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Friday, February 29, 2008

NASA wants to clear Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge

In Florida, meetings have been attracting bird and nature enthusiasts over plans by NASA to clear a section of Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge in Florida for a launching pad. The meetings at there height drew about 300 people and none appeared to be in favor of the idea. Suggestions of using the old Canaveral Air Force Base property were proposed, which would be ideal because it would involve redevelopment of an existing site, which sounds like a better economic development project than clearing wildlife habitat and would serve NASA's needs just as well. I hope NASA listens.

Few other developers could get away with destroying a habitat that supports the only endemic bird in the State, the Florida Scrub Jay. As our new poster Andromeda pointed out, “There was a push a few years ago to make it our state bird. ( this humble writer thought it was the state bird...) Sadly, it was squashed claiming that the bird didn't represent "family values" since it has been known to rob nests. The senator, of course, conveniently left out the fact that they're co-operative breeders; they're so unique in that they live in little family groups and the young from years past stick around to help their parents rear future chicks.” Andromeda was right on the mark.

This has to be one of the most ignorant statements about nature I have heard spewed from the mouth of a politician in a long time. Although it does not surprise me in the least. Our own president called the Constitution “Just a God damned piece of paper!” when an aide mentioned portions of the Patriot Act were unconstitutional.

Scrub Jays are not the nest robbers people often claim they are. They do rarely take eggs, more so with the Western Scrub. Still this is very rare. Even if they were true, it would be meaningless to me in how I perceive these birds. Do we think less of the Bald Eagle because it kills to survive and robs nests. It's nature and how nature works. Were the only animal that kills for fun, and even our own species. If it was the state bird, this development plan would face more opposition.

So they may not be the state bird, but they are in great danger from development and on the endangered list. The complex NASA is proposing would cost more than half a billion dollars to build, and would take a toll on fragile wildlife and wetlands in the refuge and surrounding area. And it could close down some of the choice spots for bird-watching, kayaking, fishing and beach combing.

"There are just a lot of unknowns," said Dorn Whitmore, supervising ranger at the refuge. "It could close most of the refuge to visitors. Half of Mosquito Lagoon could be closed all or part of the time, and parts of Playalinda Beach could be shut down."

“About 500 families of endangered scrub-jays and other wildlife such as bald eagles, gopher tortoises and marsh rabbits also could be threatened and their habitat destroyed,” Whitmore said.

Because of the concerns, NASA is meeting with residents during four public hearings in TitusvilleNew Smyrna Beach this week.

"We're looking for issues, concerns and information that would help us," said Mario Busacca, the director of planning and special projects in the Environmental Program Office at KSC.

"But if people come expecting answers to all their questions, they will be disappointed."

NASA officials said the idea of a private launchpad is in its infancy.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Blue has done this dance for me solely, until yesterday when he suddenly did it for Katie. Blue has been with me since he was only a few hours or maybe a day old. So I always assumed it was because he thought I was his father or something. We have a great bond. I know its a sign of affection, most likely used as a mating dance in the wild. However for the last two and a half years, Katie has been the real hero in the house. She tends to the cages and spoils Blue silly with every conceivable nut and vegetable available in the western hemisphere. So I was very happy when he did the dance for her. I did film it but you will have to wait for the documentary to see that part. Until then, here is Blue dancing for me, just as he did for Katie.

I would like to thank Professor Clayton from the UK. He is studying the memory and capabilities of Scrub Jays and other related birds. He sent me a plethora of information on the current studies they have performed. I will make the PDF files available here soon. His work is fascinating and he has been more than helpful. I always knew they were smart and his work has only shown me they are even more intelligent in ways I was previously unaware.

Also we have a new poster,
Andromeda who has sent in some very intelligent and thoughtful comments and some video that has proved to be very illuminating. Andromeda lives in Florida and is very knowledgeable about the Florida Scrub Jay. I look forward to hearing more and thank her for her time. The video shows activity in the wild Western Scrubs don't often do unless domesticated. I am learning more about the subtle and not so subtle differences.

Although I do post videos to YouTube, due to the
size restrictions I post many videos directly to my Blog. I can give you better quality videos without limitations. I will be posting a link list to all the videos hosted here with descriptions for easy access soon.

Over 130 Wild Buffalo Slaughtered in Yellowstone: up to 275 total wil be sent to slaughter

Although this has little to do with Scrub Jays, it has everything to do with animal rights. This issue needs the most attention it can receive. This is absolutely deplorable. In this article you will find both video and audio links if you wish to become more informed on this issue. Click on the "Clipped From " link for the entire article. Warning, the video is very disturbing. I could barley watch it. If I had the money I would go and join with protesters as this is just so very wrong. If your unsure I ask you to watch the video and tell me why this is necessary. These animals have already been nearly wiped from the face of the earth once, and now we treat them like this! There is no reason that makes this OK. I don't care if the Buffalo were trampling tourists. (there not) They have more right to that land then we do.

Everyone who participated in this should be put in prison.

clipped from
Over 130 Wild Buffalo Slaughtered in Yellowstone: up to 275 total wil be sent to slaughter
Over 130 wild buffalo have been slaughtered by the National Park Service in Yellowstone. They have captured a total of 275 and plan to slaughter all of them. George Cadman of Free Radio Santa Cruz 101.1 FM spoke with Stephany Seay of the Buffalo Field Campaign about the real reasons behind the slaughter, what they are doing to fight this and how people can get involved.
Since Friday, February 8, 169 American bison (or buffalo) have been captured from within Yellowstone National Park. The National Park Service, under pressure from Montana's livestock industry, has been running the capture operations at the Stephens Creek bison trap located inside Yellowstone's boundaries.
View video of Yellowstone bison in the Stephens Creek Capture Facility:
blog it

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Things have been interesting and busy here. With Spring on the way, new birds are showing up at the feeder, including two new Scrub Jays. Blue perks up when he sees them each morning. Blue also enjoys watching the other birds at the feeder, and their songs. The feeders are right behind his cage. Blue has been hiding more nuts and singing and dancing more as spring approaches.

Filming of the Documentary has begun. Beth has been great to work with and I look forward to working with her on this project.

Today it was raining. I decided to take a walk on the beach while it was drizzling. It amazes me how the birds love the rain. They play in it, bath in it and they bask in it. To birds rain is rain and sun is sun, and my guess is they are both equal in beauty.

I am busy filming Blues many antics on a professional camera. I shot this with a small hand held.
Seabright Beach is wonderful and one of the most polluted beaches we have. Normally the signs say not even to touch the water. Yet the birds bath, drink and eat from this water. Closed waters due to pollution is ramped in the United States. Its sad that our beaches are so polluted , we cant even swim in them.

Houston we have a problem.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Crash returns! Better, Faster Stronger.

Last Tuesday (Super Tuesday) Katie brought a sick bird to the Native Animal Rescue Center here in Santa Cruz. This center is by far the best I have seen. Run completely from donation boxes, they are a full service hospital for native birds. They do not take sea birds.

On Super Tuesday I was super sick with the flu. Crash, a small Brewers Blackbird was taking refuge on our porch. He was blind, but could fly. I thought he may have crashed, thus his name, Crash Helmet Lou.

As the post below describes, Katie my girlfriend carefully packed up Crash and took him to the rescuer center. He was already eating ad drinking when she dropped him off. So we had high hopes for his survival. Video in the post below this one shows his health status compared to the pictures here. There is a vast difference thanks to the folks at Native Animal Rescue.

Today I looked out on the porch and who did I see but Crash! I could tell it was him by his face, and his mannerisms despite the fact the 50 of these birds come each morning. He likes to sit right in the middle of the bowl. He was back and looking much better. Still a bit slower than the other birds, but his color had returned, his eyes open and no longer sunken. He could see. His Color was back. He was able to battle for his rightful turn at the feeder.

Although we were 99.9% sure it was Crash, we called just to make sure. We were right. Crash had been released 24 hours prior.

It ends up we named him aptly. He had hit his head, likely hitting a window in a mid flight crash.
He was given steroids to stop the swelling in his brain and released when he could see and fly just a few days later.

Crash found his way back, after a severe head injury, from 3 miles away. Having had encephalitis myself, which is swelling of the brain. I can tell you that it took me three years to read again or remember much, let alone navigate my way home from the hospital.

Here are some photos. Some are a bit fuzzy as I had to shot from inside through the screen and glass. But you can see, Crash is much better. He seems to like hanging out on the porch all day now, and is unafraid of us. These birds are normally easily spooked, although there is always one or two in a bunch that will be less scared of humans. I think Crash will be using the deck for a long time. A new companion bird. Native birds are important. Find the number to your local animal rescue centers now, so you have the number when you need it.

A Scrub Jay also ventured into the yard today. H returned a few times and brought his mate. Blue was very excited. I hope they continue to come back.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

The rescue of Crash Helmet Lou

Above is Blue flying to land on my head, at 6:30am, before I had a sip of Coffee. He is a chipper bird in the morning as soon as he wakes.

Katie and I have both had the flu and its been a rough week. Blue is always there to cheer us up though, particularly when I am ill. H seems to notice and becomes more playful and attentive to me instead of demanding he be the center of the universe. I gladdy let him have the role of being the center of everything in the house in the Winter, when he can fly, but remains inside.

The Movie is still a go and we are starting some filming next week!

The other day a young sickly Black Bird took refuge on our porch where they feed and bath. The first day he seemed just a little slow, and very friendly. By the second day I knew he was sick. He was unafraid and took water and food by hand with ease. But I can't bring a sick bird into the house. They can infect the other birds.

Katie was the real hero as I was unable to drive, being at the height of my flu. She boxed up the bird and took it to a very busy, unadvertised rescue center that is nothing less than amazing. Run by donations only, it looks like a house from the outside. Once inside you see it is a full blown sterile hospital for native non sea bird rescues. They were glad to take Crash and if he regains his sight will be released here.

We named him Crash Helmet Lou, as he is blind but can fly, although not well. He is eating and drinking and will recover thanks to Kate having the will to go despite her also having the Flu.

Below is a short movie of Crash, Blue, and a glimpse into our super Tuesday. Yes I did vote, not saying for who. Thanks to the volunteers, voting was easy, quick and close by.

Blue has started some new things. When he sings to himself or for me, he sometimes lets me join in with him. I bob my head up and down with him while we both whistle songs to each other. I think he knows I am not as good as him, but he puts up with my lack of bird songs anyway.

Much more to come as I have lots of new equipment as I ready for the Spring. New improved diets and rescue suggestions will be updated soon. Better photos and video as I have new cameras.

For those that are not aware, this site turns into a rescue information center for Scrub Jays in distress in California during the spring. I try and explain to people that you can't keep a young Scrub and feed it every 30 min as the need as baby's without it bonding to you, and after that it can never be released. It is a 12-20 year commitment to keep such a bird and they need lots of attention, love and care daily. So we have found and discovered new ways to get these birds back to their parents quickly or released if not injured badly. One thing we learned is there are exceptions to all the rules.

The Florida Scrub Jay is endangered and it's a crime to keep one. If you find one in Florida and its in need of a rescue you must call animal rescue. It is also their state bird, although a sub species to the Western Scrub, they are in essence the same bird. We simply have the trees and forests to keep a healthy population. If a rescue center like the one I described existed when I found Blue, I would have given him up so he could be released. At that time no such agency existed. The ones that did told me to let him die. He was only a day or two old.

Food for thought --
A Scrub Jay can remember where he hid a nut a full year ago, and they hide on average 89,000 nuts a year. I can't remember where my keys are. They are also a great contributer to reforestation.

Here is the latest. Watch this in full screen, it's in DVD quality.