Silver Feathers  June 1997

Silver Feathers is a production of The Senior Group, an
informal group of older netizens who produce these e-mail

Silver Threads - general senior interest-
Silver Feathers - birding and nature related items
Elderhostel Notebook - elderhosteling

Silver feathers describes journeys, pleasures, plans, and musings
about birds, nature, and environmental issues.

To subscribe to any of these, e-mail to the editor, Jim Olson, at

All three newsletters are e-mailed to subscribers and archived at

Silver Threads also has a World Wide Web edition located at



    From the Nest on the Chippewa (editorial)

    News and features

    Messages from Readers

    Winging  it (the writer's corner)

     From the Nest on the Chippewa

Following Thoreau's edict to "Simplify, Simplify, Simplify" I
have reduced the format of Feathers and will attempt to stick to
this broader format for at least a few more issues.

Membership continues to grow from our first edition to 15
readers, then to 50, and now to over 100. Evidently there are
quite a few silver feathers strewn about the cyberlandscape. And
we have also picked up some younger readers as well, as we welcome
nature lovers of any age although we will continue to focus (see
our elderhostel article) on the well seasoned reader.

A number of readers have expressed an interest in having a
graphical element in the newsletter with an area for art work and
photographs from readers. The technology of mail systems is
advancing very rapidly; and while that may be possible in the
future, I would like to keep the letter strictly plain e-mail
text and do anything fancier with another format. Who knows what
is down the line in cyberspace?

If there is a reader out there who would like to establish a web
page for the Feathers as well, I would be happy to assist with
text. I do not have the time nor the savvy to set one up by
myself. With such a site it would be possible to use art work and
photographs from readers. We could, for example, use some of the
photos Janet Wright has of her  Foxes of Prince Edward Island to
go with the brief excerpt from her journal in this issue.

    News and Features

Falcons Hatch Online

Early in May JEANEK1@aol.com sent the following message to the
AOL birdwatching forum:

If you really want to see something neat.. check this site out..
It is located on the 41st floor of the Rhodes Tower here in
Columbus Ohio.. The Falcons are sitting on 4 eggs that are due to
hatch on or about May 9th..it is so interesting.


Throughout the following weeks many viewers watched the progreess
of the Peregrine falcon nest set up by Auroa and Bandit. On May
10 the eggs hatrched and   Donna Daniel, wildlife biologist of
the Ohio Division of Wildlife,reported that the female  falcon.
Aurora, ate the egg shells after the chicks hatched to replenish
the calcium she lost in producing the eggs.

The watch contined and continues with vewers learning about
raptors and their diet, about fledging 40 stories in the sky; the
site has becomne one of the more popular places on the net.


School Children Recycle Musk Ox poop

Walter Ranikowski, a retired educator from Canada's Northwest
Territory  and an avid environmentalist reports on a project
carried out by school children in his former school district:

Cyndi Foster has only one bag of musk ox poop left, and she's
starting to get nervous. The grassy manure is like gold to the
energetic Grades 4-5 teacher from Cambridge Bay, who discovered
that musk ox poop was exactly what her students needed to produce
a high quality recycled paper.

"We make a poop paper that we can market because the color and
the look and texture are consistent, all because of the wonderful
properties of musk ox poop:' says Foster, whose classroom at the
Kullik Ilihakvik  School has  been  transformed into a noisy,
messy mill which recycles the community's unwanted paper.

"in the spring we'll take the kids out on komatiks to collect
some poop. I'm going to get them to try to make rabbit poop paper
and caribou poop paper this year too:' Foster says.

Droppings from these tundra-grazing animals helps give the
recycled pulp an attractive light brown color and consistency
that allows the students to sell it and turn their profits back
into the recycling project.

Foster discovered that adding Arctic plants to the recycled pulp
gave the paper more body and color, yet she didn't have the heart
to go picking large volumes of the dwarfed vegetation.

"But I knew that the musk ox ate the same plants, so I collected
the poop and mailed it to a paper maker in Edmonton:' says
Foster.   Sure enough, the poop worked the same as the plants and
the children now add it to their own product.

Students from Kullik Ilihakvik School are involved with every
step of the paper-making process. Once a week they collect
unwanted paper from government offices and tote the heavy bags to
a barge container for storage and later process the paper into
high quality paper.

Using the paper, Derek Ehaloak, 10, used silk screening to
produce his own Valentines Day cards from the recycled pulp,
which he also ended up selling. "He's actually followed the whole
process through and from a teacher's point that's the goal:' says


Handling Young Birds

MamaDuck1@aol.com- from The Beakley News

Young birds and mammals frequently leave the nest before they are
able to fly or fend for themselves.The parents are nearby,
watching the youngster and encouraging it, and bringing food when
necessary.  This is an important step in the learning process of
how to be a wild creature.

These babies of the wild are best left alone. One method I use to
determine if the youngster has indeed left the nest by his own
choice, is to note the length of its tail feathers. This is a
good indicator of the bird's maturity. If the tail is close to 1"
long, the bird should be treated as an adult. If he's hopping on
the ground and seems unable to fly, place him on a tree branch or
in a bush in the immediate area - he's practicing.  His parents
will bring him food when he needs it.  This time of  "dependent
independence" is necessary for the young bird to "learn the
ropes" from his parents.

A tiny, unfeathered bird should be placed back in the nest if at
all possible. If you don't know where the nest is, keep the bird
very warm and safe until you make arrangements with a licensed
wildlife rehabilitator for its continued care.

   Feathers (messages from Readers)

From: Margaret Snyder 
Subject: Elderhostel/bird watching/service trip

In September of last year (96) I signed up for an Elderhostel
Service trip at College Station TX -- the Tx A&M Bioacoustics

The attendance was so small (5 of us) that I'm surprised it
wasn't cancelled for lack of volunteers, but thank heavens they
didn't.  We stayed in a nice motel, with breakfast, and a van
picked us up each morning and hauled us to the site -- a wooded
area just outside of town, where we learned how and where  to
string mist nets (each net site had a name designation.)

Because there were so few of us, we only put up three nets, each
day. When they had a full class, they put up a lot more.  Then we
went back to the picnic table and talked, until time to check the
nets to see if we'd caught any birds. Mostly, we had, and then
had to learn to untangle them from the net, (and boy could some
of them get tangled, in their frantic attempt to escape !! In
fact, the first one I netted, a Chickadee, was so tangled that
our leader finally cut the net to get it out !!) We had little
cotton sacks we put each bird in to take back to the picnic
table, so they couldn't hurt themselves.  (If there were more
than one bird caught at the same time, we had a "clothes line" to
hand the bags on until we could get to them.)

We learned how to take the bird out of the bag, and hold it so
that it couldn't get loose, without holding it so tight we might
hurt it.  We learned to weigh the bird, take several different
measurements, and then check it for sex, breeding, and other
things.  In the meantime, one of us was filling out the form,
with all the information, (and reminding the measurer what to do
next, according to the form,) and then the measurer looked up in
THE BOOK to see what size band to use, dug out the band and the
banding pliers, and put the band on the bird.

Then we released the bird to go about its business.  The leaders
had a schedule worked out, to make sure that each of us had the
opportunity to get a bird out of the net, do the weighing and
measuring and release, and a turn at keeping the record.


From: "Evanne A. Hunt" 
Subject: Prairie web site

News and advice about prairie restoration is available at the
following site


created and maintained by the Westren Wisconsin Chapter of
Prairie Enthusiasts


From: HHoyt58289@aol.com
Subject: Introduction

I live in Aurora Colo., right up against the east side of Denver.
Within walking distance of my home is Sand Creek a wonderful
ribbon of green on the NE side of a ever growing city. The City
has preserved this Gem in its wild state, there are deer, coon,
fox, badger, skunks and all the smaller mammals too.

And Birds. Wonderful birds!  Wrens fill the woods with song, and
today one was still taking twigs to its nest hole. Western
kingbirds, Small flycathers, Dove, the mated pair of Kestrels,
Great blue heron, White crowned night heron, Magpie, Chickadee,
ETC. The Bullocks Orioles are weaving thier hanging nests. And
the G.H. Owllets have ventured away from thier nest tree and are
doing well.

Also seen on reasent walks ; Western tanagers, Yellow & Willsons
warblers, and a Pair of Rose breasted grossbeaks!! I tell people
you don't have to go chasing all over the place to find Nature
just stop and look, its right there in front of you, in your own
"neck of the woods".



From: HUDSONPUFF@aol.com

Subject: Bicknells Trush in New York

I led a trip to Whiteface Mountain, New York in search of
Bicknell's Thrush.

Every indication was that this has been a late spring all around
& these birds proved to be no exception. Instead of the expected
twenty or so territorial males expected, only four could be
located. Given that they are by nature a reclusive species, the
search was on. It wasn't easy, but all saw and heard the birds.

Whiteface is a good place to look for the species. There is a
paved road (toll) to the top. It winds through several miles of
Bicknell's habitat with numerous pull-offs so one can look for
the birds without the usual strenuous hike up a eastern mountain
alpine zone.

Whiteface, you may recall was the site of the 1980 Winter
Olympics downhill skiing.

Lodging is available at the base of the mountain at several nice
motels or nearby campgrounds.

While in the area be sure to look for Mourning Warblers,
Blackpoll Warblers, Philadelphia, Solitary & Red-eyed Vireos;
Yellow-bellied Flycatchers & numerous other eastern species.


From: Jentle1@aol.com
Subject: Wrented

Around May 21 I start leaving my front door open, listening for
the new tenant of the wren house in our magnolia. It was such a
cold spring in upstate New York that it was about a week later
when Cliff told me that a wren had scolded him the whole time he
was mowing the front yard.  I hadn't heard one, nor had I seen
anything, but I decided not to question his birding abilities and
find out for myself.

The last time a wren had tried to nest there, it was attacked by
two English sparrows who were frustrated because I had removed
their nest several times from the light over the garage and had
blocked further building with two milk cartons.  I had seen the
wren flutter to the ground, but couldn't crawl under the
low-hanging tree to check on it.

In the year the wren house was empty, I learned a bit more about
the tiny songster.  It was suggested that two houses be provided
not too far apart because Sir Wren often kept two ladies busy and
it was convenient for him to have them close.  I was somewhat
appalled to find out that other birds didn't like him around
because he would fly to their nests while they were away and peck
holes in their eggs.  I had blamed grackles, cowbirds and
bluejays for this behavior.  But who could resist having that
wonderful warbling going on just outside the front door?

Now it is certain.  The bird house has been wren-ted.

Jen Eddy

   Winging  it (the writer's corner)

Easy Listening

Dave Watrous http://crisny.org/users/watrousd/index.html

We are all familiar with the raucous call of the blue jay and the
joyous song of the wren nesting by the back door but there is
another level of avian conversation going on that we seldom take
time to enjoy. It is only a murmur heard by a few lucky folks who
take the time to listen closely. Often we see a bird seemingly
relaxing on a quiet perch and after a glance go back to what
we're doing and in doing so miss a real treat. Not speaking the
language I can't be sure but sometimes I fancy that like us they
sing to themselves for pleasure or maybe, as we do, talk to
themselves occasionally.

Whatever it is the tunes are often beautiful, haunting melodies
heard just on the edge of sound. While enjoying the spring sun
and reading the morning paper on the back porch today a soft,
plaintive melody drifted in from among the apple blossoms on the
apple tree beside the porch. Carefully laying aside the paper I
discovered a Tufted Titmouse whispering his tune, a master
musician in a virtuoso performance. The tune is long gone but the
memory of that small gray bird will remain and if I'm lucky he or
another feathered soloist will serenade me sotto voce again soon.


The Foxes of Prince Edward Island (Journal excerpt)
   -Janet Wright  Foxvulpes1@aol.com

June 1

Finished my morning walk by leaving milk bone and boiled potatoes
at the top of the hill and some dry cat food on the sitting rock.
Called kit kit at each place.  Since I walked in the woods this
morning, the car had been left at the hutka. I no sooner got into
the car when an adult fox appeared at the top of the hill.  It
had been waiting for me to walk away from it.  I could only see
head and shoulders, but it was very, very light.  Returned home,
got a cup of coffee and the binoculars and sat on the deck

It almost reminded me of a comedy routine where people go in and
out of doors.  A fox would come out of the spruce trees on the
right side and head up the lane.  Another would come from the
culvert on the reopend lane and head up that lane.

A fox appeared from spruce trees at the left and came down the
lane.  Another appeared from the right, etc.  It had to be at
least two foxes weaving in and out and could have been more.
About 10 minutes passed with no sightings, when an adult appeared
from the reopend lane, trotted to the middle of the field behind
the house, curled up and took a 20 minute nap.  Tom says the
foxes probably spend as much time watching me as I do them.
After the nap, she trotted off to the pine trees.


 First Day on the Appalachian Trail

   Martha R Thomas (martee@unm.edu)

I had just ended a tuff uphill climb (only 2.5 miles but it felt
like 5) and it had taken me 3-1/2 hours.  I had stopped at Pico
Camp (Vermont) to eat.

I was preparing one of the dehydrated meals by pouring boiling
water into the foil bag.  The bag collapsed and my dinner dumped
out into and onto my opened back pack, which was leaning against
the shelter right underneath where I was preparing dinner.  Huge
globs of lasagne dumped on the wooden floor of the shelter and
splattered up on to my legs.  I sank to the ground in dismay and
very much wanted to cry.  (I later learned from another hiker how
it's done out there, which is to just dump the stuff into the
water in the pan.)

I had to unpack every single thing from my pack and take the pack
to the spring, 50 yards away, and wash it repeatedly.  One of the
zippers was entirely coated and I didn't think I'd ever get it
clean.  Then I had to come back and clean off the contents of the
pack, and then clean myself, and then repack everything.

About then, a couple of hikers came in to the shelter area and
what was left was this big blob of half-cooked lasagne lying on
the shelter floor. It looked very much like vomit and I was
totally embarrassed.  I quickly explained, of course, but I'm
sure they were convinced it was vomit.  I buried the stuff as
deep as I could dig and poured water onto the floor and scrubbed
the rough wood as best I could.  That necessitated many
round-trips to the spring.  By the time all that was done, I
wasn't even hungry, just tired, but forced myself to eat.

So ended my first day.  It's funny now, looking back, and a
lesson learned.

Martha Thomas, formerly known as Mighty Mountain Martee


Shelter, Food, and Love

My spirit is a dark-eyed doe,
Frightened, far from cover;
But I'll be in my forest bed
When the long night's over.

My spirit is a cheetah swift
Hungry, hunting prey.
My seeking will be satisfied
Before the break of day.

My spirit takes another form
In guise of silv'ry swan,
Sailing serenely near my mate
In an opalescent dawn.

Marian Leach



                 Now listening,
                 Quickly  rising forward
                 Paws together downward thrusting;