Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Trumpeter Swan. Millerbirds. Blue-winged Warbler. Mercury. Birds of Cuba. Bycatch. Dragonflies. Roe v. Wade. Kennedy. Olympics. Weeds.

For "Winged Wednesday":

Trumpeter Swan

Trumpeter Swan by Alan Wilson

"The majestic Trumpeter Swan has a wingspan of up to eight feet and can reach 35 pounds - it is one of the heaviest flying birds in the world. This swan once bred widely across North America, but by the early 20th Century had experienced severe population declines due to habitat loss and market hunting for feathers and meat.

The Trumpeter is particularly sensitive to human disturbance and pollution, and does best in clean, quiet waters where there are abundant invertebrates and aquatic plants available for food.  It matures late, not nesting until 4-5 years of age, at which time birds form life-long pair bonds.

Threats to the Trumpeter Swan include lead poisoning and loss of wintering habitat.  Release of captive-bred swans has resulted in some non-migratory populations, which places a strain on habitat resources when resident birds are joined by flocks of overwintering swans in some areas. Overcrowding also creates the potential for outbreaks of avian disease, and can make birds vulnerable to a single catastrophic event, such as a bad storm.

The Trumpeter Swan has responded well to conservation measures that include a ban on lead for waterfowl hunting in 1991, and its population has increased to over 35,000 adults. Continuing conservation measures for the species should include protection and restoration of freshwater wetlands.

BirdNote logo

Help ABC conserve this and other birds and their habitats!

Listen to a two-minute broadcast on this bird!"


Newly-translocated Millerbirds Getting Busy on Laysan


"A translocated Millerbird checks out its new territory on Laysan Island. Each released bird was color-banded so that individuals can be closely tracked." Photo: Robby Kohley.

“The speed with which the Millerbirds have established territories and begun nesting is truly amazing and has exceeded all of our expectations,” said George Wallace, ABC’s
Vice President for Oceans and Islands. “The breeding success of the translocated birds and their over-winter survivorship will inform our decision about whether to move more birds to Laysan or not. We are all rooting for them!”


Delivering Conservation in the Central Hardwoods Region


Blue-winged Warbler: Greg Lavaty

"Many bird species of special concern
inhabit the CHJV, (Central Hardwoods Joint Venture) such as Bachman’s Sparrow, and Prairie and Blue-winged Warblers. Breeding Bird Survey data show that populations of these birds
have been on a steady decline since the 1960s, and are quickly disappearing from areas where they were once common. To stop this trend and stabilize or restore these species, we have recommended that over one million acres of native grassland-shrub or open oak woodlands will need to be restored."


Mercury’s Harmful Reach Has Grown

"The new study found dangerously high levels of mercury in several Northeastern bird species, including rusty blackbirds, saltmarsh sparrows and wood thrushes. Previous studies have shown mercury’s effects on loons and other fish-eating waterfowl, as well as bald eagles, panthers and otters. In one study, zebra finches lost the ability to hit high notes in mating songs when mercury levels rose, affecting reproduction.

The wood thrush is one of the species found to suffer neurological disorders caused by mercury exposure."  More at:


The Birds of Cuba"WCS conservationist Dr. Steve Zack knows the grassland birds of the Great Plains and the shorebirds of Alaska's coastal wetlands like some of his own neighbors. Until recently, however, the birds of the Caribbean were a mystery to this seasoned ornithologist.

Last winter, Zack got a chance to visit Cuba as part of an effort to help WCS's Latin America and Caribbean Program build new partnerships to protect the island's wildlife. The diversity of both native birds and international migrants he saw amazed him. Of Cuba's 369 species of birds, some live nowhere else, including the enigmatic bee hummingbird, the world's smallest bird. But the majority are migratory, and Zack marveled at the masses of shorebirds, raptors, and warblers he encountered – including some familiar faces dressed in colorful breeding plumage.

"It was really impressive to see the sheer numbers of American migratory birds wintering in Cuba – or as Cubans would say, Cuban birds about to go visit the United States," he said.

Hear more about Zack's trip and check out his travel photos in this audio slideshow."


Get Into Birds with Audubon

Get Into Birds with Audubon

"Birds are one of the few forms of wildlife that just about everyone sees every day. Get into birds, and discover an amazing world."

Find out why nearly 50 million people in the United States watch birds. Read More


Some Birds Eat Fish:

WCS Wins Grand Prize for Fisheries Project

January 10, 2012

"A WCS marine project to reduce bycatch in Kenya and Curacao through a low-cost, low-tech fish trap design takes the top honor in a contest sponsored by Rare, in partnership with National Geographic.

The program, entered into a contest called "Solution Search: Turning the Tide for Coastal Fisheries," promotes fish traps with rectangular gaps that permit small, juvenile fish to escape. The solution is entitled “Bycatch Escape Gaps for Fish Traps,” and reduces bycatch by 80 percent. " More at:


The Amazing Engineering of the Dragonfly

"For its small size the dragonfly can fly an incredible 60 miles per hour. It can dart quickly from side to side, fly backwards and stop instantly in midair. It can lift 15 times its own weight. Such feats are not yet possible with human aircraft. How is it possible with the dragonfly?

Curious researchers visited swamps and captured dragonflies to find out.

One reason they chose to study the dragonfly is because it's a comparatively simple flying creature. It doesn't change the shape of its body or wings when flying, taking off or gliding like a bird does.   For example, a hummingbird's wings change shape continually during each stroke. In addition, its feathers pop up or stay down at various periods throughout each cycle. Scientists would like to know more about the hummingbird's flight, but it's just too difficult to reproduce.

How it flies

The dragonfly's method of flying is completely different from the smooth flight of airplanes and soaring or gliding of birds. It's a mode called "unsteady aerodynamics" which means there is constant turbulence around the wing.

The front pair of wings churns up a small vortex of rapidly whirling air. Meanwhile, the back pair of wings, which may be down when the front wings are up (or vice versa), captures the extra energy from this turbulence. This produces extraordinary lift as the air flows much faster over the top of the dragonfly's rear wing than along the wing's lower surface. By changing the tilt and speed of its wings and varying the timing between them, the dragonfly performs its graceful acrobatics.

What's intriguing about air turbulence is that in man's flying machines, both fixed-wing and helicopters, these gyrating air currents are usually harmful and can be deadly. Helicopter blades weaken because each whirling blade runs into the turbulent path of the preceding blade. Resultant vibrations eventually weaken the metal. Many planes have crashed due to turbulence. But, the dragonfly actually produces precise, predictable turbulence and uses it to its advantage."

Complete article at:


Politics are not my thing, so I didn't post this on the 22nd:

Roe v. Wade, Jan 22, 1973:

"The Supreme Court decriminalizes abortion by handing down their decision in the case of Roe v. Wade. Despite opponents' characterization of the decision, it was not the first time that abortion became a legal procedure in the United States. In fact, for most of the country's first 100 years, abortion as we know it today was not only not a criminal offense, it was also not considered immoral.

In the 1700s and early 1800s, the word "abortion" referred only to the termination of a pregnancy after "quickening," the time when the fetus first began to make noticeable movements. The induced ending of a pregnancy before this point did not even have a name--but not because it was uncommon. Women in the 1700s often took drugs to end their unwanted pregnancies.

In 1827, though, Illinois passed a law that made the use of abortion drugs punishable by up to three years' imprisonment.  Although other states followed the Illinois example, advertising for "Female Monthly Pills," as they were known, was still common through the middle of the 19th century.

Abortion itself only became a serious criminal offense in the period between 1860 and 1880. And the criminalization of abortion did not result from moral outrage. The roots of the new law came from the newly established physicians' trade organization, the American Medical Association. Doctors decided that abortion practitioners were unwanted competition and went about eliminating that competition. The Catholic Church, which had long accepted terminating pregnancies before quickening, joined the doctors in condemning the practice.

The fight over whether to criminalize abortion has grown increasingly fierce in recent years, but opinion polls suggest that most Americans prefer that women be able to have abortions in the early stages of pregnancy, free of any government interference."


On That Day:  "The US Supreme Court legalized abortion in 1973 but can we really call it freedom and liberty?"


On This Day:

First Winter Olympics, Jan 25, 1924:

"On January 25, 1924, the first Winter Olympics take off in style at Chamonix in the French Alps. Spectators were thrilled by the ski jump and bobsled as well as 12 other events involving a total of six sports. The "International Winter Sports Week," as it was known, was a great success, and in 1928 the International Olympic Committee (IOC) officially designated the Winter Games, staged in St. Moritz, Switzerland, as the second Winter Olympics.

In one of the most unexpected stories to come out of the first Winter Games, the Norwegian-born American ski jumper Anders Haugen, captain of the U.S. Olympic team, came in fourth, but was awarded the bronze medal a full 50 years later, when a mathematical error was discovered that would have put Haugen in third place."


Kennedy holds first live television news conference, Jan 25, 1961:

"On this day in 1961, President John F. Kennedy becomes the first U.S. president to hold a live televised news conference.

From a podium in the State Department auditorium, Kennedy read a prepared statement regarding the famine in the Congo, the release of two American aviators from Russian custody and impending negotiations for an atomic test ban treaty. He then opened the floor for questions from reporters, answering queries on a variety of topics including relations with Cuba, voting rights and food aid to impoverished Americans.

Ever since his televised presidential debate with Richard Nixon in 1960, Kennedy had been aware of the media's enormous power to sway public opinion. On that day, Kennedy had appeared rested, well-groomed and in control. Nixon, on the other hand, was not as telegenic as Kennedy and appeared sweaty and flustered. His five o'clock shadow created more of a stir than his responses to the moderator's questions."



Again Maddie didn't get her walk, when I went to get Jay, but Misty did.  That, and eating, are the highlights of her day like most dogs, but it even more so for a blind one.

My Red Maple had shed all it's leaves, and is now shooting out new ones.  Poor thing, all this nice weather, it thinks that it is Spring.

For the first time in the Winter, we had to mow. The 'lawn' (grass and weeds), was looking very straggly.  I don't like to use chemicals, but the drought really made the weeds grow, so we got cockleburs in the pet's hair. Those can be very dangerous if they get in the 'leg-pits' (arm pits) of the pets and start to make sores which can become infected, if not noticed in time.   Also we have a lot of other weeds, like dandelions growing in the grass this year.  If the cockleburs were gone, maybe we should just have a mowed dandelion lawn!

The weeds are so well established that Corn Gluten Meal isn't going to work on them, so we might have to resort to other methods.  So Jay mowed high enough not to cut down the weed's leaves, as that is what Weed-N-Feed uses to kill the weeds, just in case we have to use it. We have got to stop the cockleburs this year.  But as least it is all one height now, as we won't be able to mow for a while.

Before we use the spreader, we have to water, so this was a good time to mow, as it is going to rain for the next couple of days.


Speedy said...

My goodness Penny!!! You sure have provided me with much information! I have not been on your site in some time due to my poor connection but now that I have a good connection and time I will be reading more. Not sure that I will have this much time to read all of yours but I will give it my all..

Joe and Sherri

LakeConroePenny,TX said...

Thank you for your comment, Speedy.

I read your journal, even though I don't comment very often. Always interesting to see where friends are, and what they are up to.

Welcome back to the land of the living, (internet), there is so much useful info out there.

Happy Trails to you and Sherri, Penny.

Dizzy-Dick said...

I loved the article about the dragonfly's way of flying. Have had a lot of them arroud my place when the swamp has water in it.