Posted by: atowhee | December 18, 2019


It was cold, dank and threatening rain at our home in Oregon this morning.  All the usual feeder feeding birds were present.  Juncos by the dozen.  About 10AM a Sharp-shinned Hawk made a sortie through the flock around our veranda.  As far as I could tell he did not make a grab.  The juncos didn’t come back for fifteen minutes.

Speaking of little raptors, the mated pair of kestrels hunt regularly at the intersection of Riverside and Marsh in east McMinnville, just uphill from Joe Dancer Park.  Those open fields there claim the pair and are claimed in turn  by the pair.  Any passing red-tail would get roundly assaulted and hurried away.

The starling gang in our ‘hood can pretty much dominate the feeders when they come as a group.  Even the bullying yellow-rump backs off.  Only one species–in a salute to the power of evolution–can work around the starlings.  That is our House Sparrow flock–the two species’ ancestors have been sharing the same habitat and food sources for millennia.  I can often see a sparrow land on one side of the suet log while one or more starlings are already feeding there.  none of our native American sparrows would have such chutzpah.  Our third common invasive species–collared-dove–does not mix with starlings  but they are “new” even to Europe, having evolved in the Indian sub-continent and invaded Europe only in the past two centuries.


A once abundant seabird of the northern hemisphere may be disappearing.

There are two recent  books on seabirds that I can recommend:
The Seabird’s Cry.  Adam Nicolson [yes, the Sissinghurst Nicolsons]
Far From Land.  Michael Brooke

In the classic category: Sea-Birds  An Introduction….  James Fisher [yes, the James Fisher who did the Big Year with Roger Tory Peterson over sixty years ago] and R. M. Lockley.  1954.


Here is recent climate newsletter from the New York Times:


By Susan Shain

Don’t feel like watching that holiday movie you’ve already seen 900 times? Then gather ’round to learn about a topic even more timely than Christmas cookies and the dreidel song: our warming planet.

In addition to the best-known titles, like “An Inconvenient Truth” and its sequel, “Chasing Ice,” and Leonardo DiCaprio’s “Before the Flood” and “Ice on Fire,” here are five documentaries to try. Don’t worry about spoiling the holiday mood: Most of them end on an inspiring note.

This series, featuring celebrity correspondents like Matt Damon and Olivia Munn, is a favorite of the climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe. Not only because it discusses climate impacts and solutions, but also because it tackles two huge myths: first, that climate change is a “distant issue,” and, second, that we can only fix climate change by “destroying the economy or our personal liberties.”

If you’ve ever wondered how the climate debate became, well, a debate, then this intriguing and infuriating film is for you. Based on a book by Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway, it draws a parallel between the tactics of Big Tobacco and Big Oil, revealing the world of politics, spin and public opinion.

Mission Blue

Besides highlighting the work of the oceanographer Sylvia Earle, a National Geographic explorer-in-residence, this film also paints a picture of the devastating changes she has witnessed during her decades underwater. Xiye Bastida, a 17-year-old activist and organizer for Fridays For Future NYC, said it “shows the power we have as individuals to connect with nature and speak for nature.”

Inspired by Naomi Klein’s 2014 book of the same name, this documentary “aims to empower,” rather than scare, viewers into action. “The film tells moving, personal stories,” said Keya Chatterjee, executive director of the U.S. Climate Action Network, “but weaves them into a larger story about how colonialism and greed got us into this crisis, and also how people-power and disruption will get us out.”

Unless drastic changes are made, some biologists estimate we could lose up to 50 percent of Earth’s species within the next century. That devastating fact — a potential sixth extinction, wherein “humanity has become the asteroid” — is the basis for this fast-paced, wide-ranging film from Louie Psihoyos, who won an Oscar for “The Cove.” While some scenes are tough to watch, they’re balanced with awe-inspiring nature shots that showcase a world worth saving.


  1. […] signage. 807  First House Sparrow, a male, Goes to HSL.  He sits on perch dowel and breakfasts.  As I blogged earlier they alone do not fear their fellow invasive species, the starling. 809  Nora the dog awakens, sorta, ambles over for her back scratch. I offer her a step outside by […]

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