Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Rusty-faced Parrot. Pelicans Flown Home. Most Deadly Wind. Prairie Dog Poison. Parrot “Tool Time”. Magellan. Grand Ole Opry. Floor Repair.


For “Winged Wednesday”:

Rusty-faced Parrot

Rusty-faced Parrot by Fundacion ProAves

“This plump green parrot has rich cherry/auburn plumage on its head that fades to tan around its neck, a red shoulder patch, blue wing feathers, and a red tail with a violet tip. It is found in small flocks in moist montane forests, where it feeds mainly in the canopy on fruit, blossoms, and seeds.

The Rusty-faced Parrot is most threatened by habitat destruction and fragmentation. Extensive logging and clearing for agriculture, development, and mining have destroyed much of its historical habitat in the Andes.

ABC has worked extensively with Colombian partner Fundación ProAves to protect the parrot’s habitat in the Threatened Parrot Corridor and Dusky Starfrontlet Reserve.  The Rusty-faced Parrot can be observed at the Dusky Starfrontlet Reserve at one of two rocky outcroppings, known as clay licks, where the birds consume clay and dirt for essential nutrients.  Nest boxes were also installed at the Dusky Starfrontlet Reserve this year, thanks to support from Loro Parque Fundación, and have already produced a first fledgling.”

Help ABC conserve this and other birds and their habitats!

Photo: Fundación ProAves; Range Map, NatureServe


Pelicans blown north by Sandy get ride home to Florida

Wildlife Rehabilitators Association of Rhode Island

Two pelicans taken care of by the Wildlife Rehabilitators Association of Rhode Island hang out in a camping tent before being flown to Florida.

“Two brown pelicans blown to Rhode Island by the winds of Hurricane Sandy were flying back Saturday to their natural habitat in Florida -- via a private plane.

The first of the large birds, whose wingspans measure 6 to 7 feet, was found on the side of a road at Fishermen's Memorial State Park on Nov. 7, nine days after the storm made landfall in New Jersey, said Jennifer Brooks, clinic director at the Wildlife Rehabilitators Association of Rhode Island.  The bird, a juvenile likely from a nest in North Carolina, had been tagged by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and records showed it was presumed to have died, she said.

The second pelican landed on a fishing boat about 120 miles south of Block Island the following day, she said. The crew of the boat, which provides fish to SeaWorld theme parks, fed the bird for several days before docking.

"They were a little bit thin, they were a little beat up from the storm," Brooks said of the birds. They had lost tail feathers and suffered scratches to their throat pouches, which are prone to frostbite in northern climates, Brooks said.”  More at:


Conservation Groups Call for Changes at Nation's Most Deadly Wind Power Development

Wind turbines by Mike Parr

(Washington, D.C.)  “A coalition of eight conservation organizations has called on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to make changes at a wind energy facility in Western Maryland to reduce bird and bat mortality. According to recent data, the 28-turbine Criterion Wind Project, located near Oakland, Maryland, about 175 miles northwest of Washington, D.C., now ranks as the deadliest to birds in the United States on a per-turbine basis.

“I cannot imagine that the state of Maryland is proud of the fact that the first commercial wind power project in the state – a short drive from our nation’s capital – is the most deadly for birds in the entire country.  This is a terrible precedent for the state; something their wildlife leaders probably find to be very embarrassing and in need of corrective action by the Federal Government,” said George Fenwick, President of American Bird Conservancy.

“This project is a realization of a worst-case scenario. This is why Save Western Maryland sued over the project in 2010, because of fears that bat mortality could be very high. As things have turned out, bat and other wildlife mortality, especially for birds, is far worse than expected,” said Eric Robison, Co-Founder of Save Western Maryland.”  More at:


Protected Species May be Killed by Proposed Prairie Dog Control, Environmental Groups Charge

Burrowing Owl by Alan Wilson

Burrowing Owl by Alan Wilson

(Washington, D.C.)  “Defenders of Wildlife, American Bird Conservancy, Natural Resources Defense Council, and Audubon of Kansas have urged the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to reject an application by Scimetrics to use the rodenticide Kaput-D for the control of black-tailed prairie dogs in Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Montana, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas and Wyoming.

The groups say that because Kaput-D, which contains the anticoagulant diphacinone that causes poisoned animals to bleed to death, is not selective in the animals it impacts, it has a high probability of killing non-target wildlife, including species protected under the Endangered Species Act, the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

Black-tailed prairie dogs are regularly exterminated from ranchland as pests, primarily because they are thought to compete with cattle for forage. Their populations have been reduced by as much as 95 percent of their historical numbers and continue to decline.”  More at:


Parrot in captivity manufactures tools, something not seen in the wild

The mental ability needed for tool use may be more widespread than we think.

Figaro in action, showing just how awkward it is to manipulate tools with a hooked beak.    Oxford University

“Tool use was once thought to be one of the defining features of humans, but examples of it were eventually observed in primates and other mammals. But the biggest surprise came when birds were observed using tools in the wild. After all, birds are the only surviving dinosaurs, and mammals and dinosaurs hadn't shared a common ancestor for hundreds of millions of years. In the wild, tool use has been limited to the corvids (crows and jays), which show a variety of other complex behaviors—they'll remember your face and recognize the passing of their dead.

Parrots, in contrast, have mostly been noted for their linguistic skills, and there has only been very limited evidence that they use anything resembling a tool in the wild (primarily, they seem to use external objects to position nuts while feeding). But a captive cockatoo has now been observed using multiple steps to process a tool, behavior that appears to be completely spontaneous. And it has never been seen in this species in the wild.”  More at:


Evaluation of Kittlitz's Murrelet at national refuge in its fifth year.

Kittlitz's Murrelet

KODIAK, AK -- Data collected during a summer study by the Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge may help put the Kittlitz's Murrelet, a rare black-and-white Alaskan seabird, on the endangered species list.

Over the summer the Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge sent a team of four people to the southwest part of Kodiak Island to study the nests of the birds for two months. This is the fifth year the Refuge has studied the species. The project started in 2006 when people working on a botany study on the south end of Kodiak Island heard the bird calling in the area. The first nest was found that year, and the study began shortly after. The bird is found in other parts of Alaska, largely near glacial areas, but not many studies have been completed because the murrelet is so elusive. "It's one of the least-studied sea birds in North America, so there are a lot of gaps in knowledge," refuge biology technician Heather Mackey said.”  More at:



BirdNote Weekly Preview: Crows, Turnstones, and Snow Geese


On This Day:

Magellan reaches the Pacific, Nov 28, 1520:

“After sailing through the dangerous straits below South America that now bear his name, Portuguese navigator Ferdinand Magellan enters the Pacific Ocean with three ships, becoming the first European explorer to reach the Pacific from the Atlantic.

On September 20, 1519, Magellan set sail from Spain in an effort to find a western sea route to the rich Spice Islands of Indonesia. In command of five ships and 270 men, Magellan sailed to West Africa and then to Brazil, where he searched the South American coast for a strait that would take him to the Pacific. He searched the Rio de la Plata, a large estuary south of Brazil, for a way through; failing, he continued south along the coast of Patagonia. At the end of March 1520, the expedition set up winter quarters at Port St. Julian. On Easter day at midnight, the Spanish captains mutinied against their Portuguese captain, but Magellan crushed the revolt, executing one of the captains and leaving another ashore when his ship left St. Julian in August.

On October 21, he finally discovered the strait he had been seeking. The Strait of Magellan, as it became known, is located near the tip of South America, separating Tierra del Fuego and the continental mainland. Only three ships entered the passage; one had been wrecked and another deserted. It took 38 days to navigate the treacherous strait, and when ocean was sighted at the other end Magellan wept with joy. His fleet accomplished the westward crossing of the ocean in 99 days, crossing waters so strangely calm that the ocean was named "Pacific," from the Latin word pacificus, meaning "tranquil." By the end, the men were out of food and chewed the leather parts of their gear to keep themselves alive. On March 6, 1521, the expedition landed at the island of Guam.

Ten days later, they dropped anchor at the Philippine island of Cebu—they were only about 400 miles from the Spice Islands. Magellan met with the chief of Cebu, who after converting to Christianity persuaded the Europeans to assist him in conquering a rival tribe on the neighboring island of Mactan. In fighting on April 27, Magellan was hit by a poisoned arrow and left to die by his retreating comrades.

After Magellan's death, the survivors, in two ships, sailed on to the Moluccas and loaded the hulls with spice. One ship attempted, unsuccessfully, to return across the Pacific. The other ship, the Vittoria, continued west under the command of Basque navigator Juan Sebastian de Elcano. The vessel sailed across the Indian Ocean, rounded the Cape of Good Hope, and arrived at the Spanish port of Sanlucar de Barrameda on September 6, 1522, becoming the first ship to circumnavigate the globe.”


The Grand Ole Opry begins broadcasting, Nov 28, 1925:

“The Grand Ole Opry, one of the longest-lived and most popular showcases for western music, begins broadcasting live from Nashville, Tennessee. The showcase was originally named the Barn Dance, after a Chicago radio program called the National Barn Dance that had begun broadcasting the previous year.

Impressed by the popularity of the Chicago-based National Barn Dance, producers at WSM radio in Nashville decided to create their own version of the show to cater to southern audiences who could not receive the Chicago signal. Both the Grand Ole Opry and the National Barn Dance aired on Saturday nights and featured folk music, fiddling, and the relatively new genre of country-western music. Both shows created a growing audience for a uniquely American style of music and were launching grounds for many of America's most-loved musicians--the singing cowboy Gene Autry got his first big break on the National Barn Dance. The WSM producers recognized that Americans were growing nostalgic for the rural past, so all live performers at the Grand Ole Opry were required to dress in hillbilly costumes and adopt old-time names.

The four-and-a-half-hour Grand Ole Opry program became one of the most popular broadcasts in the South, and like its Chicago cousin, helped make country-western an enduring part of the popular American musical landscape.”



Another one of those days when I should have worn my pedometer! 

Ray and I were supposed to have started on this last week, but with Thanksgiving, it was delayed till this week.  But Sunday Ray was up all night with his sick (grown-up) son, so it was delayed again.  Yesterday we started the project to find out why some of the floor in my guest house, where Ray lives, had become weak. 

This was in the little hallway from the kitchen to the bathroom.  We carefully scraped the linoleum away from the floor and rolled it back around a long piece of PVC pipe, so it wouldn’t get creased.  We could see where the floor was discolored but couldn’t find out what was causing it.  Jay called and wanted to work, so I went to get him as he is great at this kind of project.  Ray isn’t too good with carpentry, and I am getting too old to do it by myself.

We had to move everything in Ray’s dining area, including a big hutch full of Shay’s fragile knick-knacks.  It had became obvious that the leak started somewhere in the dining/kitchen area, and the big window air conditioner seemed to be the culprit.  It had been dripping down inside the wall.  I never go in Ray’s little house, so I hadn’t seen the damaged wall.  Ray cleans all the AC’s around here, as he used to work on them for a living, but he had neglected to clean that big one for a couple of years.  Maybe because it is only recently that he had that nerve snipped in his back, so he is no longer in pain.

Fixing-floor-2012-11-27 The little guest house has become slightly unlevel over the years, so the moisture had traveled underneath the linoleum towards the bathroom. Ray and I helped Jay rip out the old floor, and I carried the pieces outside.  Then Jay screwed in new braces and supports for the new plywood.  But my main job was to walk constantly around to the workshop, which it is all the way the other side of my house.  It seemed like we needed a different tool, board or size screws every few minutes.  I must have got in my 10,000 steps yesterday.

Fortunately the weather was lovely, no heat or AC needed, so we didn’t have to keep on opening and closing Ray’s front door, we just left it open.  Ray had his unsociable ‘killer cat’ locked up in the bedroom.  She has never been outside as he had two beloved cats run over. She is very loving towards Ray as he raised her from a little tiny kitten when she was found abandoned in a box at the dumpsters, but she will suddenly lash out at anyone else, even Shay, when she is there. 

This had already taken up more time than we had allotted, so we screwed down enough new plywood so that we could roll the lino back down in the dining area and get the two-piece the hutch back in place.  The little hallway’s new plywood was just placed, but not screwed down for now.  That will take a bit more work another day.

1 comment:

Dizzy-Dick said...

I hate water leaks. I had my own problems and still don't have things back to normal, what ever that is.