In Duluth, Minnesota,
on November 25, a large number of BALD EAGLES flew by the hawk watch
at Hawk Ridge, 453 that day, bringing the season's total, as of
then, to 5,301, a new record for BALD EAGLES there.
The previous seasonal record of BALD EAGLES there was 4,519,
and that last year, during the 2010 southbound migration.
At a couple of the hawk watches in Pennsylvania,
this season, numbers of BALD EAGLES, as of December 2, have been 418
at Waggoner's Gap, and 287 at Hawk Mountain.
Numbers of GOLDEN EAGLES at those two hawk watches so far this
season have been 188 at Waggoner's Gap and 106 at Hawk Mountain.
A good place to see a large number of BALD EAGLES lately has been
the Conowingo Dam in Maryland, where US Route 1
crosses the Susquehanna River. On the west side of the river, go
south to the Fishermans Park by the river, below the dam.
Last weekend, counts of BALD EAGLES there ranged from 60 at
once to about twice that, 125. Another tally there recently was
of about 200 BALD EAGLES, on the rocks, in the trees, on the
power line towers, or in the air.
A good place to see GULLS lately has been Niagara Falls, New
York, with 12 species of GULLS in recent days.
1 or 2 CALIFONRIA GILLS were observed there on November 26 & 27, at
the lower river power plants, or above the falls off the Three
A FRANKLIN'S GULL has been at the power plants, or upriver at the
Devil's Hole State Park.
A BLACK-LEGGED KITTIWAKE has been by the Whirlpool.
And other GULLS that have been at the falls and lower river
have been: LITTLE GULL, BONAPARTE'S GULL, RING-BILLED GULL, HERRING
GULL, LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL, GREAT BLACK-BACKED GULL, ICELAND
GULL, GLAUCOUS GULL, and a probable THAYER'S GULL at the power
Unusual away from the ocean, a RAZORBILL has been in that area, at
the Niagara River currents off the Fort Niagara State Park at
Lake Ontario. As of at least, November 26.
A "mystery hummingbird" that's been visiting a feeder in
Oak Park, Illinois, recently, thought by some to be
a BROAD-TAILED HUMMINGBIRD, has been said to be rather a
RUFOUS x CALLIOPE HYBRID.
Something related to this occurrence is interesting:
according to Sheri Williamson (the author of the Peterson Series
Field Guide to Hummingbirds), a hummingbird that occurred
previously in Illinois that was said to have been a
"BROAD-TAILED" was not (it was misidentified and included
on a range map in the book just mentioned), and another
"BROAD-TAILED" that was in California
is now said to have been misidentified, having probably also
been a hybrid.
Two notable birds at Cape May, New Jersey,
during recent days, have been a BELL'S VIREO and an adult male
A week or so earlier, an adult male PAINTED BUNTING made a brief
appearence in Connecticut.
Among the places where PAINTED BUNTINGS normally occur this
time of year is Florida.
And that's where we'll now shift our attention, but relating to
another bird, the only bird species that occurs only
in Florida, the FLORIDA SCRUB JAY.
There has been a study of that species lately by the Avian Ecology
Program, of the Archbold Biological Station.
And, from it, the unfortunate news is that the population
of the FLORIDA SCRUB JAY has dropped significantly during the last 2
decades. and that has been even with significant efforts to
protect the species.
In managed "study areas", the population has fallen by as
much as 25 per cent. It is likely that throughout Florida the total
population has declined by as much as 35 to 40 per cent.
The FLORIDA SCRUB JAY is classified as "vulnerable to
extinction" by Birdlife International. It is listed as a
"threatened species" by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife
In 1993, there were an estimated 4,000 breeding pairs.
In Brevard County, the county where the species has been the
most numerous, the decline, since the 1993 census, has been
about 33 per cent.
The recent (and still ongoing) study, noted above, has looked
at FLORIDA SCRUB JAY populations at 198 different sites. At 178
sites, the population declined by 25% from 1992-93 to 2009-10.
Notable among the managed sites experiencing declines has been the
Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, which has lost 109
"groups" of jays.
At the Lake Wales Ridge Wildlife and Environmental Area, 35
"groups" of jays has dropped to 3.
At 54 managed areas where FLORIDA SCRUB JAYS occurred in 1992-93,
they no longer do.
On the other side of the coin, now, at 15 managed sites where
FLORIDA SCRUB JAYS were not present in 1992-93, they now are.
Also positive, there has been in Florida the state-funded
acquisition of 280,000 acres of scrub habitat in recent years. So,
with attention from the continuing study, and with conservation
efforts, the story for the FLORIDA SCRUB JAY could change for
better. And, thus, the species would not follow the path of the
DUSKY SEASIDE SPARROW, the last bird in Florida (a
subspecies) to have gone extinct, back in 1975.
An attempt to conserve the FLORIDA SCRUB JAY, and to give it more
publicity, is a current campaign to name it as the new state bird.
The current state bird of Florida, the NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRD, is also
the state bird of several other states.
Recently, on the Birdline, we've told of birds such as OSPREYS and
EURASIAN CUCKOOS being tracked by radio transmitters. Now, here, on
the Natureline, a species of mammal that's being so-tracked, the
A lone WOLVERINE that arrived in Colorado in early
June 2011 was the first confirmed WOLVERINE in Colorado
Late the previous year, in December of 2010, and further north,
biologists outfitted a young WOLVERINE with a tracking collar, as
part of a reintroduction program.
That animal made a 500-mile journey from where it has been caught in
the Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming. It was
tracked as it crossed rugged terrain and some busy highways in
Wyoming, from the Togwotee Pass to the Wind River Range and across
sagebrush areas. The lone animal traveled until it entered
Colorado on June 1.
The Wolverine reintroduction program, just referred to, began in
Most WOLVERINES live in Alaska and Canada.
But formerly the animal did range in Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Utah,
Colorado, California, and Washington State.
The WOLVERINE is one of the most elusive of mammals, a mysterious
creature. It is known as being fearless and aggressive. It is
strong, tenacious, sharp-toothed, and cunning.
Although adult WOLVERINES typically weigh about 30 pounds, they are
stocky and "bear-like", and they prey on animals larger
than they are. Even though the WOLVERINE is not a big animal, it is
the largest land-dwelling member of the weasel family.
WOLVERINES have evolved to require huge territories for roaming. A
male's territory might be as much as 500 square miles, and he might
share the landscape with 2 or 3 females that breed every other year,
and usually produce a litter of two. Thus the species has a slow
Although a good survivor in nature, the WOLVERINE could not survive
the trappers who prized its almost waterproof fur, and the ranchers
who killed it with poison bait. So the animal pretty much vanished
from the lower 48 states about a century ago.
The WOLVERINE in Colorado in 2011 was the first
known to be in the state in 90 years. And, thus far, the only one.
As noted above, a tracking program of the elusive WOLVERINE
began in Wyoming, in the area of Yellowstone Park, about
10 years ago in 2001. Since then, some other interesting
findings, in addition to those already mentioned here, were
noted in the first of a series of papers published this
week, in the Journal of Wildlife Management, by scientists
in the Wildlife Conservation Society and their state and federal
Such noted things are that WOLVERINES were born during
February in snow-caves at 9,000 feet above sea-level on the slopes
of craggy peaks in the Rocky Mountains. Adults lived year-round in
the high mountains, near the alpine tree-line.
The WOLVERINE'S capability for movement is stunning, to say the
least. Their large feet allow them to "float" on the top
of deep snow.
Unfortunately, two of the radio-collared WOLVERINES were killed by
And it has been noted that WOLVERINES can be a fierce
competitors. One was documented as challenging a BEAR about 10 times his
size over an elk carcass.
Historically, the WOLVERINE occurred in eastern North America. In
the book, "The Mammals of Pennsylvania & New Jersey -
A Biographic, Historic, and Descriptive Account of the Furred
Animals of Land and Sea, both Living and Extinct, known to have
Existed in These States" (now truly that's a title !), by
Samuel Rhoads, published in 1903, reference is made to the
It was also called the GLUTTON, or CARCAJOU, by Rhoads in the book
just mentioned. The species, by the way, was described by Linnaeus
in 1766, when it was said by him to be in genus URSUS, that of the
Rhoads (in 1903) stated that the WOLVERINE was the rarest
animal in Pennsylvania in the early 1800s, when it was only
found in the most boreal localities in the state as a straggler. The
very few records were of animals that had been caught in
Today, in eastern North America, the WOLVERINE is only found in
northern Canada. It has generally been in the
Hudsonian and Canadian Zones, but historically it was found as far
south as Pennsylvania and Colorado.
There's an interesting file, with the link below, in the FONT
website, listing the mammals of eastern North America, with
some photos. Reference is made to the 1903 book by Samuel Rhoads.
In that Mammals of eastern North America file, among
the interesting notes are these:
About the native ELK, that were once numerous in Pennsylvania,
up to the early 19th Century, in the Allegheny Mountains.
About the AMERICAN BISON that "was once found in Pennsylvania
in the valleys and mountain glades of the Ohio, Monongahela, and
Allegheny Rivers, whence it passed sparingly eastward across the
Allegheny passes into the tributary valleys of the Susquehanna,
thence reaching the Delaware Valley only as a straggler." (In
1903, in addition to long titles, there were words such as
"whence" and "thence".)
About the single BELUGA that was in the Delaware River
(between Pennsylvania & New Jersey)
in April 2005.
It traveled as far north in the river as the fall line at Trenton,
spending the week of April 11 in the river between Trenton and
Philadelphia, before last being seen in the middle of the
Delaware Bay on April 18.
About a PUMA, that was first noted in Greenwich, Connecticut
on June 20, 2011, and was later roadkilled one month later, on
July 20, 2011 in Milford, Connecticut.
That animal went to Connecticut on its own from the Black Hills
of South Dakota. In June 2010,
it was in Minnesota and Wisconsin.
To get to Connecticut, it traveled 1,500 miles (without getting
killed on a highway).
About the WEST INDIAN MANATEE that was present in Calvert County, Maryland
on July 15, 2011.
And, lastly, and most recently:
Noting the disease, identified this past year, affecting a
large number of LITTLE BROWN BATS.
Called WHITE-NOSE SYNDROME is has been deadly for those
bats. The disease has spread rapidly since its discovery in
2006 in New York State. Thus far, BAT DECLINES
in the northeastern US have exceeded 80 per cent.
Scientists with the U.S. Geological Survey and partner institutions
have identified the cause of WHITE NOSE SYNDROME as a fungus
appropriately known as GEOMYCES DESTRUCTANS.
The research has shown that the fungus can be spread through contact
between individual bats during hibernation.
We anticipate having more information here about the BATS and this
disease sometime in the future, with data from some surveys.
The Birdline (and the Natureline)
are affiliates of Focus On Nature Tours: www.focusonnature.com
The WOLVERINE in Colorado was referred to this
time. Next spring, there will be a FONT tour in Colorado,
and some adjacent states, April 13-22, 2012.
Primarily to be seen will be the GROUSE: including the SAGE,
GUNNISON, DUSKY and SHARP-TAILED, and the PRAIRIE CHICKENS, the
GREATER and the LESSER, as they display. But also there will be an
assortment of other BIRDS and MAMMALS, but be assured the
WOLVERINE most likely won't be among them.
Also the FLORIDA SCRUB JAY was referred to. A tour in Florida,
for BIRDS & BUTTERFLIES, is being added to the FONT schedule
this upcoming spring.
Armas Hill has presented the Birdline, originally from Philadelphia,
on the phone and internet for decades (3), and on the radio in
Delaware for years (10).
Past Birdlines and Naturelines can be found at: