Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Birds: Black-capped Vireo. Powerlines. Plastic Ingestion. Golden-winged Warblers. Anglers Be Careful. Eaglet in Wildfire Ashes. Bald Eagle Chicks. Outside Cats. First Test Tube Baby.

For “Winged Wednesday”:

Black-capped Vireo

Black-capped Vireo by Greg Lavaty

“The Black-capped Vireo is a dapper-looking small bird with a dark head set off by white lores and eye ring, giving it a spectacled appearance.  The bird’s red eyes are also distinctive. It is a habitat specialist, preferring areas that have been recently burned; periodic fire halts the spread of invasive junipers and enhances growth of the oak scrub that they prefer.

Populations of Black-capped Vireos are small, fragmented, and declining. The species was listed as Endangered under the Endangered Species Act in 1987. Fire suppression is probably the most serious threat to this bird, but urban development and agricultural conversion (especially to pasture) have caused significant habitat loss. Nest parasitism by the Brown-headed Cowbird may affect up to 90% of nests in an area. Nestlings are sometimes killed by fire ants.

Cowbird control is an essential conservation measure for the species, as are prescribed burns and fire ant control. These measures are in place at several important sites for the vireo, such as Fort Hood Military Installation, Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge, and Kerr Wildlife Management Area. These measures have in some cases resulted in dramatic increases in the vireo’s numbers. More information is still needed on this vireo’s distribution and abundance in Mexico.”

Help ABC conserve this and other birds and their habitats!

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Photo: Greg Lavaty,; Range Map, NatureServe


The Magnetic Sense: Why Powerlines Confuse the Internal Compass of Migrating Birds

ScienceDaily (July 10, 2012) — “Migratory birds and fish use Earth's magnetic field to find their way. LMU researchers have now identified cells with internal compass needles for the perception of the field -- and can explain why high-tension cables perturb the magnetic orientation.

Much to Winklhofer's surprise, the cells turned out to be more strongly magnetic than previously postulated -- a finding that explains the high sensitivity of the magnetic sense.

Magnetite crystals show the way

The cells sense the field by means of micrometer-sized inclusions composed of magnetic crystals, probably made of magnetite. The inclusions are coupled to the cell membrane, which is necessary to change the electrical potential across the membrane when the crystals realign in response to a change in the ambient magnetic field. "This explains why low-frequency magnetic fields generated by powerlines disrupt navigation relative to the geomagnetic field and may induce other physiological effects," says Winklhofer.”  More at:


New Study Finds that Bird Ingestion of Plastic in U.S./Canadian North Pacific Among Highest in the World

“The science on this issue is still being refined – there is much we don’t know about the impacts of plastic ingestion on birds in general and Northern Fulmars in particular.  We do know that the plastic in the stomach displaces the space for food that the birds need and that plastic can lacerate the stomach lining. Some of the birds we looked at had their gizzards completely full with plastic. We also know that plastic in the sea absorbs an astounding level of contaminants in a very short time and that these contaminants may leach out in a bird that swallows it,” said Avery-Gomm.

The researchers found that the dead birds had ingested an average of 0.385 grams of plastic in the 2009/2010 study, compared to 0.12 grams in a 1987 study and 0.04 grams in a 1969 -1977 study. The incidence of plastic ingestion is also on an upward trend. A 1968-1977 study found that 57.9 percent of the studied fulmars had ingested plastic, compared to 84.2 percent in 1988-1989 and 92.5 percent in 2009-2010.

“We have known about this problem for 40 years and not only have we failed to do anything about it, it has actually gotten worse,” said Dr. George Wallace, Vice President for Oceans and Islands at American Bird Conservancy, a leading U.S. bird conservation organization. “Two things are for certain – one, this problem is not going to go away on its own - it will get worse; and two, developing ways to slow or stop the flow of plastics into the oceans will only get more expensive the longer we wait." More at:


Golden-winged warbler's appearance highlights important of young forests

LANGLADE COUNTY — “Hollywood couldn’t have scripted it better: a rare songbird alights amidst private landowners who are on a field trip to see the benefits of managing young forests to provide habitat for rare and declining bird species.

    Golden-winged Warbler Photo

    The songbird is captured, fitted with a leg band and released by one of the landowners.  “Talk about impeccable timing,” said Jeremy Holtz, a Department of Natural Resources wildlife biologist based in Rhinelander.  The golden-winged warbler is a very rare bird nationally and Wisconsin is a nursery for this species, Holtz says.

    Over the last few years, biologists in the Upper Midwest region have documented a decline in golden-winged warblers and many other bird species that rely on what Holtz calls, “young forest.” Young forest is another term for early successional forest, which is comprised of fast growing, sun loving tree species like aspen, tag alder, paper birch and jack pine, he says.

    Golden-winged warblers need aspen and other early successional species to nest in; research has shown that 1- to 10-year-old aspen stands harbor a higher abundance of golden-winged warblers than other early habitats in north-central Wisconsin, and are also home to ruffed grouse, Holtz says.  To reverse the decline in bird numbers, several state and federal conservation agencies have joined to form the Upper Great Lakes Young Forest Initiative.”  More at:


    Anglers should take care they don’t snare birds

    “For weeks I watched two great blue herons flying over the beach in back of our Boca Grande property. One had fishing line hanging off his leg.  I thought there was nothing I could do to help him.

    One day, however, he seemed to be staying on the beach and not flying so I called the animal rescue league. They came but he flew off.  I told my neighbors about this as I was going to be gone for two days. My neighbors were able to net the great blue heron as he grew weaker and couldn't fly.  They removed the hook and feed him some fish. Each day he grew stronger.  The great blue strengthened as my neighbors fed him every day but his limp remained.  My neighbor still feeds him every morning and now his mate comes for him and they fly off for the rest of the day.

    The great blue heron is nearly healed with help from Boca Grande caregivers.

    My neighbors went away for a week and asked if we would feed him if he shows up in the morning. So at 7 a.m. I was cutting up fish and my husband, Dan, took it out to the beach and fed him.  Dan stayed about 25 feet from the great blue heron and tossed the fish to him, which he ate right away. It was quite a sight.

    The great blue heron waited to see if he would get more and then flew off.  He doesn't show up every morning any more and he is walking much better.  We know we can't keep feeding him but we will for a few weeks more and then stop. It has been a wonderful experience seeing this bird recover.

    I argue with the boating people that fish close to our dock about fishing near the birds. They don't seem to understand what happens when a bird gets hooked and the damage it will do.

    Many birds die from fishing hooks.

    I talked to some fishermen last week about casting toward the birds and they say when the bird picks up the bait it spits it out.  False statement.

    As they pulled the bait out of its mouth they were lucky the hook didn't catch him in his beak. I asked them if they were capable to take the hook out if it did get caught and they had no answer.  With that I chased the birds away. Some fishermen are so careless with what they are doing.” From:


    Injured Baby Golden Eagle Survives Wildfire (VIDEO)

    (WILDFIRES) “Wildlife rehabilitators are astounded by the resilience of a baby golden eagle that barely survived Utah’s wildfires. The 5-pound eagle, now called Phoenix, is thought to have jumped from his nest to save himself, fell 25 feet, then rolled another 100 feet down to the base of the cliff his nest was on. He was found badly burnt by bird bander Kent Keller when he went to retrieve the tracking band from what he though would be a deceased baby bird. Read on for more on Phoenix’s incredible story. — Global Animal” More at:

    Eaglet named Phoenix found in wildfire ashes of Utah, Elisabeth Torres

    “The resilience of a burned baby golden eagle that survived a Utah wildfire is astounding wildlife rehabilitators nursing him back to health.
    "The trauma and the injury and the situation he is in -- to come out of it is amazing," said wildlife specialist DaLyn Erickson.  All of the eaglet's feathers, even on his head, were charred. He also suffered burns to the feet and around his beak.” By DailyNewsWire .


    Bald eagle chicks are released into the wild in Tyngsborough

    Wildlife rehabilitator David Taylor released one of two 12-week-old bald eagle chicks near the Merrimack River in Tyngsborough.

    “A month after falling from their nest two bald eagle chicks were released into the wild today in Tyngsborough by state wildlife officials.  The 12-week-old chicks have been in the care of Tufts University’s Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, where they were rehabilitated and taught to fly.

    “I had so much time invested in these guys that I had to come see them off,” said David Taylor, the veterinarian who housed the birds until they were moved to Tufts.  Taylor said eagle rescues are relatively rare. He’s rescued six birds. However, only three, including the two today, have lived long enough to be released into the wild.

    The latest survey by wildlife officials found 37 pairs of bald eagles in Massachusetts. Though the bird has been taken off a federal endangered species list, it is still considered an endangered species under Massachusetts law.” From:


    Prince George's Bill Will Increase Wildlife Mortality In County

    Domestic cat with bird, Creative Commons

    Domestic cat eating a bird.

    “American Bird Conservancy (ABC), one of the nation’s leading bird conservation groups, will testify that an “Ear-Tipped Cats” bill under consideration in Prince George’s County, Maryland will result in increased wildlife mortality at the hands of ever increasing numbers of free-roaming, predatory, ownerless cats.

    Ear-tipped cats are feral cats that are supposed to have been vaccinated for diseases such as rabies. The bill, introduced by Council Member Mary Lehman, would essentially require that any ear-tipped cats collected by animal control officers be released as soon as possible back to the areas where they were captured.

    “It has been well documented that free roaming or feral cats, regardless of whether they are ear-tipped, pose a serious threat to birds and other wildlife,” said Darin Schroder, Vice President for Conservation Advocacy at ABC.”   Furthermore, an ear-tipped cat is simply not proof that it has been vaccinated; it may only have been spayed or neutered. And even if vaccinated against when it was first trapped and ear-tipped, there is no way of knowing whether it has subsequently received the necessary booster shots to remain inoculated.”   

    Rabies transmission via feral cats is a particular public health concern. This is demonstrated by the large number of post-exposure rabies treatments that have had to be administered following human-cat interactions. Between 30,000 and 38,000 people are estimated to receive rabies post-exposure treatment each year due to potential exposure.” 

    Through its Cats Indoors! Campaign, ABC and its many partners encourage people to keep their cats indoors, train them to go outside on a harness and leash, or build outdoor cat enclosures. Cats should be spayed or neutered before they can produce an unwanted litter, and should never be abandoned. Abandoning cats is illegal in many areas, is extremely cruel to cats, and is detrimental to birds and other wildlife.”    More at:


    On This Day:

    World's first "test tube baby" born, Jul 25, 1978:

    “On this day in 1978, Louise Joy Brown, the world's first baby to be conceived via in vitro fertilization (IVF) is born at Oldham and District General Hospital in Manchester, England, to parents Lesley and Peter Brown. The healthy baby was delivered shortly before midnight by caesarean section and weighed in at five pounds, 12 ounces.

    Before giving birth to Louise, Lesley Brown had suffered years of infertility due to blocked fallopian tubes. In November 1977, she underwent the then-experimental IVF procedure. A mature egg was removed from one of her ovaries and combined in a laboratory dish with her husband’s sperm to form an embryo. The embryo then was implanted into her uterus a few days later. Her IVF doctors, British gynecologist Patrick Steptoe and scientist Robert Edwards, had begun their pioneering collaboration a decade earlier. Once the media learned of the pregnancy, the Browns faced intense public scrutiny. Louise’s birth made headlines around the world and raised various legal and ethical questions.

    The Browns had a second daughter, Natalie, several years later, also through IVF. In May 1999, Natalie became the first IVF baby to give birth to a child of her own. The child’s conception was natural, easing some concerns that female IVF babies would be unable to get pregnant naturally. In December 2006, Louise Brown, the original "test tube baby," gave birth to a boy, Cameron John Mullinder, who also was conceived naturally.

    Today, IVF is considered a mainstream medical treatment for infertility. Hundreds of thousands of children around the world have been conceived through the procedure, in some cases with donor eggs and sperm.”



    It was “Vampire Day”, as I had to get my blood tests for cholesterol checking.  Jay wanted to go to town with me, so Misty and I had our walk-about down there.  It took two hours at the doctor’s office, someone must be overbooking the schedule, and the nurse said that it was worse the day before.  What made it worse is that my doctor has moved way south of Conroe, whereas her office used to be in our little town.  I might have to go back to my previous doctor. 

    We stopped at two thrift shops on the way back north, and I bought a really comfy pair of shoes, and Jay bought a vintage wooden folding chair.  But by then he was hungry, and wanted to stop at McKenzie’s BBQ place.  He scoffed up a large amount of sliced brisket on a big hamburger bun, with sides.  I didn’t really want to eat there, but got a small one.  There was no way I was going to eat that nasty greasy white bun, and just ate the meat, which was good.  Jay was sorry that he had eaten so much on the way home.   As soon as I got here, I ran some fresh veggies through the juicer to drink, to try to make up for just eating factory farmed meat.  I am allergic to the antibiotics, or one of the chemicals that are given to the feed-lot cattle, so I hope I don’t start itching.

    Surprisingly, it hasn’t rained for a few days.

    1 comment:

    Dizzy-Dick said...

    It has been so long since I have eaten anything like that, I would probably throw up. And to think, I used to love that stuff.