Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Buff-breasted Sandpiper. Bird-safer Glass. Poisoned Birds. Sick Pelicans. Shade-grown Coffee. Bird’s Bills. Owls Check In. Hummingbird Rescue. Grouse, Last Dance? Jim Miller In TX Rangers!

For “Winged Wednesday”:

Buff-breasted Sandpiper

Buff-breasted Sandpiper by Phil Jeffrey

“The dainty, dove-headed Buff-breasted Sandpiper is an atypical shorebird, most often found in grassy habitats away from the coast. Unique among North American shorebirds, it has evolved to mate on "leks", small areas where males gather to display and compete for females. After mating at the lek site, the females leave to nest and raise the young elsewhere.

Once believed to number in the millions, this species was decimated by commercial hunting by the turn of the 20th Century, and still has not fully recovered. Loss of habitat along its migration path and on its wintering grounds, as well as pesticide use, further diminished its numbers.

Management actions that would benefit the Buff-breasted Sandpiper include limiting pesticide use in agricultural areas and maintaining pasture at a suitable grass height on the birds' wintering grounds; efforts to protect and improve grassland habitat in staging areas throughout the United States also need to be continued. Oil development should also be restricted on the bird’s breeding grounds to preserve existing lek and nesting sites.”

Help ABC conserve this and other birds and their habitats!

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Photo: Phil Jeffrey; Range Map, NatureServe


New bird-safer glass gets UK trial

“A lookout tower on the holy island of Lindisfarne has been fitted with special glass in an attempt to save bird's lives. The tower, opened by the Prince of Wales recently, is the first UK location to use the newly developed glazing material.

New bird-safer glass gets UK trial

Every year thousands of birds die through colliding with windows, and owners of tall buildings with large areas of glazing, such as city office blocks, have attempted a number of remedies such as silhouettes of birds of prey and stick-on reflective films. A new product from Germany’s Arnold Glas, however, may make large areas of glazing, so attractive from the human point of view, safer for our feathered friends.”    More at:


Birds fall from the sky after pesticide use

Cumberland County, NJ - “This bird in a Millville's backyard chirps out its last breaths. Nearby in a bush, so is another one. And feet from them, on peach drive and near other homes, the bodies of birds lay where they died right in front of many stunned residents. Their calls brought out hazmat crews to clean up and investigate.

"One fell from this tree over here not too long ago and was flopping around and it died."  "You could see the birds just flying and crashing into trees and houses. They'd fall on the ground and get up and try to fly. It was crazy." "We have dead birds on the fields as well as some of the neighborhoods."   And plenty of upset residents who initially got reverse 9-1-1 calls Tuesday morning telling them to stay inside because of the dead birds. They will now get calls saying an approved granular pesticide is in use nearby.”   More at:


Comment by ABC:   American Bird Conservancy

“In some cases, such as featured on this video, it is legal to kill birds when they feed on crops. There are pesticides registered for killing birds, although not everyone is comfortable with this practice. There is also some concern over the potential effects on non-target birds and other wildlife, as well as on pets. In addition, there are questions about the standard of proof required to demonstrate that birds are a threat before they are targeted for eradication. Also, the birds can take quite some time to die, posing questions about the inhumane nature of these poisons. Often there are ways to deter birds from crops without resorting to killing.”


Pelican problems persist; harbors have taken remedial steps as nearly 200 birds admitted to care center

“Nearly 200 brown pelicans are undergoing care at the Humboldt Wildlife Care Center after becoming ill due to castoff fish waste at local harbors.

Meanwhile, both the Crescent City Harbor District and Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation and Harbor District have undertaken measures to reduce the pelicans' exposure to harmful waste.”  More at:


Study Shows Growing Coffee and Cacao in Shade Helps Birds

Shade-grown Coffee by Brian Smith

Shade-grown Coffee in Colombia by Brian Smith

(August 16, 2012) “While natural forests provide the best habitat for tropical birds, a new study from the University of Utah found that wooded “shade” plantations – called agroforests -- that produce coffee and chocolate with some native forest trees left standing, provide four times greater bird diversity than open farmland.

The findings also suggest that as open farmland replaces forests and agroforests, the reduced number of bird species and the shifts in the populations of various types of birds may reduce the benefits that birds provide to people, such as eating insect pests, spreading seeds, and pollinating crops.  “We found that agroforests are far better overall for bird biodiversity in the tropics than open farms.”    More at:   and More at:


Smithsonian Scientists Explain Bill Size Variation of Birds in Different Habitats.      By Lindsay Renick Mayer

“Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute scientists and partners have determined there is more to the shape and length of bird bills than just how they “get the worm.” According to their research published in two papers this week, bill size is not only influenced by available food, but another basic need: water.

The researchers compared two subspecies of song sparrows living in different habitats and found that bill size varies according to climate. Sparrows living in hotter, drier conditions had larger bills, which gave them more surface area to lose heat, thus saving water. The study explains how bird bills act like “radiators,” keeping sparrows cool so that they do not get dehydrated.”  More at:


Owls check in, but will they check out?

Courtesy of San Francisco Airport Marriott Waterfront Hotel

“The San Francisco Airport Marriott Waterfront Hotel is used to dealing with a variety of guests, but these are a real hoot.

Six baby barn owls have made themselves at home on the hotel’s 11th-floor concierge balcony, hotel officials said. Settling in six weeks ago, the baby barn owls are visited every day by their parents and “other owl friends” to feed and keep them healthy.

Named Hoot, Nanny, Al, Peter Townsend, Robert Plant, Hedwig and Archimedes by staff at the Burlingame hotel, the tiny owlets have the run of their little home. Hotel officials said they refuse to move them, even when every room is booked. Staff have begun handing out stuffed owls to human owlets.

Barn owls are protected native birds of prey and have a habit of returning to a nest year after year, so there’s a chance they will check back into the hotel next year, according to the San Mateo SPCA.”  From:


Baby hummingbird rescue is a success story that’s for the birds!    By Manori Ravindran, Vancouver sun August 12, 2012

A baby hummingbird is set to be released by the Wildlife Rescue Association of B.C. about a month after it was rescued from a barge on the Sunshine Coast.

A baby hummingbird is set to be released by the Wildlife Rescue Association of B.C. about a month after it was rescued from a barge on the Sunshine Coast.  Photograph by: Paul Steeves , WRA

“A baby hummingbird, half the size of most people’s pinky fingers, will be released Monday just a month after its rescue from a Sunshine Coast barge.   “It’s very rare that anybody would actually find them,” said Brooks. “We don’t get them. We get adult hummingbirds that have been attacked by cats or hit by something, but having to raise babies? It’s pretty rare in rehabilitation centres, and we haven’t had to do it before.”

The rufous hummingbirds, the most common types of hummingbirds in the Lower Mainland, weighed less than three grams and measured about four centimeters when they were brought in to the Burnaby Lake centre in a nest the size of a small mushroom cap.   “We weighed them with the nest because we were worried about fracturing their bones because they really were very, very tiny,” said Brooks. “Their necks were like spaghetti, they were that thin.””    Read more:  


Save the Last Dance - A Story of North American Grassland Grouse

Save the last dance       why we should care...

“Why I started this project”

“With a blue moon light casting over the prairie, there I was in my photo blind, waiting. When my eyes finally adjusted to the darkness of the dawn, I realized I was not alone. Ghost-like shadows passed my blind, and then followed deep hollow sounds, “oo-loo-woo.”

A male Prairie Chicken ran forward a short distance, then it stopped suddenly, and stamped his feet in a half or full circle. His bright orange air sacs inflated, and his eyebrows were expanded. With his long neck feathers erect and his tail spread fanwise, he let out a deep, resonant sound.  Under the dim moonlight, the sound echoed across a prairie, and somehow their calls penetrated deep into my soul like an old spirit’s whisper to my ears; it sounded lonely and sad.

If there are a number of incidents that could change one’s life, the morning I made my first observation of Prairie Chickens in 2001 was surely one of them.  Following my first observation, I was eager to learn and know more about grouses. I found out that the population of these magnificent species has been rapidly declining with very little attention from the public.”      Read more at:


On This Day:

Hired killer Jim Miller joins Texas Rangers, Aug 22, 1898:

“The hired assassin Jim Miller briefly joins the Texas Rangers, demonstrating how thin the line between outlaw and lawmen often was in the West.

Many lawmen in the Old West had never been on the wrong side of the law themselves, but more than a few moved easily between the worlds of lawbreaker and law enforcer. James Brown Miller was one of the latter. During his 47 years, Miller worked as a deputy sheriff, a city marshal, and Texas Ranger. He was also a gambler, a swindler, and one of the deadliest professional killers in Texas.

As a young man, Miller was accused of committing several murders-including the double killing of his own grandparents-but the charges never stuck. By age 27, he was living in Alpine, Texas, where he reportedly offered to kill a local judge for $200. That offer was apparently rejected, but thereafter he became a professional killer, charging between $50 to $2,000, depending on the victim and the client's ability to pay. By his own account, he committed more than 50 murders.

Although Miller was arrested on several occasions, he proved hard to convict. The wealthier clients who hired him often provided expert legal counsel, and he was a careful killer who took pains to cover his tracks. Law enforcement agencies also found men like Miller useful, and they often were willing to overlook his checkered past if they needed help in capturing or killing a dangerous outlaw. The famous Texas Rangers even hired Miller, temporarily appointing him a Special Ranger on this day in 1898.

Miller's luck eventually ran out. In 1909, two Ada, Oklahoma, ranchers paid Miller $2,000 to kill August Bobbitt, with the promise of an additional $3,000 to pay for his defense in the event Miller was arrested. Miller killed Bobbitt with a shotgun, his favored weapon for assassinations. This time, however, Miller's victim was a well-liked man who left a widow with four children. Local citizens were outraged by the cold-blooded murder and demanded action. Miller and his two clients were quickly arrested and jailed, but none of them had a chance to mount a legal defense. A mob of Ada vigilantes stormed the jail, extracted the men, and lynched them in a nearby barn. Miller was 47 years old.”



After I had done all the things that have to be done first thing in the morning, I didn’t feel all ache-y and droopy like I had each morning since Sunday.  Also, I didn’t have as much chest congestion, maybe it was an allergy.  As Jay wanted to work, Misty and I went to get him, and we had our walk down there.  The grass was wet, more than dew, so it must have rained during the night again.  Poor Misty, I was feeling so weak the morning before, that I didn’t even take her for a walk, but she never complains.  She is such a treasure.

As it was cooler, Jay was going to go up on the roof to see what had to be done to install the new turbo up there, the last one blew off in a hurricane a while back.   So Ray had just screwed a piece of plywood over the hole, applied some self sealing waterproof sticky water barrier, and what was left of the shingles, after they had blown around the yard.   Now I am ready to fix it properly, as I have bought another turbo. But Jay had forgotten to put his shoes on, and was in his house slippers.  My late DH used to say that Jay would lose his head if it wasn’t screwed on!  Now it is just screwed up!

So, as we had started late, we just cleaned the air cleaners, ceiling fan blades and air conditioner filters.  The new filters for air cleaners are so expensive that we just put new cut-up furnace filters and carbon filters in them.  The thrift shops often have boxes of new carbon filters which we cut to fit.

The four puppies are doing well, and they are so cute. I shall miss them when they leave today, but very relieved, too.  It’s been hard for me to take care of them, but I know I did the right thing rescuing them.  I don’t think I could do it again.  I shall worry about them for quite a while.  Three already have new ‘parents’ waiting for them.

We can still go for our Wednesday shopping trip as Kenya won’t be here until about 4.00PM to pick up the puppies for their surgeries today.

1 comment:

Dizzy-Dick said...

You are getting a lot accomplished. Hope the puppies find a good home.