For "Winged Wednesday":
El Oro Parakeet
"The El Oro Parakeet was discovered in 1980 and officially described in 1988. It can be found only at the Buenaventura Reserve, established in 1999 by ABC partner Fundación Jocotoco. Although protected in the reserve, this parakeet is still threatened, mainly by deforestation and fragmentation of its habitat for pastureland and timber.
In 2006 Jocotoco installed 39 nest boxes for the parakeets at Buenaventura, which were accepted almost immediately by the birds and have been successful in boosting their population.
Now encompassing 3,700 acres, the Buenaventura Reserve boasts a lodge and trail system where visitors can look for the parakeet, as well as other threatened species, including the Gray-backed Hawk, Ecuadorian Tapaculo, Little Woodstar, and Long-wattled Umbrellabird.
Jocotoco, with the assistance of ABC and other partners, recently acquired an additional 318 acres to expand Buenaventura’s borders; see the press release for more details.
Visit our El Oro Parakeet page to learn more and help support this species.
Interested in visiting Buenaventura?
Check out our Conservation Birding website!"
One of ABC's News Highlights of 2011:Leading Bird Conservation Group Formally Petitions Feds to Regulate Wind Industry.
Reddish Egret by Greg Lavaty
"American Bird Conservancy (ABC), the nation’s leading bird conservation organization, today formally petitioned the U.S. Department of the Interior to protect millions of birds from the negative impacts of wind energy by developing regulations that will safeguard wildlife and reward responsible wind energy development.
The nearly 100-page petition for rulemaking, prepared by ABC and a Washington, D.C.-based public interest law firm, urges the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to issue regulations establishing a mandatory permitting system for the operation of wind energy projects and mitigation of their impacts on migratory birds. The proposal would provide industry with legal certainty that wind developers in compliance with a permit would not be subject to criminal or civil penalties for violation of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA).
The government estimates that a minimum of 440,000 birds are currently killed each year by collisions with wind turbines. In the absence of clear, legally enforceable regulations, the massive expansion of wind power in the United States will likely result in the deaths of more than one million birds each year by 2020. Further, wind energy projects are also expected to adversely impact almost 20,000 square miles of terrestrial habitat, and another 4,000 square miles of marine habitat.
ABC is filing this petition because it’s clear that the voluntary guidelines the government has drafted will neither protect birds nor give the wind industry the regulatory certainty it has been asking for. We’ve had voluntary guidelines since 2003, and yet preventable bird deaths at wind farms keep occurring. This includes thousands of Golden Eagles that have died at Altamont Pass in California and multiple mass mortality events that have occurred recently in West Virginia,” said Kelly Fuller, Wind Campaign Coordinator for ABC.
“The status quo is legally as well as environmentally unsustainable. The federal government is seeking to promote "a smart from the start” energy sector in a manner that is in violation of one of the premier federal wildlife protection statutes. ABC’s petition seeks to bring wind power into harmony with the law as well as with the needs of the migratory bird species that the law is designed to safeguard,” said Shruti Suresh, an attorney at MGC, the law firm that prepared the petition with ABC and that has brought many legal actions enforcing federal wildlife protection laws.
"The petition is available online here. The Petition presents a viable alternative to inadequate, unenforceable voluntary guidelines drafted by the government."
Complete Article at: http://www.abcbirds.org/newsandreports/releases/111214.html
Champion Birds: This is a section of superlatives.
"The birds flying highest, furthest and fastest.
The birds diving deepest, enduring the harshest conditions.
The birds most splendid and most curious."
Article and pictures at: http://www.pbs.org/lifeofbirds/champions/index.html
Audubon Online Bird Guide
"This convenient online guide features 750 species of birds. Search and identify hundreds of North American birds with text, photos, sounds, range maps and more! Read More"
Audubon Annual Count in Central Park Finds 3,000 Fewer Birds
72 Tufted Titmouse, 1 Rufous Hummingbird, But No Partridge in a Pear Tree .
David Speiser www.lilibirds.com
Rufous Hummingbird seen during Audubon's 112th annual CBC for Central Park
Published: Dec 20, 2011
"Eighty-three Citizen Scientists braved breezy below freezing temperatures this past Sunday morning to count birds in New York City’s Central Park, where the Audubon bird census began on Christmas Day in 1900.
Jessica Green, VP of Engagement for National Audubon Society, was among the bundled-up birders who braved the cold. “It was inspiring to see so many birders – young and old – come together in Central Park, where the Christmas Bird Count began 112 years ago. And we were just a small number of the more than 60,000 crowd-scientists who are collecting data across the hemisphere this December.”
The longest running wildlife survey in the world, Audubon’s annual Christmas Bird Count (CBC) has continued through World Wars I and II and The Great Depression, providing data that reveals trends in the ecosystems we share with birds. Audubon’s Birds & Climate Change ( http://www.audubon.org/newsroom/press-rooms/birds-climate-change-press-room ) data proved birds are not Climate Skeptics, but already voted on this issue decades ago with their wings, many moving their summer ranges on average a miles north every year. Warm temperatures this autumn may have played a role in a low count in Central Park this year, which tallied 3, 286 birds – 3,000 fewer than last year. "
New Gulf of Mexico Shark Study Makes Surprising Discovery
Tiger Shark by Albert Kok, wikipedia.org
(Washington, D.C., January 9, 2012) "Researchers at Dauphin Island Sea Lab in Alabama, who have been conducting a two year study focusing on the diets of Tiger Sharks in the Gulf of Mexico, have made a surprising discovery: not only are the sharks feeding on fish and other marine organisms, they are also feeding on land-based birds, such as woodpeckers, tanagers, meadowlarks, catbirds, kingbirds, and swallows.
“We were not expecting to see this. It certainly prompts a series of questions, the most obvious being, how does a land bird end up in the water as food for sharks? Certainly, bird migrations across the Gulf are incredibly strenuous treks that result in large numbers of bird deaths over water from exhaustion, but there may be other factors at play here. We’re going to be taking a look at this over the next year and see if there are other causative circumstances that are contributing to these bird deaths,” said lead researcher Dr. Marcus Drymon." More at: http://www.abcbirds.org/newsandreports/releases/120109.html
On This Day:
Grand Canyon National Monument is created, Jan 11, 1908:
"Declaring that "The ages had been at work on it, and man can only mar it," President Theodore Roosevelt designates the mighty Grand Canyon a national monument.
Home to Native Americans for centuries, the first European to see the vast brightly colored spectacle of the Grand Canyon was Don Garcia Lopez de Cardenas, who traveled through northern Arizona in 1540 with the Spanish explorer Coronado. Subsequent explorers also marveled at the amazing view from the rim, but few dared to attempt the treacherous descent into the 5,000-foot-deep canyon and explore the miles of maze-like twists and turns.
Even as late as the 1860s, the Grand Canyon remained terra incognita to most non-natives. In 1869, though, the geologist John Wesley Powell made his first daring journey through the canyon via the Colorado River. Powell and nine men floated down Wyoming's Green River in small wooden boats to its confluence with the Colorado River (now in Canyonlands National Park), and then into the "Great Unknown" of the Grand Canyon. Astonishingly, Powell and his men managed to guide their fragile wooden boats through a punishing series of rapids, whirlpools, and rocks. They emerged humbled but alive at the end of the canyon in late August. No one died on the river, though Indians killed three men who had abandoned the expedition and attempted to walk back to civilization, convinced their chances were better in the desert than on the treacherous Colorado.
By the late 19th century, the growing American fascination with nature and wilderness made the canyon an increasingly popular tourist destination. Entrepreneurs threw up several shoddily constructed hotels on the south rim in order to profit from the stunning view. The arrival of a spur line of the Santa Fe railroad in 1901 provided a far quicker and more comfortable means of reaching the canyon than the previous stagecoach route. By 1915, more than 100,000 visitors were arriving every year.
Convinced it should be forever preserved for the benefit of the people, the conservation-minded President Theodore Roosevelt designated a large part of the canyon a national monument in 1908. Congress increased the protection of the canyon in 1932 by making it a national park, ensuring that private development would never despoil the Grand Canyon. Visitors today see a vista little changed from the one Lopez de Cardenas saw nearly 500 years ago.
In January 1908, Roosevelt exercised this right to make more than 800,000 acres of the Grand Canyon area into a national monument. "Let this great wonder of nature remain as it now is," he declared. "You cannot improve on it. But what you can do is keep it for your children, your children’s children, and all who come after you, as the one great sight which every American should see." "
Victory at the Grand Canyon!
"Thanks to supporters, Department of the Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has decided to continue the ban on new uranium mining claims on more than one million acres of public lands surrounding Grand Canyon National Park!
This tremendously important decision will not only preserve the integrity and incredible views surrounding the park, but also prevent uranium mining pollution from contaminating the Colorado River, which supplies drinking water to 25 million people.
The uranium boom of the 1950s and 1960s left a toxic and expensive legacy in the Southwest. Upstream from the Grand Canyon, the bankrupt Atlas Uranium Mill along the Colorado River in Utah is costing taxpayers nearly a billion dollars to clean up. On the nearby Navajo Nation, communities still suffer from increased disease caused by radioactive dust from unreclaimed uranium tailing piles and polluted drinking water. In fact, the Navajo banned all uranium mining on their lands in 2005. No wonder that the Navajo, Havasupai, Hopi and other Native American tribes with strong cultural ties to the Grand Canyon all oppose uranium mining near the park. In the park itself, along the South Rim just a mile west of the historic El Tovar lodge lies the desert Orphan Mine, which has contaminated Horn Creek below so that visitors are warned against drinking its radioactive water. Taxpayer money is also being used to clean up this danger mine site.
The mining corporations that seek profit here at our expense are free to seek their fortunes elsewhere. This is the Grand Canyon. Unfortunately, last year the House of Representatives approved a funding bill that would have kept the Department of Interior from restricting new uranium mining on lands surrounding Grand Canyon National Park. However, thanks to advocacy by NPCA supporters and our allies, that language was defeated and never made into law.
On Monday, January 9, 2012, the Secretary Salazar announced that the Department of Interior has decided to select the “preferred alternative”, which will prohibit new mining claims on nearly one million acres of land, for their final “record of decision”. More at: http://my.npca.org/site/PageNavigator/Grand_Canyon_mining.html
Free National Park entry days for 2012
"Mark your calendar for these fee-free dates in 2012:
* Jan. 14-16: Martin Luther King Jr. weekend
* April 21-29: National Park Week
* June 9: Get Outdoors Day
* Sept. 29: National Public Lands Day
* Nov. 10-12: Veterans Day weekend
Here's a tip: many of your 397 national parks never charge an entrance fee, So start planning your visit!"
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My granddaughter, Michelle, was coming to visit me in the late morning as she is moving to Dallas for one semester to take a class there. As I buy her vitamins, I wanted to send her off with enough to last a while, so that meant a quick trip to our town.
Jay wanted to go with me, so I took Misty down there for her walk-about when I picked him up. Jay and I transferred into the van when I dropped Misty off at my house, and we quickly did everything we needed to do in town. Just as I got back from taking Jay home, Michelle arrived.
At nearly 20 years old, she has grown as tall as a bean pole, and high heels made her way taller than I am. But I am one of those "Best things come in small packages" people anyway.
We had some lunch, a good visit, hugs and kisses, and she took off with all the things that I have been getting together for her.
Finally, an adapter for my old keyboard arrived which works. The first one didn't! When it didn't work, I thought my old keyboard was a gonner, and nearly threw it away. But here it is just perking away.
It seems so strange to see my grooming room all closed down. It had so many foster dogs and cats living in there over the years. Now it will just be used when Mindi's dogs come to board, and the rare times that I groom.
The previous day's 4+" of rain had left us with much colder temperatures. It didn't get over 50°, so that was a stark contrast from the nice weather we have been having. It is even going to freeze on Thursday night. So it is back to running the heat for the next few days.