How to be a responsible steward of Democracy, Human Rights Capitalism and Planet Earth.

How to be a responsible steward of Planet Earth.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Short-tailed Green Magpie

The Short-tailed Green Magpie (Cissa thalassina) © Florian Richter

Magpie with the two chicks in the nest and fledgling

      Magpie with the two chicks in the nest and fledgling

Javan Green Magpie

The new future for breeding The Javan Green Magpie (Cissa thalassina)
The Javan Green magpie is a CRITICALLY ENDANGERED bird, endemic to West Java, which is quite unknown. Few are known on its biology as this species is now difficult to find on the wild. This carnivorous and secretive bird is an inhabitant from deep and evergreen forests and it is thought that the species will be extinct in a couple of years, due to intensive trapping. Unfortunately, this species receives no protection measures which increase the risk and the speed of its coming extinction.


The Short-tailed Green Magpie (Cissa thalassina) © Florian Richter

Short-tailed Green Magpie
Cissa thalassina
Passeriforme Order – Corvidae Family

The Short-tailed Green Magpie is endemic to the montane forests of Borneo and Java.
This is a striking bright-coloured magpie.

These pictures show the race Crissa thalassina jefferyi from Borneo.

Both adults are similar.

The adult is light green overall, yellower on the crown and the underparts.
On the upperwing, the primary coverts and the flight feathers are reddish-chestnut. Tertials are pale green with black-edged tips.
The uppertail is bronze-green with light green uppertail-coverts. The tail is graduated and relatively short. The outer tail feathers show whitish tips.
The top of the head is light yellowish-green. We can see a conspicuous black mask extending from the bill base, across the eyes and the head sides to the nape. The green feathers of the hind crown form a short crest above the black band.
The strong bill, legs and feet are bright red. The eyes are dark brown with crimson eye-ring in nominate race. 


Wednesday, December 23, 2015

IF by Rudyard Kipling

(‘Brother Square-Toes’—Rewards and Fairies)
If you can keep your head when all about you   
    Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,   
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
    But make allowance for their doubting too;   
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
    Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
    And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;   
    If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;   
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
    And treat those two impostors just the same;   
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
    Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
    And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
    And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
    And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
    To serve your turn long after they are gone,   
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
    Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,   
    Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
    If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
    With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,   
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,   
    And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!
Source: A Choice of Kipling's Verse (1943)


Four-legged refugees now prowl cities. Can we adapt?

The Province of B.C., Canada has a Cheetah on the loose...

Search suspended for cheetah spotted along highway in Kootenay area of B.C.‎ - Joe Caravetta, a B.C. Conservation Officer Service inspector, told the CBC he is certain the public is no longer in danger, but the service still wants to hear from the public if the animal is spotted.

Bright Lights, Big Predators

Richard Conniff  DEC. 19, 2015

Credit Andrew Holder
IT was tea break one afternoon this past May, in a business park in Mumbai, one of the world’s most crowded cities. The neighborhood was chockablock with new 35-story skyscrapers adorned with Greek temples on top. On the seventh-floor deck of one building, 20-something techies took turns playing foosball and studying the wooded hillside in back through a brass ship captain’s spyglass.

They were looking at a leopard, also on tea break, up a favorite tree where it goes to loaf many afternoons around 4:30. That is, it was a wild leopard living unfenced and apparently well fed in the middle of the city, on a dwindling forest patch roughly the size of Central Park between 59th and 71st Streets. When I hiked the hillside the next day, I found a massive slum just on the other side, heavy construction equipment nibbling at the far end, and a developer’s private helipad up top. And yet the leopard seemed to have mastered the art of avoiding people, going out by night to pick off dogs, cats, chickens, pigs, rats and other camp followers of human civilization.

Welcome to the future of urban living. Predators are turning up in cities everywhere, and living among us mostly without incident. Big, scary predators, at that.
Wolves now live next door to Rome’s main airport, and around Hadrian’s Villa, just outside the city.

A mountain lion roams the Hollywood Hills and has his own Facebook page. 

Coyotes have turned all of Chicago into their territory. 

Great white sharks, attracted by booming seal populations, cruise Cape Cod beaches with renewed frequency. 

And in a kind of urban predator twofer, a photographer in Vero Beach, Fla., recently snapped a bobcat grabbing a shark out of the surf.

Predators are living among people partly because they have fewer alternatives. The land area consumed by cities and suburbs has increased substantially over the past century and the rate of expansion is accelerating. 
Worldwide, urban acreage will triple in the first three decades of this century, consuming an additional 500,000 or so square miles of land, much of it in areas that are now critical wildlife habitat in Africa, China and India. That leopard on a hilltop in Mumbai didn’t move into the city. The city rose up and engulfed its world.

Many species are also getting used to the idea that humans do not necessarily pose a threat. It helps that we no longer automatically shoot predators on sight, or put a bounty on their heads. Prey species like elk and deer have in many cases also learned to prefer cities and suburbs because the relatively open habitat provides a margin of safety from predators. Predators naturally follow. During moose calving season, for instance, grizzly bears frequent the backyards of Anchorage.

Are humans equally capable of adapting? Stan Gehrt, an Ohio State University biologist who studies Chicago’s population of about 4,000 coyotes, says complaints have tapered off as city residents have become accustomed to their new neighbors. The coyotes don’t bite or threaten people, though they can be aggressive toward dogs. (When there is a human on the other end of the leash, this can be alarming, he acknowledged. But dogs in Cook County, which includes Chicago, bite about 3,000 people every year.)

The situation in Mumbai is more complicated. The city’s 21 million people have encircled and encroached on a national park, where about 35 free-roaming leopards live. Mumbai’s leopards can of course kill people and have done so a half-dozen times since 2011. But one man who survived an attack at a village inside the park said his family had no plans to move out to the grim little high-rise flats the city offers as an alternative. It would mean too many bills and too little space: “Where will the chickens go?” Instead, people adapt, he said. “In the night the leopard is the king. He can go anywhere.”

The city at large has so far also held to the belief that the leopards should continue living where they always have. In the past when people spotted a leopard in the neighborhood, a wildlife biologist told me, they called park officials demanding its removal. But researchers there have demonstrated that removing and relocating leopards simply leads to more attacks, as the confused animals try to find their way in new territory, and as other leopards with less experience at negotiating human-dominated habitat take over their old territory. Now people phone demanding a workshop on how to coexist safely with leopards. Last month, the park issued a pamphlet of camera trap photos and names for all 35 leopards. (Your new neighbor is named “Mastikhor.” It means “mischievous.”)

If you are thinking, “Wait, that’s just nuts,” think again about the nature of risk. We have learned to protect and restore rivers in our cities, says Adrian Treves at the University of Wisconsin, even though floods sometimes destroy homes and drown people. We cherish trees on urban streets and in parks even though branches sometimes fall on our heads. For that matter, we let cars dominate city streets, though they kill more than 4,700 pedestrians in the United States every year (and many times more in India).

Rivers, forests and cars all justify themselves by being useful one way or another to humanity. What good are predators? Clearly, a lot of people struggle with this question, particularly certain philosophical sorts who preach the genuinely nutty idea that we should eradicate predators because they are cruel. But scientific research has repeatedly demonstrated that losing predators leads to a cascade of unintended (and often cruel) effects. Unchecked by predation, herbivores graze the habitat to bare dirt. The water table drops. Species vanish. Ecosystems collapse. Entirely apart from their ecological usefulness, we should value predators for their stealth, their skill, their speed. A world of sheep might sound like someone’s idea of heaven. But it would be a deadly dull place to live.
Couldn’t we at least keep the excitement out of our cities? That would require preserving large areas of habitat, and habitat corridors, in the countryside, and nobody appears to be willing to pick up that tab.

The Land and Water Conservation Fund, paid for from oil industry royalties, has served for 50 years as the nation’s single most effective tool for habitat protection. But Congress allowed it to expire for the past two months, then patted itself on the back for reauthorizing the fund on Friday — at half the budget Congress allowed in 1965. Make that seven percent of the original budget, adjusting for inflation. We seem to be incapable of leaving existing protected areas intact, especially as the human population quadruples from 2.5 billion in 1950 to 11 billion by the end of this century. Instead of celebrating the protected areas where the world’s last major tiger populations survive, for instance, India (population 1.2 billion) now seems intent on running highways through them.
So we should hardly be surprised that predators and people wind up living side by side in cities. Cities have always been the salvation of the homeless, the unwanted, the wretched and the despised. The difference now is that these refugees come to us not just on two legs, but on four.

Richard Conniff is the author of “The Species Seekers,” and a contributing opinion writer.
A version of this op-ed appears in print on December 20, 2015, on page SR6 of the New York edition with the headline: Bright Lights, Big Predators.

Red-winged Blackbird

 he Music of Nature proudly presents "Red-winged Blackbird," a delicious
video portrait of a male in full song. The Red-winged Blackbird is
common across North America, breeding in marshes and meadows. Excited
males puff out their red epaulets (shoulder pads) as they sing.

© 2010 Lang Elliott

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Eating in Snow

Grazing in winter, Yellowstone National Park. They use their heads to clear out snow for the grass.

American Bison

Bison herd grazing at the National Bison Range in Montana

American bison k5680-1.jpg

Common Name: Bison
Also referred to as:
Buffalo, as well as American Bison, Plains Bison, Prairie Bison, Wood Bison and Woodland Bison
Genus species:
Bison bison
Recognized subspecies:
Plains Bison, B. b. bison; and Wood Bison B. b. athabascae

 Adult male (farther) and adult female (closer) with a background of rich autumn colors, in Yellowstone National Park 
Arturo de Frias Marques - Own work
Pile of American bison skulls to be used for fertilizer in the mid-1870s


Herd of Bison in Yellowstone National Park
Debeo Morium - Own work
One of the buffalo bulls looking back at me shortly after the stampede had passed me by in Yellowstone.

Bison fighting in Grand Teton National Park in Moose, Wyoming

American bison standing its ground against a wolf pack
Doug Smith - National Park Service [dead link]; available on the Wayback Machine. Used in Muro et al, 2011 -- this image is figure 1(d). The citation there suggests that it was not taken by the authors.
Mollies Pack Wolves Baiting a Bison.

Buffalo Hunt under the Wolf-skin Mask, 1832–33 oil 24 x 29 in. Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Mrs. Joseph Harrison, Jr. Before they acquired horses in the eighteenth century, Indians developed ingenious methods to hunt buffalo on foot. One method was the stealthy approach in disguise. Since more than half the calves born each year died, bison tolerated the packs of wolves that took care of the carcasses. Buffalo were unprepared, however, for Indians in wolves' clothing, who approached "within a few rods of the unsuspecting group, and easily [shot] down the fattest of the throng."

Bison being chased off a cliff as seen and painted by Alfred Jacob Miller.
It is true that various Plains Indians would occasionally chase buffalo over a small cliff, but Miller probably never saw this scene and therefore exaggerated it a bit. The Indians, when they found a suitable bluff, would conceal themselves behind the rocks with hides. When the herd would start to move towards the bluff, the Indians would jump up from behind their rocks, shouting and waving the hides, keeping the buffalo moving toward the cliff. In later versions of this picture, Miller exaggerated the cliff even more. Had the Indians driven buffalo over such precipices, the meat would have been too badly smashed to eat and the bones would have been broken.

A wood bison around Coal River in Canada
Alan & Elaine Wilson; original uploader was Outriggr at en.wikipedia -; transferred from en.wikipedia; transfer was stated to be made by User:Serimayk.

The 1935 Buffalo nickel—this style of coin featuring an American bison was produced from 1913 to 1938.
The original uploader was Bobby131313 at English Wikipedia - Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons.
1935 Buffalo Nickel, photo taken by user


First postage stamp with image of bison was issued US in 1898—4¢ "Indian Hunting Buffalo". Part of the Trans-Mississippi Exposition commemorative series.
US postage stamp, 1898. Designer: Seth Eastman -
4-cent 1898 commemorative

The American bison (Bison bison), also commonly known as the American buffalo, is a North American species of bison that once roamed the grasslands of North America in massive herds.

They became nearly extinct by a combination of commercial hunting and slaughter in the 19th century and introduction of bovine diseases from domestic cattle, and have made a recent resurgence largely restricted to a few national parks and reserves.

Their historical range roughly comprised a triangle between the Great Bear Lake in Canada's far northwest, south to the Mexican states of Durango and Nuevo León, and east to the Atlantic Seaboard of the United States (nearly to the Atlantic tidewater in some areas) from New York to Georgia and per some sources down to Florida. Bison were seen in North Carolina near Buffalo Ford on the Catawba River as late as 1750. 

Two subspecies or ecotypes have been described: the plains bison (Bison bison bison), smaller in size and with a more rounded hump, and the wood bison (Bison bison athabascae)—the larger of the two and having a taller, square hump

Furthermore, it has been suggested that the plains bison consists of a northern (Bison bison montanae) and a southern subspecies, bringing the total to three.  

However, this is generally not supported. The wood bison is one of the largest wild species of bovid in the world, surpassed by only the Asian gaur and wild water buffalo. It is the largest extant land animal in the Americas.
American bison galloping. Photos by Eadweard Muybridge, first published in 1887 in Animal Locomotion.