Birds

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, May 1994:

Virtually insuring the mass destruction of spar-
rows, who provide much of China’s insect control, Beijing
Weekend magazine on April 1 published the assertion of profes-
sor Chen Wenbo of the Beijing Drum Tower Hospital of
Traditional Chinese Medicine that eating six sparrows and 15
grams of Chinese wolfberries per day for three months can cure
male sterility. The professor, 57, claimed to have cured
30,000 patients with a diet of sparrows over the past 13 years:
86% of their wives became pregnant. Since 1991 the price of
sparrows at the bird market outside the hospital has reportedly
doubled from three U.S. cents apiece to six.
Siberian cranes failed to arrive this winter at
Keolado National Park, near Bharatpur, India, for the first
time in 30 years. Only six were seen in Iran, and none in
Pakistan, marking the virtual extinction of the western flock,
which numbered 200 about 30 years ago. About 2,900 Siberian
cranes survive in the eastern flock, wintering in eastern China.

Implementing the Clinton administration’s spotted
owl recovery plan, U.S. District Judge Willian Dwyer of
Seattle on March 24 authorized 24 federal timber sales on 2,000
acres of spotted owl habitat. The Clinton administration on
April 14 petitioned Dwyer for authorization of additional tim-
ber sales. Officials meanwhile confirmed that spotted owls
were discovered in Nevada for the first time last July.
A.J. van Noordwijk of the Netherlands Institute of
Ecology reported recently in the journal Nature that acid rain is
killing so many snails in western Europe as to cause a drop in
songbird populations, many species of which eat snails.
Without the calcium in their diets that they get from snails,
they lay eggs that crack before reaching maturity.
State and federal wardens are probing the appar-
ent poisoning deaths of 16 bald eagles, a raccoon, a muskrat,
and a raven, found in mid-April at the base of a nest tree in
Burnett County, Wisconsin.
Alarmed at the deaths of thousands of brown peli-
cans each year from ingesting hooks, becoming entangled in
lines, or injuries caused by fishers trying to fend the birds off,
the Florida Department of Environmental Protection is banning
multi-hook sets, requiring pier owners to keep a bait salesper-
son outdoors to monitor fishing activity, and requiring piers to
post signs explaining how to disentangle a pelican safely.
Pelicans are still recovering from near-extinction caused by
food chain accumulations of DDT circa 30 years ago.
Ducks Unlimited chief biologist Terry Neraasen
predicts that wetlands habitat created by the 1993 midwestern
floods will produce a rapid recovery of the North American
duck population, recently at record lows due to habitat loss and
overhunting. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently tight-
ened duck hunting regulations.
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