Archive for the ‘Pets & Wildlife’ Category

Birds in the Winter

January 19, 2011

Unlike veteran field birder and blogger Brownstone Birder I don’t feel comfortable with field I.D. of many smaller birds. However, this year’s harsh Winter season has provided many occasions to view birds at close range at my feeders. I have managed to photograph birds that I have seldom, or perhaps never, seen in field and wood. Attached herein are several photographs of birds seen through my back window here in Middletown. (Note: a loss of image clarity is the inevitable result of shooting through window panes; oh, and please correct me if I have misidentified any bird) (All photos: click to enlarge)

Red Bellied Woodpecker

Carolina Wren

Song Sparrow

Mourning Dove

White-Breasted Nuthatch

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Some Recent Photos From Around Middletown CT

February 14, 2010

First Year Hawk
First year hawk, most likely Red Tail, seen Coginchaug River vicinity

Wetmore-Starr House (1752)
The Wetmore-Starr House (1752) Washington St

Kid City Children's Museum
The Kid City Childrens Museum; Washington Street

Little House in the Graveyard
Graveyard scene; Vine Street

Wesleyan U. College Row fm High Street
College Row Panorama; High Street

Note: You may click on the photos for more information and image sizes; you will be redirected to my Flickr page.

The Horror of Chimpanzee Attacks

February 22, 2009

(Caution: this story contains graphic and disturbing details of chimpanzee attacks)

Charla Nash was nearly eaten alive by a pet chimpanzee named Travis owned by Sandra Herold of Stamford CT. She was so close to death and so terribly mangled that first responders could not tell the sex of the victim lying face down on the ground. Medical personnel and police officers needed post-traumatic  counseling to help ease their experience with the tragedy. We learn now that Ms. Nash has been transferred to The Cleveland Clinic face transplant department providing some hope that, in their skilled hands (they performed the first U.S. face transplant) she may be returned to some semblance of normalcy.

(Update June 11, 2011: Charla Nash has received a full face transplant at Brigham and  Women’s Hospital in Boston and is expected to regain facial movement and sense of taste and smell. However  efforts to transplant new hands to replace those destroyed in the attack failed due to complications.)

In a remarkably similar event four years ago St/.James Davis, a California man,  was attacked by a chimp at a wildlife sanctuary. Davis  has never fully recovered from the attack, and most likely never will. Some 60 surgeries were needed for his massive injuries described in the NY Daily News:

….his nose and mouth were ripped off, an eye was gouged out, his left foot was mangled and most of his fingers and buttocks were devoured….He was in a medically induced coma for months….

Almost four years later, Davis said the news of Nash’s attack last week hit him hard.

The Connecticut woman was visiting friend Sandra Herold in Stamford on Monday when Herold’s pet chimp, Travis, suddenly went wild. Nash was badly mauled before cops shot and killed Travis. Nash has been transferred to an Ohio hospital for extensive reconstruction.

“It’s so much like my story,” Davis said.

“I hoped it would never happen again,” he said, sitting on an electric wheelchair with a prosthetic nose hanging lopsided over two thin red cavities where his own nose used to be. “She probably can’t talk. I couldn’t even grunt. But she needs to hear voices she knows.”

h/t Pat Dollard

St. James Davis

St. James Davis

Chimp Story Has Legs: Now Sharpton Weighs In

February 19, 2009

She fed him filet mignon and lobster tails. They shared cozy glasses of wine. They bathed and slept together. He tenderly brushed her hair. She gave him gifts and sweet kisses. He drew her pictures…But this was no ordinary affair of the heart. Sandra Herold was engaging in these loving acts with a 200-pound pet ape.Her human friends said they were always leery of the interspecies intimacy.

We wrote a few days ago about the horrific chimp attack in Stamford CT in which a woman was nearly killed by an enraged pet chimpanzee. The story has gone viral; the NY Post has been running with it all week. This Sean Delonas NY Post cartoon yesterday brought publicity hound Al Sharpton and New York governor David Patterson into the fray:

NY Post, Sean Delonas

NY Post, Sean Delonas

Sharpton is quoted in Newsday saying the cartoon is “troubling at best” while Patterson meanwhile, having been briefed with a verbal description of the cartoon, said “Images of black people portrayed as primates do feed a kind of negative and stereotypical way that some people think.”

NY Post Editor Col Allan’s response: “The cartoon is a clear parody of a current news event, to wit, the shooting of a violent chimpanzee in Connecticut. It broadly mocks Washington’s efforts to revive the economy,” White House spokesman Robert Gibbs declined comment on the controversy saying he, like Gov Patterson, had not seen the cartoon but used the opportunity to diss the NY Post as unnewsworthy. Predictably, protests began (photo gallery); below New York state senator Eric Adams protests at the NY Post headquarters:

State Senator Eric Adams, Newsday Photo

State Senator Eric Adams, Newsday Photo

The chimpanzee attack and public response has revived the old stereotype of white folks thinking of black folks in simian terms. While there can be a racist aspect to such characterizations, it depends after all, on the context as is the case with the NY Post cartoon. The American Bush hating Left had no hesitation in depicting Geroge W. Bush as a chimp when they pleased: (the following appeared at Steady Habits, 5/19/08)

Bush Chimp vs Obama Chimp….

How come this is OK…..

…But this isn’t….

A bunch of people in Marietta, Georgia were protesting this one; it is a tee shirt sold by a bar owner who says he has no racist intent, merely thinks the resemblance between Obama and Curious George is humorous. I agree, the big ears, the big smile, uncanny! Look what “W” had to put up with going on 8 years. What do you think?

Video here, “how African-Americans have been deplicted
Funny video here where TV interviewer tries to get seller to admit he’s racist. It doesn’t work!

More about this at:

Wizbang, Doctor Bullldog & Ronin

Sandra Herold & Travis: A Happier time

Sandra Herold & Travis: A Happier time

Who’s Nuts, The Chimp or the Owners?

February 16, 2009

Travis, the 200 lb celebrity chimpanzee was toilet trained, dressed himself, took his own bath, ate at the table and drank wine from a stemmed glass. Totally bizarre situation in Stamford CT, 15 year old pet chimp attacks female visitor!

Updates added Tuesday 2/17: Gruesome details at Gateway Pundit and Threats Against Pet Owner WCBS-TV


Stamford CT February 16, 2009: (Hartford Courant)

Officers were called to a house on Rockrimmon Road after the owner lost control of the 175-pound primate, which was shot and killed by a responding officer when it tried to get into his cruiser, police said….. the owner called 911 and tried to stop the attack by stabbing the chimpanzee with a butcher knife…As emergency crews arrived to treat the victim, the chimpanzee… revived and opened the door of one of the police cruisers. The officer inside fired several shots, killing the chimp…The 15-year-old chimpanzee was well-known around Stamford because he rode around in trucks belonging to the towing company operated by his owners. Police have dealt with him in the past, including an incident in 2003 when he escaped from his owners’ vehicle in downtown Stamford for two hours.

What is going on with these pet owners? There is no shortage of incidents involving persons harboring large exotic pets. Here, at least, the public and the police knew of this hazard and allowed it to continue. Photo below shows Travis opening the police car door.

Chimp Nuts? No, the Owners

Birds Poisoned by USDA Litter New Jersey Town

January 27, 2009

European Starlings by the thousands, according to some reports, fell from the sky over one New Jersey community after being poisoned by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Starlings are an introduced and well established species across the United States. Apparently, as non-native birds, they are not protected and can be considered, as in this case, pests. Starlings, and other black birds, congregate in huge flocks at this time of year and frequently descend in droves to lucrative feeding spots on farms and feed lots. Health and agriculture authorities say that is when the birds can contaminate and consume animal fodder. Other native blackbirds often congregate with the starling flocks and one would expect they would be victims of this culling as well. So far, the reports seem to be only about dead starlings. The Bergen Record reports:

Last night, a spokeswoman for the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services confirmed the dead birds were part of a USDA program to reduce the European starling population. Donna Leusner said the state health department was not part of the culling program but had been notified of plans to feed the birds a “controlled substance.”

From the Associated Press via Fox News:

FRANKLIN, N.J. —  The black carcasses of dead starlings still pepper the snowy roads and lawns of central New Jersey’s rural Griggstown community three days after federal officials used a pesticide to kill as many as 5,000 of the birds.

Many residents Monday were still getting over their shock from the sudden spate of deaths. Some were unaware that the deaths resulted from an intentional culling and that the pesticide used was harmless to people and pets.

“It was raining birds,” said Franklin Township Mayor Brian Levine. “It got people a little anxious.”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture called local police last week and the Somerset County Health Department to warn them that a culling program was under way, but there was no notice that dead birds could fall from the sky, Levine said.

“A lot of us are concerned because it’s so odd,” said Chris Jiamboi, 49, as his vehicle idled along a stretch of road in Griggstown marked with the flattened remains of dead starlings. “There were a lot of them dead in the roads and no one drives fast enough around here to kill a bird. Then they started showing up dead in people’s backyards.”

All about European Starlings: (excerpt)

All the European Starlings in North America descended from 100 birds released in New York’s Central Park in the early 1890s. A group dedicated to introducing America to all the birds mentioned in Shakespeare’s works set the birds free. Today, European Starlings range from Alaska to Florida and northern Mexico, and their population is estimated at over 200 million birds.

European Starling

European Starling

Eating Cats-China’s Shame-Finally Citizen Protest

December 18, 2008
Caged Cats Being Trucked to Market

Caged Cats Being Trucked to Market

We wrote about animal cruelty in China some months ago before the summer Olympic games.While  the practice of skinning alive cats and dogs for human consumption has been a subject of extreme concern to animal lovers worldwide, the issue seemed to warrant scant attention from people in China; until now. Yahoo news reports today on a citizen protest within China:

BEIJING – A southern Chinese province must stop the “shameful” and “cruel slaughter” of cats for food, a group of more than 40 animal lovers in Beijing said Thursday as they unfurled banners in a tearful protest.

Thousands of cats across the country have been caught in the past week by traders and transported to Guangdong province to be killed for food, said the protesters gathered at the Guangdong government’s office in Beijing.

“We are very angry because the cats are being skinned and then cooked alive. We must make them correct this uncivilized behavior,” said Wang Hongyao, who represented the group in submitting a letter to the Guangdong office.

Here are some links to earlier articles about this shameful activity: Doggie Pawss and  Salon


Gov. Sarah Palin vs Animal Advocates….

September 4, 2008

Many organizations and groups were calling for rejection of Gov. Sarah Palin as Republican nominee for Vice President citing her positions on predator control via aerial shooting. While this is a very serious matter for animal advocates it is primarily a matter to be settled by Alaska’s citizens and their legislature. It is possible, however, that the practice could be addressed on the federal level when McCain and Palin take office. Aerial hunting is prohibited under The Airborne Hunting Act of 1972 and only continues in Alaska via a loophole in the law. (see below)

I am not a single issue voter and I support Sarah Palin for numerous reasons above and beyond the single issue of Alaska’s Fish and Game laws. However, I would certainly wish to confront the McCain/Palin administration on this issue when they take office. Some of the history of the controversy I discuss below.

The question of predator control involving aerial shooting of wolves and other animals is a contentious one in Alaska and, indeed, in the lower 48. Animal rights organizations are furious with Governor Sarah Palin for her support of Alaska bill HB 256/SB 176 the intent of which was “Clarify, Clean UP Statutes, Encourages Abundance-Based Management“. The Defender of Wild Life Action Fund states:

“Governor Palin is an active promoter of Alaska’s aerial hunting program whereby wolves and bears are shot from the air or chased by airplanes to the point of exhaustion before the pilot lands the plane and a gunner shoots the animals point blank.”

Before Alaska statehood in 1959, shooting wolves from airplanes was common. Aerial sport hunting was banned in 1972, but the law allowed aerial shooting for predator control.

In 1996 and 2000, voters rejected using aircraft to help track and kill wolves. The Legislature, in both cases, caved in to special interest groups and overturned the measures.

Nick Jans, co-sponsor of Ballot Measure 2, expects victory again in the Aug. 26 primary election. Alaskans for Wildlife collected nearly 57,000 signatures to get the initiative on the ballot. Defenders of Wildlife, a national wildlife conservation group, is one of its principal supporters.

“This is an issue that has been addressed and addressed again. It is a clear matter. The will of the people has already been known and we are just reasserting it here,” Jans said. “We are both puzzled and enraged that we are back at this point again.” Source

Unfortunately, this years measure did not pass; it was rejected by the voters 56%-44%. Ultimately this is an issue that will have to be settled by the citizens of the state through interaction with their legislators. Governor Palin has had to consider all of the competing interests and come down on the side of what is best for her state in the long run. In May 2007 Palin

” introduced a bill in the State House and Senate that will simplify and clarify Alaska’s intensive management law for big game and the state’s “same day airborne hunting” law. “I have said many times that my administration is committed to management of game for abundance, and to a proactive, science-based predator management program where appropriate,” said the Governor. “The bill I am introducing will give the Board of Game and state wildlife managers the tools they need to actively manage important game herds and help thousands of Alaskan families put food on their tables”

Aerial hunting is illegal under federal law (the Airborne Hunting Act of 1972) but Alaska has managed to circumvent the ban by a loophole.

“For more than 30 years, the state of Alaska has attempted to circumvent the intent of the Airborne Hunting Act by exploiting a loophole in the law allowing states to “administer” wildlife using aircraft. Under the guise of wildlife management, Alaska contends its current aerial hunting program is not hunting at all but constitutes legitimate wildlife management that artificially boosts wild moose and caribou populations.”

The loophole allows:

…for predator control, permitting state employees or licensed individuals to shoot from an aircraft for the sake of protecting “land, water, wildlife, livestock, domesticated animals, human life, or crops.” Source

Tags: sarah palin,alaska aerial shooting,aerial predator control,wolf shooting,wolf hunting,alaska ballot question 2,alaska legislature

Committees of Buzzards!

September 1, 2008
Quote:
SANFORD, Fla. — Homeowners in neighborhoods still flooded from Tropical Storm Fay continue to battle high waters and other problems, like huge committees of buzzards.

I don’t have my copy of “An Exaltation of Larks” handy but I have consulted some other sources and can find no reference to “committees” as a name for a group of “buzzards”, or more accurately, vultures. Here’s a link to a drawing from Florida show one such “committee” awaiting the decomposition of an alligator. In another photo we see the “committee chairman” at lunch. More “buzzard” news:

Quote:
BARTOW (FL) | A flock of about 200 black vultures has invaded southwest Bartow, picking the rubber casing around car windows and shingles off roofs.

h/t lvn600 for Black Vulture shot; a handsome specimen. (click here for full size)

British Birds: Some Decline While Others Increase….

July 17, 2008

Nightingale

In an earlier posting we noted that one species (Great Tits) of British birds was coping quite well with alleged climate warming. A report today in The Independent (U.K.) shows that, while many British birds are declining in numbers, others are increasing. Causative factors in decline included intensification of agriculture causing loss of farmland birds such as grey partridge and corn bunting; changing woodland management methods, increased deer populations, predation by grey squirrels, and problems on wintering grounds in Africa of migratory species as causes of declines in woodland birds. (willow tit -77%, wood warbler -67% etc).

Changes in vegetative undergrowth caused by deer browsing is listed as the most likely factor in the decline of woodland birds. The nation is seeing a rapid increase in deer population led by the muntjac, an introduced tropical deer.

The good news, however, is reserved for the so called garden variety birds: many are exhibiting substantial increases in numbers probably due to backyard feeding and warmer winters: (oh, oh there’s that climate warming bugaboo again!) great tit +55%, goldfinch +39%.