Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Ashy Storm-Petrel. Seed Recall. ‘Drunk Birds’. Owl Yarn. Yosemite Owls. Beach Birds Homeless. Rat’s Nose. Camp Perry. Plastic Trash. Woodpeckers Moved. Jeannette Rankin. FDR Wins. Mold!


For “Winged Wednesday”:

Ashy Storm-Petrel

Ashy Storm-Petrel by Kirk Zufelt

Stats Bar

“The Ashy Storm-Petrel weighs just over an ounce and is eight inches long with a forked tail. Its dark, smoky-gray plumage blends in perfectly with its foggy surroundings at sea.

This petrel lives and feeds in the California Current, a major cold water system that churns from north to south along the West Coast of the United States, forming the foundation of an astonishingly rich ecosystem that ranges from microscopic plankton to blue whales.

Over half of this species' population occurs on the South Farallon Islands off central California. Like other storm-petrels, Ashy Storm-Petrels fly to and from their nesting colonies at night; but unlike their cousins, they do not travel far from their colonies after breeding.

Major threats to the Ashy Storm-Petrel include predation by Burrowing Owls, the population of which has soared due to the introduction of non-native mice on the islands, and predation by gulls, whose population has risen due to the increase of garbage on the mainland. As a result, the storm-petrel population on the Farallons declined by 40% between 1972 and 1992. These birds are also very sensitive to disturbance; nesting colonies can easily be disrupted by recreational kayakers and fishermen. Petrels foraging at sea are further at risk from ingesting floating plastics, and from oil and pesticide pollution.

Recommended conservation measures include eradicating introduced predators from nesting islands and investigating effects of artificial lights on predation and breeding success.”

Help ABC conserve this and other birds and their habitats!

Photo: Kirk Zufelt; Range Map, NatureServe


Voluntary recall of Wildwood Seed & Specialties for birds and small pets

Voluntray recall of small pet food products“Wildwood Seed & Specialties, Monroe, Oregon, is voluntarily recalling a limited supply of their Sleek and Sassy brand bird and small animal foods that contain raw in-shell peanuts. These products contain peanut ingredients recalled by Sunland Inc. due to their potential to be contaminated with Salmonella. No reports of pet illnesses due to these products have been reported. The company, Wildwood Seed & Specialties, is participating in the recall as a precaution.”         More at:


Young birds 'getting drunk' on berries vets have warned

Young birds 'getting drunk' on berries vets have warned

Rowan berries are not normally considered poisonous to wild birds, but the berries found inside the birds smelled as if they were fermenting Photo: Darren Staples/REUTERS

“Young birds are getting 'drunk' on fermented berries and have all the familiar symptoms of falling over and feeling unwell, experts have found.  The discovery came after police were called to a primary school in Cumbria where 12 dead blackbirds and one that was alive but unwell were found.

It was feared that birds had been abused because some had injuries. The sick bird was taken to a wildlife rescue centre were staff said it was unsteady on its feet and rested both wings on the ground to support itself while leaning against the wall of its enclosure. They said it appeared 'drunk'.   It made a full recovery and was released two days later.    More at:


On the wing: A barn owl yarn

Abandoned buildings are a good spot to look for elusive barn owls

“Sightings of the nocturnal barn owl aren't an everyday occurrence, and sometimes they come with a story.  The barn owl was a great find. The spooky woman in the window was even better.

Except for the window where we saw the profile of a woman. She was looking away, a motionless stare. Well, I wasn't going to get out of the car until the obvious question was answered.  A bit self-consciously, we used binoculars to look at her. Her hair, forehead, nose, mouth, chin -- were all perfectly formed by shards of glass stuck in the window frame.

Now I got out with my camera.  Working my way around the house I caught a flash of motion. It was a barn owl swinging swiftly over a grassy field, pursued by a meadowlark…..

There was another moment of hesitation, and then she said, "The owls are nesting in the barn. They have three youngsters. Would you like to see them?"          Complete story at:


Voice software helps study of rare Yosemite owls

In this July 2012 photo released by the National Park Service, two juvenile Great Gray Owls are shown on a tree branch in Yosemite National Park. The unique Great Gray Owls of Yosemite National Park, left to evolve after glacial ice separated them from their plentiful Canadian brethren 30 millennia ago, are both a mystery and concern to the scientists charged with protecting them. (AP Photo/National Park Service)

YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK, Calif. — “In the bird world, they make endangered condors seem almost commonplace.

The unique Great Gray Owls of Yosemite, left to evolve after glacial ice separated them from their plentiful Canadian brethren 30 millennia ago, are both a mystery and concern to the scientists charged with protecting them.

With fewer than 200 in existence in this small pocket of the Sierra Nevada, the slightest disturbances by humans can drive the extremely shy birds from their nests, disrupting sporadic mating cycles that ebb and flow annually depending upon food availability.

So this summer, researchers found a way to abandon their traditional heavy-handed trapping, banding and the blasting of owl calls in favor of the kind of discrete, sophisticated technology used by spies and forensic scientists.”      More at:


How do birds react to hurricanes?

A piping plover with eggs on a beach.

The endangered piping plover nests on open beaches. Photograph by Joel Sartore, National Geographic

“When birds encounter a storm like this, they're basically in scramble mode just like we are.

Are you worried about birds dying?  We have mortality events with these hurricanes, [especially with] birds that are either migrating or in vulnerable situations. Although surprisingly we have tracked several whimbrels with satellite transmitters that have flown directly through these storms. Last fall, we tracked a whimbrel named Chinquapin right into Hurricane Irene that successfully [landed] in the Bahamas.

Many birds must have lost their homes.  Birds that require low habitats—marshes, beaches, dunes—all of those species would have been displaced. When you see all the water, most of the public thinks about houses and infrastructure. For us we think of birds being displaced. But a lot of [species such as the] barred owl would go completely underwater in storms like that. (See shorebird pictures.)”    More at:


Protecting native birds by manipulating rats' sense of smell

Odours of mass deception - how rats learn to ignore native birds

The researchers manipulated the rats' sense of smell to keep them from preying on vulnerable species. Credit: Mal Weerakoon

(—”Rats' keen sense of smell can be exploited to dramatically reduce their attacks on native birds, researchers from the University of Sydney have shown. The technique could be adapted to protect vulnerable species worldwide.

"An added advantage of this method is that it is not lethal to the predator. That means it is especially suited to protecting a vulnerable prey species when the predator is also endangered or under threat," Price said.”      More at:



Camp Perry wind turbine: A green, sensibly green issue

““We support wind energy, as long as it’s bird-smart,” she said.

“Wind energy has a place, but these turbines have to be located at sites where they are not going to be killing a lot of birds. In the case of Ohio, there are other places they can go with these turbines, but on the Lake Erie coastline, especially on the western end of the lake – this is one of the worst spots you could choose.”

Camp Perry already has a large solar array that is providing a portion of the power needs of the base.  If you are puzzled over the wisdom behind adding a nearly 200-foot tall wind turbine in an area that is a major flyway for migrating birds, an area that also has 60 bald eagle nests, that does not make you anti-green.

At their core, the folks fighting for bird habitat and bird awareness along the lake are greener than that jolly gigantic fellow on the label of those frozen vegetables.  All these people appear to be asking is that we just be sensibly green.”  More at:


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

Northern Fulmar by Andreas Trepte, Wikimedia Commons

Northern Fulmar, by Andreas Trepte, Wikimedia Commons

“A new study by U.S. and Canadian scientists has found that seabirds may be eating much more plastic trash than they have in the past, and that seabirds studied off the coast of Washington State and British Columbia are ingesting plastic at rates that are “among the highest” in the world.

Northern Fulmars, gull-like petrels related to albatrosses and shearwaters, are particularly suitable to study when considering trends in plastic pollution because they forage almost exclusively at sea, have vast ranges and because they will forage almost anything from the surface of the water.

“The results are troubling. The large amount of plastic ingested by fulmars from the eastern North Pacific are approaching the high levels which have been documented previously in the historically polluted North Sea, where fulmars have been used as an indicator species of ocean health for decades.””  More at:


Endangered woodpeckers caught, driven to new homes

Red-cockaded Woodpecker.

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — It's autumn, the season to carry endangered woodpeckers to new territory.  More than 80 pairs of juvenile red cockaded woodpeckers are being moved from big groups in Florida, Georgia, Louisiana and Texas forests to bolster small groups in those states and in Mississippi, Alabama and Arkansas.

In Louisiana, eight pairs were moved from the Kisatchie National Forest — four to the Warren Prairie Natural Area in south-central Arkansas, and four elsewhere in the Kisatchie.  Biologists in the forest's southwestern Calcasieu Ranger District caught seven more pairs of the 5- to 7-inch-long black-and-white birds, which are named for a few tiny red feathers on their heads. All 14 birds were destined for the more northerly Winn Ranger District, said Steve Shively, the Calcasieu district's head biologist.

Red cockaded woodpecker nest

At their new homes, males and females are put into neighboring man-made woodpecker holes. Artificial holes are needed because few longleaf pines are old enough to have heartwood softened by a fungus, allowing easier excavation by the cardinal-sized woodpeckers. 

The nest boxes, set into tree trunks 22.5 feet off the ground, have fronts armored with steel and entry holes lined with PVC pipe to keep other kinds of woodpeckers from making the entryways too big for the intended occupants.”    More at:



Weekly Preview: November 4, 2012


On This Day:

Jeannette Rankin becomes first U.S. congresswoman, Nov 7, 1916:

“On this day in 1916, Montana suffragist Jeannette Rankin is elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. She is the first woman in the history of the nation to win a seat in the federal Congress.

Rankin worked briefly as a social worker before becoming active in the national effort to win women the vote. In 1914, her efforts brought her back to Montana, where she believed pioneer conditions had created greater respect for women's work and abilities, making it somewhat easier to convince men to grant them the right to vote. Indeed, other western states like Wyoming and Colorado had already approved women's suffrage years before, and Rankin's leadership helped Montana join them in 1914.”



FDR wins unprecedented fourth term, Nov 7, 1944:

“On this day in 1944, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt is elected to an unprecedented fourth term in office. FDR remains the only president to have served more than two terms.

From the time he was first elected to the presidency in 1932 to mid-1945, when he died while in office, Roosevelt presided over two of the biggest crises in U.S. history: the Great Depression of the 1930s and World War II. FDR implemented drastic and oft-criticized legislation to help boost America out of the Great Depression. Although he initially tried to avoid direct U.S. involvement in World War II, which began in 1939, the bombing of Pearl Harbor in December 1941 thrust American headlong into the conflict.

By the time Roosevelt was elected to his fourth term, the war had taken a turn in favor of the Allies, but FDR's health was already on the decline. His arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) had been worsened by the stress of serving as a war-time president. In April 1945, seven months before the war finally ended in an Allied victory, FDR died of a stroke at his vacation home in Warm Springs, Georgia.”



Jay called to tell me that he was going into town with his mother.  So I planned to bathe Misty and finish grooming her.  But a little while later Jay called again and frantically asked me to go down there, as his mother had an emergency. 


When I got there, he showed me where the cabinet doors under her kitchen sink had some kind of mold growing on them.

Jay said that he couldn’t do anything about it, as the mold would hurt him, or even kill him. 

I started laughing, and asked him why he was so worried, as he is killing himself with alcohol, and has damaged every organ in his body. 

That kind of put it in perspective, so he calmed down, and helped me take off the two affected doors.  I took them outside and we came back here to get some bins to empty out the contents from under her sink. 

When we had everything out of there, we found some water fittings that were loose and had soaked the whole area.  We tightened them up so the water stopped dripping, but the leak had sure made a mess in the meantime. 

07-SAM_1717The damp had even gone up into the top cabinets and mold was forming there.

That whole section of cabinets will have to be taken out, and replaced.

So it goes to show, you have to check everything often!

Another four years, so the Obamas won’t have to start packing up their stuff today.


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