For “Winged Wednesday”:
“The graceful, strikingly marked Swallow-tailed Kite rarely flaps its wings while flying, but almost continuously moves its tail—sometimes to nearly 90 degrees—to maintain a flight path, make a sharp turn, or circle. The species’ northern populations are migratory and come together with the non-migratory, southern populations in the wintertime.
In North America, this species once occurred up the Mississippi Alluvial Valley, along the Missouri River, and north along the Mississippi River into Kansas and Missouri. These northern populations were extirpated when the bottomland and riparian forests along these rivers were cut in the 1800s and early 1900s.
The Swallow-tailed Kite’s main prey items are flying insects such as dragonflies and cicadas, which are captured and eaten on the wing; these aerial acrobats also snag insects and lizards as they skim across the treetops.
These are unusually gregarious raptors, and several pairs may nest in close proximity. Successful nesting requires tall, living trees and nearby open areas to hunt prey. The birds may roost communally at night, and some pre-migratory roosts may attract hundreds.
The main threat to this kite is habitat loss and degradation, especially the loss of tall trees due to logging, clearing for agriculture, or other development. Although the species’ U.S. population seems to be increasing due to re-growth of trees in many riparian areas, the trend may not be long-lasting, as these trees are now threatened by development.
Recommended conservation measures include avoiding cutting of trees around active nests and protection of large pre-migration communal roosts, which are used year after year.”
Photo: Dave Palmer; Range Map by NatureServe
Spotted Sandpiper Chick
“A parting shot from the summer breeding season, an adorable Spotted Sandpiper chick photographed by Gregg Thompson. What makes this species special? Hint: this chick may have a number of half-brothers and sisters.”
The Spotted Sandpiper is an unusual species where sometimes, females mate with multiple males in a single breeding season. The female will establish and defend territories and lay eggs for as many as four different males, who are then left to incubate the eggs and rear the chicks themselves. Though the species can also be monogamous, this chick could have step brothers and sisters in the immediate area from the same mother (but raised by separate fathers).
Spotted Sandpiper is the most widespread breeding shorebird in North America and winter as far south as central Argentina.” By Gregg Thompson
What in the World is a Blue Footed Booby?
“Blue Footed Boobies are native to the shores of the Galapagos Island. The males of this unique species boast bright blue feet which make them unmistakable. To show off their blue-hued feet, males perform complex mating dances in an effort to impress females. To attract females, blue-footed booby males have to know how to use their feet.
Click to watch the video of these iconic birds in action.”
By Katherine A. Thichava for The Rainforest Site
Symbol of Success: America’s Bald Eagle and the Endangered Species Act
“The most iconic of Endangered Species Act success stories is the recovery of the bald eagle, our national symbol. Magnificent in stature and beautiful to behold, the bald eagle very nearly disappeared from the lower-48 states, in contrast to an historic population of as many as 100,000.
The bald eagle has been protected for some 95 years, but continued killing was the primary cause for passage of the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act in 1940. While that helped, an even bigger challenge in the mid-20th century was the widespread use of DDT, which led to a dangerously low population of 500 or fewer bald eagle pairs in the lower-48 states by 1963. Under the Endangered Species Preservation Act of 1966, a precursor to the Endangered Species Act of 1973, the bald eagle was officially declared an endangered species in 1967.” More at: http://blog.nwf.org/2013/05/symbol-of-success-americas-bald-eagle-and-the-endangered-species-act/
Spirit of Power
An Amazing Fact: “Because of its grace, strength, and sheer size, the bald eagle was chosen to symbolize the United States. Baby eagles (eaglets) begin their lives high in a tree nest typically five feet in diameter. After making the first break in the shell, it can take an eaglet 12 to 48 hours to completely hatch out.
The parents provide well for their offspring, and the young birds grow rapidly—they add one pound every five days. But eventually, they must learn to fly and hunt for themselves. The mother teaches her eaglets to fly by making the nest very uncomfortable. She rips up the soft padding to expose sharp sticks, bones, and rocks. Then she stops bringing food, but she’ll frequently fly by the nest of hungry eaglets sporting fresh fish or rabbits to tempt them. The little eaglets become so hungry and uncomfortable they are eventually compelled to leave the nest and commit themselves to the unknown world of air outside.
It’s incredibly dangerous, as approximately 40 percent of young eagles do not survive their first flight. It’s believed that only about 1 in 10 eagles survive to adulthood (five years old). Some of the primary reasons are gunshot wounds by hunters that kill for feathers and talons to sell on the black market and lead poisoning from eating wounded ducks, rabbits, and other game that eluded the hunter but later died. It can be tough to be an eagle; in fact, they were once declared an endangered species. But they’ve since made a comeback.”
An Amazing Fact: “Once called humblebees because of their good nature, bumblebees rarely have it in them to sting. But young children struggled to say humblebee, often resorting to “bumblebee.” Because of the bumblebee’s seemingly awkward movements, the adults adopted the new name.
Bumblebees are among the few insects that can control their body temperature. In cold weather, queens and workers can shiver their flight muscles to warm themselves. Their large size and heat-conserving hairy coats also help them stay warm, allowing them to fly and work in colder climates and lower temperatures than most other insects.”
BirdNote: What's a Lammergeier?
Lammergeier (Bearded Vulture) TUESDAY The Lammergeier Featuring Gerrit Vyn, Cornell Lab of Ornithology LISTEN NOW ►
Eastern Whip-poor-will FRIDAY Whip-poor-will, Bird of the Night Side Of the Woods by Bob Sundstrom LISTEN NOW ►
On This Day:
Nikita Khrushchev dies, Sep 11, 1971:
“Former Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev, one of the most significant figures of the Cold War and certainly one of the most colorful, dies. During the height of his power in the late 1950s and early 1960s, Khrushchev was involved in some of the most important events of the Cold War.
The 1962 Cuban missile crisis was viewed as a terrible embarrassment for the Soviet Union. In 1964, Khrushchev's opponents organized a political coup against him and he was forced into retirement. The remainder of his life was rather solitary-he was forgotten by most and reviled by many in Russia.”
Attack on America, Sep 11, 2001:
“At 8:45 a.m. on a clear Tuesday morning, an American Airlines Boeing 767 loaded with 20,000 gallons of jet fuel crashes into the north tower of the World Trade Center in New York City. The impact left a gaping, burning hole near the 80th floor of the 110-story skyscraper, instantly killing hundreds of people and trapping hundreds more in higher floors. As the evacuation of the tower and its twin got underway, television cameras broadcasted live images of what initially appeared to be a freak accident. Then, 18 minutes after the first plane hit, a second Boeing 767--United Airlines Flight 175--appeared out of the sky, turned sharply toward the World Trade Center, and sliced into the south tower at about the 60th floor. The collision caused a massive explosion that showered burning debris over surrounding buildings and the streets below. America was under attack.
As millions watched in horror the events unfolding in New York, American Airlines Flight 77 circled over downtown Washington and slammed into the west side of the Pentagon military headquarters at 9:45 a.m. Jet fuel from the Boeing 757 caused a devastating inferno that led to a structural collapse of a portion of the giant concrete building. All told, 125 military personnel and civilians were killed in the Pentagon along with all 64 people aboard the airliner.
Meanwhile, a fourth California-bound plane--United Flight 93--was hijacked about 40 minutes after leaving Newark International Airport in New Jersey. Because the plane had been delayed in taking off, passengers on board learned of events in New York and Washington via cell phone and Airfone calls to the ground. Knowing that the aircraft was not returning to an airport as the hijackers claimed, a group of passengers and flight attendants planned an insurrection.
The passengers fought the four hijackers and are suspected to have attacked the cockpit with a fire extinguisher. The plane then flipped over and sped toward the ground at upwards of 500 miles per hour, crashing in a rural field in western Pennsylvania at 10:10 a.m. All 45 people aboard were killed. Its intended target is not known, but theories include the White House, the U.S. Capitol, the Camp David presidential retreat in Maryland, or one of several nuclear power plants along the eastern seaboard.
At 7 p.m., President George W. Bush, who had spent the day being shuttled around the country because of security concerns, returned to the White House. At 9 p.m., he delivered a televised address from the Oval Office, declaring "Terrorist attacks can shake the foundations of our biggest buildings, but they cannot touch the foundation of America. These acts shatter steel, but they cannot dent the steel of American resolve." In a reference to the eventual U.S. military response he declared: "We will make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbor them."”________
Misty and I went to get Jay, and had our walk down there. When we returned here, Jay and I re-did the sideboards holding the carport gravel in place.
Armed with tapes, we measured and checked level each way. We could see that the carport couldn’t be installed as far forward as I had intended, as there wasn’t enough room between the houses. So we moved the gravel and retaining boards, closer to where the metal carport would be installed. The carport would be on top of the gravel so we piled it higher at the edges, so that the carport would have more height. I ordered the carport 11’6” at the peak. This was for two reasons, one to keep the late afternoon sun off my house, and also so that my motor home could be in there, if needed. The carport was custom-made narrower, at 9’4”, so my 8’4” wide motor home can, carefully, be driven in there.
The three-man carport crew crew arrived about 2.30pm, and they operated like a well-oiled team. One man got the bottom side rails off the trailer and laid them out in place first. Those rails have places for the legs to be inserted at 5’ spaces. The other two laid the roof rafters out on my lawn and bolted metal sleeves and the long legs onto them. Then two of them slipped the rafters with their long legs, onto the sleeves on the bottom rails and they went around screwing them in place. They had three ladders, and two of them hoisted the middle panel of metal to the guy who was on top of a tall ladder, and when he got on it in place up on the rafters he walked precariously along it, staying there the rest of the time. His job was to screw down each panel as it was lifted up to him.
They didn't sink the rebar anchors in all the way, at first. The boss man knew that the carport needed to be moved forward as much as possible, and he said they would do that once it was constructed. They did manage to move it quite a bit, and this is the result. They drove the anchors in all the way about two hours after they had started. I ordered it white with slate blue trim to match the house.
Just as they were rolling up their tools, it started to get very windy, and then the rain came down in torrents. They said that they would be working in the rain, as they still had one more carport to install yesterday.