I have never been comfortable when people tell me that they think some birds are "evil." I don't think you can categorize species as good and evil and that if you look at any species long enough, every bird has a dark side. Many people don't like crows because they eat other birds' eggs and nestlings, but many birds do that including woodpeckers and herons. Well, to further prove that if you study a species long enough that you'll find a "dark side" researchers have discovered great tits (a cousin of the chickadee) eating hibernating bats! What did I just type (let me read that again), yup, tits eat bats, that's what a wrote.
It's not something they do all the time, they prefer seeds and bugs but when the forage gets tough and the winter is long, they will take advantage of a hibernating bat as a source of food. Makes you want to keep a good eye on those chickadees doesn't it? Read the full story and see the video here.
The other thing this mourning dove might be pondering is diversity in the outdoor community. It's been a hot button issue with me this week and there are a few conferences coming up on how we can get people of all cultures involved in birding and the outdoors. I have asked if there is a vibe being put out to keep other cultures away from birding and this story from The Wonk Room suggests that might be the case:
Based on the recent discovery of marijuana farms on public lands, the U.S. Forest Service in Colorado said it suspected an international cartel was behind the state’s hidden weed farms. Officials issued a warning that asked visitors to look for signs of drug trafficking. The signs they suggested visitors look for? Oh, just telltale signs like campers eating tortillas, Spam and canned tuna, people drinking from Tecate beer cans, or Latino music and people speaking Spanish--all of these could be signs of illegal dope dealers and that if you encounter this, hike away immediately and call police.
Are you kidding me? No one caught that press release before it went out? They have since retracted it, but it's that kind of thinking that makes the outdoors seem like something only white people can do properly and that's just wrong. Geez, spam and tinned tuna are kind of a camping tradition for many people, not just Latinos (why in Minnesota, it's practically in the state charter that you bring it camping. Tortillas are also a staple with me (and a non Latino friend who has a yeast allergy), but fortunately I speak French and not Spanish, have Depeche Mode and bird calls in my iPod, and tend to favor scotch and gin over beer.
And yes, this is a real story, it even made it to MSNBC.
Well, let's wrap this up on a cuter note:
Some students in Florida want to change the state bird from mockingbird to osprey. Tired of having a bird that is also used by Arkansas, Mississippi, Tennessee and Texas, the state wildlife commission asked schoolchildren to pick a new state bird. More than 20,000 voted for the osprey.
The osprey "represents the thousands of miles of river ways, lake shores and coastlines that make Florida distinctive in the United States and where this regal bird makes its home," the staff of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission wrote in a memo last month.
Yet, there is a challenge. Apparently a lobbyist with the National Rifle Association named Marion Hammer has thwarted attempts to change the state bird in the past and is prepared to lobby again.
"I remain unequivocally opposed to changing the state bird," Hammer has said.
She makes it clear that it's not an NRA policy but that she just loves mockingbirds.
I'm in favor of a state lobbying for a bird that is not used by other states and the fact that it is a raptor is a bonus in my book. However, if there is a state that needs to change its state bird, it's Rhode Island, seriously, what's up with the chicken representing that state?