Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Junín Rail. Florida Scrub-Jay. Passenger Pigeons. Tree Swallows. Invasive Species. Flickers. Man & Birds. Most Wanted. Jack Ruby. Free Agency. Computers.

For "Winged Wednesday":

Junín Rail

Junin Rail by Mike Parr

"The tiny, secretive Junín Rail can only be found (if you are very lucky) along the shores of a single lake in Peru. The lake has been recognized by the Alliance for Zero Extinction (AZE) as a site that must be protected to save this species and another, the Junín Grebe.

The Junín Rail is no larger than a sparrow, and with its bright red eyes and cryptically-patterned dark plumage, closely resembles North America’s Black Rail, another declining and difficult-to-find bird.

Unfortunately, Lake Junín has been greatly impacted by the local human population and development; activities including mining, dam-building, and clearing of shoreline vegetation have created pollution and water-level changes and affected habitat for the rail, the grebe and other endemic and endangered species such as the Lake Junín giant frog.

More protection of this highly threatened lake and its wildlife is needed. ABC and Peruvian partner ECOAN are working in the region to develop a conservation program for the lake and surrounding habitat that involves local community members.

The photograph above was taken by ABC’s Mike Parr on a recent trip to Lake Junín where he and other biologists were fortunate to find this extremely secretive bird and take some unusually close-up photos. Read about their encounter with the rail and see more photos!"

Help ABC conserve this and other birds and their habitats!



Study: Habitat 'clusters' could save birds

Adult Florida Scrub-Jay. Credit: Cornell Lab of Ornithology 

ITHACA, N.Y., Feb. 22 (UPI) --" U.S. researchers say providing a close network of suitable habitats can improve the long-term survival of an endangered Florida bird species.

Scientists at Cornell University in New York state say "clustered habitat networks" separated by no more than 2 or 3 miles are needed to maintain the genetic diversity of Florida Scrub-Jays, a species at risk of extinction with roughly 5,000 birds left in the world.

The study has found a direct connection between genetic variation of Florida Scrub-Jay groups and the geographic distances separating patches of their favored scrub-oak habitat, Cornell researchers said in a release Wednesday.

When habitat patches are separated by more than 2 to 3 miles, the distance is too far to permit free interbreeding. That results in more inbreeding within isolated groups that reduces genetic fitness, increasing the change an isolated population will die out.

"We now know how to configure the stepping stones of scrub-oak habitat so they can link together Florida Scrub-Jay populations and maintain sufficient genetic diversity to promote long-term survival of the species," John Fitzpatrick, executive director of The Cornell Lab of Ornithology, said.  The findings suggest a precise prescription for sustaining fragmented populations of an endangered species and could be a model for other examples around the country, researchers said.

The Florida Scrub-Jay, the only bird found exclusively in Florida, is under threat because the high, dry, sandy scrub-oak patches where the bird lives and breeds exclusively have been prime real estate for Florida developers and for citrus farms, the study found.   Today, only about 5 percent of the original scrub-oak habitat remains, researchers said.   Read more:


Time Changes All Things

Time Changes All Things

"Not that long ago, Passenger Pigeons filled the skies. Some flocks, with more than a billion birds, took four days to pass overhead. Aldo Leopold called the pigeon “a biological storm.” Now they are extinct, gone forever from our world. But other birds remain. This spring, go out and delight in their songs!  Learn more about the Passenger Pigeon at Chipper Woods Bird Observatory."

Play MP3 Download MP3 View Transcript


Tree Swallows March North

Tree Swallows March North

"Every March sees the spring migration of Tree Swallows. The swallows spend the winter along the Caribbean, in Central America, and in the warmest parts of South Texas and California. Some will nest as far north as northern Alaska and Canada. Tree Swallows nest only in cavities, such as old woodpecker holes or man-made nestboxes. The supply of such sites is limited, and competition is intense. Learn how to build a swallow nestbox. Or buy a nestbox. Placement is of utmost importance! Learn more.     Play MP3 Download MP3 View Transcript


How Invasive Species Threaten Habitat

Removing Invasive Plant Species

"Each year in America, more than 3 million acres are lost to invasive weeds — an area equal to a strip of land two miles wide stretching from coast to coast. These weeds and animals like rats and feral pigs are not just wrecking vacant lots and dusty roads inhabited only by tumbleweed. Invasive species are choking out and destroying some of America's most valuable bird and wildlife habitat. In fact, invasive species are a primary threat to America's 94 million acre National Wildlife Refuge System as well as Audubon Important Bird Areas (IBA) across the country.

Wildlife refuges provide critically important habitat for America's birds and wildlife. Unfortunately, many of America's wildlife refuges are succumbing to a suffocating attack by invasive species.  More than 250 wildlife refuges have been infested by invasive species that choke out, devour, and destroy native birds, wildlife, and their habitat.  More than 8 million acres of habitat within the Refuge System are infested with invasive weeds, including some of the System's most valuable habitat for birds and wildlife.

For example, the highly invasive Chinese tallow tree, which shades out native grasses and transforms grasslands, prairies and brushlands into tallow woodlands, has destroyed more than 55,000 acres of bird and wildlife habitat on Aransas National Wildlife Refuge in Texas. Millions of birds representing nearly 400 species funnel through this area at the base of the Mississippi Flyway. The open grasslands being destroyed by Chinese Tallow are important stopover habitat for thousands of Neotropical migratory songbirds, as well as the hunting grounds of the WatchListed Short-eared Owl."     More at:


Northern Flicker - A Mostly Unlikely Woodpecker

Northern Flicker - A Mostly Unlikely Woodpecker

"The Northern Flicker is a woodpecker, but one that hardly looks the part. Where most woodpeckers are a reliable mix of black, white, and bits of red, the Northern Flicker is buffy tan overall. (Depending on what part of the country you live in, you might see either the “Red-shafted Flicker” or the "Yellow-shafted Flicker.") And if all this weren’t enough, it’s often found on the ground. Learn more at Cornell's AllAboutBirds. Play MP3 Download MP3 View Transcript


Flicker Attack

Flicker Attack

"In early spring, a male flicker may drum on a metal stovepipe or other resonant surface to attract a mate and proclaim his territory. This doesn’t damage your house. If your flicker is drilling for food, you’d better check for carpenter ants or other insects! A flicker may also be excavating a nest cavity. If so, you can put up a nestbox nearby. The pair that adopts it will keep other flickers away. If it’s late spring or summer and you discover a big hole, there’s probably a brood inside, and it’s illegal to disturb them. Learn more about Northern Flickers. Find out how to live with flickers, without conflicts.  Play MP3 Download MP3 View Transcript


Paul Harvey - The Man and the Birds

The following is a condensed popular story by the late Paul Harvey:

"There was a nonreligious skeptical man who just couldn't swallow the "Jesus story" about an Incarnation, about Jesus coming to earth as a man. But one snowy evening he noticed a flock of birds huddled miserably in the snow, not having any shelter. Well, he couldn't let the poor creatures lie there and freeze, and he thought about his barn. That would provide a warm shelter, if he could direct the birds to it.

Quickly he went to the barn, opened the doors wide and turned on a light, but the birds did not come in. He figured food would entice them in. So he hurried back to the house, found some bread crumbs that he sprinkled on the snow, making a trail to the doorway of the barn. But to his dismay, the birds ignored the bread crumbs, and continued to flap around helplessly in the snow. He tried catching them... He tried shooing them into the barn by walking around them waving his arms... Instead, they scattered in every direction, except into the warm, lighted barn.

And then, he realized that they were afraid of him. To them, he reasoned, I am a strange and terrifying creature. If only I could think of some way to let them know that they can trust me... That I am not trying to hurt them, but to help them. But how? Because any move he made tended to frighten them, they just would not follow. They would not be led or shooed because they feared him.

"If only I could be a bird," he thought to himself, "and mingle with them and speak their language. Then I could tell them not to be afraid. Then I could show them the way to the safe, warm barn. But I would have to be one of them so they could see, and hear and understand."

That thought became an epiphany. Stunned, he remembered the fundamental message: "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us" (John 1:14). Suddenly the gospel he had heard made complete sense!  He dropped to his knees in the snow."


On This Day:

The FBI debuts 10 Most Wanted, Mar 14, 1950:

"On this day in 1950, the Federal Bureau of Investigation institutes the "Ten Most Wanted Fugitives" list in an effort to publicize particularly dangerous fugitives. The creation of the program arose out of a wire service news story in 1949 about the "toughest guys" the FBI wanted to capture. The story drew so much public attention that the "Ten Most Wanted" list was given the okay by J. Edgar Hoover the following year. As of 2011, 465 of the criminals included on the list have been apprehended or located, 153 as a result of tips from the public. The Criminal Investigative Division (CID) of the FBI asks all fifty-six field offices to submit candidates for inclusion on the list. The CID in association with the Office of Public and Congressional Affairs then proposes finalists for approval of by the FBI's Deputy Director. The criteria for selection is simple, the criminal must have a lengthy record and current pending charges that make him or her particularly dangerous. And the the FBI must believe that the publicity attendant to placement on the list will assist in the apprehension of the fugitive.

Generally, the only way to get off the list is to die or to be captured. There have only been a handful of cases where a fugitive has been removed from the list because they no longer were a particularly dangerous menace to society. Only eight women have appeared on the Ten Most Wanted list. Ruth Eisemann-Schier was the first in 1968.  The FBI also works closely with the Fox television show America's Most Wanted to further publicize the effort to capture dangerous felons."


Jack Ruby sentenced to death, Mar 14, 1964:

"Jack Ruby, the Dallas nightclub owner who killed Lee Harvey Oswald--the accused assassin of President John F. Kennedy--is found guilty of the "murder with malice" of Oswald and sentenced to die in the electric chair. It was the first courtroom verdict to be televised in U.S. history.

On November 24, 1963, two days after Kennedy's assassination, Lee Harvey Oswald was brought to the basement of the Dallas police headquarters on his way to a more secure county jail. A crowd of police and press with live television cameras rolling gathered to witness his departure. As Oswald came into the room, Jack Ruby emerged from the crowd and fatally wounded him with a single shot from a concealed .38 revolver. Ruby, who was immediately detained, claimed he was distraught over the president's assassination. Some called him a hero, but he was nonetheless charged with first-degree murder.

Jack Ruby, originally known as Jacob Rubenstein, operated strip joints and dance halls in Dallas and had minor connections to organized crime. He also had a relationship with a number of Dallas policemen, which amounted to various favors in exchange for leniency in their monitoring of his establishments. He features prominently in Kennedy-assassination theories, and many believe he killed Oswald to keep him from revealing a larger conspiracy. In his trial, Ruby denied the allegation and pleaded innocent on the grounds that his great grief over Kennedy's murder had caused him to suffer "psychomotor epilepsy" and shoot Oswald unconsciously. The jury found him guilty and sentenced him to die.

In October 1966, the Texas Court of Appeals reversed the decision on the grounds of improper admission of testimony and the fact that Ruby could not have received a fair trial in Dallas at the time. In January 1967, while awaiting a new trial to be held in Wichita Falls, Ruby died of lung cancer in a Dallas hospital.

The official Warren Commission report of 1964 concluded that neither Oswald nor Ruby were part of a larger conspiracy, either domestic or international, to assassinate President Kennedy. Despite its seemingly firm conclusions, the report failed to silence conspiracy theories surrounding the event, and in 1978 the House Select Committee on Assassinations concluded in a preliminary report that Kennedy was "probably assassinated as a result of a conspiracy" that may have involved multiple shooters and organized crime. The committee's findings, as with those of the Warren Commission, continue to be widely disputed."


Yesterday:   NFL and Spiritual Free Agency

"Are you an individual who can step up and fill the gap?"

Transcript at:


My Yesterday:

Misty and I went to get Jay, and he said that his mother needed help with her laptop, as they couldn't get it online.  I hate fooling with her laptop as it is soooo slooww as it has only 192 RAM.  Her son in law had bought it for her years ago. 

I reset the cable modem and her router which got it online, but there were 190 email notifications from her family on FaceBook.  You know, the kind that say "I am eating a burger" or "I am going to bed now".  We got tired of trying to delete them all, and she said she might enjoy having a desktop again.  She had given hers to Jay years ago, and he no longer has it.  I still have my old Sony desktop, which I had paid a computer place to clean out ready for me to sell.  Jay and I took it, a monitor, a keyboard, and all the cords down there and set it up on her desk.  I was furious, the computer shop hadn't cleaned it out, but she could tell that it was so much faster than hers.

By the time we had fiddled with the computers we had no time to work yesterday.

1 comment:

Dizzy-Dick said...

I always loved Paul Harvey, a great, but humble man. It was nice that you got Jay's Mom a computer that she can use.