Archive for June, 2008

Help Save Neotropical Birds: HR 5756

June 26, 2008

//sdakotabirds.com/species/photos/cerulean_warbler.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

Please urge your U.S. Representative to co-sponsor the Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act (H.R. 5756), which provides vital funding to protect some of the world’s most beloved — and imperiled — birds.

Go to Defenders of Wildlife for more information.

Neotropical Birds Need Your Help

The Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation provides vital conservation funding for cerulean warblers (photo above) and other migratory songbirds.

To date, the Act has supported vital conservation projects in 44 U.S. states and territories, 33 Latin American and Caribbean countries, and 12 Canadian provinces, benefitting roughly 3 million acres of migratory bird habitat.

But without improved funding for important projects like these, the songs of cerulean warblers and many other neotropical birds may fade from America’s wild places.

Advertisements

Dugout Paddlers Off For Florida….

June 8, 2008

Dugout Paddlers Off For Florida
Middletown Press reports today:

MIDDLETOWN — With a grey-clouded sky over the river five brave boaters set out for Key West in dugout canoes Thursday.

Setting forth in two handcrafted dugouts, Captain George Frick and four crew members headed down the Connecticut River towards Saybrook and the open water beyond. They are then to head down Long Island Sound to New York and then traverse the Inland (IntraCoastal) Waterway to Florida, a journey that will take about 6 weeks. We reported earlier on the making of the canoes and on an earlier trip down river to Greenport, Long Island. The photo at top is from an earlier excursion on the river and the one below is a view of two incomplete dugouts taken in Harbor Park, Middletown last year. A full account of the earlier trip can be read here and here (PDF). The top photo is from that site.

Here is an excerpt from a web site documenting the building of the canoes:
THE PROJECT
Getting the tree
An Eastern cottonwood tree — 60 feet in length and 12 feet in circumference — had been
identified on Wilcox Island under the Arrigoni Bridge. Ron Klattenberg, Middletown City
Council member and project organizer, observed that there were several auspicious signs
for this project. The first was the weather. The massive tree identified to be cut down for the
project fell during a storm; then subsequent days of rain helped wash the tree trunk down
parallel to the river for launching.
The cottonwood was floated downriver to Harbor Park in Middletown. Clients went
upriver to watch the process. Not only were the clients watching, so were police, fire and
Coast Guard boats. Everyone marveled at how George Frick, president of Friends of the
Connecticut River, was able to manage to straddle the tree without falling off, then to bring
it to shore.
Crafting the canoe: Trial and error
Now it was time for the AIC clients to begin the arduous and grueling process of chopping,
burning, and carving the tree into a canoe. Under the guidance of George Frick and Ron
Klattenberg, the young men set to work hollowing and carving out the dugout canoe. For
a month they burned the wood to make it soft, then dug out the tree, all the while using
primitive tools. Each day they carved, cooked lunch over the burning embers, then carved
some more. While there are no historical records as to how the Indians in fact crafted these
boats, Frick had some knowledge of the methods and type of shape that would be necessary
to make this journey successful.

Bird Mites and Human Infestation….

June 7, 2008

News articles today (here and video here) about a Long Island woman, infested with bird mites, who was taken from her home in a HazMat suit and put in quarantine isolation gave me quite a jolt. The woman was most likely infested by mites from an abandoned bird nest in her bathroom vent.

While I don’t have any of the horrific symptoms of this type of bird mite infestation I live in close proximity to birds and regularly feed them. Birds, mainly sparrows and starlings, nest in the eaves, gutters and crannies of my house and I have several feeders on my porch. Doctors are quoted in the stories saying that, although the bird mites can cause extreme discomfort to humans they don’t feed on humans, only attacking them when their bird host dies or leaves the nest.

Several websites (here and here) dealing with these pests strongly disagree with that assessment saying there are numerous instances of people driven to the brink of suicide by total household and personal infestation depriving them of sleep, causing constant torment. One man bought a parakeet in the hope that the mites would attack the bird and leave him alone. They got the poor bird alright, attacking it so hard that it had to be put down, but the pests remained in the home. Below is a photograph of a Northern fowl mite, one of several type of bird mites.

The Long Island woman, Nina Bradica, gave this account of her ordeal:

“My whole shower was covered with them,” said Bradica, 45. “I didn’t even know they were there at first, I was drying myself with my towel in the bathroom. That’s how they got on me.”

One of Bradica’s doctors told CBS 2 HD bird mites can be a very severe problem.

“They can be a nuisance and some people have been infected for years with these bird mites and have had difficulty eradicating them,” said Dr. Kenneth Steier.
Added Dr. Shadab Ahmed of Nassau Medical Center, “They can stick to the body. They are extremely tiny. I just sent three to be tested to the parasitology lab for identification.”

Doctors say there is absolutely no public health hazard. Mites can’t feed off human skin and will eventually drop off, but until then …
Bradica tried to describe her discomfort.

“They do go inside you. They go in your nose. They go in your ears. They go in your mouth.”
she is covered with welts and red bumps and wonders if her home will ever be livable again.

Bo Diddley Gone But The Beat Lives!

June 2, 2008

Rock and Roll pioneer Bo Diddley passed away today at the age of 79 in Archer, Florida. Although inducted into the R & R Hall of Fame (1987) along with Chuck Berry and Little Richard he never achieved the financial success of Berry and Richard. He was an ingenious craftsman as well as a unique musician. He would build his own guitars that combined unusual musical effects and he played guitar more like a percussion instrument.* A 2003 NY Times profile is one of the best articles about him that I have found. There are many videos of his performances; here is a good example.

*He did not treat the guitar gently. ”I couldn’t play like everyone else,” he said. ”Guitarists have skinny fingers. I didn’t. Look at these. I got meat hooks. Size 12 glove.” He came to approach the guitar as if it were a drum set, thrusting the music forward. ”I play drum licks on the guitar,” he said. The result was an unusual sound — later played on his hand-built, exotically shaped guitars — that evolved into a distinctive backbeat, described by music historians as the meter of ”shave-and-a-haircut, two bits.” In the background he added maracas, which he built from toilet-tank floats, giving the music a Latin texture, and he gave more rhythm to the drum beat. The lyrics were often delivered staccato, adding to the pounding rhythm.

More bio here.

First of June, Sing a Tune…

June 1, 2008

Ahh well, I don’t have a tune for you; how about some pictures?

We dodged the T-Storm here last evening but there was a spectacular sky as the storm went by.
First this:

Then this: