For “Winged Wednesday”:
The male Spectacled Eider in breeding plumage is a striking sight, with dark body, white back, and bright yellow-orange bill. The male’s lime-green head has circular white eye patches, which gives the species its name. The female is plain brown, as is the male during non-breeding season. In both sexes, the facial feathers extend down to the nostrils, a characteristic not found in the other eiders.
It was not until the mid-1990s that the wintering grounds for this species were discovered with the help of satellite transmitters. The population in western Alaska is particularly threatened, and has suffered a 96% decline there since the 1970s.
Oil exploration in Alaska has reduced available habitat, and oil spills pose a constant threat. Lead poisoning may also be an important cause of mortality to this striking bird. The Spectacled Eider has been listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, so is protected within the United States, although some hunting still occurs in Russia.
Listen to a two-minute broadcast about this bird!
Photo: Laura L. Whitehouse, USFWS; Range Map, NatureServe
Tracking a Parliament of Tiny Owls
“Each autumn, thousands of miniature owls fill the night skies in the Northeast, gliding over forests and fields, suburbs and cities. They cast minuscule shadows as they breeze by the Empire State Building. Where they are headed, no one knows exactly. But researchers are certain of one point: there are many, many more of these little raptors, known as northern saw-whet owls, than they had suspected.
Little larger than a robin, northern saw-whet owls were long considered rare in the East. Scott Weidensaul
“This is a little bit of the Canadian wilderness passing through,” said Scott Weidensaul, a natural history writer who has coordinated volunteer research on saw-whet owls for 16 years. “Pretty much wherever you live in the Northeast or even in other parts of North America, there are tiny owls weighing no more than robins flying over your house.”
Measuring about seven inches long, the northern saw-whet owl is one of the smallest owl species in North America. With its huge yellow eyes and handsome mane of creamy brown feathers, it is “cosmically cute,” Mr. Weidensaul said, and thus intriguing to both devoted bird watchers and the general public. But until recently, ornithologists considered these elusive birds from Canada to be quite scarce in many parts of the United States. “I’d been a birder my whole life and I think I saw one saw-whet in 40-odd years,” Mr. Weidensaul said.” More at: http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/12/04/tracking-a-parliament-of-tiny-owls/ By RACHEL NUWER
After 2 Months of Rest, a Tiny Owl Returns to the Wild
N.Y.C. Parks and Recreation A saw-whet owl found in Brooklyn in October was released by parks officials on Wednesday. Daniel Avila.
““Here’s an owl.” Those words, spoken by an anonymous Samaritan, began a journey of recovery for an injured raptor found in a Sea Gate, Brooklyn, backyard in early October. Owl Jolson, as the tiny creature was dubbed, was delivered in a shoe box to the city parks department’s headquarters in Central Park, stunned and unable to fly. The owl, a juvenile of undetermined sex, was identified as a northern saw-whet owl, a species native to Canada but known to enjoy New York City’s relatively balmy winters.”
“The bird’s injuries — head trauma, a droopy wing and some inflammation — were not deemed grave. After two months at wildlife rehabilitation center on Long Island the bird was released in Central Park on Wednesday afternoon, taking flight like a “Harry Potter” character with an urgent message to deliver.”
N.Y.C. Parks and Recreation Two park rangers, Rob Mastrianni, left, and Eric Handy, released the recovered owl at Central Park’s Shakespeare Garden. Daniel Avila.
Cat owners encouraged to keep pets indoors
This action will keep both birds and cats safe
Cat owners are being encouraged to keep their pets indoors to keep more birds alive. (CBC)
"As a cat owner you don't want to think of your pet as the one that's causing any destruction because they're like family and you don't want that to be the case," said Veronica Sherwood, the owner of two male cats and part of the Allied Cats program.
"I was hearing more and more from friends of mine in the birding community that we were losing a lot of songbirds as a result of cat predation and feral cat colonies and cats being outside, taking the birds."
"The reality is, they're healthier and safer in the indoors from cars, from getting in fights with other animals, attacked by dogs, different diseases." More at: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/nova-scotia/story/2012/11/14/ns-cats-birds-eac.html
The birding is good in Texas
“While most animals and people find ways to cope with winter weather, an oasis awaits in the south for birds (and travelers) willing to make the trek, Encore RV Resorts reports.
Before winter arrives, hundreds of species of birds travel south each year in search of sustainable food, warmer climates and increased daylight hours.
Two of the four major flyways in North America converge in south Texas, creating one of the nation’s premier hotspots for bird watching, said Greg Duncan, a company spokesperson.
RV snowbirds also find winter homes in south Texas. "Bird watching is a natural fit for RV campers and many plan their winter vacations to follow the birds’ paths," said Duncan. "Traveling south like the flocks they chase, bird watching enthusiasts use RVs as a home base allowing for mobility and comfort." More at: http://www.texasrver.com/2012/02/birding-in-texas.html
BirdNote Weekly Preview: Albatross, Ptarmigan, and Snow Geese ...
Snowy Owl ,
A Year's Worth of Birds by Ellen Blackstone
On This Day:
Georgia enters the Union, Jan 2, 1788:
“Georgia votes to ratify the U.S. Constitution, becoming the fourth state in the modern United States. Named after King George II, Georgia was first settled by Europeans in 1733, when a group of British debtors led by English philanthropist James E. Oglethorpe traveled up the Savannah River and established Georgia's first permanent settlement--the town of Savannah. In 1742, as part of a larger conflict between Spain and Great Britain, Oglethorpe defeated the Spanish on St. Simons Island in Georgia, effectively ending Spanish claims to the territory of Georgia.
Georgia, rich in export potential, was one of the most prosperous British colonies in America and was thus slower than the other colonies to resent the oppressive acts of the Parliament and King George III. However, by the outbreak of the Revolutionary War, Georgian Patriots had organized, and delegates were sent to the Second Continental Congress. During the war, Georgia was heavily divided between Loyalists and Patriots, and the British soon held most of the state. Savannah served as a key British base for their southern war operations, and the grim four-year British occupation won many Georgians over to the Patriot cause. In 1788, Georgia became the first southern state to ratify the U.S. Constitution.”
Carter reacts to Soviet intervention in Afghanistan, Jan 2, 1980:
“In a very strong reaction to the December 1979 Soviet military intervention into Afghanistan, President Jimmy Carter requests that the Senate postpone action on the SALT-II nuclear weapons treaty and recalls the U.S. ambassador to the Soviet Union. These actions indicated that the U.S.-Soviet relationship had been severely damaged by the Russian action in Afghanistan and that the age of détente had ended.
The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, and the establishment by the Soviets of a puppet government in that nation, brought U.S. relations with the Soviet Union to the breaking point. Carter's press secretary, Jodie Powell, called the Russian action "a serious threat to peace." On January 2, he announced that the Carter administration had asked the Senate to postpone deliberations on SALT-II, the complicated treaty dealing with nuclear arms. Carter also recalled U.S. ambassador to the Soviet Union, Thomas J. Watson, Jr. home, ostensibly for "consultation." As Carter administration officials made clear, however, this action was intended to send a very strong message to the Soviets that military intervention in Afghanistan was unacceptable. In addition, the Carter administration was thinking about new trade restrictions against the Soviets and a boycott of the 1980 summer Olympics, which were to be held in Moscow.
When the Soviets refused to withdraw from Afghanistan, America halted certain key exports to the USSR, including grain and high technology, and boycotted the 1980 summer Olympics, which were held in Moscow. The United States also began to covertly subsidize anti-Soviet fighters in Afghanistan. During Ronald Reagan's presidency in the 1980s, the CIA secretly sent billions of dollars to Afghanistan to arm and train the mujahedeen rebel forces that were battling the Soviets. This tactic was successful in helping to drive out the Soviets, but it also gave rise to the oppressive Taliban regime and Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida terrorist organization.
In 1980, Jimmy Carter lost the presidency to Ronald Reagan, who favored a more aggressive anti-Communist foreign policy. Reagan dubbed the USSR the "evil empire" and believed it was America's responsibility to save the world from Soviet repression. He dramatically increased U.S. defense spending and ramped up the nuclear arms race with the Soviets, whose faltering economy ultimately prevented them from keeping pace. The Soviet Union collapsed in 1991.
The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan marked a critical turning point in U.S.-Soviet relations. With the action, the age of détente and the closer diplomatic and economic relations that were established during the presidency of Richard Nixon came to an end. Ronald Reagan promised—and delivered—an even more vigorous anticommunist foreign policy.”
LilMiss’ ‘parents’ said they would rather that I groomed her on Thursday, so as I am tired of my sinuses waking me up at 4.00 every morning, I thought it would be a good day to see an ENT doctor.
I called the clinic to make sure one would be there, and was kept on hold for ages with the “All operators are busy, but someone will be with you shortly” message. I tried again later and got the same thing. The clinic’s FaceBook page said that they would be open. I got a stiff neck from keeping my ear to the phone, while I was doing chores. My daughter called, and we had a long chat, then I tried the clinic again. I had emailed the clinic on their contact page, and finally I got a reply which said that there was something wrong with their phone system, and that they were closed. So much for that, it will be a while before I have a free morning to go there.
I bathed and brush-dried Misty as she is going to the vet today. Also, because Misty and I were invited to go to Claudia’s for New Year’s Day dinner. First, I had to find the kitten to lock her up in her big cage, then I had to find my keys, as she had got them out of my purse. As I have said, she will get into everything.
It was chilly so I put Misty’s little red coat with a white ‘fur’ collar on her, and put her in the Puddle Jumper. But when I went to start it, the battery was dead. Back into the house to get the van keys, switch Misty over into it, and finally we on our way.
We had an enjoyable time down there. Misty was so good, and didn’t even beg at the table like she does at home. Jay gave her little bit of meatloaf anyway. He was going to throw out the left over mashed potatoes and cabbage, until I asked him to give it to me. http://www.thekitchn.com/cooking-with-leftovers-bubble-69257
So I will make Bubble and Squeak today.