Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Blue-billed Curassow. Male House Finch. Ecological Traps. Vultures Save People. Albatrosses. Peregrines, Arctic Terns, and Swans... Shots Fired in Capitol. Gandhi.


For “Winged Wednesday”:

Blue-billed Curassow

Blue-billed Curassow by ProAves

“The Blue-billed Curassow is a large, ground-dwelling bird closely related to turkeys and guans. The male is glossy black with a curly black crest, white undertail and tail tip, and pinkish-white legs. Its bill is decorated with a fleshy blue cere (a waxy structure covering the base of the bill) and wattle. The female is also black, with black-and-white crest feathers and white barring on wings and tail, plus a rufous lower belly and undertail.

This bird forages on the forest floor for fruit, seeds, and small invertebrates. It roosts in trees for protection; these roost sites are near feeding areas and are often used for several days running.

Blue-billed Curassow populations have declined dramatically due to to habitat loss. Huge areas of its lowland forest range have been cleared for livestock farming, crop cultivation, oil extraction, and mining. Another significant threat comes from local people, who hunt these birds and take their eggs for food.

In 2004, ABC and Colombian partner Fundación ProAves established the El Paujíl Reserve to protect this species. El Paujíl now protects over 14,830 acres of lowland forest in the Magdalena Valley, and has been recognized by Alliance for Zero Extinction as the place where the overwhelming majority of Blue-billed Curassow are now found. ABC and ProAves continue habitat protection and restoration here, as well as educational outreach, job-training programs for local women, and tourism.

Help ABC conserve this and other birds and their habitats!

Photo: Fundación ProAves; Range Map, NatureServe


Male House Finch

"The male house finch retains his brilliant colors throughout winter, making him a welcome sight on a cold, snowy day," says Montana photographer Jeanette Tasey.

“Originally only a resident of Mexico and the southwestern United States, they were introduced to eastern North America in the 1940s. The birds were sold illegally in New York City as "Hollywood Finches", a marketing artifice.

Adult female

To avoid prosecution under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918, vendors and owners released the birds. They have become naturalized; in largely unforested land across the Eastern U.S., they have displaced the native Purple Finch and even the non-native House Sparrow. In 1870, or before, they were introduced into Hawaii and are known abundant on all its islands.”


Nonnative Plants: Ecological Traps

imagesCA07TC7N Offering alluring habitat for songbirds, exotic plants may actually decrease the animals' long-term survival and fitness

“ASIAN HONEYSUCKLES ARE BEAUTIFUL AND SHOWY BUSHES. Their white and pink flowers can fill the air with fragrance. Songbirds, including northern cardinals, American robins and gray catbirds, flock to nest in the plants’ dense leaves and gorge on their smorgasbord of red and yellow berries.

But these lush plants have a darker side. Since Amur honeysuckle and other Asian species were introduced to the United States in the 1800s, birds have spread their seeds across the eastern part of the country, creating dense thickets everywhere from Vermont to Ohio. The deep shade cast by honeysuckle has devastated countless native plants. “Spring and summer wildflowers are just annihilated,” says ecologist Amanda Rodewald of Ohio State University.

So, too, are tree seedlings such as sugar maple as well as native herbs. At Ohio’s Miami University, ecologist David Gorchov compared the survival of these plants in areas where honeysuckle was removed to areas where the bushes were left intact. “We thought that some native plants would be affected by honeysuckle, while others would not be,” he says. “But we found that everything we looked at was affected.” Tree seedling survival was reduced up to 70 percent, and herb growth and reproduction rates plunged by up to 80 percent, primarily because of the shade cast by honeysuckle, Gorchov hypothesizes.”  More at:


Save the Vultures… and Save Thousands of People

The photo of a giant vulture that died after eating the drug-tainted carcass of livestock.  CREDIT: Munir Virani

“Vultures are more valuable than you may think, or at least they were.

In the 1980s, more than 40 million vultures existed throughout India, where they ate about 12 million tons (11 million metric tons) of rotting flesh each year, according to the environmental writer Tony Juniper. Today, however, vulture populations have been reduced to only a few tens of thousands, and three of the most important species are listed as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

They have declined largely because ranchers started giving their cattle an anti-inflammatory drug called diclofenac that is toxic to the birds, which eat dead cattle, Juniper writes. Without vultures to eat this festering morass, wild dogs have taken their place and populations have boomed. The dogs have, in turn, spread rabies by biting humans, killing an estimated 50,000 people in the last couple decades, according to Juniper.”  More at:


The Albatross Task Force

“Albatrosses are natural scavengers and will fly behind fishing vessels looking for a tasty bite to eat. Unfortunately, in trying to get to bait set to catch fish, many get caught on the large hooks instead, and are dragged under the water and drown.

Is the Wandering Albatross about to fly into the sunset for the final time? LEXsample/Lex van Groningen

To prevent the biggest flying seabird from disappearing from our skies forever, we realised that we had to get fishermen involved, and in 2006 the Albatross Task Force was born.
This team travel on board fishing vessels demonstrating the simple techniques to avoid albatrosses dying horrible deaths on hooks. But, the Task Force need your help to continue saving the albatross from extinction.  Read more about the campaign at:

“Every year, 100,000 albatrosses are killed needlessly by drowning on the end of fishing hooks. 19 of the 22 species of albatross in the world are threatened with extinction, largely because of longline fishing. If you can help us act now, the Save the Albatross campaign can help stop these magnificent birds from becoming extinct. Your money can fund the Albatross Task Force teams and their urgent work to train fishermen to keep seabirds off the hook.”   We need your help. To find out more, visit:


Great 4-minute video from Japan about the Short-tailed Albatross conservation project.  Moving some albatrosses from the danger of a volcanic island to a new island:

From me: They only have one baby every two years, so it is hard for the species to catch up with the deaths.




BirdNote Weekly Preview: Peregrines, Arctic Terns, and Swans ...

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WEDNESDAY California Clapper Rails on San Francisco Bay by Bob Sundstrom LISTEN NOW

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THURSDAY A Barred Owl Revives by Chris Peterson LISTEN NOW

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FRIDAY Trumpeter Swans - Knowledge Bringers featuring Martha Jordan LISTEN NOW

Myth of the Thunderbird by Frances Wood LISTEN


On This Day:

Shots fired in the House of Representatives, Jan 30, 1835:

“In the House chamber of the U.S. Capitol, President Andrew Jackson, the seventh president of the United States, survives the first attempt against the life of a U.S. president.

During a funeral service honoring the late Representative Warren R. Davis of South Carolina, a man identified as Richard Lawrence discharged two separate pistols in the direction of President Jackson. Both weapons misfired, and Lawrence was promptly subdued and arrested. During the subsequent criminal investigation, the suspect was found to be insane and was sent to a mental prison. Three decades later, President Abraham Lincoln would become the first president to be assassinated.”


Gandhi assassinated in New Delhi, Jan 30, 1948:

“Mohandas Gandhi, the world's chief advocate of non-violence, is assassinated in New Delhi by a terrorist sponsored by a right-wing Hindu militia group. The murder came only 10 days after a failed attempt on Gandhi's life. Thirty-nine-year-old Nathuram Godse shot the great Indian leader as he made his way through a small crowd to lead a prayer session.

The father of Indian independence had angered Hindu extremists by his efforts to bring peace in the wake of the British withdrawal from India. Muslims and Hindus had been fighting a civil war since the decision to the Muslim-dominated western region of India had become separated as Pakistan. Religious-inspired riots were breaking out all over India when Gandhi went on a hunger strike in September 1947.

In an effort to end India's religious strife, he resorted to fasts and visits to the troubled areas. He was on one such vigil in New Delhi when Nathuram Godse, a Hindu extremist who objected to Gandhi's tolerance for the Muslims, fatally shot him. Known as Mahatma, or "the great soul," during his lifetime, Gandhi's persuasive methods of civil disobedience influenced leaders of civil rights movements around the world, especially Martin Luther King Jr. in the United States.”



Jay called me from HEB grocery store, he was there with a neighbor, and asked me if I wanted anything.  I asked him why he was there, when he said he would be here.  So he called when he returned home, and Misty and I went to get him. 

Jay and I pulled out all the nails from the two wagon loads of used lumber that we had brought up here, and stacked it neatly in the lumber piles. 

It was overcast, very windy, but tank top and shorts weather.  It looked and smelled like it was going to rain, but didn’t until 8.30 PM.

Pete, the mechanic in Conroe, called to tell me that my van needed an ignition coil and canister purge valve, ($136 + labor)and that it would be finished in the afternoon.

Claudia, Jay and I went to get it, and then they went shopping.  Now the van runs like it knows what it is doing!!  The only place I stopped was Petsmart, as Miss Priss eats a lot of canned food each day.


Dizzy-Dick said...

It is a nice feeling to get your vehicle running like new again.

LakeConroePenny,TX said...

Thank you for your comment, DD.

Yes, it is, especially as it is 16 years old. Fortunately, it's never had a serious problem.

I thought about getting a newer one, but as long as this one stays as reliable as it has been, there isn't any need. Keeping up with the Jones' isn't my thing.

Happy Trails,Penny