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Archive for May, 2010

Rattlesnakes & gopher snakes: How to tell them apart

Poisonous Western rattlesnake (Brian Murphy/Walnut Creek, CA)
western rattlesnake

Spring has sprung and many cold blooded reptiles are now crawling out and about. In case you can’t tell the difference between rattlesnakes and gopher snakes, you and any other family members, especially children, should check out and compare these photographs of the two reptiles. /Gary

Harmless Pacific gopher snake (Brian Murphy/Walnut Creek, CA)
gopher snak2

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Posted on Thursday, May 13th, 2010
Under: Gopher snake, Rattlesnake, Snakes | 2 Comments »

Pet fur being used to help Gulf of Mexico oil spill cleanup

Matter of Trust is a San Francisco nonprofit that has established a process for donating animal fur and human hair to create absorbent booms to soak up and remove oil from the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. Companies like Pet Food Express and Petco are collecting pet fur from their grooming salons and donating the fur to Matter of Trust. With nearly 1,000 grooming salons, Petco claims to be shipping about a ton of donated fur per day.

Yes, that’s a LOT of fur. Unfortunately, there’s also a LOT of oil to be soaked up. /Gary

Posted on Wednesday, May 12th, 2010
Under: Oil, Oil Spills | 1 Comment »

Western bluebirds: Catching insects in a pesticide-free garden

Western bluebird parents catching insects to feed young. (Brian Murphy/Walnut Creek, CA)
bluebirds, brian murphy

Attached is what happens when western bluebirds nest in a pesticide-free garden like The Gardens at Heather Farm in Walnut Creek, CA. There is such an abundance of insects to feed young, the parents have to take turns to get into the nest box as they are catching insects so quickly.  The flight to catch insects is less than 100 feet from the box into the gardens.
Brian, Walnut Creek, California

Down with pesticides … UP with bluebirds! Thanks, Brian! /Gary

Posted on Tuesday, May 11th, 2010
Under: Bird nests, Birds, Western bluebirds | 1 Comment »

Gulf oil spill: Leak meter shows how much oil is leaking into the gulf

Gulf oil spill. NASA satellite image acquired May 9, 2010 at 19:05 UTC. (NASA Goddard photo)
NASA Godddard photo May 9, 2010

How much oil has been leaking into the Gulf of Mexico? PBS has a “Leak Meter” to help us get an idea of how much oil is being pumped into the Gulf of Mexico.

Check it out for yourself at

Posted on Monday, May 10th, 2010
Under: Oil Spills | 1 Comment »

Gulf Oil Spill: New real-time gulf crisis website goes live

Gulf oil spill disaster (U.S. Coast Guard)

The Center For Biological Diversity has launched a “Gulf-Crisis Website” that they will update daily with information on how big the spill is (total gallons spilled, continuously updated)) … where it’s hitting shore (spill maps) … what species are suffering the impacts … how the rescue effort’s going … what if there’s a spill in the Arctic … how often spills occur … what you can do? … and more.

Want to see what’s happening with the Gulf Oil Spill? Check here:

Posted on Friday, May 7th, 2010
Under: Oil, Oil Spills | 3 Comments »

BP — AND — government are responsible for Gulf oil spill

Gulf oil slick (U.S. Coast Guard)
gulf-oil-spill-slick-2010, US Coast Guard

It’s Not Just BP That Bears Responsibility for Spill; Government Is Responsible Too

Friends of the Earth’s president, Erich Pica, had the following response to President Barack Obama’s remarks on May 2 in Louisiana about BP being responsible for the Gulf spill:

“President Obama was correct when he said BP is responsible for this spill. But the government bears responsibility too, as it failed to protect U.S. waters and the people who depend on them. Offshore oil drilling is inherently dirty and dangerous. In order to fulfill its responsibility to protect its citizens and territory, the government must establish a permanent moratorium on offshore drilling.”

More information about offshore drilling, the oil spill and Friends of the Earth’s response can be found at

Posted on Thursday, May 6th, 2010
Under: Oil, Oil Spills | 2 Comments »

Gulf oil spill: Only 1 out of 10 oiled birds are usually ever found

Oil spill and important bird areas (American Bird Conservancy)
american bird conservancy2

Bird Group Warns that Oiled Birds Found Onshore May Be a Fraction of the Total Toll on Birds From Gulf Spill

As bird rescue groups prepare to deal with hundreds or potentially thousands of oiled birds resulting from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf, American Bird Conservancy President George Fenwick cautioned that the toll from the spill may be far greater when the unseen impacts are factored into the environmental disaster still ongoing in the Gulf of Mexico.
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Posted on Wednesday, May 5th, 2010
Under: Birds, Oil, Oil Spills | 1 Comment »

Gulf oil spill: This website is a good place to follow the action

Pelicans being treated at International Bird Rescue Research Center, Fairfield, California.

The International Bird Rescue Research Center in Fairfield, California, is one of the most experienced waterfowl rescue and oiled bird cleaning facilities in the world.

IBRRC has sent a team of their experts, led by IBRRC director Jay Holcomb, to the oil spill area in the Gulf to help set up and staff rehabilitation centers in areas of Louisiana, Alabama and Florida where the oil might come ashore.

Jay has worked on over 200 oil spills and rescue efforts around the world.
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Posted on Tuesday, May 4th, 2010
Under: International Bird rescue research Center, Oil, Oil Spills, Waterfowl | 4 Comments »

Northern harrier scans the ground below for prey

Northern harrier, male, hunting. Photo by Dave Harper, Oakley, California
male harrier, david harper, Oakley

Talk about “focus!”

This is a male Northern harrier (aka marsh hawk) hunting for rodents and birds on the ground below. Many thanks to Dave Harper of Oakley, California, for sharing this beautiful photo with us. /Gary

Posted on Monday, May 3rd, 2010
Under: Hawks | 1 Comment »