Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Mishana Tyrannulet. Sandhill Cranes. Whooping Crane Chicks. Eagle Cam. More Eagles. Wind Power Kills. "Magic Mud". Oily Pelicans. Mammy. Hank Aaron. Cargo Trailer.

For "Winged Wednesday":

Mishana Tyrannulet

Mishana Tyrannulet by Dusan Brinkhuizen

"The Mishana Tyrannulet, a type of flycatcher unique to Peru, was only recognized as a species in 2001. It is a small, green bird with a yellow belly, pale eye, and pale lower bill.  Its song is a simple series of two to four evenly spaced notes. Its diet includes small arthropods and fruit, especially mistletoe berries; it is frequently found perched at the top of bushes, often at the forest edge.

ABC and partner ProNaturaleza have worked together at the Allpahuayo Mishana National Reserve to improve management and enhance protection of white-sand forests for the Mishana Tyrannulet, Iquitos Gnatcatcher, Allpahuayo Antbird, and other rare birds. During 2010 and 2011, 2,368 acres of private property within the reserve was purchased for donation to the national government to be managed for conservation.

ABC and ProNaturaleza  are also undertaking educational campaigns with local communities, training programs for reserve staff, and bird surveys within the reserve.

The Mishana Tyrannulet is easily seen at Waqanki, a tourist lodge in the Mayo Valley near Moyobamba featured in a recent ABC blog. This is an excellent place to stop between the Tarapoto airport and the Abra Patricia reserve, where ABC has worked with ECOAN to protect over 24,000 acres of cloud forest."    Help ABC conserve this and other birds and their habitats!


Leaping With Sandhill Cranes by Bob Sundstrom

"With a graceful leap, wings outstretched, Sandhill Cranes welcome the longer days. The stately cranes are courting, renewing an annual dance they perform in earnest as the days lengthen into spring. Sandhill Crane pairs remain together for life, and their spirited dance plays an essential role in reaffirming this bond. Watch a video of their courtship dance."   Play MP3 Download MP3 View Transcript    LISTEN NOW

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Whooping crane migration comes up short

Whooping crane migration

Whooping cranes follow an Operation Migration ultralight in Wisconsin in October.

"What's that saying about leading a horse to water? The latest effort to teach Maryland-bred whooping crane chicks to migrate to Florida for the winter has been called off because the endangered birds will no longer follow the ultralight aircraft leading them.
Operation Migration, the nonprofit group that's been guiding captive-bred young cranes for a decade on their initial 1,300-mile flight from nesting grounds in Wisconsin, has called it quits this year in Alabama, 500 miles short of the destination.
While previous flights haven't gone smoothly, this is the first time the group hasn't succeeded in completing the journey to join the rest of the whooping crane flock wintering on the Gulf Coast of Florida.
The flight was grounded for a month in northern Alabama around the holidays as the group sparred with the Federal Aviation Administration over whether its ultralight pilots were properly licensed.
The FAA eventually relented and granted them temporary waivers to continue, but in the next two weeks the birds covered only 14 miles. Weather was partly to blame, but even when skies were clear and calm, the birds repeatedly broke away from their ultralight guides to land or fly off in different directions.
"Maybe we have stayed too long in Alabama and for them migration is over," ultralight pilot Joe Duff wrote in the group's online field journal chronicling its odyssey. "Or maybe they were just too long in one place. Maybe if we had a few flying days in a row to gain back their confidence, or maybe we just have a few too many aggressive birds with minds of their own."
Could unusually mild weather this winter have prompted the birds to lose their migratory urge? The group's blog contains a comment from a biologist in Indiana that a number of cranes, both whoopers and non-endangered sandhills, had flown no farther south this winter than the Hoosier State, where the grass has stayed green and the ground unfrozen.

At Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Laurel, Md., whooping crane chicks are hatched and taught to follow crane-costumed humans piloting an ultralight aircraft. They're then transported to Wisconsin, their nesting grounds once they've returned from wintering down south.  Patuxent scientist John B. French said biologists weren't sure what would happen with these chicks if they didn't make it to Florida. Might they imprint on Alabama, or ultimately join the rest of the eastern flock in shuttling between Wisconsin and Florida? If they stuck with Alabama, how would such a small group — about 10 birds — fare on its own?

For now, at least, Operation Migration has decided to load the chicks into crates and drive them to a nearby national wildlife refuge in Alabama rather than try to get them to Florida. It would be too stressful to keep them cooped up for a ride that long, it was believed."  By Tim Wheeler, Baltimore Sun. February 4, 2012. From:,0,7433258.story?track=rss&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+latimes%2Fnews%2Fscience+%28L.A.+Times+-+Science%29

The group is posting progress reports on its blog.


Operation Migration

Operation Migration

"Unlike many other birds that have an inherent sense of direction and destination, young Whooping Cranes have to learn their migration route from the adults. Enter Operation Migration and ultralight aircraft to lead them on their journey! Fortunately, the young cranes need to be shown the way only once. In early 2007, an entire generation of young cranes died due to a freak storm in Florida.
Learn more about this year's journey from Wisconsin to Florida at  Operation"   Play MP3 Download MP3 View Transcript .


Eagle Cam is Back! Watch Iowa Bald Eagle Eggs Hatching Live  from Wildlife Promise

"Did you join us last year as we watched two Iowa bald eagles care for newly hatched eagle chicks? Thanks to the Raptor Resource Center, the eagle cam we all came to love is back!  Join the National Wildlife Federation family again this year as we watch the eagles hatch and grow!"  Update 2/17/12: First egg is delivered (watch video). Feb. 20, 2012: Second egg is delivered (watch video) From:

Cats and Eagles:

"I had gone on a short errand and when I came home I found the cats hanging out with these 2 eagles. During the summer these same two eagles hang out on my porch about every day like it is their own private perch. They also have claim to the lamp post across the street from my house.   They sit on the porch rail and watch me in my kitchen for hours! I love the sounds they make!"


Bald eagles win a round against Red Wing wind farm

Wind turbines won't sprout near Red Wing for at least a year, state regulators decide. Worries about wildlife have resulted in a one-year delay for the project.

"Bald eagles won an unexpected victory Thursday when Minnesota regulators delayed a wind farm near Red Wing for at least a year because the developer failed to produce an adequate plan to protect America's national symbol and other flying creatures.

Local residents who have been fighting the 48-turbine farm for years hugged each other and wiped away tears when the three-member Public Utilities Commission (PUC) voted 2-1 to deny the plan. The PUC demanded that AWA Goodhue Wind, owned by Texas billionaire T. Boone Pickens, provide better research on how many eagles and bats fly through or near the site, which is prime hunting and nesting territory.

"I don't think that the American people are ready to watch Minnesota's nesting bald eagles be destroyed on behalf of a Texas millionaire," said Mary Hartman, a local resident." More at:


ABC's Response to Speaker Gingrich's Statement on Energy Industry Killing of Migratory Birds

“The Migratory Bird Treaty Act, one of our country’s foremost laws for the protection of wild birds, has been widely enforced for decades in cases generally similar to those involving the North Dakota oil and gas companies referenced in Speaker Gingrich’s February 22 letter. American Bird Conservancy believes that Judge Hovland’s interpretation of the law in this latest case was overly narrow and inconsistent with prior precedents. We feel that prosecution of oil companies for the foreseeable and preventable deaths of birds protected under the MBTA is warranted and appropriate especially since all the companies involved had been cited for similar violations in the past. However, ABC does agree with Speaker Gingrich that prosecutions may be warranted for similar violations of the act by wind power developers, who, in stark contrast to the oil and gas industry, have been given a virtual pass for the deaths of migratory birds at their facilities for over 30 years."      Complete article at:


Magic mud' uncovered on Vancouver tidal flats key to shorebird populations

A February 2012 handout photo shows a western sandpiper slurping up the "magic carpet of biofilm" at Roberts Bank, just south of Vancouver on the Fraser River Delta. The biofilm, which scientists say is high in energy and nutrients, can make up to 70 per cent of shorebirds' diet.

A February 2012 handout photo shows a western sandpiper slurping up the "magic carpet of biofilm" at Roberts Bank, just south of Vancouver on the Fraser River Delta. The biofilm, which scientists say is high in energy and nutrients, can make up to 70 per cent of shorebirds' diet.

"The "magic" in the mud was first uncovered just south of Vancouver where up to half the world's western sandpipers touch down to refuel as they migrate north.    Now the gooey, paper-thin biofilm has also been found to be a key bird food on the other side of the Pacific, revealing what researchers say is a "missing link" in the avian world.

Biofilm can make up to 70 per cent of the diet of small shorebirds, which slurp up the stuff like energy drinks, says Environment Canada researcher Robert Elner, who led the international team that reports its study findings this week.

The scientists say the results could have big implications, especially for ports that may have been unknowingly destroying prime shorebird — and biofilm — habitat.  Mud in the intertidal zone has long been considered "just mud," says Elner. "It wasn't regarded as particularly productive, or particularly beautiful. So it's never been a valued resource."

Biofilm — or as Elner describes it "this magic carpet of biofilm" — alters that picture dramatically.  Biofilm is a dense, mucous-like layer that forms on mud. It is created by bacteria and diatoms that settle out of seawater and secrete mucus that binds them to the mud so they won't wash away with the tide.  The film is composed of mucopolysaccharides, which is an easy-to-digest, high-energy food. Elner says it also appears to contain nutrients that keep the birds in good shape for migration and reproduction.

The researchers from Japan, Britain and British Columbia's Simon Fraser University explored six intertidal sites in Japan and Canada, and looked at 30 different shorebird species from red-necked stints to dunlins.  They sifted through the birds' droppings, examined their mouth parts, and set up high-speed video cameras to watch the birds racing across inter-tidal flats, rapidly feeding as they went.

The analysis revealed the birds use their beaks — and hairy tongues — to suck up biofilm. The smaller the birds the more likely they are to consume large amounts of the high-energy goo.  "Biofilm feeding is indeed widespread," the researchers report this week in the journal Ecology Letters.  They say the connection between shorebirds and biofilm is not only a "missing" but a "critical" link that could lead to better understanding of the birds, many of which are declining in number globally."    Read more:


All Eyes on the Senate, from Wildlife Promise

Jeff Phillips of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service rescues a brown pelican from Barataria Bay in Grand Isle, LA. June 4, 2010.

"Last week, pelicans and other wildlife in the Gulf got some promising news when the House of Representatives passed an amendment dedicating 80 percent of Clean Water Act fines from the BP oil spill to Gulf restoration.  The amendment, introduced by Rep. Scalise (R-LA), sets aside most of the money from the expected oil spill penalties into a trust fund.

The House’s move sets up the Senate to pass the RESTORE Act, which will also direct oil spill penalty money to the Gulf for restoration. The RESTORE Act is not in conflict with the House amendment but has more specific language directing how this money should be used.

Take ActionSpeak up for the Gulf pelicans and all wildlife that rely on a healthy Gulf! Urge your senators to support S 1400, the RESTORE Act!

The Senate needs to act soon. BP, whose total liability claims clock in at around $71 billion, is furiously working on a settlement deal with the U.S. Department of Justice.  If a settlement is reached before the RESTORE Act is passed, money from BP’s fines could go straight into the Treasury. That’s not right.  The Gulf oil spill was the largest accidental marine oil spill in history—and Gulf wildlife are still struggling in its aftermath. Money from the oil spill penalties should not be a windfall for the Treasury but should be used to restore the Gulf.  Please urge your Senators to support the RESTORE Act today!

The RESTORE Act Benefits Wildlife

"The endangered brown pelicans were starting to nest when the Deepwater Horizon well exploded in 2010. On one small island, biologists found over 300 oiled pelicans in a single day. Biologists remain concerned about the long-term impacts of the dispersed and submerged oil on the pelican’s food chain and nesting grounds."


On This Day:

McDaniel wins Oscar, Feb 29, 1940:

"On February 29, 1940, Gone with the Wind is honored with eight Oscars by the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. An epic Southern romance set during the hard times of the Civil War, the movie swept the prestigious Best Picture, Director, Screenplay, Cinematography, Art Direction, Film Editing, and Actress categories. However, the most momentous award that night undoubtedly went to Hattie McDaniel for her portrayal of "Mammy," a housemaid and former slave. McDaniel, who won the Best Supporting Actress Academy Award, was the first African American actress or actor ever to be honored with an Oscar."


Hank Aaron record-breaking deal, Feb 29, 1972:

"On February 29, 1972, Hank Aaron signs a three-year deal with the Atlanta Braves that pays him $200,000 per year, making him the highest-paid player in Major League Baseball at the time. Two years later, Aaron became baseball’s home run king when he broke Babe Ruth’s long-standing record."



With the comment word verification removed, I am getting 20-30 spam comments a day.   Blogger is very good at catching them, so I go down their list, and delete them.  Have you checked to see how many spam comments Blogger has caught for you?

Misty didn't get a very long walk, as my back is still sore from when I put it out last Sunday.  My HMO has now decided that I have to see a physical therapist before I can see a chiropractor.

We loaded Jay's mower in the Puddle Jumper, and he mowed my lawn weeds for me.  I keep the back yard scoop-a-pooed, but I raked the pine cones out of the way, as I know they are bad for the mower's blade. We dropped my mower off at mechanic Jim's house, and maybe he can stop gas from leaking out of the air filter.

Then we moved the water tank from under the dinette in the cargo trailer, and started it's re-installation under the sink.

Still ideal weather when neither the AC or heat has to be run during the night or day.

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