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Posts Tagged ‘hats’

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Photo: Twitter/kassandraqueenn
Social media users have been reporting sightings of Las Vegas pigeons in hats since early December 2019.

The New Yorker magazine used to have a bottom-of-the-column feature called “There’ll always be an England,” which highlighted the quirkiness of that country. After you read the following story, you may want to recommend naming a feature “There’ll always be a Las Vegas.”

In December, the Guardian‘s Martin Belam reported on Las Vegas pigeons wearing hats.

“Two pigeons have been spotted in Las Vegas wearing tiny cowboy hats. While many have been amused by the sight of the birds, with social media users excitedly reporting sightings since a video was first posted to Facebook in early December, there are concerns for the welfare of the animals. …

“Mariah Hillman, who works with the local animal rescue charity Lofty Hopes, said the hats were glued on to the pigeons. ‘When we saw them today, you could see some loose feathers in the glue around the hat. It’s definitely a concern,’ she said. …

“Observers have named the two birds Cluck Norris and Coo-lamity Jane. Cluck Norris can be identified by the red hat he is wearing, as opposed to Coo-lamity Jane’s pink headgear. There are unconfirmed reports that a third pigeon has fallen victim to the trend and is sporting a brown hat. The Las Vegas Metropolitan police department told the New York Times it ‘does not appear to be a police matter at this time.’ …

“Hillman’s group has been attempting to capture the pigeons to remove the headgear, with little success so far. They said the birds had been difficult to trap as they were being fed repeatedly by people curious about their appearance, making luring them with food difficult.” More at the Guardian, here.

Meanwhile on Facebook, Lofty Hopes put up a message before Christmas to encourage animal lovers to make toys for their temporary residents: “Lofty Hopes is hosting a holiday get together to play Santa’s Helper and make toys for the many rescued pets who live here until they are adopted. Toys are an important part of their well-being and we want to provide new, enriching toys as gifts for the holidays.

“We will be purchasing all the toy parts such as bells, wood parts with holes pre-drilled, plastic chain pieces, etc. Come join us. This will be fun for all ages … We will be providing vegan hot chocolate.”

Want a follow-up? Check out the Las Vegas Review-Journal, where you will learn that Lofty Hopes, some volunteers, and a vet safely removed pigeon hats. Reporter Max Michor concludes with some tips: “Anyone who finds a sick or injured pigeon should first catch the bird to keep it from further harm, [Mariah Hillman, founder of the rescue group Lofty Hopes,] said. Humans can’t contract any diseases from touching a pigeon with their bare hands, she said, but a shirt or towel can be used to wrap and move the birds.

“Hillman said people should never try to force feed pigeons or drip water into their mouths, as they breathe through a hole under their tongue that can easily be blocked or filled with liquid.” Never say I don’t give you useful advice!

This is actually a Boston pigeon. We don’t do cowboy hats out East.

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Photo: Kathryn Scott Osler/Denver Post via Getty Images
Black-footed ferrets are the most endangered mammal in North America. Scientists in Montana are trying to save the ferrets by saving their main food source, prairie dogs.

Never doubt the power of a research report written in elementary school. Maybe I would have become interested in conservation anyway (my mother headed up a local conservation group for years), but a report I wrote in 6th grade about the devastation to birds caused by fancy hats pre-WWI made me pay particular attention to birds. John, an environmentalist today, really got into the cause of endangered black-footed ferrets when he wrote a report on them in elementary school.

Although once-threatened birds like the snowy egret and the great egret have been saved, the black-footed ferret, alas, is still endangered. At National Public Radio, Nate Hegyi reports on how scientists are addressing the problem today.

“In central Montana, drones are dropping peanut butter pellets on prairie dog colonies. It’s part of an effort by biologists to save North America’s most endangered mammal — the black-footed ferret (or as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service calls it, the BFF).

“Prairie dogs make up the vast majority of a BFF’s diet. Save the food and you save the ferret, biologists wager. …

“Kristy Bly, a senior biologist with the World Wildlife Fund, [said] there are only about 300 black-footed ferrets left in the wild, and they depend almost entirely on prairie dogs to survive. And protecting the prairie dog population is beneficial to species beyond the ferrets.

” ‘Prairie dogs are Chicken McNuggets of the prairie, where so many species eat them,’ Bly said.

“But in recent years, prairie dog towns across the American West have been exposed to a deadly disease called sylvatic plague. While it’s treatable in humans, sylvatic plague can wipe out entire prairie dog towns in less than a month. And that means no more food for endangered black-footed ferrets.

“So Bly, [Fish and Wildlife biologist Randy Matchett] and a team of scientists and engineers have spent this year vaccinating prairie dogs in central Montana against the plague using drones.

“Drone pilots fly the machines across the prairie, dropping blueberry-sized pellets about every 30 feet. They are flavored to taste like peanut butter, and prairie dogs love peanut butter. The kicker is that they’re laced with a live vaccine that protects them from the plague. …

“By the end of [one] day, they hope to expose more than 4,000 prairie dogs to the vaccine. Past field trials have shown that prairie dogs living in vaccinated areas survive waves of the plague.

” ‘Without [the ferret], do we really have a complete ecosystem?’ Bly asked. ‘You start taking those pieces apart, it’s like a domino effect. When we have ferrets on the landscape the piece of the puzzle that is the American prairie all fits.’ ” More here.

I like the idea of using drones this way. Makes me wonder if the technique could be adapted to handle the overabundance of deer in areas suffering from tick-borne disease. Couldn’t a deer contraceptive in salt pellets be scattered by drones? Just asking.

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Our mostly warm December has turned into a chilly January, and the Samaritan with the hats may find that his or her offerings are finally in demand.

In December, Steve Annear wrote at the Boston Globe that someone had been leaving hats, scarves, and mittens prominently displayed on Boston Common with a sign encouraging whoever might need them to help themselves.

“In an act of kindness, an anonymous person this week hung winter garments on six trees on Boston Common, welcoming passersby affected by the frigid temperatures to help themselves to items of clothing to stay bundled up.

“Tied to the trunks of the trees along the path heading toward Boylston Street are mittens, gloves, scarves, ear-warmers, socks, a pair of warm-up pants, and knit hats.

“A note placed on the ground that was written with a winter-blue-colored marker reads: ‘I am not lost. If you are stuck out in the cold, please take what you need to keep warm.’

“At the bottom of the sign was a drawing of a snowflake. …

“A city spokeswoman said that the Parks and Recreation Department will leave the clothes where they are, as long as they are not damaging the trees or other property on the Common.” More here.

Photo: David L. Ryan/Globe Staff
Scarves and gloves available if you need them.

 

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