vs: raptors

3

On an overcast late-spring afternoon, a group of bird lovers from the Earth Conservation Corps are in a boat on Washington, D.C.’s Anacostia River, and point out an osprey circling overhead. “This is like their summer vacation spot and where they have their young,” says Bob Nixon, in the boat. “Then they spend most of their lives in the Amazon.”

It wasn’t so long ago that the ospreys – and other large birds of prey known as raptors – avoided this place. The Anacostia, often called Washington’s forgotten river, was too polluted to support wildlife. Nearly nine miles long, the river flows from Maryland into the Potomac, but became infamous in the second half of the 20th century as one of the most neglected, trash-choked waterways in the United States – a blighted river amid blighted neighborhoods.

But in recent years, the Anacostia has seen a rebirth. Thanks to the efforts of the Earth Conservation Corps — which Nixon, a filmmaker and conservationist, started 25 years ago — there are now four osprey nests on the river’s Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge. “We’ve turned this into a raptor hotel,” says Nixon.

In 1994, two years into the Earth Conservation Corps’ work, Washington was in the midst of a crack epidemic, with a murder rate topping 400 a year. At that low point in the city’s recent history, Nixon had the idea to bring the bald eagle back to the nation’s capital. It had disappeared decades earlier.

Between 1994 and 1998, members of the corps raised and released 16 bald eagles. Anthony Satterthwaite and Burrell Duncan fed the very first eaglets – hatched in Wisconsin and delivered to Washington to start the reintroduction program – by hiding in the woods and sending fish via a clothesline pulley system into the boxes where the baby birds were kept high up in a poplar tree. They couldn’t let the young birds see them, for fear that they’d imprint on humans.

When the birds were old enough, the boxes were opened.

“To see these birds fly away from this box they were in for three months – just joy, man,” says Satterthwaite. “Just joy.”

They named the eagles in memory of their fallen friends — Monique Johnson and the other corps members they’d lost over the years.

“We wasn’t supposed to live to see the age of 21,” says Satterthwaite. “We was just as endangered as this majestic bird. So it became very powerful and we connected the two, and that’s why we started our raptor education program with Rodney Stotts.”

This year, there are three eagle’s nests in Washington. A naming contest was held for one of the eaglets, which hatched March 15 in southwest Washington. The winning name: Spirit. Its parents are Liberty and Justice.

“We no longer have to name them after dead colleagues,” says Nixon.

In Washington, D.C., A Program In Which Birds And People Lift Each Other Up

Photos: Claire Harbage/NPR

have a photo post

Per @star-anise‘s request for kitty pics this week, I’m reminded that I actually really like pulling together an assortment of pics and telling stories about them, and I have a metric shitton of random photos on my phone. SO. You can safely expect the occasional post like this until I run out of photos or get bored with it, whichever happens first.

This is two batches combined into one, from back in 2013 (which is I think before I cracked and got a tumblr) and separated by a few weeks and a few hundred miles. One’s from the Milwaukee Zoo, where a friend of a friend is a zookeeper and took us through the exhibits on her day off. I seem to have lost the bat feeding and the polar bear feeding photos, sorry. :( The other set is from the Raptor Rehabilitation Center on the U of Minnesota campus, where they do some damn impressive work with birds of prey.

HELLO PRETTY SNOW LEOPARD what’s that, you want to eat my face? Oh. I guess we’ll stay out here then. Not shown: the back of the cage has an exit onto his native habitat; I forget why he was in back but I think he was due for yearly check-up?

Yes. Yes we did get to feed the giraffes. Yes their tongues are that sticky, which is why you make sure to only lightly hold one end. (No, I don’t remember exactly what the food was, I think a specially balanced grain-and-plant thing made into crackers? It was their treat-food not their regular food.)

MOOSE. This moose was seeing her favorite person and also her favorite food: bananas.

Our zookeeper guide had hand-raised many of the wolves from birth, so several came reasonably close to see who these strange new mammals with her were. 

And the birbs behind a cut because this is getting long…

Keep reading

Job Interviewer: where do you see yourself in 5 years time

Me: You know that scene in Scott Pilgrim vs. The World when Scott goes back to Ramona’s place in the blizzard and she offers him tea and lists like twenty different types that she has in her cupboard without batting an eyelid and Scott’s convinced she made some of them up? Yeah I wanna be that

A fluff! I may make some changes later on, but here, for now, is the finished thing!

I’ve never completed a paleoart piece before.The whole process was interesting, if not a little daunting - 50% drawing, 50% research. I didn’t aim to draw any specific kind of dino, but rather tried to create a realistic depiction of a generic, more modern avian dinosaur; I actually began by drawing a bird (a smooth billed ani) and working from there.

In the background you’ll see a couple tapejara - T. wellnhoferi (left) and T. imperator.