Silver Feathers August 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

Silver Threads also has a World Wide Web edition located 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

People sometimes ask why we have a newsletter just for older
nature lovers and note that a love of nature is ageless.

That is certainly true and we seek here to have those ageless
items as well as those that do apply mainly to older readers who
are the ones eligible for nature related elderhostels (and we
hope to feature one such elderhostel in each upcoming issue just
as we have done in this one)

And the older naturalists are the ones often with the time and
experience to do much of the volunteer work needed in nature
centers- nature education- etc. We have had some stories about
such volunteer opportunities as readers share thier experiences,
and hope to have more in the future.

As we explore this area we find that there is really no need for
another birding  mail list or web site or newsletter devoted to
all ages As Judy points out in her column there are many such
sites and lists now.

We hope to fill a small niche in this area for the more mature,
well-seasoned naturalist. So you could say we are a "niche"
newsletter. In this our fifth month of operation we are still
searching for our exact fit into the internet world.

    News and Features

Elderhosteling on the Wild Side

           - Jim Olson

One of the best ways for older nature lovers to enjoy the outdoor
world is through taking part in one of the hundreds of nature
oriented elderhostel programs offered each year. There are
programs in every state and in many overseas locations that cater
to nature study, birdwatching, and ecological stewardship. There
are far too many of them for us to offer a comprehensive list
here but we will try include a report or two as samples each
issue and invite others to send in reports of nature related
elderhostels they have taken.

Senior Group is offering a new service for searching reports
that elderhostelers have sent in here or to our companion
newsletter, "Elderhostel Notebook," and if your report is not
included here it will be archived in the data file used in the

To use the new service just send an e-mail to me,
olsonjam@uwec.edu with the word SEARCH in the subject line and a
description of key words you want to use in a search of our files
in the body of the e-mail.

For example, a recent query involving, "sailing" brought out
several reports of subscribers who had taken part in elderhostel
manned sailing trips.

There are nature related elderhostels that take you into wild
places with a bare minimum of accommodations and some like the
upcoming September Hawk Ridge (sorry it's filled) Elderhostel at
Duluth Minnesota provide modern motel accommodations. Maggie and
I did one this spring in Victoria, BC, where we studied "Victoria
on the Wild Side" but our base was a modern motel in Victoria.

For an idea of the possibilities go to the newly updated
elderhostel world wide web site at


and go to the catalog section and use their new and very fast
search service for either  sites or topics for the most current
US and Canada programs where you can also find current
enrollment data. You will still need to go to the library for
the international catalogs or use the clickable request for an
international catalog at the site.

This will work for any of the major web browsers including such
non-graphic ones as Lynx. Feel free to e-mail me,
olsonjam@uwec.edu or Judy, Yjudie@aol.com for help.

Here is a recent report from one of our subscribers:


    Kay and Bill Jones 

We just got back from a great Elderhostel trip to Grand Manan Is.
off the Maine/New Brunswick coast. We saw eagles, ospreys, a
female merlin with 4 juveniles, an osprey harassing an eagle &
lots of other good birds. Highlights of the trip were a trip to
Machais Seal Is., an Atlantic puffin sanctuary which allows only
25 people per day to land. Arctic terns were going berserk as they
had chicks running in & out of the grass everywhere while some
were still sitting on eggs.

After a brief orientation we were put in blinds for 1 1/2 hrs.
Many, many puffins were nesting in the rocks, with a couple of
dozen less than 10' from the blinds. Some landed on top of the
blinds before hopping to the rocks to get to their nests under
the rocks. Some you could have reached out and touched. There
were also numerous razorbills around but not as close to the
blinds as the puffins. There were seals in the waters around the
island and dozens basking on the rocks of a large nearby reef.

We saw a life-time bird on Grand Manan after searching off & on
during the week. A whooper's swan, a Eurasian species,  had
gotten a few thousand miles off course and had been on the island
in with some Canada geese for a few weeks. The only previous
sighting in the upper east coast & maritime provinces had been 1
bird in Maine in 1903. They normally are in the Aleutians and
Greenland. Since he felt secure in with the Canadas, you were
able to get within 100' feet of him for a great look.

Off Grand Manan we also saw right whales, minkes, & finback
whales as well as harbor seals & grey seals. Great, great trip!


AP Story on Cats
     thurber@hks.com (Frederick Thurber)

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- That precious house pet innocently purring
next to the window where the warm sun shines in may actually be
relaxing after a long hunt that yielded a between-meals snack.

A new study by the University of Wisconsin reveals that the
average free-ranging domestic cat is often a dangerous hunter
racking up as many as 1,000 kills a year. Most of the victims are
small wild mammals and birds.

Many cat owners have grown accustomed to the small tributes that
a loyal feline friend will leave around the house. A mouse's head
or a birds wing left outside the door are a gruesome reminder of
a pet's true nature.

But they are also an indication of a very real problem that
results in the death of more than a billion small animals a year
in the United States, the study estimated. In Wisconsin, pet cats
kill an estimated 39 million animals a year.

''The cat predation situation here is directly like in Minnesota;
we can safely assume the same numbers apply,'' said Stanley
Temple, a wildlife ecologist and coauthor of ''Cats and Wildlife:
A Conservation Dilemma.''

Many of the kills are native songbirds and animals already under
threat by human encroachment on their habitat. The 65.8 million
domestic cats in the United States outnumber other predators in
most areas and have the added benefit of a guaranteed meal at

The study found that nearly all free-ranging cats kill wildlife,
even well-fed ones. Most cat owners will never see the majority
of their pet's victims, while some well-meaning animal lovers are
unintentionally disrupting natural ecosystems.

''Over the last five years there's been a very alarming increase
in people who are creating feral cat colonies as a way of dealing
with unwanted cats,'' Temple said.

''They collect unwanted cats from shelters, vaccinate them,
neuter them and put them in a state or county park and provide
food for them,'' Temple said. ''They spare them being killed, but
they put them in places where they do a lot damage to wildlife.''

Some animal right's groups advocate feral cat colonies and have
convinced some cities to start feeding stray cats. Cape May,
N.J., adopted such a policy, even though it is also an important
wild bird center.

''These people don't like euthanizing unwanted cats and they are
in deep denial that cats cause problems for wildlife,'' Temple
said. Cats also compete with established predators such as hawks
and weasels, reducing their numbers as well.

Experts say cat owners can reduce the problem of predation by
keeping cats indoors or putting a bell on the cat's collar. They
also recommend against releasing cats into the wild.

editors note-

For the complete study go to


for advice from the federal fish and wildlife service on this issue go
to     http://www.fws.gov/r9mbmo/pamphlet/songbrd.html#Cat

I have discovered that cats, birds, and dogs all play a vital role in the
mental health of many of us, and we need to know the relations between them.

   Feathers (messages from Readers)

   From: Sherwood & Ruth Davis 

I read with interest your recent posting on 'BIRDFEEDER' and
being a lifelong (I'm now 66) amateur entomologist, took special
note of the Karner Blue.  Not aware of the small (usually
non-book) species east of the Rockies am glad someone/some group
is protecting the remaining quantity of this (hopefull not though
the Government say it is) rarer species.  I did an extensive
collection the last two years we lived in Taiwan, The Republic of
China with the help of my wife and two teenage children (1966-8),
probably one of the best amateur collections to come off the
Island and have it still safely here at home, mounted in wooden
book-style glass covered cases..........Oh how many yet there
were to obtain.  We were fortunate to locate an extensive work
done by a Japanese team (who were there during the occupation
prior to 1949) and prior to pesticides, loggging, pollution,
overdevelopemnt etc. and found it to be extremely useful in our
meager efforts.  The moths of which there are myriads of species,
at the time were a mystery; no published guide to help us.  We
still have many........silks, underwings and a huge sphinx (very
plain) that probably few could identify.....not a premium
specimen but nevertheless captured.

Sincerely,       -----(Sherwood Davis)----- Coos Bay OR 97420


from: n8urnut@kingman.com

 British bird lover Neil Symmons was ecstatic when for 12 months
   the tawny owl calls he made from his garden at dusk attracted
   answers from the wild. Sadly, his imagined feathered friend
   turned out to be human and living next door.

 Symmons's wife Kim
   had mentioned her husband's nocturnal pastime to neighbor
   Wendy Cornes who said her husband Fred was also spending his
   evenings talking to an owl.

 "I felt such a twit," Neil Symmons told
   the Daily Mail newspaper from his home in southwestern
   England. "I never dreamed I was fooling my neighbor, who was
   fooling me," said Fred Cornes.

Norma Miller
Kingman, AZ


from: Nancy L. Newfield            

Celebrate International Hummingbird Day - August 15 - a day
selected by the Hummingbird Research Group for members to share
their knowledge with others who are interested in nature's
smallest birds.  For this second annual International Hummingbird
Day, members will mark the occasion by offering programs and
seminars to educate the public on the basic biology of the
hummingbird family.  Because most Hummingbird Research Group
members live and work in the United States and Canada, nesting
ecology, migration strategies, and conservation needs of the
species native to that region are emphasized.

One celebration is slated for "Hummer Haven", home of Olga and
Walter Clifton at 22315 Main Street in Abita Springs, Louisiana.
It is free and open to the public.  Hours are 6:30 AM 'til . . .

Information about landscaping to attract hummingbirds and feeder
usage and maintainance will be made available.  The public is
invited to observe the banding of migrating Ruby-throated

More than 100 persons participated in the inaugural event at the
Abita Springs site in 1996.  Celebrants in other regions marked
the occasion by watching hummers, photographing them, and
improving hummer habitat.

International Hummingbird Day is a grassroots effort to raise
public awareness to the requirements of hummingbirds.  Further
information about the Abita Springs event can be obtained from
Olga Clifton .

from: Yjudie@aol.com

Just wanted to pass this along to our subscribers......it's heartening to
see young people take an interest in our fine, feathered friends......check
out this webpage on the Eagle Project of Troop 304



From: Barbara Passmore   http://www.datasys.net/~passmore
(reporting on an article in the Leon County Birder)

It would appear that last fall music was evidently a
contributing, if not the "immediate" factor in a sudden and
inexplicable appearance of ordinarily reclusive migrating species
near the home of James E. Cavanagh.  Fide JEC:

On the afternoon of OCT 6 [1996] at 4PM I parked near my mailbox
on Bellac (near the ponds) with the radio on lou playing
Rossini's Magpie Concerto.  I was immediately
surrounded by Hooded and Magnolia Warblers, Summer and Scarlet
Tanagers, a Least Flycatcher and a Veery. A Swainson's Thrush
repeatedly landed on the pavement next to the car and danced
along the road [a la Dionysys]. I highly recommend the Magpie
Concerto for attracting birds.


>From :riverbird

Riverbird is a new net devoted to birds of the Mississippi River
from the headwaters at Lake Itasca to the delta at New Orleans.

Please repost to networks, WWW pages, newsletters, and announce
in states along the Mississippi.  Thanks.

For more information, send a note to


   the two word message  should read:

To subscribe, send a message to


  message should be these two words:


    Webbing with Judie


    Judie Yannarelli    Yjudie@aol.com

Hello, fellow bird watchers!  I am so pleased and excited to be
part of Silver Feathers.   My thanks to Jim Olson for inviting me
to write about some of the interesting bird web pages on the Net.

Let me say from the outset that by no means have I explored all
the web sites.  Even if I browsed the web for 365 days, I
wouldn't put a dent in all the web has to offer.  For example,
just before writing this column I did a web search.  First I
typed in "bird."  Lo and behold!!! 201,346 web sites!  Next, I
typed "birdwatching."  Well, it narrowed the field--to 5,028 web
sites!  I am sure some of you have had the same experience.

Therefore, this column will feature web pages that I think would
be of particular interest to you.  Some of them were listed in
last month's issue; I hope you had a chance to do some exploring
on your own.  So, with your indulgence, I've chosen one from that
list to share with you.

My guess is that most of you are backyard birdwatchers, too.  So
I'll begin with a web site that's just that---The Pemburns'


Just celebrating its first anniversary on the Web, this site is a
great beginning for our exploration.   The Pemburns live in a row
house in Baltimore with a "postage stamp" backyard--15' x 37'.
Many city dwelling subscribers can relate to The Pemburns
BackYard.  They have been keeping a list of sightings since 1988,
and you'll find the list here.

Pay particular attention to the bottom of the Welcome
page...you'll find "Because not everyone has a graphical browser,
we've provided a text-based list of the yard's features as well
as the 'clickable' photograph."  This link is not to be missed
because it permits you to create a mental image of the area the
site features, including the rain barrel.  The site contains
hyperlinks which bring you to other features connected to The
BackYard.  You'll find a Welcome page, The Yard, Our Yard List
(with the aforementioned list of sightings, with particular
species hyperlinked to their own web site), Search the Yard, a
Guest Book, and Send E:mail.  Also, a link to the Baltimore Bird
Club can be found at the bottom of the Our Yard List page.

When I first visited this site, I read the story about The Thrush
on the Welcome Page.  And, for those of you who have sound, click
on Wood Thrush and hear the sweet notes of this beautiful bird.

I do have another suggestion, though.  Many on-line subscribers
have suppressed their graphic interface to speed access to web
sites, particularly those with slower speed modems.  To fully
appreciate some of the sites we will be exploring, try invoking
the graphics just while you are "birding on the web."  It will
enhance your experience ten-fold to see the beautiful colored
pictures of our fine, feathered friends.

As I mentioned in the July issue, the list of sites I submitted
were found in my latest newsletter from Wild Bird Crossings.
We'll visit that web site in the future; however, in the
meantime, stop by yourself  http://wildbirdcenter.com/

Next month's issue will feature one of  the top 5% web sites --
The Bluebird Box.  In the meantime, your comments, suggestions,
and criticisms are welcomed.   That's my e:mail address at the

   Winging  it (the writer's corner)


                          Slithering thief,
                          Undulating swimmer,
                          Who chose you to spend a lifetime