Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Yellow-eared Parrot. FeatherFest 2012. Millerbird. Bald Eagle Rescued. Raptor Guards. Ducks Nest in Trees? How Birds Sing. High Island Birds. April’s Birds. Peregrine Falcon. Napoleon. Buchenwald. Apollo 13. Lunch With RV-Dreamers.

For “Winged Wednesday”:

Yellow-eared Parrot

Yellow-eared Parrot by Fundacion ProAves

“This colorful, green and yellow parrot was believed to be extinct until April 1999, when a group of researchers, sponsored by Fundación Loro Parque and ABC, discovered a small population of just 81 individuals in the Colombian Andes.  Fundación ProAves, which was formed as a result of this discovery, has been working on recovering the species ever since.

The Yellow-eared Parrot has suffered greatly from habitat loss and fragmentation – over 90% of montane forests in Colombia have been cleared for agriculture or settlement, and Quindio wax palms, on which the parrot depends, have been decimated by logging and disease. Wax palms were also being unsustainably exploited for use in Palm Sunday celebrations within the parrot’s range.

Conservation efforts have centered on saving this parrot’s habitat and educating local people. Thanks to a national TV and radio outreach campaign, religious demand for wax palm fronds has shifted in favor of a non-threatened, non-native palm, which has allowed the Quindío palm to recover.  ProAves has also erected numerous nest boxes to supplement the natural tree cavities where Yellow-eared Parrots normally nest, which has helped its recovery.

The Yellow-eared Parrot population has now climbed to more than 1,000 individuals, and the species was recently downlisted from Critically Endangered to Endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.”  Learn more about the Yellow-eared Parrot and help us conserve it!

Who’s Coming & What’s New?   Galveston FeatherFest 2012

“There is so much to do at FeatherFest 2012, with more than 100 field trips, workshops and social events to choose from. Unique outdoor adventures amid some 200 species of birds are in store for nature enthusiasts and photographers at all skill levels. What’s more, you’ll find Galveston Island and its surrounding areas steeped in Texas charm, history and hospitality.

Nationally-recognized birders Kevin Karlson and Louise Zemaitis join our regional experts leading tours on and around Galveston Island, one of the top locations for birding in the nation. And by popular demand, the festival’s dynamic track of photography field trips and workshops has doubled its programs!

New festival events include Advanced Birding with Kevin Karlson; Warbler Watching with Louise Zemaitis; Moody Gardens Rainforest Photography; Greet the Dawn at Virginia Point; Creating Attractive Sets for Wildlife Photography; Get More Out of Your Digital Point-and-Shoot Camera; Coastal Birding; and Rainforest Rendezvous.

Returning favorites include North Deer Island Rookery by Boat; High Island Famous Sites; Galveston Complete Birding Sampler; Bolivar Birding with Kevin Karlson; Birding 101; Songbirds on the West End; and Raptors Uncorked!”

Advance Registration Online and by Mail is Closed    On-site Registration will be open in FeatherFest Headquarters as follows:  Wednesday from 4 p.m. – 6 p.m. all day Thursday, Friday, Saturday
and Sunday from 7 a.m. – 1 p.m.
      More at:


Nihoa Millerbird Fledgling on Laysan by Robby Kohley

Millerbird Milestones


Nihoa Millerbird Fledgling on Laysan by Robby Kohley


“We have a fledgling Millerbird!  I had to get that exciting bit of news out up front for my first blog post.”  More at:



Bald eagle rescued from St. Johns River, More than 100 other birds rescued from river in recent months.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - “A bald eagle was rescued from the St. Johns River after it was spotted swimming in the river Tuesday night near the Florida Yacht Club in Ortega.

It was wet, exhausted, likely about to drown when an officer from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission saved it and brought it to a dock in San Marco.”  More and video at:


Bald eagle deaths may be on the rise with population

 / HC“Responding to the deaths of bald eagles, CenterPoint Energy installed "raptor guards" on power lines near this large nest in a tree in the Houston area.  At least seven bald eagles have died because of electrocution in East Texas over the past year. Power poles and lines are particularly attractive to birds, especially big birds of prey. The problem happens when wires with the potential to cause electrocution are placed too close together - within the distance of an eagle's wing span, for example. The deaths come as bald eagles, once endangered, are flourishing again and no longer in need of the protections of the federal Endangered Species Act.   At least seven bald eagles have died in East Texas in the past year because of unintended encounters with power lines, an alarming rate of death at a time when the once-endangered species is rebounding, federal wildlife officials said.

Jim Stinebaugh, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service special agent based in Houston, said the raptors died from electrocutions or collisions involving power lines and poles in six counties, including Harris.   "It is happening more often, and because of the eagles' resurgence, it is going to increase," he said. From:


Did you know that black-bellied whistling ducks nest in trees?

Black-bellied whistling ducks in a marsh near Delray Beach, FL

Two black-bellied whistling ducks in a marsh near Delray Beach, Florida. See:


How Birds Produce Sound

How Birds Produce Sound

“Nearly all birds produce sound through an organ unique to birds, the syrinx. In many songbirds, the syrinx is not much bigger than a raindrop. Extremely efficient, it uses nearly all the air that passes through it. By contrast, a human creates sound using only 2% of the air exhaled through the larynx. Birds whose syrinx is controlled by only one set of muscles have a limited vocal range. This Song Sparrow, using several pairs, can put forth a cascade of trills and notes. Listen again. Sign up for the BirdNote podcast.”

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High Island - Not an Island and Not Very High

High Island - Not an Island and Not Very High

“Each spring, millions of songbirds migrate north from the New World tropics to nest in North America. It takes 15 hours on average to cross the roughly 500 miles of the Gulf of Mexico. If wind or rain slows the crossing, the birds are worn out and famished when they reach land. What will they find on gaining the coast? Along the upper Gulf Coast of Texas, many arriving birds – including Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, like this one – find respite on High Island, Texas. Learn more about the bird sanctuaries of the Gulf Coast of Texas.

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The Bird Songs of April

The Bird Songs of April

“The month of April inspires poets, sometimes with contradictory results. T.S. Eliot describes April as "the cruelest month." Shakespeare strikes an upbeat note, writing "April hath put a spirit of youth in everything." Let April speak for itself. Listen to the birds. In Southeastern Alaska, the exuberant voice of a Ruby-crowned Kinglet - - - In a Washington State marsh, a Common Yellowthroat - - - In South Texas, this Long–billed Thrasher - - - In a dense Midwestern shrub, a Brown Thrasher holds forth. And in the East, a White-throated Sparrow sings sweetly.”

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Follow Island Girl with Bud Anderson

Follow Island Girl with Bud Anderson

“"Peregrine" means "wanderer." And Island Girl, a Peregrine Falcon, has made the 18,000-mile round-trip journey from the high arctic of Canada to southern Chile three times. Bud Anderson of the Falcon Research Group calls her "a master of the air." Using satellite telemetry, he invites people to share in the adventure of Island Girl’s journey. With online maps, you can now follow this gorgeous Peregrine in her wanderings. She’ll head northward from Chile early to mid-April. Check it out!”

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On This Day:

Napoleon exiled to Elba, Apr 11, 1814:

“On this day in 1814, Napoleon Bonaparte, emperor of France and one of the greatest military leaders in history, abdicates the throne, and, in the Treaty of Fontainebleau, is banished to the Mediterranean island of Elba.

The future emperor was born in Ajaccio, Corsica, on August 15, 1769. After attending military school, he fought during the French Revolution of 1789 and rapidly rose through the military ranks, leading French troops in a number of successful campaigns throughout Europe in the late 1700s. By 1799, he had established himself at the top of a military dictatorship. In 1804, he became emperor of France and continued to consolidate power through his military campaigns, so that by 1810 much of Europe came under his rule. Although Napoleon developed a reputation for being power-hungry and insecure, he is also credited with enacting a series of important political and social reforms that had a lasting impact on European society, including judiciary systems, constitutions, voting rights for all men and the end of feudalism. Additionally, he supported education, science and literature. His Code Napoleon, which codified key freedoms gained during the French Revolution, such as religious tolerance, remains the foundation of French civil law.

In 1812, thinking that Russia was plotting an alliance with England, Napoleon launched an invasion against the Russians that eventually ended with his troops retreating from Moscow and much of Europe uniting against him. In 1814, Napoleon's broken forces gave up and Napoleon offered to step down in favor of his son. When this offer was rejected, he abdicated and was sent to Elba. In March 1815, he escaped his island exile and returned to Paris, where he regained supporters and reclaimed his emperor title, Napoleon I, in a period known as the Hundred Days. However, in June 1815, he was defeated at the bloody Battle of Waterloo. Napoleon's defeat ultimately signaled the end of France's domination of Europe. He abdicated for a second time and was exiled to the remote island of Saint Helena, in the southern Atlantic Ocean, where he lived out the rest of his days. He died at age 52 on May 5, 1821, possibly from stomach cancer, although some theories contend he was poisoned.”


The U.S. army liberates Buchenwald concentration camp, Apr 11, 1945:

On this day in 1945, the American Third Army liberates the Buchenwald concentration camp, near Weimar, Germany, a camp that will be judged second only to Auschwitz in the horrors it imposed on its prisoners.

As American forces closed in on the Nazi concentration camp at Buchenwald, Gestapo headquarters at Weimar telephoned the camp administration to announce that it was sending explosives to blow up any evidence of the camp--including its inmates. What the Gestapo did not know was that the camp administrators had already fled in fear of the Allies. A prisoner answered the phone and informed headquarters that explosives would not be needed, as the camp had already been blown up, which, of course, was not true.

The camp held thousands of prisoners, mostly slave laborers. There were no gas chambers, but hundreds, sometimes thousands, died monthly from disease, malnutrition, beatings, and executions. Doctors performed medical experiments on inmates, testing the effects of viral infections and vaccines.

Among the camp's most gruesome characters was Ilse Koch, wife of the camp commandant, who was infamous for her sadism. She often beat prisoners with a riding crop, and collected lampshades, book covers, and gloves made from the skin of camp victims.

Among those saved by the Americans was Elie Wiesel, who would go on to win the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986.”


Apollo 13 launched to moon, Apr 11, 1970: "Houston, we've had a problem here,"

“On April 11, 1970, Apollo 13, the third lunar landing mission, is successfully launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, carrying astronauts James A. Lovell, John L. Swigert, and Fred W. Haise. The spacecraft's destination was the Fra Mauro highlands of the moon, where the astronauts were to explore the Imbrium Basin and conduct geological experiments. After an oxygen tank exploded on the evening of April 13, however, the new mission objective became to get the Apollo 13 crew home alive.

At 9:00 p.m. EST on April 13, Apollo 13 was just over 200,000 miles from Earth. The crew had just completed a television broadcast and was inspecting Aquarius, the Landing Module (LM). The next day, Apollo 13 was to enter the moon's orbit, and soon after, Lovell and Haise would become the fifth and sixth men to walk on the moon. At 9:08 p.m., these plans were shattered when an explosion rocked the spacecraft. Oxygen tank No. 2 had blown up, disabling the normal supply of oxygen, electricity, light, and water. Lovell reported to mission control: "Houston, we've had a problem here," and the crew scrambled to find out what had happened. Several minutes later, Lovell looked out of the left-hand window and saw that the spacecraft was venting a gas, which turned out to be the Command Module's (CM) oxygen. The landing mission was aborted.

As the CM lost pressure, its fuel cells also died, and one hour after the explosion mission control instructed the crew to move to the LM, which had sufficient oxygen, and use it as a lifeboat. The CM was shut down but would have to be brought back on-line for Earth reentry. The LM was designed to ferry astronauts from the orbiting CM to the moon's surface and back again; its power supply was meant to support two people for 45 hours. If the crew of Apollo 13 were to make it back to Earth alive, the LM would have to support three men for at least 90 hours and successfully navigate more than 200,000 miles of space. The crew and mission control faced a formidable task.

To complete its long journey, the LM needed energy and cooling water. Both were to be conserved at the cost of the crew, who went on one-fifth water rations and would later endure cabin temperatures that hovered a few degrees above freezing. Removal of carbon dioxide was also a problem, because the square lithium hydroxide canisters from the CM were not compatible with the round openings in the LM environmental system. Mission control built an impromptu adapter out of materials known to be onboard, and the crew successfully copied their model.

Navigation was also a major problem. The LM lacked a sophisticated navigational system, and the astronauts and mission control had to work out by hand the changes in propulsion and direction needed to take the spacecraft home. On April 14, Apollo 13 swung around the moon. Swigert and Haise took pictures, and Lovell talked with mission control about the most difficult maneuver, a five-minute engine burn that would give the LM enough speed to return home before its energy ran out. Two hours after rounding the far side of the moon, the crew, using the sun as an alignment point, fired the LM's small descent engine. The procedure was a success; Apollo 13 was on its way home.

For the next three days, Lovell, Haise, and Swigert huddled in the freezing lunar module. Haise developed a case of the flu. Mission control spent this time frantically trying to develop a procedure that would allow the astronauts to restart the CM for reentry. On April 17, a last-minute navigational correction was made, this time using Earth as an alignment guide. Then the repressurized CM was successfully powered up after its long, cold sleep. The heavily damaged service module was shed, and one hour before re-entry the LM was disengaged from the CM. Just before 1 p.m., the spacecraft reentered Earth's atmosphere. Mission control feared that the CM's heat shields were damaged in the accident, but after four minutes of radio silence Apollo 13's parachutes were spotted, and the astronauts splashed down safely into the Pacific Ocean.”



Misty and I didn’t pick up Jay, as I knew that he wanted to go to Conroe with me, as he always wants go with anyone who is leaving the subdivision.  He doesn’t have a car, or license.  This time I wanted to go alone.  After re-measuring the windows in the cargo trailer, I started pinning up the first drape.  It didn’t get as far as the sewing machine, as it was time for me to get ready.

The night before, in the RV-Dreams Chatroom, ( Leno (Arlene) and I arranged to have lunch with Trix (Kyra), on her way from FL to WA with her just bought new-to-her beautiful Born Free Class C motor home.  We three met yesterday near Walmart’s Garden Center.  At first, we sat chatting in the Born Free, ah-ing and oh-ing, it is really like new and a wonderfully made rig.  Just like most RVers, we talked like we had known each other for ages.  Well, we have, as we chat most nights.  Arlene and I hadn’t seen each other face to face since December, 2009, and neither of us had actually seen Kyra before.  I forgot my camera, but Arlene took some pictures in the rig.  Then we walked down some steps from Walmart’s parking lot, to the Casa Olé Mexican Restaurant.  The waiter took our picture with Arlene’s camera. We all enjoyed our lunches, but more than that, we had a great time together. 

A memorable day.


Sandra said...

How fun! Glad you had a nice lunch with fellow chatters!

Dizzy-Dick said...

I love to meet other RVers and other bloggers. It is a double pleasure when the RVers are also bloggers. Never have enough time to talk about everything.

KarenInTheWoods and Steveio said...

So nice to see you all together! And what a great time gabbing you must have all had. Love it!

Karen and Steve
(Our Blog) RVing: Small House... BIG Backyard