experiment with one of the toons that gave me the idea (the other is a secret as of yet!), Empidonax from Ravencrest. Emp is spec’d holy with almost two dozen points discipline as well, presumably for mana sustainability in raids like Karazhan.
There are only two Empidonax’s on all 200 of WoW’s North American servers, none on the European servers. The other Empidonax is a level 10 Druid on Arathor.
IRL (in real life) the genus Empidonax, meaning “mosquito king” in Latin, collects a group of “tyrant flycatchers” from the family Tyrannidae. Our representative of the genus today is E. traillii, the willow flycatcher.
A subspecies of this little bird, E. traillii extimus, the Southwestern Willow Flycatcher, is endangered due to the destruction of their riverside willow-cottonwood thicket habitat from agriculture, damming and urban development. On top of that, the flycatcher is parasitized by introduced brown-headed cowbirds. Some estimate that this flycatcher has lost 90 percent or more of its original habitat.
More recently, the wildfires that burned over 13,000 acres of vegetation in the San Bernardino Mountains last month have put further stress on local populations of these birds. Organizations like the Burned Area Emergency Response team of the Forest Service are just now assessing the situation:
Cultural resources within the burned area have been exposed because of the loss of vegetation. Threatened wildlife within the region include the mountain yellow-legged frog, Southwestern willow flycatcher, California spotted owl and several aquatic and riparian species. Quality of the springs in the area used by wildlife could be threatened as a result of the fire. Rehabilitation of the infrastructure will also protect these areas, Stamer said.
Organizations like the Center for Biological Diversity have been key in protecting the Southwestern willow flycatcher. They won a major victory for flycatcher populations in 1998:
…the Center convinced the U.S. Forest Service to remove cattle from several hundred miles of rivers in Arizona and New Mexico, a move to restore some of the delicate riparian habitat the flycatcher needs to survive.
Like most endangered species, the ecology of these animals needs to be better understood before its populations can be comprehensively managed.
The beautiful image of the Willow Flycatcher was snapped by Noel Lee.