Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Red-breasted Sapsucker. Snakes Devour Birds. Neonicotinoid in Water. Busy Bees. Owls Return to “Hoot Suite”. Bicknell’s Thrushes in NH. Angry Birds? Snowy Plovers. "Duck Stamps". Nightingales, Grosbeaks, and Parrots! South Pass,WY. Machu Picchu.


For “Winged Wednesday”:

Red-breasted Sapsucker

Red-breasted Sapsuckers by Tom Grey

“An important “keystone” species, the Red-breasted Sapsucker often provides food and shelter for a variety of other wildlife through its feeding and nesting habits.

Like other sapsuckers, the Red-breasted Sapsucker drills a series of shallow holes in the outer bark of a tree and feeds on the sap that wells up. The birds create elaborate systems of these wells and maintain them to ensure constant sap production. Because of this large investment in maintenance, defend wells from other sapsuckers, as well as from other species.

Many hummingbird species take advantage of sapsucker wells; the Rufous Hummingbird has been observed following the Red-breasted Sapsucker around to feed at the wells that the woodpecker keeps open.

A pair of Red-breasted Sapsuckers usually excavates a new nest cavity each year, leaving the old ones for other species of birds and mammals such as flying squirrel.

Red-breasted Sapsucker numbers may have suffered local declines because of habitat degradation and persecution as an orchard pest. Regional populations appear stable, but forestry practices that remove snags and older forests may decrease its abundance in particular areas.

You can help the Red-breasted Sapsucker and other birds by supporting our fundraising challenge, which launched this spring and is now drawing to a close. We urgently need your support to conserve Pacific Northwest forests and other critical bird habitats.”       Photo by Tom Grey; Range Map by NatureServe

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Snakes devour more mosquito-eating birds as climate change heats forests

“Many birds feed on mosquitoes that spread the West Nile virus, a disease that killed 286 people in the United States in 2012 according to the Centers for Disease Control. Birds also eat insects that can be agricultural pests.

imagesCAX6NXR3 However, rising temperatures threaten wild birds, including the Missouri-native Acadian flycatcher, by making snakes more active, according to University of Missouri biologist John Faaborg. He noted that farmers, public health officials and wildlife managers should be aware of complex indirect effects of climate change in addition to the more obvious influences of higher temperatures and irregular weather patterns.

"A warmer climate may be causing snakes to become more active and seek more baby birds for food," said Faaborg, professor of biological sciences in MU's College of Arts and Science. "Although our study used 20 years of data from Missouri, similar threats to bird populations may occur around the world. Increased snake predation on birds is an example of an indirect consequence that forecasts of the effects of climate change often do not take into account."  More at:


Birds, Bees, and Aquatic Life Threatened by Gross Underestimate of Toxicity of World's Most Widely Used Pesticide

“The new report concludes that neonicotinoid contamination levels in both surface and ground water in the United States and around the world are already beyond the threshold found to kill many aquatic invertebrates.

Grasshopper Sparrow by Luke Seitz

The new ABC report shows that a single corn kernel coated with a neonicotinoid can kill a songbird. Grasshopper Sparrow by Luke Seitz.

The report evaluates the toxicological risk to birds and aquatic systems and includes extensive comparisons with the older pesticides that the neonicotinoids have replaced. The assessment concludes that the neonicotinoids are lethal to birds and to the aquatic systems on which they depend.

According to Cynthia Palmer, ABC’s Pesticides Program Manager and co-author of the report:  “It is clear that these chemicals have the potential to affect entire food chains. The environmental persistence of the neonicotinoids, their propensity for runoff and for groundwater infiltration, and their cumulative and largely irreversible mode of action in invertebrates raise significant environmental concerns.”

“A single corn kernel coated with a neonicotinoid can kill a songbird,” Palmer said. “Even a tiny grain of wheat or canola treated with the oldest neonicotinoid -- called imidacloprid -- can fatally poison a bird. And as little as 1/10th of a neonicotinoid-coated corn seed per day during egg-laying season is all that is needed to affect reproduction.”"  More at:


It's time for EPA to get serious about neonicotinoid pesticides!

image“Please write your U.S. Representative TODAY and ask her or him to support the Save America’s Pollinators Act of 2013. This bill will direct the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to suspend registration for neonicotinoid insecticides, which are causing serious harm to birds, bees, and aquatic life.

The bill comes on the heels of American Bird Conservancy’s groundbreaking report documenting that songbirds can die from consuming a single neonicotinoid-coated seed. This report, along with the avalanche of recent research on neonicotinoids’ harms to pollinators, makes it clear that immediate action is needed. This bill was drafted by Representatives John Conyers (D-MI) and Earl Blumenauer (D-OR).”

Please Write Your Representative Now and Urge Support and Co-sponsorship of This Bill.


Food for All

An Amazing Fact: “Bees are very social insects, and mutual feeding seems to be the order of their existence. The workers feed the helpless queen, who cannot feed herself. They feed the drones and, of course, they feed the young. They seem to actually enjoy this social act. One bee always seems ready to feed another bee, even if that bee is from a different colony.

The bee has been aptly described as busy. To produce one tablespoon of honey for our toast, the little bee makes 4,200 trips to flowers. A worker bee will fly as far as eight miles in search of nectar. He makes about 10 trips a day to the fields, each trip lasting 20 minutes and covering 400 flowers. To produce just one pound of clover honey, the bee must visit 56,000 clover heads. Since each head has 60 flower tubes, a total of 3,360,000 visits are necessary. In the end, that worker bee will have flown the equivalent of three times around the world. And they never sleep!

The impact of the honeybee on your food goes beyond honey. This little wonder of God’s creation is responsible for 80 percent of all insect pollination; if it didn’t do its job it would significantly decrease the yield of fruits and vegetables.”


San Francisco Airport Marriott Gives a Hoot for Barn Owls

owl beth 1“Last year a guest at the San Francisco Airport Marriott Waterfront reported a rather unusual visitor to hotel management. People staying at the hotel expect views of the San Francisco Bay from their rooms, but they didn’t anticipate opening their window curtains and seeing two barn owl parents feeding ridiculously adorable baby owls.”

An adorable barn owl family has checked in to the San Francisco Airport Marriott Waterfront for the second year in a row.

“The treatment the owls received must have been excellent as they returned again this year to the same place.  “Like other loyal customers, the Barn Owl family seems to like to come back year after year because of our great service and the great features of this destination,” Clark joked.”  More at:


Looking Out for Bicknell’s Thrushes in New Hampshire and Beyond

Bicknell's Thrush. Photo by Steve D. Faccio (Vermont Center for Ecostudies)“Despite closing down in 1984, the Mittersill Ski Area in New Hampshire’s White Mountains never stopped attracting skiers. Wooed by the challenging terrain, these adventure seekers risked getting injured or lost in the unpatrolled landscape.

Bicknell's thrush nestlingsTo address this problem, the State of New Hampshire—which acquired most of the property in 1989—and the U.S. Forest Service—which obtained the upper slopes—agreed in 2009 to an exchange of land that would enable the State to manage the old Mittersill Ski Area for backcountry skiing. But first they considered how their actions would impact the Bicknell’s thrush, a species of special concern in the state.”  More at:


Angry Birds? No, But Obama's Wind Energy Subsidies Have Them Very Frightened

imagesCAXARZPA “The latest wind power plan is likely to cost taxpayers a lot money and cost a lot of birds their lives. Wind turbines have a significant impact on this nation’s birds, especially birds of prey and other large species. 

imagesCA499SLX The American Bird Conservancy even thinks it’s possible the golden eagle will end up on the endangered species list because so many are being killed by wind turbines.”   More at:


Snowy Plovers nest at Stinson Beach for first time in 30 years

“In mid-April, on a busman’s holiday of sorts, Carleton took a stroll along the shore of Stinson Beach. From habit, he scanned the sands for plovers ‒ small, sand-colored birds that most people overlook.

To his amazement, Carleton detected a handful of snowy plovers grouped at a single nest. The last time this species bred at Stinson Beach, to anyone’s knowledge, was in 1983 – fully three decades ago.

“Several aspects of this nest were unusual. First, there were five plovers in close proximity while the eggs were being laid; usually pairs are territorial around their nest.  Observers identified three of these birds as females (two wore color bands); the other two were brightly plumaged males. Then, several days after the nest held the usual three eggs, a fourth egg appeared; this is uncommon though not unheard of.  And two different plovers, both presumed females, took turns on the eggs for part of the 28-day incubation period. Finally, both males disappeared from the area before the eggs hatched; in snowy plovers, the male usually stays and tends the chicks.”

The biggest puzzle was that a seeming female assumed the parenting duties at Stinson Beach this year. While plover mates commonly share in incubating eggs, the female normally abandons the nest near hatching time; she may then fly off to breed again elsewhere.”  More and pictures at:


"Duck Stamps"

image“  – also known as Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamps - benefit more than ducks! The land purchased with proceeds from stamp sales protects valuable bird habitat across the country. In the prairie pothole region, songbirds such as the Bobolink, Sedge Wren, and Grasshopper Sparrow thrive, thanks to these protected wetlands.
Learn more about the 2013-2014 "Duck Stamp" here >>



BirdNote Weekly Preview: Nightingales, Grosbeaks, and Parrots!


Upcoming Shows

Common Nightingale SUNDAY Ode to a Nightingale by John Keats LISTEN NOW

Swainson's Thrush MONDAY Geolocators Track Migrating Birds
by Todd Peterson  LISTEN NOW

Emily TUESDAY Emily Hears the Calls Of Great Horned Owls featuring Emily, School in the Woods, Colorado Springs, CO  LISTEN NOW ►

Black-headed Grosbeak WEDNESDAY Grosbeaks and Monarchs by Bob Sundstrom   LISTEN NOW

THURSDAY Pride Protects St. Lucia Parrots featuring Paul Butler, Rare   LISTEN NOW

Rufuous-winged Sparrow FRIDAY Sparrows Sing In Arizona Monsoon by Bob Sundstrom  LISTEN NOW ►

American Robin / Swainson's Thrush SATURDAY Birding without Sight by Ellen Blackstone  LISTEN NOW


On This Day:

Bonneville leads first wagon crossing of South Pass, Jul 24, 1832:

“Benjamin Bonneville, an inept fur trader who some speculate may have actually been a spy, leads the first wagon train to cross the Rocky Mountains at Wyoming's South Pass.

The motivations for Bonneville's western expeditions have always remained somewhat mysterious. A native of France, Bonneville came to the United States in 1803 at the age of seven. He later graduated from West Point, and he served at frontier posts in Arkansas, Texas, and Indian Territory. According to one view, Bonneville simply observed the rapid growth of the western fur trade at these posts and conceived a bold plan to mount his own fur trading expedition. However, others suggest Bonneville's true goal for the expedition may have been to serve as a Far Western spy for the U.S. government.

The circumstances of Bonneville's entry into the fur business were indeed somewhat odd. Despite his complete lack of experience as a mountain man, a group of Manhattan businessmen agreed to back his expedition with ample funds. It was also strange that a career military man should ask for, and quickly receive, a two-year leave of absence from the army to pursue a strictly commercial adventure.

Bonneville began his expedition in May 1832, and that summer he and his men built an imposing trading post along Wyoming's Green River. Bonneville proved to be an incompetent fur trader, yet he seemed unconcerned about making a profit. By contrast, he seemed very interested in exploring the vast territory.

imagesCA9WP3NN Shortly after arriving in Wyoming, he mounted an expedition to the Columbia River country of Oregon, although he was well aware that the powerful British-owned Hudson's Bay Company dominated the region. On this day in 1832, Bonneville led 110 men and 20 wagons across South Pass, the first-ever wagon crossing of that critical route connecting the existing United States to the northwest region of the continent. During the next two decades, thousands of American settlers would take their wagons across South Pass as they followed the Oregon Trail.

In 1835, Bonneville returned to Washington, where President Andrew Jackson personally oversaw his reinstatement as a captain in the army. Some historians speculate that Bonneville might have actually been a spy for a U.S. government, which was eager to collect information on the British strength in the Northwest. No historical records have ever been found to substantiate this speculation, though, and it is possible that Bonneville was simply an inept fur trader whose dreams exceeded his grasp.”


Machu Picchu discovered, Jul 24, 1911:

“On July 24, 1911, American archeologist Hiram Bingham gets his first look at Machu Picchu, an ancient Inca settlement in Peru that is now one of the world's top tourist destinations.

images[6] Tucked away in the rocky countryside northwest of Cuzco, Machu Picchu is believed to have been a summer retreat for Inca leaders, whose civilization was virtually wiped out by Spanish invaders in the 16th century. For hundreds of years afterwards, its existence was a secret known only to the peasants living in the region. That all changed in the summer of 1911, when Bingham arrived with a small team of explorers to search for the famous "lost" cities of the Incas.

imagesCA8OMRPG Traveling on foot and by mule, Bingham and his team made their way from Cuzco into the Urubamba Valley, where a local farmer told them of some ruins located at the top of a nearby mountain. The farmer called the mountain Machu Picchu, which meant "Old Peak" in the native Quechua language. The next day--July 24--after a tough climb to the mountain's ridge in cold and drizzly weather, Bingham met a small group of peasants who showed him the rest of the way. Led by an 11-year-old boy, Bingham got his first glimpse of the intricate network of stone terraces marking the entrance to Machu Picchu.

The excited Bingham spread the word about his discovery in a best-selling book, sending hordes of eager tourists flocking to Peru to follow in his footsteps up the Inca trail. The site itself stretches an impressive five miles, with over 3,000 stone steps linking its many different levels. Today, more than 300,000 people tramp through Machu Picchu every year, braving crowds and landslides to see the sun set over the towering stone monuments of the "Sacred City" and marvel at the mysterious splendor of one of the world's most famous man-made wonders.”



Jay was working elsewhere, but that didn’t stop him from borrowing some of my tools and parts.

Nala, my foster cat, ate some more of the refrigerated Freshpet cat food, but she isn’t crazy about it.  If I mix it with some dry, she will eat it.  At least when she is eating that, she isn’t eating dry cat food.  After she is adopted, I worry that her new family will give in to her and just feed her dry food, which is so bad for cats, and dogs, too. It has taken me a long time to find a wet food that she will eat, so I hope they keep it up.

Ray and I pressure washed some items.  One was the cedar fascia board that Jay took down from over my front entrance.  When the new extension is built, that cedar board can go back up.  Unfortunately, the contractors who finished this house 12 years ago, painted all the cedar fascia boards.  My late husband and I had installed them bare and naked to eliminate painting in our old age.  But now they all need repainting, so Ray will re-paint that one while it is still on the ground, hopefully today.

1 comment:

Dizzy-Dick said...

I enjoyed reading your story about Bonneville. I always dreamed about being a "mountian man" and going back to that era. They were my heroes.