WBEZ | birds http://www.wbez.org/tags/birds Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Hawks on the rise http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/hawks-rise-109889 <p><p><a href="http://interactive.wbez.org/curiouscity/hawks/#/page1" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Bird%20TOPPER.jpg" title="" /></a></p><p><em>Artwork by Chicago-based artist <a href="http://dianasudyka.com/">Diana Sudyka</a>.&nbsp;</em></p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/140433257&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_artwork=true" width="100%"></iframe><em>Editor&#39;s note: This episode of the Curious City podcast includes a story about the resurgence of Cooper&#39;s Hawks in Chicago. It starts at 4 minutes, 45 seconds into the program.&nbsp;(Subscribe via&nbsp;<a href="https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/curious-city/id568409161" target="_blank">iTunes&nbsp;</a>or&nbsp;<a href="http://feeds.feedburner.com/CuriousCityPodcast" target="_blank">Feedburner</a>!)&nbsp;</em></p><p>This story about hawks was a long time coming for Carole Zemont of Chicago&rsquo;s Norwood Park neighborhood. Carole thinks she&rsquo;s &ldquo;genetically predisposed&rdquo; to be interested in birds, after growing up watching them at the bird feeder her mother put up in their backyard.</p><p>That lifelong interest &mdash; as well as a recent hawk sighting of hers &mdash; led Carole to ask Curious City:</p><p style="text-align: center;"><em>Is anybody studying the increasing hawk activity in Chicago&rsquo;s neighborhoods?</em></p><p>Her question covers several topics, including the people on the lookout for hawks, but we thought we owed it to Carole to suss out whether &mdash; in fact &mdash; there&rsquo;s a local population of hawks on the rise. While tracking this down, we came across a bit of a wildlife conservation success story.</p><p><strong>(Chicken) hawks on the increase</strong></p><p>Observant bird-watchers like Carole suspect there are more hawks in the area, but have professional researchers taken note, too?</p><p>Well, there are several local researchers who study and document the goings-on of wild critters in our urban and suburban environment, but when it comes to studying hawks specifically, we can turn up only one: Mason Fidino of the Urban Wildlife Institute. Founded in 2009, the Institute&rsquo;s part of Chicago&rsquo;s Lincoln Park Zoo.</p><p>For the first part of Carole&rsquo;s question, does Fidino&rsquo;s work show that there is an increased hawk population in Chicago? &nbsp;&ldquo;Yes! It&rsquo;s a pretty resounding yes,&rdquo; he says. Fidino is recreating a historic bird count that was conducted in Lincoln Park from 1897 to 1903, and he&rsquo;s able to compare current bird populations with this century-old data. One hawk in particular stands out in Fidino&rsquo;s studies: the Cooper&rsquo;s Hawk, which he describes as the &ldquo;most abundant,&rdquo; frequently seen bird of prey in Lincoln Park. This is quite a change from the historic study, where the Cooper&rsquo;s Hawk &ldquo;was not seen whatsoever.&rdquo;</p><p>These birds were once widely viewed as a menace and even hunted in the past. Nicknamed &ldquo;chicken hawks,&rdquo; they were despised as chicken thieves.</p><p>Fidino points me to the historical record, where we can find sentiments from people like Alfred O. Gross, a man who eventually became a respected ornithologist. In 1906 Gross conducted a bird census in Illinois. He described the Cooper&rsquo;s Hawk as a &ldquo;handsome robber&rdquo; with a &ldquo;perverted taste for chicken.&rdquo;<a href="http://www.thinglink.com/scene/502929837053181952" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Cooper's Hawk inline image.jpg" style="height: 443px; width: 350px; float: right;" title="Rendering of a Cooper's Hawk, otherwise known as a Chicken Hawk, by Chicago artist Diana Sudyka." /></a></p><p>Later, the <a href="http://www.epa.gov/pesticides/factsheets/chemicals/ddt-brief-history-status.htm" target="_blank">pesticide DDT </a>also damaged their population. Cooper&rsquo;s Hawks mostly eat other birds, so they would have ingested all of the DDT concentrated in their prey animals. The pesticide caused eggshells to thin, and they would crack under the weight of the large birds. The Cooper&rsquo;s Hawk was even on Illinois&rsquo; endangered species list from 1977 through 1997.</p><p>Eventually, human interference loosened: We stopped shooting &ldquo;chicken hawks,&rdquo; we banned DDT, and, according to Fidino, the hawks came back.</p><p><strong>How easy is it to see one?</strong></p><p>Mason Fidino says you can find hawks in the city if you look for them &mdash;especially Cooper&rsquo;s Hawks. &ldquo;Often enough you&rsquo;ll see hawks circling around,&rdquo; he says, adding you can also spot them perched on tree branches. Fidino advises curious residents to &ldquo;spend some time on a weekend, take a walk out in a park. You should be able to see a bird of prey or two.&rdquo;</p><p>Fidino says he sometimes even sees hawks hunting in Chicago&rsquo;s Lincoln Park. If you see something quickly zooming towards the ground, it could be a hawk looking for lunch. For his part, Fidino will see the hunting bird just out of the corner of his eye. It will be &ldquo;this really quick movement going from the top of the tree downwards to whatever it&rsquo;s trying to catch. Then its talons go out, and it grabs what it&rsquo;s going after and then it&rsquo;ll swing back up or land with it,&rdquo; he says.</p><p>Cooper&rsquo;s Hawks have nests that are smaller than squirrels&rsquo; bulky, leafy nests. Another way to catch a glimpse of a hawk is to keep an eye on their nest &ldquo;and see who shows up,&rdquo; Fidino says.</p><p><strong>A possible hawk menace?</strong></p><p>It&rsquo;s reassuring to see a previously struggling species thrive, but perhaps you&rsquo;re wondering about a downside. Cooper&rsquo;s Hawks survive mostly by hunting smaller birds. Will we be hearing about a &ldquo;save the chickadees&rdquo; campaign in a few years?<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Flickr_%20Mike%20Ormsby_Copper%27s%20Hawk.jpg" style="height: 346px; width: 275px; float: left;" title="Cooper's Hawks look very similar to Sharp-shinned Hawks, but differences can be detected with key details like tail feather shape. Our field guide gives more clues for distinguishing the species. (Flickr/Mike Ormsby)" /></p><p>Fidino is not worried. Populations of top predators like hawks tend to be much smaller than their prey species. The relatively few chickadees or pigeons who end up being a hawk&rsquo;s lunch shouldn&rsquo;t significantly damage their population. The various bird populations, Fidino says, &ldquo;should be able to work themselves out into what you&rsquo;d kind of consider an equilibrium.&rdquo;</p><p>Hawks mostly hunt birds, although they&rsquo;ll also dine on small mammals. It&rsquo;s very rare for pets to come under attack by raptors. However, when pressed, Fidino will advise that owners of small pets might want to &ldquo;be mindful of the species that they&rsquo;re adding to the ecosystem,&rdquo; and perhaps not leave especially tiny dogs unattended in the back yard.</p><p><strong>The adaptation game</strong></p><p>Carole wondered if we&rsquo;re seeing more hawks in Chicago because they&rsquo;ve developed adaptive behaviors to live in cities. Dr. Seth Magle, the Urban Wildlife Institute&rsquo;s director, says that&rsquo;s not the case. He described the concept of &ldquo;habitat analogs,&rdquo; where parts of our built environment function to animals the way their natural habitat does.</p><p>Magle provides the example of pigeons. &ldquo;They&rsquo;re cliff-dwelling species, but in cities we build these big tall buildings, so to pigeons they may kind of look like cliffs,&rdquo; and thus look like home, he says.</p><p>Hawk behavior is similar. Red-tailed hawks like to perch on something tall, and power lines along the highway function perfectly for that task. Other species, including the Cooper&rsquo;s Hawk, feel perfectly at home in trees near humans. And why not, now that we city-dwellers and suburbanites are more interested in watching hawks than shooting them.</p><p><em>Special thanks to the <a href="http://www.birds.cornell.edu" target="_blank">Cornell Lab of Ornithology</a> for permission to use images, bird listings and sound for this story.</em></p><p><em>Katie Klocksin is an independent producer. Follow her on Twitter at <a href="https://twitter.com/katieklocksin" target="_blank">@KatieKlocksin</a>.<a name="hawkscreensavers"></a></em></p></p> Wed, 19 Mar 2014 17:11:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/hawks-rise-109889 New Orland Grasslands trail stirs environmental concerns http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-03/new-orland-grasslands-trail-stirs-environmental-concerns-106058 <p><p><a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/usachicago/4890741791/" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/orland%20grassland%20by%20John%20W.%20Iwanski.jpg" title="Orland Grasslands (Flickr/John W. Iwanski)" /></a></p><p>The Forest Preserve District of Cook County released plans Monday for <a href="http://www.orlandgrasslandbiketrail.com/">a trail and bike path in Orland Grasslands</a>, but some environmentalists say the project could jeopardize the recovery of a fragile ecosystem by fragmenting land used by migratory birds.</p><p>Though site volunteers said they felt their concerns were largely acknowledged by the District&rsquo;s design team, they remain apprehensive about the trail&rsquo;s southeast segment, which bows around the west side of a large pond that fronts onto La Grange Road.</p><p>&ldquo;Every single inch matters,&rdquo; said Pat Hayes, Orland Grasslands&rsquo; site steward. &ldquo;What we&rsquo;re dealing with is not just a pretty place. This is sustenance for ecosystems and species that have nowhere else to go.&rdquo;</p><p>A letter from the Bird Conservation Network cited several bird species known to nest in the Grasslands &mdash; Henslow&rsquo;s Sparrow, Dickcissel, Grasshopper Sparrow and Bobolink &mdash; that could be affected, as well as shorebird species known to stopover on the site during their migration. Though small, a path separating the pond from the Grasslands&rsquo; interior could deter birds and turtles from critical mud flats along the water&rsquo;s edge.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/orland-grassland-trail_0311-610px.jpg" title="(Forest Preserve District of Cook County)" /></p><p>&ldquo;We understand their concerns and took this issue seriously,&rdquo; said the Forest Preserve District&rsquo;s Karen Vaughan. &ldquo;In this instance, there was no ideal alignment of the trail that would fully satisfy all everyone, so our challenge was to find the best possible balance. We think we&rsquo;ve done that with the current alignment.&rdquo;</p><p>Originally the trail&rsquo;s western leg along 104<sup>th</sup> Avenue also jogged inward along the interior edge of a large wetland. Revised plans from the District moved the trail closer to the site&rsquo;s perimeter at several points to minimize its impact on restored areas amid a tenuous recovery.</p><p>The District also agreed not to mow the trail after discussions with local environmentalists, who worried mowers would track in weeds and invasive species from other sites.</p><p>By tying in with <a href="http://www.orland-park.il.us/DocumentCenter/Home/View/735">bike path networks</a> in the Southwest <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/day-orland-park-105394">suburban communities of Orland Park</a> and <a href="http://www.wbez.org/tags/tinley-park">Tinley Park</a>, the Orland Grasslands trail is meant to draw more visitors into the site. Pat Hayes said contrary to popular opinion, environmentalists are in full agreement with the District about that.</p><p>&ldquo;Nature needs people,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>Public engagement could garner some new site volunteers, Hayes said, and generally improve the community&rsquo;s attitude toward natural areas. Signs and viewing points along the trail will direct visitors&rsquo; attention to the surrounding ecosystem.</p><p>The Orland Grasslands are <a href="http://fpdcc.com/preserves-and-trails/projects/orlandgrassland/">a vast preserve</a> spanning more than 1,000 acres, following <a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2012-10-11/news/ct-met-orland-grassland-preserve-20121011_1_orland-grassland-forest-preserve-district-restoration-projects">an acquisition the District made last fall</a> in the midst of an ongoing restoration project aimed at rehabilitating prairie, wetland, oak savanna and oak woodlands ecosystems. Besides a small gravel parking lot in the northeast corner of the site, the trail will be the only developed access to the Grasslands&rsquo; interior.</p><p>The trail still needs to pass engineering and permitting hurdles, but a letter from the District&rsquo;s chief landscape architect indicates its design is unlikely to change significantly. The District expects to begin construction this fall.</p></p> Wed, 13 Mar 2013 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-03/new-orland-grasslands-trail-stirs-environmental-concerns-106058 Cats kill billions of birds each year, study says http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-01/cats-kill-billions-birds-each-year-study-says-105233 <p><p><a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/kmcmahon/6224268393/" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/black%20cat%20by%20kirk%20mcmahon.jpg" style="height: 405px; width: 610px;" title="I can haz 2.4 billion birds? (Kirk McMahon via Flickr)" /></a></p><p><a href="http://mashable.com/2012/07/02/best-cat-memes-ever/">Meme this</a>: wild, outdoor cats could be killing far more birds and mammals than previously estimated &mdash; at least 1.4 billion birds and at least 6.9 billion mammals each year.</p><p>That&rsquo;s according to a <a href="http://www.nature.com/ncomms/journal/v4/n1/full/ncomms2380.html">new study in <em>Nature Communications</em></a> that says cat predation is the single greatest cause of bird deaths linked to human settlement &mdash; more than building collisions, pesticides or wind turbines. Previous assessments have <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/21/science/21birds.html">called cats the no. 1 killer of birds</a>, but never by so wide a margin.</p><p>The study estimated that the median number of birds killed by cats annually is 2.4 billion and the median number of mammals killed is 12.3 billion. Most of that is from feral (stray) cats, so don&rsquo;t scold Snowball just yet.</p><p>There are more than <a href="http://www.examiner.com/article/what-is-a-feral-cat-colder-weather-shows-feral-cat-population">50 million feral cats</a> and <a href="http://www.humanesociety.org/issues/pet_overpopulation/facts/pet_ownership_statistics.html">some 86 million owned cats</a> in the U.S., according to the Humane Society of the United States. Chicago might have as many as <a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2009-07-29/news/0907270294_1_neuter-and-return-trap-neuter-and-return-feral-cat/2">half a million stray cats</a> &mdash; an animal welfare crisis in and of itself. But the study also calls into question so-called Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) policies for managing stray animals, which are supposed to rein in the population of feral cats without killing them.</p><p>The study&#39;s surprisingly high estimates of bird and mammal deaths, however, suggest cats could nonetheless represent an invasive presence in the U.S., with dire consequences for other animal populations. Proponents of TNR programs say they are successful in certain circumstances, and not yet widespread enough to have the impact they otherwise could.</p><p>By comparison, another <a href="http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v447/n7141/full/447126a.html">study in <em>Nature</em></a> found each wind turbine kills an average of 4.27 birds per year, but other estimates have been higher &mdash; the American Bird Conservancy projects about 1 million total bird deaths due to wind turbines each year, if 20 percent of the country&rsquo;s electricity comes from wind power by 2030. Other estimates have put that figure lower.</p><p>(Wind turbines can also disrupt mating patterns and habitat for some bird species, as well as kill birds of prey larger than most cats would have the mettle to take on. There has been, however, some&nbsp;<a href="http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=wind-turbines-and-bird-conflicts">regulatory progress on minimizing these effects</a>. And fossil fuel-based energy production is no friend of the birds &mdash; <a href="http://reneweconomy.com.au/2012/want-to-save-70-million-birds-a-year-build-more-wind-farms-18274">by some estimates it is even worse</a>.)</p><p>Another <a href="http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/chicago-bird-collision-monitors">1 billion birds die each year</a> following collisions with buildings, by some estimates, which makes skyscrapers a major cause of bird deaths.</p><p>It is worth noting that pinning down the number of dead birds and small mammals is <a href="http://www.voxfelina.com/2010/05/a-critical-assessment-of-critical-assessment-part-2/">an historically tricky proposition</a>. The new study is the most comprehensive yet, and was led by researchers from the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.</p></p> Thu, 31 Jan 2013 08:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-01/cats-kill-billions-birds-each-year-study-says-105233 Suburban Chicago bird hoarder pleads not guilty http://www.wbez.org/news/suburban-chicago-bird-hoarder-pleads-not-guilty-104192 <p><p>AURORA, Ill.&nbsp; &mdash; The defense attorney for an Aurora man who house was found filled with nearly 500 birds says that weeks later there are still birds in the residence.</p><p>Defense attorney Roderick Mallison said Tuesday that there are still birds inside the Aurora home that David Skeberdis &quot;has not been able to capture yet.&quot; Skerberdis pleaded not guilty Tuesday to one count of misdemeanor animal hoarding. Authorities discovered in October that his home was filled with hundreds of birds. It also contained mounds of garbage, bird feces and bird seed.</p><p>The <a href="http://bit.ly/R5v3cB" target="_blank">Daily Herald reports</a> that the 57-year-old Skeberdis&#39; town house has been condemned. The house held finches, canaries, parakeets along with 120 dead birds.</p><p>Skerberdis has acknowledges his bird collecting got out of control.</p></p> Tue, 04 Dec 2012 16:10:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/suburban-chicago-bird-hoarder-pleads-not-guilty-104192 Worldview 5.15.12 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-05/worldview-51512-99154 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/jarawa30_screen.jpg" title="Residents of Jarawa, in the Andaman Islands. (Photo by Salomé/Survival)"></div></div><div class="image-insert-image ">Tuesday on <em>Worldview:</em></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">A road at the center of a "human safari" scandal in the Andaman Islands is still open, 10 years after India’s Supreme Court ordered it closed. The road is used by "human safaris," which promise tourists the chance to "spot" members of the rarely seen Jarawa tribe, as if they were zoo animals. The indigenous peoples advocacy group, <a href="http://www.survivalinternational.org/" target="_blank">Survival International</a>, tells us the Jarawa’s story.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Then, navigating Chicago's buildings is far more dangerous for birds than flying through dense woodlands. <a href="http://ecomythsalliance.org/about/staff/kate-sackman/" target="_blank">Kate Sackman</a> of <a href="http://ecomythsalliance.org/" target="_blank">EcoMyths</a> joins Jerome McDonnell for <em>Worldview's</em> monthly myth-busting Eco segment along with Field Museum Ornithologist and Ecologist <a href="http://fm1.fieldmuseum.org/aa/staff_page.cgi?staff=stotz" target="_blank">Doug Stotz</a> and Annette Prince of Chicago Bird Collision Monitors.</div></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Tue, 15 May 2012 10:44:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-05/worldview-51512-99154 EcoMyths: Can birds navigate around buildings? http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-05/ecomyths-can-birds-navigate-around-buildings-99150 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/migratory%20birds%20flickr%20akeg.jpg" style="height: 465px; width: 620px;" title="Chicago pigeons in front of the Merchandise Mart. (Flickr/akeg) " /></div><p><iframe width="100%" height="166" scrolling="no" frameborder="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F77425380"></iframe>It&rsquo;s the middle of May, and that means we are in the teeth of bird migration season. In fact, International Bird Migration Day just took place over the weekend, celebrated by bird watchers the world over. But there&rsquo;s a challenge that looms large for migratory birds, and not surprisingly perhaps, it&rsquo;s put there by us humans.</p><p>According to experts we talked to, between 100 million and 1 billion birds die in North America every year due to building collisions, mostly in the fall and spring. (This number doesn&rsquo;t even include collisions with wind turbines or communication towers.)</p><p>You&rsquo;d think birds could just fly around buildings; you&rsquo;d be wrong. As its name suggests, the website <a href="http://ecomythsalliance.org/">EcoMyths</a> busts environmental untruths, like the one that suggests migratory birds know how to navigate their way through a city. For numerous reasons, navigating flight through a place like Chicago is far more dangerous for birds than flying through dense woodlands.</p><p><strong>The Misconception</strong>:<br />Migrating birds know to fly around city buildings.<br /><br /><strong>The Reality:</strong><br />Navigating city buildings is far more challenging for birds than flying through dense woodlands, because:</p><p>A) Birds can&#39;t see glass and see it as an opening</p><p>B) Nocturnal migrants get confused by lights</p><p>C) Migrant birds aren&#39;t used to urban landscape, having spent the previous season in open areas and rainforests in South and Central America</p><p>EcoMyths founder <a href="http://ecomythsalliance.org/about/staff/kate-sackman/">Kate Sackman</a> joins us Tuesday for <em>Worldview&#39;s</em> monthly <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/ecomyths">myth-busting segment</a>. They talk about saving and studying birds in harm&#39;s way with Field Museum Ornithologist and Ecologist <a href="http://fm1.fieldmuseum.org/aa/staff_page.cgi?staff=stotz">Doug Stotz</a> and Annette Prince of <a href="http://www.birdmonitors.net/">Chicago Bird Collision Monitors</a>.</p></p> Tue, 15 May 2012 10:15:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-05/ecomyths-can-birds-navigate-around-buildings-99150 Postcard: Scientists climb into bald eagle nests to measure health of the Great Lakes http://www.wbez.org/content/postcard-scientists-climb-bald-eagle-nests-measure-health-great-lakes <p><p><em>Biologists with the National Park Service are in their sixth year of visiting eagle nests on Lake Superior for blood and feather samples that help them monitor the level of toxic pollutants in the lake</em></p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe src="http://player.vimeo.com/video/25677824?title=0&amp;byline=0&amp;portrait=0" width="513" frameborder="0" height="341" scrolling="no"></iframe></p><p><a href="http://vimeo.com/25677824">Feisty is good</a> from <a href="http://vimeo.com/wbez">WBEZ</a> on <a href="http://vimeo.com">Vimeo</a>.</p><p>Jim Spickler is wearing an orange hardhat and hanging on a climbing rope 100 feet up in a white pine tree on Basswood Island in Lake Superior.</p><p> <style type="text/css"> div .inline { width: 290px; float: left; margin-right: 19px; margin-left: 3px; clear: left; } div .inlineContent { border-top: 1px dotted #aa211d; border-top-width: 1px; border-top-style: dotted; border-top-color: #aa211d; margin-bottom: 5px; margin-top: 2px; } ul { margin-left: 15px; } li { font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: 1em; background-repeat: no-repeat; background-repeat-x: no-repeat; background-repeat-y: no-repeat; background-position: 0 5px; background-position-x: 0px; background-position-y: 5px; padding-left: 3px; margin-bottom: 0.5em; }</style> </p><div class="inline"><div class="inlineContent"><a href="http://www.wbez.org/frontandcenter"><img alt="" src="http://www.wbez.org/sites/default/files/story/insert-image/2011-June/2011-06-28/FNC-inset-promo.jpg" style="width: 280px; height: 50px;" title=""></a><ul><li><strong><a href="http://www.wbez.org/frontandcenter/2011-06-23/runaway-algae-returns-lake-erie-88249">Runaway Algae</a></strong></li><li><strong><a href="http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-06-23/front-and-center-how-chicagos-excrement-killing-fish-gulf-mexico-88234">How Chicago's excrement is killing fish in the Gulf of Mexico </a></strong></li><li><strong><a href="http://www.wbez.org/frontandcenter/2011-06-21/how-likely-fear-west-could-steal-great-lakes-water-88162">Could the West steal Great Lakes Water? </a></strong></li></ul><p><strong>SLIDESHOW</strong></p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/frontandcenter/2011-06-14/postcard-detroits-floating-post-office-88094"><img alt="" src="http://www.wbez.org/sites/default/files/blog/insert-image/2011-June/2011-06-28/img_1542.jpg" style="width: 120px; height: 90px; float: left; margin-left: 5px; margin-right: 5px;" title=""></a><p 12="" font-size:=""><br> <strong><a href="http://www.wbez.org/frontandcenter/2011-06-14/postcard-detroits-floating-post-office-88094">&nbsp;J.W. Westcott,</a></strong><strong><a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/postcard-detroits-floating-post-office-87236"><br> Detroit's floating<br> post office</a></strong><br> &nbsp;</p><p><strong><a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/postcard-detroits-floating-post-office-87236"> </a></strong></p></div></div><p>“Good morning, Mr. Eagle,” he says to a fuzzy brown bird sitting on the six-foot-wide jumble of sticks that serves as the eaglet’s nest. Spickler is a wildlife biologist and an expert climber from northern California where he works in giant redwood trees. It’s his job to gently stuff the eaglet into a sack and bring it to the ground for a quick checkup. The eaglet is only seven weeks old, but it’s already the size of a small goose, and it has formidable talons attached to its bright yellow feet.Waiting for Spickler on the ground is Bill Route, an ecologist with the National Park Service’s Inventory and Monitoring Program, which keeps tabs on the wellbeing of plants and animals on Park Service land.&nbsp; Route heads up this survey of eagle nests.“Eagles are a success story,” Route says. “Their numbers are increasing.”</p><p>Route says there were no eagles at all nesting on the Great Lakes in the late 1960s, thanks in part to the insecticide DDT, which left the eagle’s eggs perilously thin and nearly wiped the birds out. But DDT was banned in 1972, and eagles started to bounce back. They were removed from the Endangered Species List in 2007.</p><p>“We still find traces of DDT in eagles,” Route says. “It’s very persistent. And that’s what we’re worried about: persistent, toxic chemicals that accumulate up the food chain.”</p><p>Like some flame-retardant and stain resistant chemicals. The scientists will screen the eaglet’s blood for those, too.</p><p>“Eagles are a sentinel species,” Route says.&nbsp; “They get this magnification. Since bald eagles sit on top of the food chain, they get a lot of the contaminant because they eat other organisms that are also contaminated.”</p><p>As Route is talking, Jim Spickler descends the climbing rope with the eaglet. They draw a blood sample from the bird and make some measurements. The eaglet hisses at them and makes some klutzy attempts at biting their hands. In minutes, Spickler is on his way back up the rope to put the eaglet back on its nest.</p><p>Two adult eagles circle above the trees letting out a steady stream of cries. The sound is surprisingly thin and high-pitched for a bird with a seven-foot wingspan. The biologists say adult eagles can be noisy, but they rarely attack humans. The adults will be back on the nest soon after the humans leave.</p><p>A few minutes later, the eaglet is in its nest and Jim Spickler is on the ground.</p><p>“It’s a little bit of a feisty chick,” he says as he starts packing his climbing gear. “But that means that it’s well fed and it’s likely to survive. So, mission accomplished.”</p><ul></ul></p> Wed, 29 Jun 2011 14:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/content/postcard-scientists-climb-bald-eagle-nests-measure-health-great-lakes