Red Rover, Red Rover send the Piping Plover Right Over….the edge

Photo by mdf (not associated with this blog)

Photo by mdf (not associated with this blog)

Well, the XL pipeline is back in the news.  You may have no problem with the concept of an oil pipeline, until it comes to your town and breaks.  All that crude and synthetic oil with nasty byproducts is not easy or even possible to fully clean up.  Just ask the good folks of Mayflower, Arkansas.  But the prospect of an expanded XL pipeline wouldn’t just be a threat to the people and the environment directly in its path.  There are critters too of concern – fish, birds and beetles, who would loudly object if only they could.  I’m not talking about the run of the mill variety.  Frankly, if the pipeline took out some of those invasive jumping fish and colonies of fire ants and swarms of killer bees and as many giant green flies as possible, I wouldn’t lose much sleep.  But I’m talking about some of nature’s finest and most obscure and endangered creatures who call our fair country home and who would be adversely impacted, perhaps even wiped off the species list entirely were the XL pipeline fully implemented, at least according to Noah Greenwald, Director of the Endangered Species Program at the Center for Biological Diversity as reported by Talia Buford in a Politico article.  Greenwald’s list includes the pallid sturgeon, the American burying beetle, the piping plover, “six geese a laying” (just kidding, but maybe, who knows?) the whooping crane and the interior least tern.

One would think the piping plover could thrive near a “pipe”line, and that the burying beetle would simply dig deeper and find comfy bedrock for shelter.  But they are not as resourceful and resilient as I imagined.  I am not at all surprised though about the pallid sturgeon, who has been looking quite faint and sickly for years. The same can be said for the whooping crane who has had a mighty cough now for a few generations running.  The least tern, as its name implies, is the smallest of the terns and is in need of constant protection, but despite it’s diminutive size, it has quite the bill for foraging, which could be a problem.  Curious by nature, the least tern might do some exploring of its own and encounter some slug or insect that had been marinating in a pool of toxic goop from a leaky pipeline.

Of course as more pipeline is built, more and more of these delicate and iconic creatures could lose their natural habitats and be wiped off the planet for good. So let’s stop this thing.  I say power to the piping plover, to the sickly sturgeon, to the shy burying beetle and last but not least to the tiny interior least tern, all of whom don’t depend on fossil fuels like their foolish stewards.

Alternative Names for Bird Teams

Some professional teams really should go for a name change.  Take the Cardinal, no not Stanford whose name should be a Plover or maybe a Quail.  The St. Louis Cardinal is actually a Northern Cardinal.  The Northern Cardinal, a member of the crow family, makes quite a bit of noise, but despite their piercing song, take flight when challenged.  If St. Louis insists on holding on to a bird name, I would propose a more interesting one like a Tanager or a Whip-poor-will.  I can hear the crowd whipped into a frenzy with the call of the Whip-poor-will to taunt opposing pitchers and outfielders.  For the other bird teams, and I’m mixing sports here, like the Blue Jays, Eagles, Orioles, Owls and Seahawks, here are some choice bird replacements:

Baltimore Sapsuckers (Sphyrapicus thyroideus) – a nod to all the pine tar the players use

Toronto Arctic Warblers – a mouthful

Philadelphia Woodpeckers – you know, all the wooden bats

Rice Roadrunners – rolls off the tongue

Temple Grackles – Grackle is just a great football name and would instill fear in an opponent.

Seattle Flamingo – I don’t know why more teams aren’t named after wading birds.

Birds in my Backyard

I’ve been birding now for a few months; nothing serious, strictly on the amateur level. To attract some birds, (and other creatures) I’ve set up 5 bird feeders which I fill with seeds once or twice a day. To see them better, I purchased an inexpensive pair of Nikon binoculars. To identify the birds, I bought The Sibley Guide to Birds. So far, here’s what I’ve seen:

What birds have you seen lately?