Posts Tagged ‘Ecology’

Memorial Day 2010

May 31, 2010

Today the United States observes its Memorial Day, taking a moment to remember and honor all the Nation’s servicemen who died in our wars. Begun after our Civil War, it became official after World War I.

Wars are more than human tragedies of course. They are ecological disasters. Flora and fauna suffer as well. Here, from Wikipedia, is a photo of Chateau Wood during the third battle of Ypres, commonly known as the Battle of Passchendaele, which raged from June until November of 1917.

From the looks of the trees, bird song did not accompany those Australian soldiers on their walk. Birds withstand artillery barrages no better than humans or trees.


The photographer was Frank Hurley and the photo is in the public domain.

Pigeon Poop

May 29, 2009

According to our local news media, the leading cause of pollution in our local river is — wait for it — pigeon droppings.  Really.  We don’t make stuff up here at the Fat Finch.  At least two of our local media outlets, a newspaper and a television station, have carried the story this week.

Startled Pigeons at our Feeders

Startled Pigeons at our Feeders


Pigeon droppings.  They interviewed a man from the local flood control bureaucracy. He solemnly assured the reporters that pigeons are the leading polluters of our river. He says — and this is a direct quote — “It’s a problem only you can imagine.”  Not us.

Because they failed to ask him about his qualifications, we are unable to share those with you but surely he knew what he was talking about?  He was on TV, wasn’t he?

rio_grande_river_Albuquerque_NM_IMG_8549webAnd that is just one of the many questions our local media failed to ask him. Here are a few others that sprung to our non-scientific minds.

1.  How much water flows past any given point on our local river?

2.  How many pigeons live here?

3.  How much waste do they produce?

4.  How much of that waste actually reaches the river?

5.  Why doesn’t the river just wash it away?

6.  What is in that waste and why is it so bad?

7.  What about all the other birds?  Don’t they poop in the river too?

These waters are too deep for us, that’s for sure.

Our ground water here contains high levels of arsenic, but what is a little arsenic when there are pigeons on the loose?  We have nuclear facilities both upstream and downstream from us.  And a printed circuit board facility that funnels hundreds of thousands of gallons a water through its facility every hour.  But never mind.  Those pigeons are poisoning our water.

No wait.  The pigeons aren’t poisoning the people; they’re poisoning the wildlife that drink directly from the river.  Which raises some other questions to the skeptical mind.  For instance, if all this wildlife is getting poisoned, why aren’t we finding dead wildlife all over the place?

We want to emphasize that the pigeons that live in our backyard and clean up the seeds the song birds drop from the feeders are not guilty.  They don’t fly off to the river every time they need to poop.  They do it right where they are.

Yes.  It's what you think it is.

Yes. It's what you think it is.

But ours not to reason why. Clearly we must take immediate action to protect the river.  Of course, as we’ve noted here before, pigeons congregate where people congregate. The only way to get rid of the pigeons is to forcibly relocate all the people.  The children of the local media forgot to mention that in the news story.  Or all the other cities in all the world with rivers flowing through them.  Like Paris.

And why is it that local television media across the country consists of children just out of Journalism Kindergarten?  Wouldn’t it be better to have older, more mature journalists?  And another thing.  At Journalism Kindergarten, these children are taught to wildly gesticulate with their hands when reporting from the scene.  In the story of the pigeon menace, the young man at the scene stood manfully with legs apart, arms bent 90̊ at the elbow, palm facing palm, sharply moving both up and down emphatically.  They do that all the time, without discrimination.  It doesn’t matter whether they are announcing the latest local tragedy or the little league soccer scores.  Shouldn’t they save hyperbolic gestures for when they really need them?

Like when covering the pigeon menace?

Apparently they couldn’t get any decent footage of one of these evil pigeons; instead, they showed us an innocent Redwing Blackbird singing its little heart out.  And a Mallard duck.

Really.  We don’t make this stuff up.

“Good night, Chet.”

“Good night, David.”

We’ve defended pigeons before.


March 14, 2008

Spring is coming to the Northern Hemisphere. We know this for three reasons. First, the great northward migration has begun and, in Europe, begun early. The first Barn Swallows arrived in Cyprus in early January and the first White Stork in Poland the first day of February. These birds, arriving from Africa, are taking quite a chance getting to Europe this early. It is still winter, especially in Northern Europe. Here is the news story.

White Stork

We also know that Spring is coming because we saw Chuck, our Greater Roadrunner and his lady friend today. Chuck had a leaf in his mouth and declined hamburger to fly off with the leaf which we think must mean the two of them are working on their nest. Or perhaps they are remembering Neruda, “I want to do with you what spring does with the cherry trees.”

Finally, it must be Spring because we put out the hummingbird feeders. We know it should be at least another two weeks before any arrive. No matter. We’re ready should they decide to come earlier. A weather system is predicted for the weekend with winds blowing from the south so it is possible a few will grab a ride on those winds.


Thanks to Mindaugas Urbonas for the photo of the White Storks.

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