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Ann Nightingale
Victoria, BC, Canada
Recent Activity
Great story, Robert! Can we expect to see you portrayed in The Big Year 2?
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Google is a remarkable resource for many things, but can it help us identify birds? Ann Nightingale investigates. Continue reading
Posted Feb 9, 2013 at ABA Blog
Fantastic observation, Catherine! I'll be using this from now on. Thanks, Nancy, for the tip on the Baird's, too.
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Ann Nightingale weighs in on British Columbia's controversial plan to cull Barred Owls to protect Spotted Owls and what it means for conservation in the 21st Century. Continue reading
Posted Feb 3, 2013 at ABA Blog
Love it! How do I get in on the checklist name game? I figure it would be perfect to name a bird after someone (like me) that has a bird name already. Wouldn't a Nightingale's Thrush throw people for a loop?
Toggle Commented Apr 2, 2012 on The Politics of Checklist Instability at ABA Blog
I believe all the females in heat will draw in that single unneutered male and all will become pregnant even if 99% of the male cats have been neutered. You're right about the fighting, though. I think males are responsible for most of the noise as well.
Toggle Commented Mar 27, 2012 on The Cat-Bird Conflict at ABA Blog
Wow, there have been lots of interesting comments that have generated more than a few good ideas. Thanks Steve and Cat and Bird Person for such well-thought out responses. I will try to assemble some of the points made in this thread, and that have come to mind after reading it for a follow-up post. I think it's safe to assume that we haven't heard from any TNR advocates at this point, but I found it especially interesting to read PETA's stand on TNR. Small steps won't solve the problem, but move us towards a solution. My municipality is considering a mandatory spay/neuter program for cats. IMHO, the efforts would be best placed on spaying the females. You only need one unneutered male to "service" all of the unspayed females. A spayed cat won't produce generations of free-roaming offspring regardless of how many intact males are around.
Toggle Commented Mar 27, 2012 on The Cat-Bird Conflict at ABA Blog
Thanks, Mary Ann, I think it's going to come down to those of us who love both birds and cats to be the bridge between the groups. You're absolutely right that we would turn neutered dogs loose. I saw another great comment on another site providing a similar take on what would happen if we had feral lions in North America. It's highly unlikely that we would tolerate them taking their "natural" share of humans. I'm heartened to know that there are people like you doing what you can to reduce the problem.
Toggle Commented Mar 25, 2012 on The Cat-Bird Conflict at ABA Blog
Excellent point, Laura, about engaging natural predators to solve the rodent problem. I am collaborating on a project with a large scale tree plantation project that has installed nest boxes to encourage raptors for rodent control and now has what we believe is the highest density of breeding Northern Saw-whet Owls anywhere!
Toggle Commented Mar 25, 2012 on The Cat-Bird Conflict at ABA Blog
Hi Amy, The city of Calgary, Alberta, has a very progressive program in place and in five years has achieved 50% compliance on licencing. Here's a great article on what they are doing: http://www.thestar.com/news/article/1053251--what-cowtown-s-pound-can-teach-hogtown
Toggle Commented Mar 25, 2012 on The Cat-Bird Conflict at ABA Blog
Thanks, Rachael, for your comment. As my librarian friends would say, farm cats are another WCCO (Worms comma can of). Clearly one of the reasons cats were domesticated in the first place was to control rodents in homes and agricultural settings. I've pondered this dilemma a while and here's my take. I believe that a controlled (i.e. small)number of neutered cats in a farm setting would be better than using pesticides but worse than using mechanical traps. As Laura has noted, cats are causing damage on the grasslands and agricultural fields, too, so an uncontrolled feral or semi-feral population of cats isn't a good solution. If they are merely being employed as cheap labor and not being cared for by the owners, I'd advocate using mouse traps instead. As you have pointed out, introduced species of birds are also causing problems--that's a whole other blog piece! The problem for native birds is that the cats aren't picky. They'll take a thrush instead of a starling if that's the bird they set their eyes on. In fact, domestic cats are known to befriend some pet birds. A brief, very unscientific, photo search for "cat kill bird" on Flickr showed only about one or two pictures out of every ten seemed to be introduced species, even though, as you pointed out, they are more abundant near human dwellings. I wonder if cats that are constantly surrounded by house sparrows, starlings and introduced pigeons start to see them as part of their "family" and less as prey species. It was a little shocking (and depressing) how many of the photographers thought their cats catching birds was a good thing.
Toggle Commented Mar 25, 2012 on The Cat-Bird Conflict at ABA Blog
Thanks for the link, Ian. I agree that TNR is not the solution, but I think it's better than no TNR. At least it should help slow down the population increase. I think the ABC would be able to get more "buy-in" from cat owners, though, if they presented more reasonable stats. When I let my cats outdoors (twenty years ago), it was claims like those made in this video that well-fed cats kill 365 birds a year on average (one a day). I found that so hard to believe that I missed the rest of their message. I would love to see the ABC and groups like the Alley Cat Allies find some common ground and work together to reduce the feral cat population in a way that is acceptable to both.
Toggle Commented Mar 25, 2012 on The Cat-Bird Conflict at ABA Blog
Thanks, Laura, and Susan, for your comments. I find myself torn on the trapping issue. As I've mentioned, I am a complete convert to keeping cats indoors. I'll even agree with a person's right to chase their neighbours' cats out of your yard, as you might do with their dog, horse or child. I don't believe that trapping or killing a stray or wandering pet is reasonable, which is what a number of people (but not all) who trap them do. Even an indoor cat may accidentally get outside for a brief period, and I think it would be a tragedy to have a lost and loved animal pay such a high price for such a lapse. Trapping also involves baiting, and it may be that the cat would have never gone into the yard if it was not for the tempting aroma of a can of tuna or other attractant. I don't really have a problem if the trapper turns the offending cat over to the pound and post a notice in the neighbourhood that this has been done. A responsible owner will claim it. An irresponsible owner will probably not.
Toggle Commented Mar 25, 2012 on The Cat-Bird Conflict at ABA Blog
Hi Rick, I'm not sure what you meant by your comment. I have great respect for philanthropy. In fact, the organizations I volunteer and fundraise for depend on it. It's the "voting for your cause" paradigm that causes me some concern. Some worthy causes are not necessarily popular, and some popular causes may not be particularly worthy. Your list of charities are all worthy, IMHO, but typically have considerable resources to dedicate to fundraising. Smaller organizations don't stand a chance in a popularity contest with larger organizations with public relations and fundraising staff.
Toggle Commented Mar 25, 2012 on The Cat-Bird Conflict at ABA Blog
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They say that fools step in where angels fear to tread. Well, here I go! I got another one of those emails where you’re asked to vote for a cause to receive a charitable donation from a major foundation. I honestly hate these things on so many levels. In the... Continue reading
Posted Mar 24, 2012 at ABA Blog
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Hi Ryan, I believe that there is data that a number, but not necessarily all, of the owls are under physical duress. Reports from wildlife rehab centers in the irruption regions indicate that a lot of the owls are emaciated (and often injured as well--the two are not mutually exclusive.) And of course, if they have found a good feeding ground in the south, we'd expect the owls to catch prey and do relatively well and maybe even successfuly return to their breeding grounds. We tend to think that animals act because of two main drives--reproduction and survival. We might just be guessing, but I think we're applying logic to what we observe. We don't know what causes the owls to irrupt, for sure. Could be weather, could be territorial battles due to population density, could be food supply or could even be disease. Most likely, it's a combination of a number of factors. It's surprising, in a way, that more studies haven't been done on these charismatic creatures. It's a good reminder that there is an awful lot that we don't, or possibly can't, know for sure.
Toggle Commented Dec 15, 2011 on It's Not Easy Being White -- and an Owl at ABA Blog
Hi Phil, I think you're right about many people being mortified if they thought they were causing harm to the birds. I haven't seen any owl-specific guidelines, but this brochure has some pretty good advice on approaching seabirds which could also be applied to owls.
Toggle Commented Dec 15, 2011 on It's Not Easy Being White -- and an Owl at ABA Blog
Thanks, Mike, That's good additional information. I agree that there are likely many reasons why the owls irrupt, and many mysteries, too. I've wondered why they seem to be reported primarily along the US border states and southern Canada and not so much in between. By taking a number of statistics courses, I've become somewhat analytical of statistical reports. By my calculation, in the study you cite, if 42% were relatively healthy, that suggests that 58% were not. So while lack of food on their normal wintering grounds likely isn't the sole cause of the irruption, a lot of the owls do seem to be having trouble finding enough to eat. I believe a number of this year's owls have already been reported as found dead and extremely emaciated. The main point, though, is that when they are here, we should enjoy the opportunity to view them--but at a distance!
Toggle Commented Dec 14, 2011 on It's Not Easy Being White -- and an Owl at ABA Blog
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Editor's Note: The ABA Blog welcomes new contributor Ann Nightingale of Victoria, British Columbia. Ann is past President of the Rocky Point Bird Observatory in Metchosin, British Columbia; one of 25 migration monitoring stations across the nation from BC to Newfoundland, affiliated with Bird Studies Canada. --=====-- It's not easy... Continue reading
Posted Dec 14, 2011 at ABA Blog
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Nov 22, 2011