Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Birds: Esmeraldas Woodstar. Father Birds. Hands Off Nests! Blue Jays. Calcium. Four Falcon Chicks. Owl’s Sonar. Spotted Owl. Alaska’s Oil.

For “Winged Wednesday”:

Esmeraldas Woodstar.

Esmeraldas Woodstar by Roger Alhman

“The Esmeraldas Woodstar is one of the world's rarest and smallest hummingbirds, measuring barely 2½ inches long.  Called “Estrellita” (little star) by local people, this tiny hummingbird sports a striking combination of coppery-green, white, and violet plumage.

The woodstar breeds at lower elevations along streams next to large forest patches; most birds move upslope to spend the non-breeding season at higher elevations. Unfortunately, its range has been severely fragmented  by human activities -- only 5% of original forest remains in western Ecuador due to logging, development, agriculture, and overgrazing. Although part of its range occurs in Machalilla National Park, this provides inadequate protection, since the bird breeds at lower elevations beyond park boundaries.

As of this month, the Esmeraldas Woodstar began receiving additional protection from a new 38-acre reserve established by Fundación Jocotoco, World Land Trust-US, and ABC, with the involvement of the local Las Tunas community. These organizations plan to purchase more properties, with a long-term goal to protect 600-700 acres of habitat for the woodstar and other endemic species.”

Learn more about the recent reserve creation!

Help ABC conserve this and other birds and their habitats!


More about the Esmeraldas Woodstar

New Reserve to Help Protect one of the World's Rarest and Smallest Birds

Esmeraldas Woodstar by J. Illanes

Esmeraldas Woodstar by J. Illanes

(Washington, D.C.,June 13, 2012) “One of the world's rarest and smallest hummingbirds, the tiny Esmeraldas Woodstar, will receive new protections from a reserve established in Ecuador through a cooperative effort involving Fundación Jocotoco, World Land Trust-US, and American Bird Conservancy.

This striking violet, green, white, and copper-colored hummingbird, which measures barely 2 ½” long and which local people call the “Estrellita” (little star), numbers between only 500-1,000 individuals. It is gravely threatened by habitat loss resulting from logging, development, cattle grazing, and agriculture. Less than 5% of lowland western Ecuador remains forested as a result of these activities.”    Complete article and pictures at:


Father Birds

Hope you all had a Happy Father's Day, from BirdNote!

“The male hummingbird leaves the female to build the nest and raise the young alone, but other father birds are more involved. A Peregrine Falcon father shares duties almost evenly with the mother. (Stewart, seen here, nested on a Seattle skyscraper for many years.)

But the male Emu of Australia tops them all. He remains alone on the nest for nearly two months, never leaving the nest for any reason.”

(From me: I guess they forgot about the male emperor penguin’s ordeal taking care of the egg in the Antarctic's cold and snow for a couple of months, while the mother goes off to eat.)


Public warned: Hands off birds and their nests

This is about any birds that are nesting, not just these.

Photo: N/A, License: N/A, Created: 2012:05:27 12:58:32

Daily News Photo by JASON BRONIS A Wilson's plover near Great Pond on St. Croix.

“As migratory birds begin to come into the territory for breeding and nesting season, the V.I. government is warning the public to leave nesting birds alone.

The seabirds migrate from South and Central America, where they spend the winter before flying to the Virgin Islands to breed.

The birds nest in colonies of up to several hundred pairs, often laying eggs in rudimentary nests on the ground. They generally nest on the offshore cays, but certain species have nesting sites on mud flats and beaches on St. Croix, as well as on St. Thomas and St. John.

The Great Pond Bay area on St. Croix has been designated as an "Important Bird Area" by BirdLife International and is home to more than 75 species of birds. It is the site of the endangered least tern's breeding ground.  According to DPNR, one or two eggs are laid in a season, and usually only one chick survives.  If disturbed, the parents will fly away from the nest leaving the eggs or chicks exposed to high temperatures and predators. The parents will not nest again if the eggs are lost.”    More at:


Boisterous blue jays get a bad rap

“These smart, handsome birds, which certainly do not need any assertiveness training, are worth a second look.

They dash overhead by twos or threes, screeching and squawking, proudly flashing their bright wings, showing who owns the neighborhood. Yes, they're a brash and noisy bunch, but they're also remarkably beautiful, if you take the time to really study the blue jays that visit your back yard.

It's my personal opinion that most of us are turned off by blue jays' assertiveness and don't give these smart, gorgeous birds the credit they deserve.  Visitors from the U.K. and Europe gasp when they first see a blue jay, astonished by the bird's looks.

Think how amazing is it to have a large, blue bird streaking across the back yard. If you take a minute to concentrate on a jay, you'll begin to notice how the soft blue on the upper back segues into lavender. An almost fluorescent blue in the wing feathers tops the thick white stripe on the wings. Add in that handsome crest and the black necklace above the pale chest and the sum total is a beautiful bird.  As counterintuitive as it may seem, blue jays aren't really blue -- they just look that way. Blue jays and bluebirds achieve their color by the way their feathers are structured, absorbing most light and reflecting the blue wavelength.”     More at:



“All female songbirds need extra calcium during breeding season. In the East, blue jays have picked up the trick of pecking and eating chips of light-colored paint from houses and other structures. The jays seem to have caught on to the fact that paint contains calcium carbonate or limestone as an extender.

To make it easier on the female songbirds, offer crushed eggshells in the spring, in or near bird feeders. First boil the shells for 10 minutes or heat in a 250-degree oven for 20 minutes to kill off any pathogens. Then crush the shells into small pieces and put outdoors.”


A lot of attention for four falcon chicks

ELBA — “Deep inside a rough cave on the face of a sheer limestone bluff of Whitewater State Park, the peregrine falcon chick was out of the wind, fed regularly by her parents and free to grow to become the world's fastest animal.
Suddenly, she and her three siblings were lifted out of the aerie by a pair of gloved hands, hoisted to the top of the bluff, stuck with a needle, cuffed with metals bands and held up for photos.
Chick number 1907-02829 was not happy. She screeched at Jackie Fallon of the Midwest Peregrine Falcon Restoration Society and two volunteers from the Minnesota Zoo as well as media and admirers.
Her shrieking was echoed by the two adults that swooped and dove around the blufftop.
Finally, the work was done. The chicks were named Jim, Jackie, Karla and Jenny in honor of four people who helped with the work, and Jim Mussell (the male was named for him) rappelled back down the bluff and returned the four to their snug home.
Life was back to normal for the family of birds, a species not seen in the park for nearly 50 years.”        Full article and pictures at:


Sophisticated sonar of wild owls hunting in the arctic forest

“Watch the predators team analyze the keen sense of hearing and ideal hunting body shape of the owl. Their satellite-shaped head means that the penalty for rustling is almost always death.”


Spotted Owl

Northern Spotted Owl by Nick Dunlop, USFWS

Whoooo’s No. 1? Government says Northern spotted owl

By Rebekah Rast — “A 1-pound bird attributed to the demise of the logging industry some 20 years ago in the northwest part of the country is back in the news.

The bird is the northern spotted owl, an endangered species, which is still struggling to survive, despite huge federal government interventions.

The latest plan by President Obama is to shoot barred owls, a rival bird that has dominated its smaller counterpart.

This must be one special bird — worth killing another bird over and an entire industry that was once vital to this country as well as the thousands of jobs that went along with it.

The spotted owl was once thought to only be able to survive in old forests, overgrown and unmaintained.  When it became an endangered special in 1990, and even before, great cutbacks were made in the logging industry throughout California, Oregon and Washington states.  Yet, despite massive growths in forest land, the owl’s population continues to decline.

Woodsy the Owl

Woodsy the Owl has become Obama's Public Enemy Number 1

Bob Mion, communications director at California Forestry Association, said that many sawmills in Washington State were forced to shut down because of the spotted owl.

Come to find out, he says, the owl thrives on managed lands, not the untouched, mismanaged federal lands.  The owl’s favorite food is a wood rat, Mion claims. “If the forest is overgrown, it can’t see the rat.”   And that insight forestry experts have known for years is finally making its way to the White House — hopefully.  

“Every action has a reaction and the more we mess with nature and natural occurrences the more we create a new mess,” says Don Todd, director of research for Americans for Limited Government (ALG).   “While resolving one problem a bigger and worse problem is created at the same time.”

By the government trying to save one species, of which to date none of its methods have been successful, it has caused much harm. Livelihoods of those people and communities that depended on the timber industry were crushed under the government’s heavy environmental hand, and now the population of a successful native species is about to be greatly impacted in the name of the spotted owl.

“I always thought it was God’s job to take care of population growth, but I guess now it’s the government’s,” says Bill Wilson, president of ALG.

He jokes, “Makes you wonder how species and humans alike survived before this administration.”      Complete article at:


On This Day:

Oil flows in Alaska, Jun 20, 1977:

“With a flip of a switch in Prudhoe Bay, crude oil from the nation's largest oil field begins flowing south down the trans-Alaska pipeline to the ice-free port of Valdez, Alaska. The steel pipeline, 48 inches in diameter, winds through 800 miles of Alaskan wilderness, crossing three Arctic mountain ranges and hundreds of rivers and streams. Environmentalists fought to prevent its construction, saying it would destroy a pristine ecosystem, but they were ultimately overruled by Congress, who saw it as a way of lessening America's dependence on foreign oil. The trans-Alaska pipeline was the world's largest privately funded construction project to that date, costing $8 billion and taking three years to build.

In 1968, a massive oil field was discovered on the north coast of Alaska near Prudhoe Bay. Located north of the Arctic Circle, the ice-packed waters of the Beaufort Sea are inaccessible to oil tankers. In 1972, the Department of the Interior authorized drilling there, and after the Arab oil embargo of 1973 plans moved quickly to begin construction of a pipeline. The Alyeska Pipeline Service Co. was formed by a consortium of major oil companies, and in 1974 construction began.

U.S. conservation groups argued that the pipeline would destroy caribou habitats in the Arctic, melt the fragile permafrost--permanently frozen subsoil--along its route, and pollute the salmon-rich waters of the Prince William Sound at Valdez. Under pressure, Alyeska agreed to extensive environmental precautions, including building 50 percent of the pipeline above the ground to protect the permafrost from the naturally heated crude oil and to permit passage of caribou underneath.

On June 20, 1977, oil began flowing down the pipeline. It got off to a rocky start, however, as power supply problems, a cracked section of pipe, faulty welds, and an unsuccessful dynamite attack on the pipeline outside of Fairbanks delayed the arrival of oil at Valdez for several weeks. In August, the first oil tanker left Valdez en route to the lower 48 states. The trans-Alaska pipeline proved a great boon to the Alaskan economy. Today, about 800,000 barrels move through the pipeline each day. Altogether, the pipeline has carried more than 14 billion barrels of oil in its lifetime.

For its first decade of existence, the pipeline was quietly applauded as an environmental success. Caribou populations in the vicinity of the pipeline actually grew (due in part to the departure of grizzly bears and wolves scared off by the pipeline work), and the permafrost remained intact. The only major oil spill on land occurred when an unknown saboteur blew a hole in the pipe near Fairbanks, and 550,000 gallons of oil spilled onto the ground. On March 24, 1989, however, the worst fears of environmentalists were realized when the Exxon Valdez ran aground in the Prince William Sound after filling up at the port of Valdez. Ten million gallons of oil were dumped into the water, devastating hundreds of miles of coastline. In the 1990s, the Alaskan oil enterprise drew further controversy when the Alyeska Pipeline Service Co. attempted to cover up electrical and mechanical problems in the aging pipeline.

In 2001, President George W. Bush proposed opening a portion of the 19-million-acre Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, east of Prudhoe Bay, to oil drilling. The proposal was greeted with overwhelming opposition from environmental groups and was initially defeated. In 2006, however, the Senate voted 51-49 in favor of a budget resolution that included billions for Arctic drilling. Environmental advocacy groups continue to fight the legislation.”



Ray came over as we hadn’t done the books for a couple of months, and the bookkeeping gets confusing by then. He deposits money in my account for his rent and utilities, I pay the bills, and then we have to sit down and see how much the utilities were, and deduct the hours that he has helped me.  This time he had a refund coming. 

Ray also has many recessed light trims which I have been trying to list on eBay for ages.  We didn’t know whether to list them individually or separately, which would mean more packing and shipping, so we had to figure that out. Even though I click on eBay’s ‘Save For Later’ button, everything I have written on the listing get erased when I get interrupted before the listing is completed.  Never had that happen before, so I don’t know if it is my computer or theirs.  Maybe I can do it all in one swoop next time.

It was about 7.00pm when Kenya came to pick up her cats, and it took about an hour to load all their stuff up in her van.  I am sure Sadie will be glad to be home, and not have to stay in that 4’x4’x4’ cage anymore.  I know why Kenya said that she had to be left in there, as I could never have caught her to put her back in it, without being mutilated. Plus she doesn’t like Candy, so they can’t be loose together.  Candy is a sweet little calico kitty and reminds me of Patches.  I was sorry, yet glad, to see her leave yesterday.

1 comment:

Dizzy-Dick said...

Parting is such sweet sorrow.