Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Cochabamba Mountain-finch. Birds and Wind Turbines. Falcon Sky Dive. What Do Birds Smell? Rat Poisons. Crow Scout Curley.

For “Winged Wednesday”:

Cochabamba Mountain-finch

Coachbamba Mountain-finch by Dan Lebbin

“The endangered Cochabamba Mountain-finch is a stocky, long-tailed bird, almost the size of a towhee, with striking rufous and slate-gray plumage. Like other finches, its diet consists mostly of seeds.

The Cochabamba Mountain-finch inhabits areas of mixed forest and scrub, areas that are unfortunately also ideal for human settlement, agriculture, and cattle grazing.  Although this finch can tolerate some man-made habitat loss and alteration, it disappears from areas where all native vegetation has been cleared. While habitat loss and fragmentation are the biggest threats to this species, exposure to pesticides is also a factor.

ABC has supported in-country partner Asociación Armonía in their work to raise awareness of the Cochabamba Mountain-Finch through environmental education at local schools, to help farmers reduce pesticide use through organic farming methods, and to evaluate, map, and conserve finch breeding areas.”

Help ABC conserve this and other birds and their habitats!


Flight Of Eagles May Alter Wind Farms' Path

“Birds and wind turbines share an affinity for windy mountain ridgelines, putting them on a potential collision course, said Katzner, one of a dozen researchers studying the golden eagle's migratory habits and hangouts.

Golden eagles use the "lift," or updraft, created by surface winds hitting sloped terrain — hillsides and mountains — to soar.

But the steep ridgelines that permit golden eagles and bald eagles to hitch a ride on the wind as they migrate north and south are the same gusty high points preferred by wind-turbine developers, and golden eagles are more apt to be killed by 300-foot to 500-foot-tall wind turbines than other raptors because of their hunting methods, experts say.  In California, wind farms in the Altamont Pass area east of Oakland kill an estimated 70 goldens each year.

Nationwide, it's estimated that thousands of birds, including eagles, falcons, hawks, owls, gulls, waterfowl and songbirds, are killed by wind turbines.

Eastern golden eagles are "among the rarest species out there," Katzner said. West of the Mississippi River their population is estimated at 20,000; east of the river, estimates vary from 1,500 to 3,000.

The goal of Katzner and other researchers is to create a regionwide map showing the relative risks posed by wind power to eagles and similar birds.  "These maps will allow us to make specific recommendations regarding siting of new wind farms and operation of existing wind farms, to mitigate their impact … on eagles and other raptors," Katzner said.

Applying a little bit of social pressure on wind farm developers can also lessen bird strikes, Feaser added. "If you want to be identified as supplying green energy, you can't be green if you're out there killing birds."

Birds rarely, if ever, fly into trees, though, so why can't they avoid wind turbines?

Birds can spot trees and other stationary objects easily, but they can miss the sweep of rotors spinning at more than 100 mph, making them nearly invisible.

And just as some mammals are better at crossing roads and avoiding vehicles, some birds are better at avoiding wind turbines. It varies by species, migration patterns and flight altitudes.

Birds with a long narrow wing, such as falcons, that employ a "flapping flight" are less likely to collide with a turbine than broad-winged birds that conserve energy by soaring, Brandes said.

When a broad-winged bird uses the updraft generated by hills and mountains to hover, "they're at the turbine's height, [200 to 400 feet] putting them in the rotor's sweep zone," Brandes said.

And golden eagles are more likely to collide with a turbine than other raptors because they hover while they hunt.

It's a little like trying to drive and text at the same time.

"They're so focused on hunting, holding still in the air and looking for mammals, they don't see the turbine," Brandes said. "Bald eagles don't use that style of hunting."

Read more at:


Peregrine Falcon Sky Dive - Inside the Perfect Predator - BBC

“The Peregrine Falcon is a bird of prey. This footage shows stunning footage of one such bird diving through the sky over London in order to try and catch a pigeon.”


What Do Birds Smell? More than just food!

“Birds are justly renowned for their highly sensitive eyesight and hearing. Consider the exquisitely keen eye of the eagle, or the unerringly acute ear of the owl.
But what about birds’ sense of smell? Among the many birds of the world, some are, without doubt, prodigious smellers. 

Diminutive seabirds called storm-petrels are olfactory savants – they can detect the scent of prey from a distance of 25 kilometers!
The kiwis of New Zealand sniff the ground for earthworms  before probing deeply to intercept their wiggly prey. Turkey Vultures also have a supremely keen sense of smell to lead them upwind from great distances to their malodorous feasts.
Songbirds were long thought to have a poor sense of smell, because the olfactory center in their brains is proportionally tiny. However, current research suggests that some songbirds may use smell to find food, select prime nest material, and even help navigate across vast regions.
Experiments in the US with migratory Gray Catbirds show that, for adult birds repeating a migration route, sense of smell is more important for than either orientation using the sun or using the earth’s magnetic field. It may well be that many songbirds “smell” their way back to last year’s nesting site.” From:



Rat Poison Manufacturers Flout Government Safety Rules – Act Now!

Red-tailed Hawk, Pale Male by Jeremy Seto

Most recently, a Red-tailed Hawk, the mate of the renowned and beloved Pale Male, was killed in New York City.


“Three companies have refused to comply with a government order to stop selling certain super-toxic rat poisons in formulations that can harm children, birds, other wildlife, dogs, and cats.  The recalcitrant companies include the world’s largest producer of household cleaning products, Reckitt Benckiser, and the pet-care products manufacturer, Spectrum Brands. Will you help us tell these companies that their behavior is not acceptable?” More at: “Please enter your information and send your comments. We have drafted a letter for you, but your additional thoughts will really make an impact.”



On This Day:

Curley is buried at Little Big Horn, May 23, 1923:

“The Crow scout Curley, the last man on the army side to see Custer and the 7th Cavalry alive, is buried at the National Cemetery of the Big Horn Battlefield in Montana.

Born around 1859 near the Little Rosebud River, Montana, from an early age Curley had participated in fights with the Crow's hated enemy, the Sioux. Like many of his people, Curley viewed the Anglo-American soldiers as allies in the Crow war with the Sioux. When he was in his late teens, he signed on as a cavalry scout to aid the army's major campaign against the Sioux and Cheyenne in the summer of 1876.

Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer and his 7th Cavalry arrived in the Powder River country of southern Montana in early June 1876. As Custer proceeded toward the Little Big Horn Valley, he found increasing signs that a large number of Indians lay ahead. On June 22, Curley and five other Crow scouts were detached from a different unit and sent to Custer to bolster his Arikara scouts.

On the morning of June 25, Curley and the other scouts warned Custer that a massive gathering of Indians lay ahead that far outnumbered his contingent of 187 men. Custer dismissed the report and made the unusual decision to attack in the middle of the day. Both the Crow and Arikara scouts believed this would be suicidal and prepared to die.

Right before the battle began, however, Custer released the Crow scouts from duty. All of the scouts, except for Curley, obeyed and rode off to relative safety. However, since the hills were now swarming with small war parties of Sioux and Cheyenne, Curley initially thought he would be safer if he remained with the soldiers. As the fighting gradually began to heat up, Curley reconsidered. He left Custer and rode to the east. Concealing himself in coulees and ravines, Curley avoided attack and made his way to a ridge about a mile and a half to the east. There he watched much of the battle through field glasses, the last man from the army side to see Custer and his men alive. When it had become clear that Custer's army was going to be wiped out, Curley abandoned his looking post and rode away to warn the approaching Generals Terry and Gibbon of the disaster.

In the weeks following the battle, Curley provided an accurate and valuable account of the final moments of Custer's 7th Cavalry. Unfortunately, some interviewers later pushed the eager-to-cooperate Curley to revise his account and others simply misrepresented his testimony to fit their own theories. Consequently, for many years Curley was dismissed as a liar. Later historians, however, have vindicated the accuracy of Curley's initial story.

Little is known about Curley's life after the Little Big Horn, but at some point he moved to the Crow Agency in Montana where he died of pneumonia on May 21, 1923. Two days later, he was buried at the National Cemetery at the Little Big Horn Battlefield.”



Misty and I left here earlier than usual to pick up Jay, as Jay and his mother, Claudia wanted me to set up a new printer that she had bought.  Not knowing what a useless laptop (192 RAM) she has, she had given Jay her good desktop computer years ago, which was ruined by one of his drinking buddies.  Now all she has is that very slow laptop, and a tablet.   I had taken one of my extra desktops and all it’s paraphernalia down there at one time, but she doesn’t really have the room for one, so I brought it home.  Instead of buying a fancy new printer, when she already has a perfectly good one that just needs new ink cartridges, I wish she had bought a better laptop.

It took over an hour just to disk clean the laptop. Claudia was an insurance agent, and their networked computers were taken care of by people in the background, so she has no idea how to take care of one herself.  We discovered that her laptop could not support that fancy printer, so I left her trying to get it to work on her tablet. 

When we eventually got here the FedEx man had delivered my Omega Masticating Juicer, so I made us veggie drinks. Jay always says he feels better when he drinks them.  As he is a beer drinker, which dehydrates him, I put some cucumber in his, so it quenches his thirst and he stays away from soda pop for a while.  He can’t get it through his head that soda makes you thirstier.


Jay and I had very little time to work so he mowed the wispies off the lawn so that it wasn’t a wasted day.

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