Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Russet-mantled Softtail. Pesticide-Free Bird Seed? Critter Drones. Pink-footed Shearwater. Parrots. Phainopepla. Ptarmigans, Swallows, and Warblers. Risk to Honey-bees. De Soto. V-E Day.


For “Winged Wednesday”:

Russet-mantled Softtail

Russet-mantled Softtail by Andrew Spencer, Tropical Birding

“Imagine hiking up a steep set of stone stairs, passing through pastures dotted with remnant forest and hedgerows. You’re leaving the village of San Lorenzo in northern Peru, heading for better forests at higher elevations.

A descending trill emerges from a patch of bamboo at the edge of the trail, and soon a bright rufous bird appears, foraging among the foliage and sometimes hanging like a chickadee to probe the base of leaves -- the Russet-mantled Softtail.

This Russet-mantled Softtail does well defending its territory from others of its species, but it can’t compete with the campesino farmers clearing the bird’s land for pasture or agriculture as they move upslope.

Fortunately, the Russet-mantled Softtails at San Lorenzo now have some help defending their territory. Thanks to efforts by Asociación Ecosistemas Andinos (ECOAN) and ABC, the San Lorenzo community and neighboring communities have agreed to protect 930 acres of timberline habitat on their communal lands this year. With our help, San Lorenzo and other communities in northern Peru have also planted hundreds of thousands of native trees, restoring habitat for resident and neotropical migrant birds.

For those who want to see the Russet-mantled Softtail and other interesting endemics such as the Pale-billed Antpitta, the new San Lorenzo Private Conservation Area is the place to go. The area can be easily visited as a day or half-day trip by birders staying at Huembo or Abra Patricia Reserves.”

For more information about lodging at Huembo and Abra Patricia, please visit Conservation Birding.   Support ABC's efforts to conserve native birds and their habitats!

Photo by Andrew Spencer, Tropical Birding; Range Map by ABC


Conservation Group Seeks Assurance that Wild Bird Seed Products Are Pesticide-Free

American Goldfinch, JanetandPhil, Flickr“American Bird Conservancy alerts Scotts Miracle-Gro and Kaytee companies of lethal effects from common seed treatment.

Since the use of neonicotinoid coatings is nearly ubiquitous in many seed crops grown in the United States, ABC wants to make sure that the seeds sold by bird seed manufacturers for use in backyard bird feeders remain free from neonicotinoid insecticides. “It would be wretched if bird watchers were unknowingly poisoning the very birds that they seek to nurture and enjoy with their families.”  More at:


From Battle To Birds: Drones Get Second Life Counting Critters

“The U.S. military and law enforcement agencies have seen increased public scrutiny on the domestic use of the robotically piloted planes known as drones. Working on the sidelines of this debate, the U.S. Geological Survey has been trying to find a second life for retired military drones in the areas of environmental and wildlife management. Instead of watching the battlefield, these drones are watching birds.

drone-launch-9ff4c66c28d1b8cef956b4c87ae96bae3e0b4cee-s3[1] The 4-pound Raven A drone is launched by hand. Researchers hope thermal and photographic imaging from the drones can help accurately estimate animal populations. Grace Hood/KUNC

Earlier this month, scientists spent three days flying a small 4-pound Raven A drone above the breeding grounds of the greater sage grouse, about 120 miles northwest of Denver. USGS hydrologist Chris Holmquist-Johnson says researchers are trying to figure out if they can use the drone to capture photo and thermal images of the birds without disturbing them.”  More at:


Scientists Hope that Real-time Tracking Project Will Help Imperiled Seabird

Pink-footed Shearwater by Peter Hodum

Satellite tracking of the imperiled Pink-footed Shearwater may help the species rebound from population declines.
Photo by Peter Hodum

“An international team of scientists from Chile, the United States, and Canada are mapping and timing the travels and activities of the imperiled Pink-footed Shearwater (PFSH) to better understand the habits and habitats of this species during their transequatorial migrations. This research will help shape conservation actions to help this species rebound from population declines resulting from a suite of impacts, both on the breeding colonies and at sea.”  More at:


10 Fun Facts About Parrots

“Parrots are fascinating creatures. Here are 10 interesting facts that may leave you wanting to know more…


There are 100's of parrot species.

Over 300, in fact... and they come in a remarkable variety of colors and sizes, ranging in length from about 4 inches up to 40 inches. Some types of parrots can live up to 80 years in the wild.”

More at:


Female Phainopepla

imageThe female (pictured) is a dull brown but shares a piercing red eye with the male, the jet-black coloration of which gives the species its name (which means "shining robe" in Greek).

“Phaino-what? The Phainopepla (fay-noh-PEP-lah) is a member of the "silky-flycatcher" family and is well adapted to life in the desert. Its favorite food is the desert mistletoe berry, and it eats at least 1,100—eighty percent of its body weight—every day.”   Learn why >>



BirdNote Weekly Preview: Ptarmigans, Swallows, and Warblers ...   Upcoming Shows

Willow Ptarmigan

Silly Willow Ptarmigan
by Bob Sundstrom

American Robin

American Robins
Are Exceptional Singers
by Bob Sundstrom

Ferruginous Hawk

Rocky Mountain
Bird Observatory
by Todd Peterson

Linda Macaulay

Welcome to The
Macaulay Library
featuring Linda Macaulay
and Gerrit Vyn,
audio recordists for the
Cornell Lab of Ornithology


Barn Swallow

Swallows Return to Nest
by Bob Sundstrom

Blackburnian Warbler

Savor the Sight Of
Migrating Birds
featuring Justin Pepper, Audubon Chicago Region

Prothonotary Warbler

World of Warblers
by Bob Sundstrom


Singing to God

“An Amazing Fact: We all know that birds, bugs, and frogs are natural singers. But other animals that sing include some fish, mice, and bats—usually too high pitched for human ears—humpbacks whales, belugas, and even certain species of ground squirrels. In most instances, it is a male serenading a female with love songs.

A multitude of research studies confirm that singing is good for humans. To start with, singing releases endorphins—pain-killing hormones that cause happiness—in our brains. Singing can lower stress, improve sleep, and increase the function of the immune system.
Musical therapies, some still in the research phase, are being used to successfully treat patients with dementia, depression, and other medical conditions.
Singing can help to clear the sinuses and respiratory tubes, tone your stomach and facial muscles, improve your posture, and increase your lung capacity and mental alertness.
There’s no doubt that singing has many physical and emotional benefits. Music and singing are wonderful gifts from God. And when we use songs to praise God, our spiritual lives benefit as well.
The psalmist encouraged us to sing to our great God, to “come before His presence with thanksgiving,” to praise Him as the Creator of all things and “the Rock of our salvation.”“ KEY BIBLE TEXTS  - Psalms 95:1-5


And our other winged friends, the bees:

Bayer, Syngenta Feel Heat as U.K. Grocers Review Insecticides

“Bayer AG (BAYN) and Syngenta AG (SYNN) face more pressure over crop chemicals suspected in bee-deaths as retailers including J Sainsbury Plc (SBRY), the U.K.’s third largest supermarket chain, said they’re looking into the matter.

Further supermarket bans would hurt Bayer and Syngenta as they seek to prevent a European Union-wide ban on some uses of the insecticides, which are chemically related to nicotine. The EU commission, the EU’s executive arm, proposed in January to suspend use of three neonicotinoids on sunflowers, rapeseed, corn and cotton because of risks to honey-bee health.”  More at:


On This Day:

De Soto reaches the Mississippi, May 8, 1541:

“On May 8, 1541, south of present-day Memphis, Tennessee, Spanish conquistador Hernando de Soto reaches the Mississippi River, one of the first European explorers to ever do so. After building flatboats, de Soto and his 400 ragged troops crossed the great river under the cover of night, in order to avoid the armed Native Americans who patrolled the river daily in war canoes. From there the conquistadors headed into present-day Arkansas, continuing their fruitless two-year-old search for gold and silver in the American wilderness.

In late May 1539, de Soto landed on the west coast of Florida with 600 troops, servants, and staff, 200 horses, and a pack of bloodhounds. From there, the army set about subduing the natives, seizing any valuables they stumbled upon, and preparing the region for eventual Spanish colonization. Traveling through Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, across the Appalachians, and back to Alabama, de Soto failed to find the gold and silver he desired, but he did seize a valuable collection of pearls at Cofitachequi, in present-day Georgia. Decisive conquest eluded the Spaniards, as what would become the United States lacked the large, centralized civilizations of Mexico and Peru.

Turning back to the Mississippi, de Soto died of a fever on its banks on May 21, 1542. In order that Indians would not learn of his death, and thus disprove de Soto's claims of divinity, his men buried his body in the Mississippi River.

The Spaniards, now under the command of Luis de Moscoso, traveled west again, crossing into north Texas before returning to the Mississippi. With nearly half of the original expedition dead, the Spaniards built rafts and traveled down the river to the sea, and then made their way down the Texas coast to New Spain, finally reaching Veracruz, Mexico, in late 1543.”


V-E Day is celebrated in America and Britain, May 8, 1945:

“On this day in 1945, both Great Britain and the United States celebrate Victory in Europe Day. Cities in both nations, as well as formerly occupied cities in Western Europe, put out flags and banners, rejoicing in the defeat of the Nazi war machine.

The main concern of many German soldiers was to elude the grasp of Soviet forces, to keep from being taken prisoner. About 1 million Germans attempted a mass exodus to the West when the fighting in Czechoslovakia ended, but were stopped by the Russians and taken captive. The Russians took approximately 2 million prisoners in the period just before and after the German surrender.

Meanwhile, more than 13,000 British POWs were released and sent back to Great Britain.

Pockets of German-Soviet confrontation would continue into the next day. On May 9, the Soviets would lose 600 more soldiers in Silesia before the Germans finally surrendered. Consequently, V-E Day was not celebrated until the ninth in Moscow, with a radio broadcast salute from Stalin himself: "The age-long struggle of the Slav nations...has ended in victory. Your courage has defeated the Nazis. The war is over."”



The last few mornings I have been getting ‘Error 403’ or ‘500’ when I tried to post, so I have had to sort that out.  Sometimes it is because I have had to sign back into Google, and one time a ‘Disk Check and Repair’ fixed it.  Neither Jay nor Ray were here, so I was engrossed in the internet most of the morning.  There are always emails and research to be done. 

Every couple of hours, I checked on Holly, my new old cat, in my bathroom.  She still wants to hide, so I haven’t had a good look at her yet. I gave her fresh food each time, the same brand that she is used to, but she hasn’t touched it.  I even tried to tempt her with two things that cats shouldn’t have, milk and fish.  She let’s me stoke her head, but she won’t come out of hiding.  Poor timid baby, she must be so frightened after spending 6 years in the same foster home.  I can understand why Kenya our SPCA boss wants the foster animals to be taken to the Adoption Days once in a while, it prepares them for life, and life’s changes.

In the afternoon, the TV and Internet was going on and off.  They had been working with a backhoe and other machines just down the street, and they must have damaged a line.

This morning, when I went into my bathroom, Holly was up at the window, so she is getting bolder.  But she skedaddled as soon as she saw me, and went back into hiding.  I hope I can get her to eat today.

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