Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Banded Cotinga. Bird-Friendly Farms. Chickadees. ‘Saved by the Birds’. Eagle Crossing. Moorhen’s Return. Brit Bird’s New Diet. Happy Emmett. BirdNote: Coots, Bluebirds, and Crows ... Bats Live Long. Andersonville. Leaning Tower of Pisa.


For “Winged Wednesday”:

Banded Cotinga

Banded Cotinga by Ciro Albano

“The male Banded Cotinga is a strikingly beautiful bird, with bright blue plumage set off by a vivid purple throat and belly divided by a blue breast-band, set off by black mottling on the back with black wings and tail. The more low-key female is mottled dusky brown and white. Males also have specially modified primaries (the biggest flight feathers) that produce a whirring sound as the bird displays.

These are treetop birds that live high in the forest canopy, where they feed on mainly on fruit, sometimes supplemented by seeds and insects.

The biggest threat to the Banded Cotinga is habitat loss; extensive, continuing deforestation within its range has restricted populations to a few protected areas, including the Stresemann’s Bristlefront Reserve, managed by ABC’s partner Fundação Biodiversitas. These birds have been collected for their feathers by local indigenous people, and capture for the cage-bird trade has also posed a threat.

Recommended conservation measures that will benefit this lovely species include surveying areas of suitable habitat within its range to locate further populations, continuing protection of known territories, and reforesting adjacent areas with native trees. ABC continues to work with Biodiversitas to protect this beautiful bird and its Atlantic Forest habitat.  Check out a YouTube video by Ciro Albano!”

Help ABC conserve this and other birds and their habitats!

Photo: Ciro Albano; Range Map, NatureServe


Bird-friendly Farms Catching On in California

Migrating cranes in a field in Staten Island, California.

A pair of sandhill cranes forage on a farm in Staten Island, California. Photograph courtesy Cynthia Tapley, The Nature Conservancy

“Migratory birds find refuge on farms as part of conservation plan.  On a recent bright afternoon in late January, scattered flocks of geese, sandhill cranes, and other birds foraged for food in cornfields on Staten Island in California's Central Valley.

"Some farmers, if they had this concentration of geese, will put out the shotguns and use the sound to distract them," said Brent Tadman, who manages the 9,200-acre (3,700-hectare) Conservation Farms and Ranches on the island.

But birds on Staten Island are allowed to forage in peace, because this is no ordinary farm. Located about 80 miles (130 kilometers) northeast of San Francisco in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, Staten Island was purchased by The Nature Conservancy (TNC) in 2002 in order to create a place where agriculture and conservation can coexist. (Related: "'Walking Wetlands' Help Declining Birds, Boost Crops.")

TNC hopes bird-friendly practices developed and tested on Staten Island will set an example for other farmers for how they can keep their land productive and profitable—while creating habitat for birds traveling along the Pacific Flyway, one of four primary migratory routes in North America.”  More at:


How Chickadees Weather Winter

Black-capped chickadeeThe little black-capped birds that visit your yard during the cold months have evolved some remarkable adaptations to help them survive even the most frigid conditions.

“IF YOU LIVE in the northern half of the country, the odds are good that a black-capped chickadee will visit your property this winter. The most widespread of North America’s seven species of chickadees, it also is one of the most commonly seen backyard birds, particularly during the cold months when most other featured creatures have flown south.

For years, scientists have been intrigued by the ability of these tiny imps to survive—and thrive—during even the most frigid days. As a result, today biologists have a clear understanding of many of the species’ survival techniques, which likely are employed by the other members of the chickadee clan.

“Black-capped chickadees have a wonderful assortment of adaptations for the winter,” says biologist Susan M. Smith, who has studied the birds’ biology and behavior for more than a quarter century at Cornell University and Mount Holyoke College. “Carefully hidden food items, dense winter coats, specially selected winter roost cavities and, perhaps most remarkable of all, the ability to go into nightly hypothermia, thus conserving large amounts of energy, greatly increase the chances of survival.””  More at:


Montana woman is ‘Saved by the Birds’ after seeing a floating eared grebe


“Somewhere there may be a touch of irony in the fact that the bird Helen Carlson credits with saving her life will go 9 to 10 months at a time without ever flying once.

It was May 5, 1967, when Carlson – who now lives in Billings – sat down next to an unnamed body of water and noticed a bird swimming by.  “What is that?” she asked a woman nearby. 

imagesCAS2NXE2 An eared grebe, Carlson was told. Curious, she bought a book about birds the next day.  And a pair of binoculars.

“I’ve never stopped using either one,” Carlson says in “Saved by the Birds,” a 7-minute short in the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival.  On the day she noticed the eared grebe, Carlson says, she was on the verge of a nervous breakdown.  “I had thought many, many, many times about trying to commit suicide,” says Carlson, who lived in Bozeman in 1967.

Why she was thinking about killing herself, we never really learn, other than Carlson says she was depressed, felt sorry for herself, and cried all the time.   Birding, she says, gave her a newfound reason to live. In the 45 years since, Carlson has recorded a Montana-record 394 species she’s spied in the state.   When “Saved by the Birds” was made by Damon Ristau last year, Carlson was 90, and still headed out the door every morning at 4 a.m. to document what birds she could find, and where.  More at:


Bald eagle crossing signs up along I-95 as strikes becoming more common

In an attempt to keep motorists from hitting eagles, state officials have set up a variable message sign newly set near mile 242 on Interstate 95 in Medway, seen here on Sunday, Feb. 24, 2013.Nick Sambides Jr.

In an attempt to keep motorists from hitting eagles, state officials have set up a variable message sign newly set near mile 242 on Interstate 95 in Medway, seen here on Sunday, Feb. 24, 2013.

“The confluence of the Penobscot River, Interstate 95 and Route 11 and the thick woods near them make a seven-mile stretch between Medway and Sherman the deadliest place in all of Maine for the state’s fledgling population of bald eagles, the state’s endangered species biologist says.

The high number of eagles struck by vehicles along I-95 in that area prompted the Maine Department of Transportation about three weeks ago to place large variable-message signs between mile marker 242 in Medway and marker 249 in Sherman warning motorists to avoid eagles they see.”   More at:


Marsh restoration brings long-missing birds, plants home again

gallinule Mike Dee

A threatened species in Michigan, the moorhen has just returned to Lake St. Clair Metropark after a decade-long disappearance. Photo: Mike Dee Photography.

“The restoration of a southeast Michigan marsh has already returned rare plants and birds to a Lake St. Clair park.

Among the birds returning after a nearly decade-long hiatus is the common moorhen (Gallinula chloropus). A dark, duck-like bird with a flamboyant splash of red on its beak, the moorhen is threatened in Michigan.

“This park was always a good stronghold nesting area for moorhens, but over the last eight to 10 years, they declined so horribly that I didn’t even see adults, let alone a nest with babies,” said Julie Champion, eastern district interpretive manager for the Huron-Clinton Metroparks, which includes Lake St. Clair Metropark.

“This past year we had a pair of moorhens and they were calling,” Champion said. “We’re pretty sure that they were a nesting pair because we saw an immature.”  More at:


British birds may be learning to use invasive wasps as key food source, research suggests

Blue tits learn to eat alien wasps

Asexual (autumn) generation gall of the oak marble gall wasp, Andricus kollari, on a native oak tree.

“Biologists have found that blue tits, great tits and other native birds have learnt to peck away the tips of the galls formed by invading oak gall wasps and eat the juicy larvae inside, which are rich in protein. This helps them survive the crucial early spring period, when other food is scarce.

The new food source could help counteract the effects of climate change, which is causing some birds to lay their eggs too early in the year. The young then hatch before their main food - caterpillars that feed on oak leaves - becomes available.

'What is exciting is that we've shown that the gall wasps are a really significant food source, and not just an occasional snack.'”  More at:


Emmett WAS an Unhappy Bird:

“Emmett had a medical condition called papillomatosis, which is a contagious viral form of avian (bird) warts that can affect the entire digestive tract of a bird. He had them in his mouth, presumably down his throat, and all the way to his vent. These limit his ability to eat and can turn cancerous. The only thing that can be done with traditional medicine is antibiotics given when infections set in.
An alternative medical option is being done, with Copaiba & Frankincense essential oil to see if they will disappear. After that treatment, I was able to capture an immediate response from a depressed bird, when spritzed with "happy oils" of lemon and orange and calming oil of lavender for the first time!”



BirdNote Weekly Preview: Coots, Bluebirds, and Crows ...

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SUNDAY American Coot by Frances Wood LISTEN NOW


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TUESDAY Rita Shultz - Friend to Bluebirds by Ellen Blackstone LISTEN NOW


Sage Sparrow

WEDNESDAY Sage Sparrows Return by Bob Sundstrom LISTEN NOW

Kirtland's Warbler

THURSDAY Birds and Climate Change - Places for Birds to Go by Gordon Orians LISTEN NOW


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American Crow

SATURDAY Crows Recognize Individual Faces featuring John Marzluff LISTEN NOW


And other winged ones:

Bats Live Long Healthy Lives… and Now We Know Why


“A study published recently in Science Magazine provides fascinating insight into why the much-maligned bat lives such a long and disease-free life.

The genes of two species of bats were examined by a group of scientists called the “Bat Pack.” The researchers discovered the bats are missing a gene segment that triggers an overwhelming immune response to infection – a response that can be life threatening.  Researchers also learned the bats have an extra large number of DNA repair genes that also play a role in preventing disease.”  Complete article at:


On This Day:

Federal prisoners begin arriving at Andersonville, Feb 27, 1864:

“On this day in 1864, the first Union inmates begin arriving at Andersonville prison, which was still under construction in southern Georgia. Andersonville became synonymous with death as nearly a quarter of its inmates died in captivity. Henry Wirz, who ran Andersonville, was executed after the war for the brutality and mistreatment committed under his command.

The prison, officially called Camp Sumter, became necessary after the prisoner exchange system between North and South collapsed in 1863 over disagreements about the handling of black soldiers. The stockade at Andersonville was hastily constructed using slave labor, and was located in the Georgia woods near a railroad but safely away from the front lines. Enclosing 16 acres of land, the prison was supposed to include wooden barracks but the inflated price of lumber delayed construction, and the Yankee soldiers imprisoned there lived under open skies, protected only by makeshift shanties called "shebangs," constructed from scraps of wood and blankets. A stream initially provided fresh water, but within a few months human waste had contaminated the creek.

Andersonville was built to hold 10,000 men, but within six months more than three times that number were incarcerated there. The creek banks eroded to create a swamp, which occupied a significant portion of the compound. Rations were inadequate, and at times half of the population was reported ill. Some guards brutalized the inmates and there was violence between factions of prisoners.

Andersonville was the worst among many terrible Civil War prisons, both Union and Confederate. Wirz paid the price for the inhumanity of Andersonville; he was executed in the aftermath of the Civil War.”


Leaning Tower needs help, Feb 27, 1964:

“On February 27, 1964, the Italian government announces that it is accepting suggestions on how to save the renowned Leaning Tower of Pisa from collapse. The top of the 180-foot tower was hanging 17 feet south of the base, and studies showed that the tilt was increasing by a fraction every year. Experts warned that the medieval building--one of Italy's top tourist attractions--was in serious danger of toppling in an earthquake or storm. Proposals to save the Leaning Tower arrived in Pisa from all over the world, but it was not until 1999 that successful restorative work began……

……Finally, in 1999, engineers began a process of soil extraction under the north side that within a few months was showing positive effects. The soil was removed at a very slow pace, no more than a gallon or two a day, and a massive cable harness held the tower in the event of a sudden destabilization. Within six months, the tilt had been reduced by over an inch, and by the end of 2000, nearly a foot. The tower was reopened to the public in December 2001, after a foot-and-a-half reduction had been achieved. It is thought that those 18 inches will give another 300 years of life to the Leaning Tower of Pisa.”  More at:



Misty and I wore our long warm coats when we went to pick up Jay, the strong winds were cold.

Ray was going to cut a piece of fiberglass and some carpet on the table outside the workshop, but the north winds were whistling through there, so he worked on the van until Misty and I returned with Jay. 

That took longer than usual, as Jay had me drive over to one of his jobs here in the subdivision where he loaded up a bunch of landscape timbers in the Puddle Jumper.  Misty gets used to her little station wagon being used as a truck!  We transferred them into the van, as it is street legal, and took them to a storage unit that his boss had rented.  Jay is going to build a lumber rack out of them for his boss.

Then, the sun came around, and the wind died down, so we were able to get the fiberglass and carpet cut.  The fiberglass was for a backsplash in the cargo trailer, and the carpet was new remnants to put in the back of the Puddle Jumper and the van, to protect the original carpets.  They both get used for hauling stuff.  If I didn’t haul so much junk stuff, I would still be driving the lovely white Cadillac that I inherited!  The day that I had to go buy several lengths of sewer pipe in it, and had to drive with them sticking out of the front passenger window, that was enough driving cars for me.

While we were all here, Jay, Ray and I, we moved the washing machine out on the hand truck, and loaded it into my van to take to the repair shop.  That is why I wanted the carpet in the van. 

Ray and I fixed a couple of plumbing problems that cropped up un-expectantly, while Jay took down some more of the garage wall panel down, so that we can access the existing 220v. wire for the new heater. 

Then it was time to call it a day.

1 comment:

Dizzy-Dick said...

I haven't owned a regular "car" for many years. They are impracticable.