Bird-friendly gardens not attracting more predators


This video from California in the USA says about itself:

18 February 2014

Redondo Beach resident Carl Leach talks about his bird friendly garden and reasons why you should build one.

From the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in the USA:

Do Bird-Friendly Yards Attract More Predators?

As more bird enthusiasts replace their lawns with bird-friendly plantings like trees and shrubs, they might be concerned about attracting nest predators into the area. Though nest boxes can be equipped with predator guards, most open cup nests, like those of Northern Cardinals and American Robins, cannot be.

Researchers from The Ohio State University and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology investigated whether there was a link between woody vegetation (i.e., trees and shrubs) and predator activity by conducting a study in several Ohio neighborhoods. The researchers surveyed for common nest predators in backyards, and looked for a relationship to the amount of woody vegetation. Common nest predators at the studied sites in Ohio included Eastern gray squirrel, Common Grackle, Brown-headed Cowbird, Blue Jay, and domestic cat (among others).

What they found was unexpected. Even though many nest predators use woody vegetation, bird-friendly landscaping did not attract predators. Yards and neighborhoods with more mature trees and shrubs were no more likely to have high predator activity than yards without. Their findings suggest that increasing the amount of shrubbery and trees in suburban yards does not encourage increased activity of nest predators. So with that in mind, feel free to check out our tips for landscaping for nesting birds.

Reference: Malpass, J.S., Rodewald, A.D., and Matthews, S.N. 2015. Woody cover does not promote activity of nest predators in residential yards. Landscape and Urban Planning 135: 32-39.

US police shoot twelve-year-old, give no medical aid


This video from the USA says about itself:

Video shows Tamir Rice shooting aftermath

7 January 2015

Extended video released Wednesday showed Cleveland police forced the 14-year-old sister of Tamir Rice to the ground after police shot her brother at Cudell Recreation Center Nov. 22.

By Nick Barrickman in the USA:

Cleveland police gave 12-year-old Tamir Rice no medical aid after shooting him

10 January 2015

Newly-released video footage of the November 22 police shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice shows Cleveland police officers providing no medical aid to the child as he lay on the ground dying. The video clip also shows the same police tackling and handcuffing Tamir’s 14-year-old sister as she attempted to run to her brother’s side.

Tamir Rice was shot on November 22 by rookie Cleveland Police Department (CPD) officer Timothy Loehmann as the child played in a park with a toy gun. In addition to shooting the youth in less than two seconds after arriving at the scene, the new extended video shows Loehmann and partner Frank Garmback standing by and talking between themselves while Tamir lay dying. The child, who was shot in the abdomen and died nine hours later, received no medical assistance from the police until an FBI officer arrived on the scene several minutes later.

After roughly 90 seconds, the video shows Tamir’s 14-year-old sister attempting to run to her brother’s aid, at which point officer Garmback aggressively tackles, handcuffs, and throws the visibly distraught teenager into the back of his police car.

“This has to be the cruelest thing I’ve ever seen on video,” stated Walter Madison, an attorney for the Rice family.

“This video shows in crystal clear HD that the responding officers acted inappropriately and recklessly,” said another family attorney, Benjamin L. Crump. “The family is outraged that rather than comfort a sister coming to the aid of her dying brother, the officers instead manhandled and tackled her, cuffed her and thoughtlessly tossed her in the back of a patrol car,” Crump added. The Rice family has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the Cleveland Police Department.

Neither of the two officers involved in the incident have faced serious repercussions for their murderous behavior. Timothy Loehmann, the officer who shot Tamir, has a long history of mental instability, and had received a string of rejections when applying for work at other police departments before he was hired by the CPD. Cleveland officials have announced that the county’s Sheriff’s department will be leading an investigation into the killing, headed by an official with long-standing ties to the CPD.

The video corroborates statements made last month by Samaria Rice, Tamir’s mother. “I noticed my son laying down on the ground, and I went charging and yelling and everything at the police because they wouldn’t let me through,” she said. “Then I saw my daughter in the back of the police car as I was trying to get through to my son. The police told me to calm down or they would put me in the back of the police car. … The police was just standing around and wasn’t doing anything.” Samaria said that police had given her a choice to “either … stay with the 14-year-old, or … go with the 12-year-old.”

The Northeast Ohio Media Group, which first released the video, noted that officials for the city of Cleveland had initially fought to keep the footage from the public. The video’s release comes amid numerous allegations of police brutality by the CPD. A Cuyahoga County medical examiner ruled earlier this week that the death of Tanisha Anderson, a 37-year-old mother, was a homicide due to “sudden death associated with physical restraint in a prone position.” Police had slammed the woman’s head into the pavement, causing her to black out and stop breathing, while little was done to revive her.

On Thursday, a Cuyahoga County judge issued a ruling that called for the reinstatement of two CPD officers who had killed two unarmed suspects in a hail of bullets after they had engaged the officers in a car chase. A Justice Department investigation into the Cleveland Police Department, issued last month, noted that the CPD engaged in “a pattern or practice of the use of excessive force in violation of the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution.” The methods used by CPD included the “unnecessary and excessive use of deadly force … shootings and head strikes with impact weapons” and “unnecessary, excessive or retaliatory use of less lethal force including tasers, chemical spray and fists.”

The killing of Rice was just one of a surge of police killings which contributed to mass protests against police brutality throughout the globe last year. The killing came just days before a St. Louis, Missouri grand jury decided not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson for the August killing of unarmed youth Michael Brown. That killing led to mass outrage, as National Guard units were deployed throughout the region in order to repress peaceful protests against the killing.

The author also recommends:

Police killings in America: The class issues
[05 December 2014]

Child killed for playing with toy pistol


Tamir Rice

By Samuel Davidson in the USA:

Twelve-year-old boy killed by police in Cleveland, Ohio

24 November 2014

A 12-year-old boy who was playing with a fake pistol in a playground was shot and killed by police in Cleveland over the weekend.

Tamir E. Rice died early Sunday morning, after being shot in the stomach Saturday afternoon by Cleveland police officers. Tamir had gone to the park with his sister and a friend, and the children were playing with a toy pistol.

A caller to 911 twice told the dispatcher that the gun was “probably fake” and that it didn’t look real. The caller also told 911 that the person with the gun was “probably a juvenile” who was playing on the swings. The caller ended the call by again saying he didn’t think the gun was real.

Police sent to the park claim that they ordered the youth to raise his hands and when he instead reached in his waistband to hand the officers the gun they shot twice, with at least one shot hitting the youth in the stomach. The youth never pointed the gun at the police.

Tamir was taken to a nearby hospital, but his condition continued to decline overnight and he died early Sunday morning.

The two officers involved have been placed on administrative leave but are receiving full pay. Their names have not yet been released, but one is described as a rookie with less than a year’s service and the other as a 10-year veteran of the force. It was the rookie cop who shot and killed Tamir.

See also here.

Police kill man holding toy gun in California: here.

99-year-old-women’s 100 meter running world record


This video says about itself:

15 August 2014

A 99-year-old woman from New York is claiming a new record as the fastest sprinter of her age over 100 metres. Ida Keeling took part in the race at the Gay Games in Akron, Ohio on Tuesday, 12 August. She finished last, but her daughter and coach, Shelley Keeling, claimed that no woman her mother’s age has ever recorded a quicker time in an internationally-certified race – 59.8 seconds.

From daily The Independent in Britain:

99-year-old sets sprint record at Gay Games

Great-great-grandmother becomes first in her age class to run race

Andrew Griffin

Sunday 17 August 2014

A 99-year-old woman set a 100m sprint record at the Gay Games this week, becoming the first person woman in her age category to go the distance in an internationally-certified race.

Ida Keeling, from New York, completed the race in 59.8 seconds at the ninth Gay Games, which were held in Ohio last week.

“I’m running from old age and arthritis,” Keeling told the local Akron Beacon Journal before the race. “Believe me!”

Keeling came last in the race, but finished to a huge cheer from spectators. USA Track & Field, which represents US athletes and tracks spring records, does not yet have an entry for any group older than 90-94.

Ida has set records when she ran a 60m race in 2011, when she was 95, and again two years later.

Keeling took up running when she was 67, in part as refuge from the sadness of losing her two sons in separate drug-related killings. She started the sport at the urging of her daughter, Shelley Keeling, who is now her coach.

Ida and Shelley had also planned to run a 400m relay earlier in the week, but opted not to after bad weather left the track wet.

The Gay Games were held between August 9 and August 16, and saw around 10,000 lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender athletes from more than 60 countries compete in Cleveland and Akron, in Ohio.

North American mastodons and mammoths, new study


This video from the USA is about mastodons and mammoths.

From LiveScience:

Mammoths and Mastodons of the Ohio Valley Were Homebodies

By Laura Geggel, Staff Writer | July 28, 2014 01:55pm ET

People may imagine mammoths and mastodons as enormous beasts that roamed the vast North American continent more than 10,000 years ago. But the mammoths and mastodons of present-day southwestern Ohio and northwestern Kentucky were homebodies that tended to stay in one area, a new study finds.

The enamel on the animals’ molars gave researchers clues as to where the mammoths and mastodons lived throughout their lives and what they ate. They discovered that mammoths ate grasses and sedges, whereas mastodons preferred leaves from trees or shrubs. Mammoths favored areas near retreating ice sheets, where grasses were plentiful, and mastodons fed near forested spaces, the researchers said.

“I suspect that this was a pretty nice place to live, relatively speaking,” lead researcher Brooke Crowley, an assistant professor of geology and anthropology at the University of Cincinnati, said in a statement. “Our data suggest that animals probably had what they needed to survive here year-round.” [Image Gallery: Stunning Mammoth Unearthed]

Both animals, now extinct, likely came to North America across the Bering Strait land bridge that connected Alaska to Russia when sea levels were lower than they are today, Crowley told Live Science in an email.

Mammoths — which had teeth ideal for grinding grasses, as well as curved tusks and humped heads — are more closely related to elephants than mastodons are, Crowley said. Mammoths came to North America during the mid-Pleistocene Epoch, about 1 million years ago, she added.

Mastodons arrived much earlier. They had spread across America by the Pliocene Epoch, around 5 million years ago. Their molars were shaped to crush plants, such as leaves and woody stems, and they had long, straight tusks that could grow up to 16 feet (4.9 meters) long, Crowley said.

In the study, the researchers looked at the remnants of carbon, oxygen and strontium, a naturally occurring metal, in the enamel of molars from eight mammoths and four mastodons that lived in Ohio and Kentucky about 20,000 years ago.

The carbon analysis helped researchers learn about the animals’ diet, whereas the traces of oxygen told them about the general climate at the time. Strontium provides insights into how much the animal traveled as their molars developed. Researchers can look at the type of strontium within the enamel and determine where it came from by comparing it to local samples of strontium in the environment.

“Strontium reflects the bedrock geology of a location,” Crowley said. This means that if a local animal has traces of strontium in its tooth, researchers can deduce where that type of strontium came from in the area. “If an animal grows its tooth in one place and then moves elsewhere, the strontium in its tooth is going to reflect where it came from, not where it died,” she said.

Surprisingly, the researchers said, the strontium in the mammoth and mastodon teeth matched local water samples in 11 of the 12 mammals. Only one mastodon appeared to have traveled from another area before settling in the Ohio Valley.

The findings, however, only apply to the animals that lived in that region. “A mammoth in Florida did not behave the same as one in New York, Wyoming, California, Mexico or Ohio,” Crowley said.

The study was published July 16 in the journal Boreas.

Climate change drove mastodons to the brink, humans pushed them over. Radiocarbon dating of fossils suggests the big beasts were driven from Arctic regions of North America by a cooling climate: here.

Bermuda bluebirds in trouble


This video from Maine in the USa is called Tree Swallows and Eastern Bluebird.

From the University of Chicago in the USA today:

Bluebirds struggle to find happiness on island paradise

55 minutes ago

Island plants and animals are often different from their mainland relatives. In general, the lack of top predators and large herbivores on isolated oceanic islands influences traits of island organisms. Consider, for example, the dodo: this island-dwelling, flightless bird was so fearless that it was hunted to extinction by humans within 200 years of first contact. Human interaction is just one threat to conservation. Differences in the threats posed by pathogens and parasites may also be important for conservation of today’s extinction-prone island populations.

Eastern bluebirds (Sialia sialis) are familiar to many people living in the eastern United States, and also to residents and tourists in Bermuda, an archipelago with a total area of about 54 square kilometers that lies in the North Atlantic about 1,100 km off the East Coast of the United States. Although the current outlook for the bluebirds in the U.S. is good, their Bermuda relatives have been designated as threatened and vulnerable.

Comparisons of island and continental bird populations can offer new insights to people interested in conserving island birds. We compared island (Bermuda) and continental (Ohio, U.S.) populations of the Eastern bluebird, studying these birds from egg to adult. We investigated how nestlings and adults differed in growth, size and shape, immune function, numbers of eggs and nestlings that pairs produce, and how frequently parents deliver food to their young. We also attempted to identify differences between continental and island birds that, either individually or as part of a broader phenomenon, might intensify the risks of decline typically associated with small and geographically isolated populations, such as the Bermuda bluebirds.

Our study showed that bluebirds in Bermuda differed in a variety of ways from bluebirds in Ohio. For example, adults in Bermuda were lighter weight and had longer wings than the Ohio birds. These differences contrast with the usual changes associated with small animals living on isolated islands. Parents fed their nestlings at equal rates throughout the season in both locations. However, island nestlings grew slower and, as the breeding season progressed, more chicks died in their nests in Bermuda, though no similar seasonal pattern was observed in Ohio. Overall, our results suggest that the Bermuda bluebirds may be adjusted to certain aspects of the island environment but not to others.

Efforts to conserve Bermuda bluebirds may be improved by focusing on the intraseasonal patterns in nestling mortality and, more generally, the survival rates of birds of all ages. Furthermore, conservation planners in Bermuda may benefit by considering the consequences of (1) introduced mammalian and avian predators and competitors and their removal and (2) human-driven changes in populations of the insects that bluebirds eat and feed their chicks. These factors may not only affect survival and mortality rates but may also shape bluebird physiology and reproduction. Ultimately, our study highlights the value of considering the match between an organism, its environment, and its evolutionary history on a population-specific scale. Without this context, identifying detrimental trends is a more challenging proposition.

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