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1  Member Activities / Vacations and Holidays / Re: It's that wonderful time of the make your own Greeting Card on: 23-Dec-15, 01:04:55 am
Here's hopin' your season is jolly!
2  Other Nature Related Information / General Nature Discussion / Re: Reward offered after Whooping Cranes Illegally Shot in Western KY on: 01-Feb-14, 11:12:47 pm
Sorry, Kris...missed one letter...I corrected it above, but here it is:
3  Other Nature Related Information / General Nature Discussion / Re: Reward offered after Whooping Cranes Illegally Shot in Western KY on: 01-Feb-14, 05:53:34 pm
We're on a migration route for this Eastern flock, and there's an area about one hour south of Louisville where big flocks of Sandhill Cranes stop over for a few weeks on their journeys north.  Two years ago in February we found two Whooping Cranes hanging out with the was really exciting to see a couple of nearly-extinct birds in the wild.

The US F&W service has an online form where you can report Whooping Crane sightings; they work with the International Crane foundation to keep tabs on the birds.  So I reported the two, and received a nice email back with the info below:

My name is Eva Szyszkoski and I work for the International Crane Foundation as part of the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership’s Monitoring and Management Team. We are responsible for monitoring the Whooping Cranes in the Eastern Migratory Population. We received your report of the two Whooping Cranes you saw in Hardin County, KY, on 4 February.

Thank you for your report! These two cranes are breeding pair numbers 15-04 and 5-05 (your crane #1 below is male #5-05). These two wintered at the Hiwassee WR in Tennessee and have since moved on to Jackson County, Indiana. This area in Hardin County is becoming a regular spring migration stopover location for them.

Please feel free to let me know if you have any questions!


The cool thing is that Dale's links led me to more bios of these two!  Thanks, Dale.
4  Other Nature Related Information / General Nature Discussion / Re: Reward offered after Whooping Cranes Illegally Shot in Western KY on: 01-Feb-14, 01:16:18 pm
If anyone would like to make a personal donation to the reward fund, here are instructions:

If you continue reading below the photo, you'll see that even if they are ultimately unable to use the money for a reward, the money will support Operation Migration, so either way it goes for a good cause.
5  Anything Else / Totally OT / Re: So Tell Us How the Weather Has Affected You and the Critters Around You..... on: 01-Feb-14, 01:13:02 pm
Kentucky has seen a number of days in the single-digits, with at least one day (maybe more -- I've tried to repress the memory) where it dropped below zero.  While I've kept my feeders well stocked, and thrown extra food on the ground for the squirrels and racoons while we're buried in snow, the big hit has been the heated bird bath, since for many days I'm sure it was the only unfrozen water in the neighborhood.  One day I saw a robin just sitting down in the water near the he was in a hot tub.  On sunny days when the temperature is warm enough for birds to bathe I had to fill the bath more than once because so many enthusiastic bathers emptied it quickly (and it's a big of those old-fashioned stone birdbaths passed to us from Jeane's mother when she downsized to a patio home).  One day I spent maybe 20 minutes just watching the birdbath, with a steady stream of birds coming and going, with anywhere from 4-7 birds bathing at the same time.

Our part of the Ohio River has lots of ice on it, which is very unusual; I only remember once before (1978) when the river froze.  Many birds who often winter farther north have been hanging out on the river (scoters of various varieties, long-tailed ducks, etc.), making for some excitement among the local birding community.
6  Anything Else / Totally OT / Re: So long, Pete Seeger! on: 01-Feb-14, 12:43:39 pm
Major hero of mine since elementary school...very sad.
7  Other Nature Related Information / General Nature Discussion / Re: Eagle-killing rule almost done on: 06-Dec-13, 08:23:52 pm
Audubon has an action item requesting that we send comments to interior secretary Jewell.

Not that I think it'll do any good...but it should only take a minute and can't hurt.
8  Anything Else / Totally OT / Re: Finished MCM10K - Oct 27 on: 15-Nov-13, 12:27:35 am
It is the training (as you know) for these things that simply beat me up.

I agree...I trained for the NYC marathon last year (2012), and of course it was canceled...hard when all that work goes for naught.  Not that I think it was the wrong decision; I think it was the right decision to cancel the race given the post-hurricane conditions and general misery, but still frustrating.  10 miles is about my favorite distance; far enough to feel like I've accomplished something challenging, but not all the way to misery.  I had decided last last year's NYC marathon would be my last full marathon, but as part of the conditions of canceling the participants were allowed to choose a year to try again...I chose 2015 so I could have a break before deciding.  I'm sticking to half-marathons in 2014!
9  Anything Else / Totally OT / Re: Finished MCM10K - Oct 27 on: 03-Nov-13, 11:43:10 pm
We've done several marathons or half-marathons in various locations, and the Columbus half-marathon (always in late October) we like really well...enough that we've done it three years in a row now.  It's really well-organized, draws a big crowd, almost entirely flat (there is one hill on the course), nice scenery, great crowd support.

We've also  done half or full marathons in Louisville (flat), Cincinnati (hilly), Nashville (hilly), Lexington KY (extremely hilly but beautiful - actually runs through horse country and not the city), Duluth (MN) (flat), Disney (flat), and Big Sur (very hilly but scenic) if you want any information on any of those.

Congratulations, by the way!
10  Other Nature Related Information / General Nature Discussion / Re: New homes for Red Squirrels on: 09-Oct-13, 09:52:53 pm

Unlike gray and fox squirrels, red squirrels (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus) don’t bury one nut at a time.  Instead they gather food in a big cache called a midden in a hollow tree or underground.  This takes a lot of time and effort:  climb the trees, walk the branches, bite off the green cones, watch them fall, scurry down later and collect the cones, repeat the process. Along the way they pause to eat at the same prominent locations leaving debris piles, also called middens, that seem to say “I am here!”

I once spent about 10 minutes just watching a red squirrel in Yellowstone do this...he had dug out a hole between the roots of a big pine, and he was tirelessly running around collecting cones, ferrying them to his hole, stuffing them in enthusiastically, then running back for the next cone.  I admired his hard work, and walked down the trail hoping he would get through the fall without a grizzly bear discovering his cache.
11  Other Nature Related Information / General Nature Discussion / Re: New homes for Red Squirrels on: 07-Oct-13, 10:55:14 pm
I loved that video! Wish we had Red ones here! So cute!! Thanks  wave

We do have red squirrels in the US (not the same species as in the UK, but still awfully cute).  I've only seen them in the mountains (both the Rockies and the Appalachians).
12  Other Nature Related Information / General Nature Discussion / Re: 12 Year-Old Boy Saves & Raises Orphaned Sparrow on: 14-Sep-13, 11:26:40 pm
I thought I'd offer up a book recommendation along these lines:  Providence of a Sparrow: Lessons from a Life Gone to the Birds

It's a short, fun book about a fellow who gets into the baby-sparrow raising life and stays there...
13  Other Nature Related Information / General Nature Discussion / Re: Video of huge Purple Martin roost site on: 30-Aug-13, 11:03:12 pm
Is there a reason why they do this? Just ballet cuz they can? The geese were awesome too! I'm a water girl, I could sit there all day and watch the world go by! Thanks!!  clap

I was curious about why they do this, so I googled around a bit, and couldn't really find anything except quotes like "no one knows why they do this." happy

Cornell's All About Birds ( just has this to say:  "Purple Martins roost together by the thousands in late summer, as soon as the chicks leave the nest. They form such dense gatherings that you can easily see them on weather radar. It’s particularly noticeable in the early morning as the birds leave their roosts for the day, and looks like an expanding donut on the radar map."

The Louisville site is one of those big enough to show up on radar in the mornings...there are a couple more big ones in Kentucky.  We experienced a giant hatch-out of mayflies on one of the evenings, so I'm sure the martins had loads to eat that night.

And yeah...the river on a pleasant summer evening is a nice place to hang out...the Louisville skyline lit up in the background...the riverfront is often windy enough to be relatively mosquito-free.
14  Other Nature Related Information / General Nature Discussion / Re: Wild female Wolf in Kentucky killed for trophy :( on: 30-Aug-13, 10:37:45 pm
It is pretty cool that we had a wolf in Kentucky, but yes, a serious bummer that it was shot.
15  Other Nature Related Information / General Nature Discussion / Video of huge Purple Martin roost site on: 30-Aug-13, 12:38:56 am
There is a late summer roost site for Purple Martins in Louisville, and Jeane and I (with one or more of my sisters tagging along occasionally) spent several evenings on the riverfront enjoying this spectacle.  And spectacle it is...tens of thousands of birds at its peak!  It was such an amazing experience we returned several times.

We both shot some video and photos...I haven't gotten my act together on the photos, but I did compile one video.  This combines clips from shorter videos both of us shot.  YouTube kinda sucks the quality out of video, but it'll help if you bump up your quality setting as high as your internet connection will allow.  When you see the great mass of birds in the first couple of clips, keep in mind that this is one small sample of the sky and at times the entire sky was filled with birds, from horizon to horizon...

We both have lots of clips in this compilation, but I gotta give credit to Jeane for the last one in the series...the magical geese that appear as the light is dying out!

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