Category Archives: birds

Worried—about the geese, my city, and where my tax dollars are being spent

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Canada Goose and Babies

Tonight I am anxious, on edge. I’m afraid that Bend Park and Recreation District is going to kill more Canada Geese any day, like they gassed 109 of them last summer. — Without any regard to which were residents, or migratory, or to family units. — In spite of the efforts of GeesePeace, Bend’s Goose Watch Alliance, and many other concerned citizens to work with them. — In spite of widespread public opposition.

They’ve already obtained the permit. And they did it in secret last year during the last month of June. This is where my tax dollars are going. This is what makes me sick. To read more about the issues surrounding Canada Goose population management, or to take action if you live in Bend, please visit the sites above, visit Uncle Goose on Facebook, or listen to the latest All Things Vegan radio show, where we interview a local wildlife conservationist about this very issue.

And be sure to visit Bend’s spot (as Oregon’s only representative) on the Canada Goose Hall of Shame.

Yep, I still hate public speaking

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Ugh. After all I’ve done over the past few years, leading user groups, leading non-profit groups, doing the radio show, and presenting in geeky events, I still hate public speaking.

I read a 3-minute prepared statement against the killing of Canada Geese at a Parks & Rec board meeting tonight. It would have been much more powerful if I hadn’t been shaking and sounding like I was about to cry because I was so nervous. I always think to myself, “No big deal, just talk,” but when I get up there… Does that happen to you?

A bit of my statement made it on the news, and I cringed while watching myself. Even though I almost wish I had been left out of the video, I’m very glad that the local TV news station was covering the meeting. And I’m glad we were there. Somebody has to speak up for the geese.

For the birds

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Finally picked up some wild bird seed today. Can’t afford to buy it too often, but we have nesting house sparrows again this year and I thought they would appreciate some easy access to food. The sparrows will nest in just about any type of bird house—I was surprised last year when they used one of those birdhouses the kids put together at Home Depot. (Let’s just say it was not the most perfectly constructed house and we only put it up on the fence to make the kids feel good.) But some sparrows used it anyway, stuffing the considerable gaps with grass insulation! We have some sparrows that have come back for several years in a row, sometimes even overwintering in the box, and they usually raise several batches throughout the spring and summer. We have even named one male who has come for years and likes to hang out on his front porch. Herman.

Right now we have lots of house sparrows, an occasional house finch, starlings once in a while, a scrub jay now and then, and ravens often overhead. A few months ago we had a handful of western bluebirds come check out the nestboxes, but they rejected them—either because they smelled like house sparrows, or the house sparrows scared them off. Oh well. I welcome them all.

95 years later, cats still seen as #1 enemy of wild birds, but “You can’t call it science if you’re guessing.”

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A few days ago I posted about a practically antique book I own that hates on house cats for killing wild birds. I found the following on Vegan.com while perusing news to possibly use for our LIVE All Things Vegan show earlier today. {In case you’re wondering how that went—we blundered through and it was fun, in a nerve-wracking kind of way. It’s going to be frustrating not to be able to edit any of my awkwardnesses out, but I’m just going to have to accept.}

Tweety Was Right: Cats Are a Bird’s No. 1 Enemy

While public attention has focused on wind turbines as a menace to birds, a new study shows that a far greater threat may be posed by a more familiar antagonist: the pet house cat.

new study in The Journal of Ornithology on the mortality of baby gray catbirds in the Washington suburbs found that cats were the No. 1 killer in the area, by a large margin.

{Original post from Vegan: com}

And an opposing view—

Shaky Science Behind Cat/Bird Study. Vegan.com reader Chris Glazier writes:

The recent study on predation of catbirds is based on flawed science. Unfortunately, cats (usually feral cat colonies) take the blame for declining bird populations despite abundant evidence to the contrary.

The site Vox Felina dismantles this study’s conclusions, noting that in many cases bird deaths were attributed to cats not by hard evidence but by the mere assumption of guilt. You can’t call it science if you’re guessing. And this study is not alone. Pretty much every time I see feral cats mentioned in this context a little digging reveals oversimplification and bad science.

It’s studies like these that lead to legislation such as Utah’s bill that would allow hunters to shoot feral cats.

How To Make Friends With {some} Birds. {How to kill the rest, and some cats, too}

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How to Make Friends With Birds

Today I knocked a book off my bookshelf that I hadn’t looked at for a while. It is a strange little book that my grandma sent me more than 10 years ago. Her sister Alta had given it to her and Grandma Hilda (Kurtz Troyer) had gifted it to me, because she knew that I loved animals and was into bird watching. She also loved birds, and always had bird feeders outside of her windows.

How to Make Friends With Birds; What to Do to Make One’s Home Grounds Attractive to Bird Life, by Niel Morrow Ladd of the Greenwich Bird Protective Society, published in 1916, is about 5.5″ x 3.25″, and includes “more than 200 illustrations” (photos and drawings). This insidious mini-book not only promotes bird watching and making your garden an inviting place for birds, with plenty of advice and plans for building various types of nest boxes, it also advocates trapping and killing English sparrows and stray cats!

How to Make Friends with Birds devotes 37 pages to “Bird Enemies,” and in most cases, detailed instruction on how to murder them. It starts with cats:

In order of their importance as menacing the species which use nesting boxes may be mentioned; The English sparrows, starlings (along the Atlantic Coast), cats, red squirrels, gray squirrels, snakes, flying squirrels, and fox squirrels. This order, however, is subject to change due to local conditions.”

First, a modest suggestion to require licensing of cats, so that any non-licensed cats could then be killed. It goes on to give a few example of cat-proof fencing. It then launches into a thorough scouring of the cat:

The cat belongs to the most bloodthirsty and carnivorous family of mammalia. It is as natural for cats to hunt and kill birds as for fishes to swim. There is little evidence offered to prove that they can be broken of this inherent love of hunting, while on the other hand, a great mass of testimony is available to prove that we harbor too many cats.

THE CAT

Briefly reviewing the reasons for reducing their numbers at least four-fifths, we find that: Cats are a menace to health, being subject to ringworm, tuberculosis, diphtheria, and rabies. They carry germs of the commoner infectious and contagious diseases, as well as bubonic plague, and foot -and-mouth disease.

Their reputation as ratters and mousers is both overrated and overstated. They revert to a semi-wild condition, under slight provocation, where their hunting instincts enable them to work havoc among the more timid species of birds which seek the wilder districts in which to nest. It is the semi-wild cat that destroys countless numbers of quail, grouse, pheasant, ducks, woodcock, snipe, and other species classed as game birds.

The cat has few legal rights, being protected, in most states, only against cruelty and abuse. One may, therefore, rid one’s grounds of homeless felines.

Next, plans are given for an “Automatic Cat Trap”:

The cat caught, open the small door and insert a sponge saturated with an ounce of chloroform.

Tree guards are then discussed, then a couple of paragraphs on those crazy “Bird-Loving Cat Owners” and tips on how to keep your own cats from killing all the birds (sans chloroform). Then another diatribe on “Licensing the Cat.” 17 pages follow, devoted to various ways in which to kill the English sparrow, ‘rat of the air.’ The author brags that he has killed more than 7,000 sparrows in less than 5 years by trapping, on less than one acre of his land. Various traps are meticulously detailed and diagrammed. The merits of using the 44-calibre shotgun are discussed, and poisoning methods are advocated.

All in all, a very strange and disturbing way to “Make Friends.”