Saturday, June 14, 2008

Birds, Blogs, and Books

For the past three years, I've enjoyed watching the peregrine falcons which use a nest box near the top of one of our tallest downtown buildings. Considering the usual high mortality rate, this pair (and it has been the same pair) have been quite successful in at least getting their young eyasses out of the nest and flying. All eight in total from the previous two years have made their way into the world. One died here in town, one is at a rehab center after breaking her wing, one was spotted here this spring, and the other unreported five at least got their chance.

It's been a tough year this time though. Once again four eggs were hatched but three have now died. Yesterday, a bander went over the side of building and removed the surviving youngster long enough to band him and took the body of his dead sibling. The on site check showed a symptom of frounce, a disease probably gotten from eating a sick pigeon. The body and a second body which was found earlier will be further examined. The surviving eyass was given some medicine by the banders and returned to the box.

It's no surprise that my ideas and values are very different from those of most people on the subjects of the natural world and other species. Hanging around for hours waiting for birds to fly, I hear a lot of comments. Some are inspiring, showing the enthusiasm people can get from observing nature. Many other comments I'd just as soon have missed. When it comes to these falcons, one of the most difficult things for me to understand is how enthusiastic people get when they learn that rock doves (pigeons) are the primary food source for the falcons. (As an aside, pigeon poisoning is apparently legal here and we wondered if that might be the cause of the falcons' deaths.) I don't have a problem with predation; I just find it fascinating (and repellent) that people think there are good and bad species. Replace pigeons with robins or hummingbirds as a primary food source, and the same people who love the falcons would hate them.

A couple months ago I added a tracker to this blog, not because I want to track people around the internet (I'm very opposed to that) but because I've seen other people list some very funny searches which people have done leading to their sites. And I wanted to see the FBI hits spike when I write ECO-TERRORIST! Clearly I don't write about sex and other bodily functions enough, because I haven't gotten any funny results. People seem fascinated by Lorri Bauston, the co-founder of Farm Sanctuary, who was mentioned in my post about the movie Peaceable Kingdom. Coming in second is interest in Sea Shepherd, and third is a very disappointed group looking up Zulu rituals (barely mentioned as the last entry in an encyclopedia--sorry, folks.) But the most important two searches were for squirrels with broken legs and I hope the links to wildlife rehabbers helped those squirrels out. That would make this blog worthwhile.

One of the blogs I added to my reading list recently is beginning a year-long book club on post-apocalypse subjects, one of my favorite genres. With a different theme each month and including both sci-fi and more literary titles, this could be a lot of fun. The introductory post and suggestions are here.


Lisa J. said...

A tracker, eh? Well... sometimes I wonder how people wander over & comment on the most minute detail of my blog! HA!

As for people's fascination w/preditor vs. prey... it is a strange thing, isn't it? You're right on so many points. I think the "act" of falcon hunting is fascinating - I had the pleasure of watching a Red Tail Hawk picking off birds in my backyard one spring morning back in 2005. I say pleasure because I felt honored, not because I enjoyed the deaths of the blue jays.

Around here, people are very upset that coyotes eat people's dogs & cats, but they don't seem to care that they also eat jack rabbits & ground squirrels. "Good & Bad" doesn't apply to any species except humans. And omnis accuse vegans of anthropomorphizing animals!!

greentangle said...

The "good" animals are the ones that people have given names, such as their pets, or these falcons or the occasional other famous wild animal in the news. Once an animal becomes an individual instead of a thing, it's hard for people not to feel something.