From ANIMAL PEOPLE, November 1994:
Three years after spotted owl protection took
effect, Oregon is not economically wrecked but booming,
with its lowest unemployment rate in 30 years. The loss of
15,000 forest products jobs has been offset by the creation of
20,000 jobs in high technology. Of the displaced wood work-
ers who have been retrained at Lane Community College in
Springfield, 90% have new jobs, at an average hourly wage of
$9.02––only $1.00 less per hour than their old average, and
sure to rise as they gain seniority.
Oxford University zoologist Marion Petrie reported
on October 13 that a study of peafowl at the Whipsnade animal
park, north of London, found that the peacocks with the
largest fantails produced the biggest young––which may be
why the peahens are most attracted to those peacocks.
A study of reed buntings done by a team from the
University of Leicester, Britain, reported in October that,
“Female participation in extra-pair copulations was virtually
ubiquitous, with 97% having at least one extra-pair offspring.”
However, they added, “The males can by some unknown
means assess their likelihood of paternity, and adjust their
nestling provisioning rates accordingly.”
An 11-day study coordinated in mid-September by
ornithologist Kirk Moulton suggests that the decline in numbers
of migrating hawks seen over the past 16 years at Hawk
Mountain, Pennsylvania, may be the result of changing flight
patterns rather than a population crash. To find variants from
the traditional flight paths, monitored since 1934, Moulton sta-
tioned hundreds of volunteer observers at five-mile intervals
from the Appalachians to the Delaware River.
Cracking down on pigeon-racing as an unholy idle
pastime, police in the Iranian holy city of Qom on September
22 beheaded 12,000 confiscated birds.
September 22 was a bad day for pigeons, as also
that day Switzerland announced it would demobilize its 30,000-
bird carrier pigeon service, including 7,000 birds owned by the
military and 24,000 kept by subsidized private owners.
Disbanding the 77-year-old service will save Swiss taxpayers
$465,000 a year––and cost 266 pigeon-trainers their jobs.
As many as 500 million tiny quelea birds a r e
expected to eat up to 5% of the Zimbabwean wheat crop this
year. The government is fighting the birds with avicides.
The migratory Canada goose population is up
over the past three years, but a June habitat survey by the
Canadian Wildlife Service found an all-time low of only .18
breeding pairs per square kilometre, down from .53 in 1988.
One theory for the drop is that growing caribou herds are
somehow competing for the most suitable nesting sites––per-
haps by eating the marsh grass that provides their protection.
National Audubon Society research biologist
Stephen Kress, who restored terns to the Maine coast 20 years
ago, is now using decoys and solar-powered CD players that
broadcast murre and razorbill cries to lure the birds back to the
same vicinity. Murres, puffins, and razorbills, all members of
the auk family, are the northern counterparts of penguins, but
were hunted out of much of their range during the 19th century;
one species, the great auk, was extinguished. They can be
transplanted from recovered colonies off Newfoundland, but
may spend years at sea between breeding intervals, and usually
nest only at islands which already have thriving populations.
The South African Navy on October 6 organized
patrols to protect a breeding colony of 500 endangered jackass
penguins from a serial killer who clubbed nine penguins to
death in nine days, repeatedly eluding police.