Can you name this bird?
I have been an avid bird watcher for many years but this one has me stumped! I didn’t have my phone with me a few days ago as I sat on my deck in the sunshine, when suddenly a bird flew over my head and landed on the bird feeder. I may have seen one like it years ago but I was completely unprepared for two more like it to zip in and stay briefly then all three flew off together. So here is a picture as close as I can recall it.
This bird is larger than a crow and a much lighter brown than a robin, even its chest is a much lighter color, not much redder than a facial blush. I thought at first it was a mistake of nature but as two others arrived I quickly realized it was not. I ran to find my heavy and thick bird dictionary, “Stokes field guide to birds of North America” but I didn’t find my birds in there.
I have had many other beautiful experiences with nature, like, entering a wooded area and coming literally face to face with a gorgeous great owl sitting on a very low branch not 10 feet away. It majestically rotated its head to look at me before it slowly flew off. I was dumb struck.
We are so fortunate to live in this area. We have had elk herds 80 strong walk into our garden to feed off our grass. They arrive one at a time following the leading stag which has a huge horn rack and they stay all night, we can tell from our floodlights. Then they all pull back among the trees to lay down during the morning to digest it before moving on.
The deer visit us with their babies. We have even had one very small youngster left against our house wall, while “Mama” left to feed somewhere out of sight. Another time, while taking my granddaughter for a walk to the bay we were met by a coyote. And on a different day we were accompanied by a sea otter, swimming in a stream alongside us.
Many bear have smashed the limbs of our apple trees over the years, and yes, I, have seen one wolf! Beautiful though he was with a wonderful shiny coat and a tremendously proud prancing gait — I would have preferred not to have witnessed his passing through the garden, even though we were all safely in the house and I saw him through the kitchen window.
Mostly birds visit us now. Swallows and swifts feel safe lodging in the same spots in our eves and breezeway. It’s very quiet when they leave, and we miss them although I’m not sure we appreciate their leavings I would like to learn and see more of these different new arrivals if I can learn of somewhere to gather their story.
War is the worst environmental threat
As an environmentalist and a longtime peace activist, I have always considered war the worst affront to our environment. However, most environmental organizations never discuss the connection.
As a non-veteran who is a supporter of Veterans for Peace, I’d like to share the comments below from VFP, starting with this quote from the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon:
“The environment has long been a silent casualty of war and armed conflict. From the contamination of land and the destruction of forests to the plunder of natural resources and the collapse of management systems, the environmental consequences of war are often widespread and devastating.”
And this is what VFP has to say on the subject:
The U.S. military is widely thought to be the world’s biggest institutional consumer of crude oil, although obtaining exact usage numbers is an ongoing challenge. Military emissions are not captured in the national greenhouse gas inventories that all industrialized nations, including the United States, report under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
The Iraq war was responsible for 141 million tons of carbon releases in its first four years, according to an Oil Change International report. On an annual basis, this was more than the emissions from 139 countries in this period, or about the same as putting an additional 25 million cars on U.S. roads for a full year. Around the world, climate activists are seeing the connections between militarism and the environment.
“If we’re going to win on climate we have to make sure we are counting carbon completely, not exempting different things like military emissions because it is politically inconvenient to count them. The atmosphere certainly counts the carbon from the military, therefore we must as well,” Stephen Kretzmann, director of Oil Change International, observed.
State has scam going on WDFW licenses
To Ron Spahman, in response to his letter on Wednesday, April 20:
I cannot help but comment on such subject. Do you expect any less from the game department to pull such shenanigans to close the river after you bought your license on April 1? They closed the river on April 8.
They play the same game with clams. I think it’s called control. A year ago I was going clam digging with my neighbor in Grays Harbor. We dug limits on Thursday but on Friday the beaches were closed due to too much toxin in the water. How can clams be OK on Thursday and not on Friday? Now I see clam tides in Long Beach and Mocrocks but not at Grayland and Tokeland. I guess the squeaky wheel gets the grease. Kind of suspicious if you ask me.
I don’t much believe in this toxin baloney either — just a scam to get money, I think.
Cruz vs. Trump in a fantasy world
Because I have too much time on my hands, my mind has a tendency to wander off and create scenarios based on actual news events that I carry to illogical extremes. Case in point, I recently read that the Republican Party in Texas is about to hold their state convention and as usual there is a growing group of members of that party who are again promoting the idea of Texas seceding from the United States. These proposals have never worked in the past and more then likely won’t work this time.
But what could happen if it did work this time? This is where my fevered brain took over. The first thing the new nation of Texas would do would be to annex Mexico as part of Texas, which would then be renamed as the nation of Texxico. This is bound to create some bad feelings with some of the citizens of old Mexico, primarily the drug lords. But once the new president of Texxico, Ted Cruz (when the new country is formed Cruz immediately renounced his Cuban-Canadian-American citizenship and by proclamation named Texxico’s new president) explained that because there would no longer be any corporate income taxes and loads of cheap labor, more major corporations would be flocking to our new nation instead of Switzerland, Ireland, etc.
And here’s the beauty part. Under the new constitution written by President Cruz, the drug lords could now become pharmaceutical manufacturers and no one will be trying to put them in jail, or worse, shooting at them.
Now on the American side of this new border there are a whole new set of problems, because now the new border stretches from California to Louisiana, immediately President Trump announces that a wall will be built along the entire border and that Texxico will pay for it. President Cruz instantly responds that he might consider doing that as soon as Trump has his hair cut in a crewcut and has his picture taken in a Tu-Tu.
At that point my brain went on overload and I had to mentally switch subjects so I started to consider the proposition of how many angels would fit on the head of a pin, a much more logical subject.
Pathways to the Pacific stir pride
Spring has come to the Pacific Northwest, and many of us are getting outside to connect with the lands, waters, wildlife, and great people that make this region so special.
Our region and the prospects of maintaining these qualities for generations to come were recently given a major boost from the White House. In his 2017 budget submitted in February to Congress, President Obama made an unprecedented investment in the Pacific Northwest by proposing to fund something called the Pathways to the Pacific.
This large landscape, collaborative conservation project will protect and restore tens of thousands of acres along the last 250 miles of the lower Columbia River, from the John Day to the mouth of the Columbia. The $30 million dedicated in the president’s budget would be largest federal funding request for the region in over 15 years. The projects in Pathways will tie together a network of lands conserved and restored by federal, state and local agencies, and private non-profit partners, including the Columbia Land Trust.
Pathways to the Pacific will be funded through the Land and Water Conservation Fund, arguably America’s most important conservation program. Over its 50-year history, LWCF has provided billions of dollars for parks, open space, wildlife habitat, agriculture, and forest conservation, and is funded from fees collected by oil and gas leases, not taxes.
In our coastal region in Oregon and Washington alone, LWCF has protected special places such as Cascade Head, Fort Clatsop National Memorial, Nestucca Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Lewis and Clark National Historical Park, and the Willapa National Wildlife Refuge.
Although Congress allowed the 50-year old LWCF program to expire in September 2015, a bipartisan group of elected officials gave it a three-year extension at the end of last year. Now, a broad coalition of businesses, community leaders, and conservation groups are working to make LWCF a permanent part of our nation’s legacy. The president’s budget calls for making this fund permanent, and the four senators from both Oregon and Washington have consistently fought for permanency.
We are excited about the opportunities that Pathways to the Pacific will bring to our region. It is this type of collaborative conservation that shows how important making permanent the Land and Water Conservation Fund is for our nation.