birds

Vultures

Feb 17, 2020
Ouchley
K. Ouchley

Writing of the carnage at Vicksburg during the Civil War, a teenage girl living near what is now West Monroe made an interesting natural history observation. She stated: "...we hear from the best and most direct sources that the Yankee dead lie in heaps about our entrenchments; it is horrible to relate, sickening to think, but so curious a fact that I must note it down, all the vultures have left this country, a carcass may lie for days untouched, those creatures have gone eastward in search of nobler game; how terrible is war!"

Bird Calamity

Jan 13, 2020
Ouchley
K. Ouchley

An article recently published in the journal Science rattled the American conservation community like no other. The paper summed up the results of multi-faceted research by the premier avian science groups in the country. It included analyses of years of breeding population data on 529 species of birds. Additionally, it considered decades of radar data that track bird migrations. It's the best science that exists, and it says there are almost 3 billion fewer birds in North America than 48 years ago; more than I in 4 have disappeared.

Ouchley
K. Ouchley

  Not unlike humans, birds have evolved various strategies to make a living. Some are fishermen, others hunters; some travel thousands of miles within a year to survive, others work from home. Some forage widely across the landscape, others have more focused feeding habits. One small group of birds with behavior that falls in the specialized category consists of sapsuckers. They are the well diggers of the bird world. 

Dinesh Parate/flickr.com / https://www.flickr.com/photos/111000723@N05/26858217122/in/photolist-GVnoe1-7qyvQk-fC6xNS-mp1VNi-ejrCL3-415J9-gGpPAQ-ejtE93-ejszDd-ejrY1E-oDX2TM-ejy6hA-ejrPKs-ejoRQF-jq9GEg-bMdGda-ejoE9x-jqpasB-mp3jbG-ejoktB-gRd4E2-7hzygf-ejt7xo-ejttXd-jqniLM-4kTvfp-otoyM

 A California veterinarian has pleaded guilty for his part in what federal prosecutors say was a plan to illegally export exotic birds from New Orleans to Taiwan.

Federal court documents show that Alex Madriaga of Buena Park pleaded guilty Wednesday to a single count. He was one of four indicted last year and the second to plead guilty. Prosecutors said the plan involved shipping birds protected under an international treaty governing trade in endangered species.

Birds Usually Don't Need Your Help

Mar 26, 2019
Monica Boudreaux / Friends of Black Bayou

With the arrival of spring and summer approaching, the likelihood of crossing paths with young birds that appear to be in distress rises. While the temptation for some to scoop them up in an effort to assist the animal is there, many times what appears to be trouble is actually quite natural for fledglings. LDWF bird biologist Melissa Collins says," It is best to enjoy what you see but leave injured or orphaned birds undisturbed."

Bald Eagle

Mar 11, 2019
Ouchley
K. Ouchley

What does it say about a country that shoots and poisons its national emblem into extinction? This scenario almost played out in America, at least in the lower 48 states.The bald eagle, that majestic raptor that adorns our currency and stands as a symbol of strength and freedom, came perilously close to disappearing throughout its range except in Alaska.

Cavity Trees

Mar 4, 2019
Ouchley
K. Ouchley

In the realm of commercial forestry, trees with holes are undesirable. They take up space where more valuable, sound trees can grow. For that reason cavity trees have been all but eliminated on millions of acres. It’s that money thing. But in southern woodlands, trees with cavities once occurred naturally at varying frequency across the landscape. Cavities form when trees are injured or diseased; animals, especially woodpeckers, excavate holes in living and dead trees. As vital components of a forest, cavity trees provide nesting, roosting, and denning habitat for many types of wildlife.

Goose Mystery

Oct 1, 2018
Ouchley
K. Ouchley

The source of mysteries is not limited to the likes of Tony Hillerman or P.D. James. Nature also serves up some perplexing whodunits from time to time. On the evening of January 25th, 1983 several people called the Lacassine National Wildlife Refuge in southwest Louisiana where I worked to report unusual snow goose mortality near Jennings. As the regional wildlife disease biologist, I was responsible for looking into the matter.

 

Pied-billed Grebe

Sep 17, 2018
Ouchley
K. Ouchley

The degree-toting ornithologists call her pied-billed grebe but in Louisiana she answers to “di-dipper,” or “hell-diver” on a bad day. For her the water’s surface is only an interim point in space and time. That she spends precious few moments there is an aggravation for birdwatchers and boys with BB guns, not to mention the serious predators be they finned, feathered or scaled. Departing the planner ecotone dividing atmosphere and liquid is more graceful if she chooses the denser of the two mediums. The downward dive is faster than the eye can appreciate the choreography.

 

Rain Crows

Sep 4, 2017
Ouchley
K. Ouchley

One definition of the word 'lurk' is to lie in wait in a place of concealment.  Among those birds that spend time along Louisiana bayous, one species in particular can be said to exhibit this behavior as a matter of habit.  Rain crows, often heard but less often seen, are bona fide lurkers as they perch with hunched shoulders that belie a long, graceful neck in a pose that for all the world appears to me an expression of guilt.

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