Silver Feathers  July 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 archived at



    From the Nest on the Chippewa (editorial)

    News and features

    Messages from Readers

    Webbing with Judie

    Winging  it (the writer's corner)

     From the Nest on the Chippewa

With this issue we have acquired an assistant editor,
YJudie@aol.com who will do a column on the World Wide Web. Since
it is technical in nature  and the format may affect different
mail systems differently we are interested in any concerns you
have about how the text appears in your mail..

Coming up in future issues :

August- Exotic Species of plants and animals and their effect on
our ecosystem with special attention to bird species. This will
include some discussion of the domestic cat and recent research
on its effect on native birds..

A look at some internet mailing lists (listservs) devoted to

September- Spring Birding.It will be spring for half of the world
and we'd like to explore the behavior of birds in that hemisphere
in spring. Would appreciate any help we can get from those of you
living there or with birding experience there.

October-Disease problems related to feeding- winter feeding tips

    News and Features

The Peacock who Thought he was a Turkey

      From material in  the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Somewhere on fringes of suburbia, there is a confused peacock who
thinks he's a turkey. That's the word from Delafield, Wisconsin;
where one of the exotic birds was spotted hanging out with a
flock of wild turkeys .

Peacocks, one of the showiest of all birds, are males of the
peafowl species, a bird in the pheasant family. They are known
for their long train feathers, which they spread in a huge fan
shape during courtship displays. In the wild, one type of peafowl
is native to India and Sri Lanka and another type is found in
southeast Asia.

An avid turkey hunter, who lives on a two-acre lot with plenty of
big oak trees close to Lapham Peak State Park, in Waukesha County
rports, "It's kind of fun to watch their behavior through the
seasons. Another nice thing about having them around is hearing
their calls and learning the turkey vocabulary."

"What was unusual," he said, "was one day last August when the
peacock showed up with seven bearded toms (mature male turkeys)
at the backyard feeder."

He called the local police to see if anyone had reported missing
a pet peacock, and no one had. He also called the zoo and some
animal shelters and learned that the onset of winter weather
might pose a threat to the peacock's survival. So he bought
another bird feeder and started putting pheasant feed out for the
peacock and, after the holidays, he put some used Christmas trees
in his back yard to provide the peacock some shelter from the
wind and cold.

Throughout the fall and winter months he watched, amazed and
amused, as the turkeys seemed to accept the peacock or, at least,
tolerate his presence.

The peacock survived the winter OK. But this spring, he suddenly

Mark Andersen, wildlife biologist with the Department of Natural
Resources in Eagle, had some answers.

Tame peacocks are a popular pet, he explained.

"There are a lot of them around," he said. "People like exotic
stuff. And quite a few people let their peacocks run loose. This
one must have strayed far afield from home and thought the
turkeys looked pretty good." Peacocks are about the same size as
turkeys, he said. And both roost in trees and do similar
tail-fanning displays.

"The peacock is probably attracted to the turkeys because of
their size," Andersen said. "Except for sandhill cranes and great
blue herons, there are no other large birds out there."

"Turkeys are gregarious," Andersen said. "Normally, they're
pretty tolerant of anything they don't view as a threat."

That attitude changes dramatically in the spring, when gobblers
become aggressive in competing for breeding rights. "Those
gobblers are not going to be very tolerant of that peacock during
the spring breeding season," Anderson said.

   Feathers (messages from Readers)

Getting #600
Marian Leach 

Thanks to Forrest Davis of Sierra Vista, AZ who operates High
Lonesome Ecotours, I got my 600th life bird on June 3, a
five-striped sparrow. I had flown to Sierra Vista from Omaha on
May 31 needing five more birds to reach 600. The first day I got
four--the northern beardless tyrannulet, the black-capped
gnatcatcher (very rare and special), and two owls, the western
screech owl, and the whiskered screech owl.

Forrest used a tape to call in the owls, and we had such a good
look at the latter. It perched just above us and peered down at
us with its big, round yellow eyes for a long time.  The second
day we mostly watched hummingbirds in Ramsey Canyon and at the
Patons in Patagonia, hoping for a white-eared that didn't come
in.  The third day we drove for hours, it seemed, over winding,
rough, and narrow roads (trails, that is)in Forrest's 4WD to
California Gulch to find the five-striped sparrow.

On the way back we stopped at Lake Pena Blanca for lunch and just
happened on the white-eared hummingbird to make number 601. In
all, we saw 93 species, great for spending so much time on a
targeted few. I had never seen saguaros in bloom before though
I've been to Arizona several times, and this time I did.  The
tall candles of the yucca were striking, and all along the
roadsides prickly poppies were also in bloom, adding to the
desert scene. Forrest's e-mail address is
hilonesome@earthlink.net, and I can highly recommend him as a
birding guide.

Marian Leach


From: Wesley Shirts  Reply-To:

Subject: Eagle watching at Lake Tahoe airport

Lake Tahoe is a very complex governmental situation.  We have 2
states, 5 counties, and any number of special districts all
trying to live in a fairly small area.  Years ago the TRPA, Tahoe
Regional Planning Agency,  was created which has the final word
on most environmental issues.  They are hated and loved , so they
must be doing a pretty good job.  One of the requirements placed
on the city of South Lake Tahoe by the TRPA was that they do a
study of the Truckee Marsh to show that the Bald Eagles in the
local area are not negatively influenced by the flight patterns
of the Lake Tahoe Airport.

I spend an entire day in the marsh. I am to just observe the Bald
Eagles, but I record everything.  I spend one day each month from
November to March.

The eagles I see usually perch for a time in about 6 of the
tallest trees for a short period and then fly off. Actually I
don't see how any thing can be proven by what I do; there seems
to be more impact by walkers and their dogs than the airplanes
flying above. The experience is really  great and that is what I
would like to write about, spending an entire day in one place,
just to observe the birds. I am including one of my reports to
give you a feeling of what I do.

I made my first Eagle Watch of the season on November 11, 1996.
The temperature was reported on the radio at 33 degrees just
before I arrived at the Truckee Marsh at 6:45 A.M.. The day was
perfect with a few scattered clouds, no wind at all and with the
temperature rising into the 60s. The meadow was dry except for
the small lake which is east of the fence line and the lake
shore.  This large pond makes it almost impossible to get to the
lake shore via the meadow route. I finally had to encroach on
private property to get  there.  The lake was very still and is
still high compared to the first times I did an Eagle watch.

Before I was able to get to the lake, I observed a Redtail Hawk
in the tree where the Herons were roosting a couple of years ago.
I did see 3 Great Blue Herons on the way to the lake and just
before I left in the afternoon I made 2 more sightings. At 7:15
as I approached the lake I observed 1 Mature Bald Eagle in the
tallest tree near the shore on the north side of the meadow.  He
flew away sometime in the next 15 minutes.

Since I never saw more than one bird at a time, this may have all
been the same bird or 4 separate sightings. During the morning
there was a pack of 5 coyotes in the meadow.  This is, I believe
the second time I have seen coyotes in the meadow.

Because of the water in the meadow there were very few dogs and
people compared to previous years when the entire meadow was
transversable. The grass in the parallel pond was high so it was
difficult to identify the birds there, but most of what I did see
were Buffleheads and Mallards. There were quite a few.  On the
lake there were several hundred American Coots.  I counted over
300 at one place.  I did identify 2 common Mergansers, but the
highlight for me was the identification of 3 Common Loons at some
distance into the lake with my scope. There were many Canada
Geese and many Magpies.

The white Red Tailed Hawk was not observed.  I imagine he is gone
or dead.  I hope he does show up again this year. Just before I
left the meadow at 4:45 P. M. I did observe 1 Northern Harrier. .
Wesley G. Shirts


Mort Mazaheri 

Subject: help

I am interested in long distance biking and hiking and would like
to hear from those with similar interest. I am 63 years old and
work as a city planning consultant out of my home office. I have
a good deal of flexibility in my work and would enjoy starting an
out door group of bikers and hikers in my age range,  who would
like to do this type of outing.  Thank you. Mort Mazaheri, 226
28th Ave. N, Fargo, ND 58102

From: NadaraB@aol.com

Subject: Itching to Watch Wrens

On Memorial Day I found a bird nest in my mailbox with 2 eggs in
it.  Next morning at 7am I was at Wal-Mart to buy new mailbox for
mail.  Also bought "Baby On Board" sign to put on mailbox with
eggs in it.  Wound up with 5 eggs & all 5 hatched but 2 babies
disappeared the day after arriving but the other 3 made it to fly

I would check on them morning, noon & night to check progress of
babies. One morning last week my girls (poodles) were barking at
the front door like mad so I opened the door to see what was
going on.  My parent wrens were right off my porch having a
fit-fluttering back & forth & talking up a storm. I looked in the
mailbox    & only saw 2 babies.  Looked around for the 3rd &
could not find it so I turned to come back in the house & ,lo &
behold, I have a baby bird in my living room.

My girls are checking out this new creature in their territory. I
tried to pick it up but the baby bird did not want Gramma Birdie
to pick it up so it went under my desk & the girls tried to go
with it.  I screamed for Tricia (my daughter) & she got up & came
to see what the commotion was. Tricia looked behind the desk &
could not find the bird. Think---okay--we can do this------get
flashlight---get lightweight towel------get down on floor.

Okay, there is baby bird, throw towel over bird & problem is
solved--------almost-----can not pass up this photographic
opportunity so I grab a camera.  Got some movie footage first &
then a couple of snapshots. Later Tricia goes to work & Gramma
Birdie sets down to her computer to write a story & starts
feeling something crawling all over her.

Birds have mites bad but we had washed good after handling the
baby bird.  Finally my imagination got the best of me & I went &
got in the shower, shorts shirt, underwear & house shoes on!  I
did pull off my watch & my glasses.  The next day the babies were
all gone & all I had left in my mailbox was the nest & a zillion
mites!!  Sure miss the birds, it was a very exciting experience.

    Webbing with Judie


 Yjudie@AOL.COM will do a regular column here for web footed
Silver Feathers to assist them in finding relevant material on
the world wide web. She is using html links for those readers
whose mail servers support them as html tags and for others the
links will be highlighted in a different way. Others may have to
copy and paste the links.  Please feel free to comment on any
technical problems or success you have with these internet WWW
addresses (URLs).

These first three are big WWW sites that I give high marks for a
wealth of information and good organization:

Migratory Bird Research at the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center

Peterson Online 

Birding on the Web


Regional bird clubs are rapidly publishing on the web.  Here is
one and you have the other for TX.  They are good examples:

The Backyard Birding Page (The Baltimore Bird Club)


There are also many sites devoted to a single species.  Lanny
Chambers' hummingbird page is one of the finest web sites you'll
find anywhere:

The Hummingbird Page


  This is a beautiful, beautiful site....one of the top 5% on
the web......

The Bluebird Box

http://members.aol.com /jimmcl/bbbox/index.htm

Here is a nice site from a pair of backyard bird watchers:


A number of Wild Bird Crossings maintain their own sites, and
links to these and other sites are available from the main site:


   Winging  it (the writer's corner)

The Force

I am a force inside you, compelling you to the window of your
stuffy office to stare out on the world.  I am the longing to be
out there with the sparrows, pigeons, and squirrels in the park.
I am why you carry dry cereal in your pocket in case you have
lunch in that park.

I am the vioce of your childhood.  I am calling you to remember.
I am why you have fond memories of watching your now aged father
working the fields and tending the garden with abandon.  I am the
reason the same man remembers with fondness, you watching him
from the tall grass rescuing the toads and snakes that he
uncovered. I am the hawk that soared overhead as this all took

I am a free spirit.  I am why your house is unkempt at times as
you are drawn to your patio, your deck, your lawn chair, your
garden.  I am borne on the fresh air and I compel you to observe
your surroundings.  I am what makes you look closer when you
catch a glint of light on a branch to see a perfect tiny orb web.
I am what makes you look down and freeze as you are walking, only
to see a tiny ant carrying a huge grasshopper to his colony. I am
that colony working together to get the grasshopper down the too
small entrance hole.  I am why you are still kneeling there 15
minutes later.  I am why kids love to be naked outdoors.

I am the voice of fantasy.  I can turn your children into
prancing Arabian horses, or explorers of new lands.  I am why
they play outside in their school clothes, because I cannot wait.
I am every bug, snail, frog, lizard, snake they have brought you.
 I am why they wonder if there could be dinosaurs in your woods,
or alligators in your Midwest pond.  I am always there for them,
providing new ideas every day.

I am curiosity.  I am why children need to see into the birds
nest and why they are not satisfied to watch from the ground.  I
am why children love crickets and earthworms.  I am why they
carry small sticks to poke at the ground.  I am why children do
what they are told not to.  I am why you buy field guides.  I am
compulsive and this is why you buy several on the same subject. I
am why you overcome your squeamishness and picked up a wandering
crayfish.  I am why you got pinched.

I am a lover of art.  I am why you notice that the birds have so
many colors and songs.  I am why you have one of everything in
some gardens and orderly mass plantings in others.  I am why you
have shade gardens and sunny gardens. I am why you plant for
hummingbirds and butterflies to add their own brushstrokes to
your unfinished work.  I am why you notice from the hilltops that
the fields look like a patchwork quilt your Grandma made.  I am
why you think a rattlesnake or copperhead is beautiful.

I am contentment.  I am why you can lay awake at night and listen
to the chorus of frogs and crickets.  I am why you lay on your
back on a blanket and watch the clouds.  I am the animal shapes
that you find in the clouds.  I am the smell of freshly cut grass
or the sweet smell you smell each spring on your walking path and
have not yet identified.  I am why you garden whether on an
acreage, large lot in town, or in pots on your balcony. I am why
you hum when you water the plants and feed the birds and

I am the love of Nature.



Saturday Leisure

All around,
suburban lawns, sculptured bushes,
weeded flower beds,
and Saturday spent manicuring yards.

I live amidst them,
but foxes hunt in my tall weeds;
rabbits crouch in piles of brush;
sunflowers appear unbidden from last year's birdseed
and cardinals raise their young.

                        Jen Eddy