This hazard was mentioned In Around and About, January, 1978, In a report of a conversation with Mr. Kilpatrick, manager of Ellington Air base about Prairie Chickens
on the base, and the problem with gulls on the runway. Mr. Kilpatrick mentioned at
the time that he would drive down the runway, hoping to force the gulls to fly away,
but they would simply lift up, fly a short distance in front of the car, then circle
back and settle placidly on the runway again!
** From "Bechtel Briefs", a magazine published for the employees of the Bech+el
group of companies. Engineers and Constructors, we note that Industry Is trying to
protect migratory birds. "Syncrude Canada's environmental staff has erected a mechanical scarecrow on a pond containing unrecoverable bitumen from the nearby Syncrude
Tar Sands Project in northeastern Alberta, Canada in an effort to protect migratory
birds from bitumen's harmful effects.
"Bitumen extracted from tar sands at the Syncrude project, for which Canadian Bechtel
was managing contractor, can destroy the Insulating properties of migratory birds'
feathers and can poison birds when they preen themselves. To repel the birds from
the tailings pond, Syncrude Canada has deployed a team of environmentalists +o clear
the pondi's shoreline of vege+a+ion, +o use oil containment and clean-up devices on
the pond's surface, and build "Bitumap" scarecrows on the oiled parts of the pond.
"Bitu-man" stands almost 2 1/2 meters tall and is mounted on an anchored raft. The
figure Is balanced to Imitate human movements when the wind is blowing, while a pair
of exaggerated eyes lends additional realism to the human-like effect. A propane
nolsemaker makes an explosion like a shotgun at frequent Intervals to frighten birds
away as well. Syncrude plans +o s+a+ion a small army of "Bi+u-men" on +he pond +o
keep +he birds away from oily areas in the fu+ure."
THE LEARNING CORNER
Do you rely too strongly on color In your field identifications? Last fall, THE
ROADRUNNER, newsletter of the Maricopa Audubon Society (Tempe, Ariz.), had a black
and white photograph of a mystery bird on the cover of the August issue. Obviously
a female oriole, but which one? Not until the October issue was the bird Identified
and clues pointed out that helped make that Identification. Following Is the explanation of this Interesting exercise.
"If the photo had been In color, the more obvious Identifying features would have
been discernable. However, the black and white photo presented a challenge, causing
us to pay closer attention to the more subtle differences.
"Without the aid of color, how can one decide whether the female oriole Is a Hooded,
a Scott's, a Bullock's or an Orchard Oriole? It Is almost certainly a Hooded Oriole
for several reasons—the relatively narrow and decurved bill, the slender body, the
fact that the head and back are no+ darker than the underparts, and the contrast between the wings and the upperparts. The bird Is probably not a Scott's Oriole because If it were, the bill would be thicker, the head and back would be darker, and
streaking on the back would probably be visible. Bui lock's Oriole Is also an unlikely identification because it too would be darker on the head and back, the bill would
be shorter, and the whitish belly would probably be visible. The bill of the bird
In the photo Is much too long to be that of an Orchard Oriole. Most of us could Improve our powers of Iden+lfica+lon if we were +o keep the above poln+s In mind while
observing female orioles In the field."
We on +he upper Texas coast can only sigh with, a twinge of envy at the problem faced
by readers of THE ROADRUNNER, for of the four Orioles mentioned, we have only the
Orchard and an occasional Bullock's, which Is now lumped with our usual Baltimore
as the Northern Oriole. But the point raised is one we could all ponder with benefit. ...color isn't the only means of identification!
[Ed. note: From our trusty "Words For Birds", we learn that Oriole Is derived from
the French oAiol, which was derived from the Medieval Latin oAiolui, "golden bird",
from Latin auAeolui, the diminutive of auAeuA, "golden," and alludes to the yellow
of these birds. Ict&Aidae is the conventional form of the Greek ikteAoi meaning
"Jaundice", hence yellowish. Myth has it that the sight of an oriole will cure
Jaundice. Thus color played a large part In naming these birds, both their common
and scientific names, oriole and IcteAuA. The scientific name consists of two elements, the first of which is the generic term, in this Instance, IcteAuA, and the
trivial. Thus the Orchard Oriole Is XctXAUA ipuAiui, the trivial portion coming
from Latin for "spurious" or "Illegitimate," which is related +o +he Greek ipona,
"seed". The species was once known as the Bas+ard Baltimore Oriole. The scientific
names of birds are always fascinating to research in "Words For Birds"!