Thursday, November 30, 2006

Free Jim Stevenson!!!

OK, we're done sipping our 4 Euro coffees and eating our 5 Euro tortes, and while ruminating in a Vienna cafe on the feral cat issue, we made a significant decision: We're supporting Jim Stevenson 110%! We're going to turn up the BINAC machine to 11 on this one.

The whole BINAC universe is gonna go apeshit on the City of Galveston if they don't Free Jim Stevenson!!! (Please note the new BINAC acronym: FJS!!!)

What are we gonna do? Oh, we have plans. Some are good. Some are bad. Some are really stupid. And some may be all three. If we don't invade Canada this weekend, the plans will be set into motion...

One word can best describe what the weather will be like here in Chicago over the next few days:


A nice welcome back to Chicago, eh?

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

BINAC's "You're a Peon" Vacation

Well, at least we have an excuse for the failure to update over the last fews days (although Blogger says that we updated on the 19th...I hope not, since we were'nt online on the 19th!): We're on the Continent. Maybe there will be an update or two, maybe not. So far it's been raining buckets and while we have seen some great tits (and a few birds as well!) the new species counter is still at zero.

Memo to self: Birding in the rain is not as fun as it sounds.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

We're not sure what's worse, Binoculars spam or IBWO spam...

Here is the *absolutely critical* info that was posted four times on a thread below.

We're not even sure if this comment is legit or not, but if it is...Bobby, c'mon man, you need to get some better help for this foundation of yours.

Pls. send back a ‘got it’And share this message in your newsletter and in your e-mail lists
Introducing theIvory-billed Woodpecker Foundation
The hope for the ivory-bill!
Because“Second Chances are extremely rare.”“
Deep in the bayou,through thethicknessof the mist,The long, lost ivory-bill,thought to be extinct, has been re-discovered; And a Foundationhas been born to care for it.”© nh.
Our Mission
For the locating, recovery, protection, management, preservation and conservation of Ivory-billed woodpeckers; through scientific research and documentation; and the education of the general public. This is a non-profit organization,all contributions are Tax Exempt.The Ivory-billed WoodpeckerThe most endangered bird species in this country.
On February 27, 2004, Bobby Harrison, of Huntsville, Alabama and Tim Gallagher of Ithaca, New York, rediscovered the magnificent ivory-billed woodpecker, long believed to be extinct in the Big Woods of eastern Arkansas. This was after more than 60 years since last confirmed sighting of the species in the United States by two qualified searchers. Their own quest culminated in this miraculous find after spending more than 30 years of researching and following leads.
The rediscovery has produced waves of excitement in the world of conservation and beyond. It has been hailed by ornithologists, birders, conservation organizations and the media as a Victory for Nature; and highlights the need to preserve the world’s critical habitats. Rediscovering the ivory-billed woodpecker, long thought to be extinct, provides a rare SECOND CHANCE to save a species
Please donate.You are the hope of the ivory-billed woodpecker!You are cordially invited to attend the Inaugural Celebration Galaon Saturday, February 24, 2007in Huntsville, AL at 6:00 PM.
For additionalGala and contribution informationplease contact:Pam White@256-883-1199Cassandra Decoux@256-830-0738 (pm only)Norma Harrison @ 256-776-2003 or 256-651-8466www.ivory-billedwoodpeckerfoundation.orgor email:

Friday, November 10, 2006

Jim Stevenson Legal Defense Fund

According to published reports, long-time Galveston area birder Jim Stevenson has been arrested for killing a feral cat that was about to attack some shorebirds, including Snowy and Piping Plovers. There are probably some details about this incident that have not yet been made public, so we don't want to jump to any conclusions, but basically anyone who kills a cat to save a Piping Plover is a hero in our book. We know a lot of people won't like that statement but this is a birding blog not a cat blog so tough cookies.

We're hoping to be able in some way to contribute to Jim's defense, but we want to wait a few days to see if a clearer picture of this incident develops.

For balance, here is Jim Stevenson's response:

Subject: what actually happenedFrom: Jim Stevenson Date: Thu, 9 Nov 2006 18:25:31 -0800---> Texbird help file <---

This will be cryptic in some areas because there is an open case that my
attorneys would appreciate me keeping my big mouth shut about. But maybe I can
get the point across if I am careful.

I can share a quick bird-related story.

Tuesday night about 9pm, as all states other than Virginia and Montana had been
decided, I hopped in my van, with no camera, binoculars or "anything," to drive
the San Luis Pass beach (as some of you know I like to do). I saw an
interesting thing.

There was a feral cat (miles from any house), out in the upland dunes, creeping
up on three Snowy and two Piping Plovers, and several Sanderlings. The animal
was obviously crippled (as also reported by the toll booth worker), but still
came fairly close to one of the Piping Plovers. I couldn't believe how tame and
approachable it was to the cat.

I finally got out and attempted to apprehend the cat with a towel from the back
on the van. It's never easy, and the closer I got (kinda chasing it), the more
wary it got. I finally gave up.

I saw this cat the next morning, as I did my weekly count of SLP birds. I will
say that the only two people within a mile or so of me were up on top of a
concrete bridge, out of sight (and vice versa), and inside the booth with
extremely thick (shall we say "bullet proof"?) glass.

There were other cats just laying around that I probably could have hit with a
ping pong ball, but this particular one began limping off, with levied ground
directly behind it. Photographing it perfectly would have been tough, with its
bouncing gait.

It is well documented that predators that are cripple often rely on the easiest
prey possible, such as wounded lions and tigers that have taken unfortunate
people. I believe this was the case here, and I was very concerned about how
many Endangered, Threatened and SSC individuals would succumb to it.

That was Wednesday morning, and life hasn't been terrific since.
I had about 35 posts from well-wishers, 47 phone calls, and two notes on my
door, when I got back after two difficult days. I really appreciate that (OK,
two were quite negative), as I did the many offers of help, but I agree that
this matter should cease on Texbirds. The offers of help are appreciated and
solicited, though.

I find the issue of respect for life as challenging as any. I say this as
someone who catches Cottonmouths on my property by hand and releases them
unharmed in wilderness areas, someone who replaced a shotgun with a camera
years ago, thus bringing on his dad's ire, and someone who just shed tears over
the passing of Ed Bradley. Maybe I'm just real tired.

The ethical dilemma is pitting the life on one cat against the dozens or
hundreds of small, wild animals it will kill in its (short) lifetime. And
piggybacked on that is the "real" cruelty of the death they normally receive,
from starvation to disease. Study after study reveals this. For me, it is
clear, though I am by no means immune to the emotional, while trying to hide in
pure logic, science and pragmatism.

BTW, apparently there are others with similar views (and actions) who've been
down at San Luis Pass.

I hope that clears up things as much as I dare.

Jim in Muggy Galveston

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Possibly *the* best birding blog/web site in the universe

We have discovered what is perhaps the best birding blog in the universe. It is a site we have never linked to before, and have never seen linked to from any site before. They like Angus and Maiden, use copious amounts of profanity, and have a definite appreciation for the female form.

Any guesses?

Masked Duck in Florida

A Masked Duck has apparently shown up at the Viera Wetlands in Florida. Nice chase for you Florida birders.

Blogger is having a meltdown today, probably due to election-related high traffic volumes. So if something ain't workin' just hang tight.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Have you seen a Chimney Swift today?

There has been a lot of talk in Illinois lately about Chimney Swifts. There are apparently still swifts at multiple locations in Illinois, even though there have basically been no prior November records. And while all of these "I saw a Chimney Swift today" posts are getting a bit repetitive, it is still a pretty interesting migratory. Why are Chimney Swifts staying so late this year? Are other areas in the Midwest still seeing Chimney Swifts? This is the type of thing that is up to us birders to document...might even make an interesting article if you coudl find some sort of pattern or explanation for this late migration.

A quick search of several Midwest listserves shows one November Chimney Swift in Ohio but that's about it. (There have been some swifts still along the Indiana lakefront but we consider that to still be in the Chicago area.) Nothing in Iowa, Michigan, or Wisconsin...although this is the kind of thing that might not be reported or even noticed unless you're looking for Chimney Swifts.

So, what is happening here?

101 Ways to Help Birders

We were sitting around the BINAC family table on this lovely, peaceful Sunday afternoon, with our dog Pluto and our pet rabbit Vanilla, thinking about something we did in 1972 that we're sure would be quite interesting to all of you, eating our organic oat bran cereal and drinking our shade-grown coffee, lamenting the sad state of affairs in the cold, cruel world of bird blogging. Those darn bloggers are just so gosh darn mean it almost makes us want to cry. Why can't we all get along? Everyone is so childish. You try to be nice and sweet and kind and loving and all you get for your trouble are vicious insults. Why, we even tried to offer some assistance to a lady birder from Minnesota about where to report a rare bird and she got all grouchy and stuff and called us bad things (such bad language!) even though we didn't deserve such cruel and ruthless treatment. We were just trying to help. Why does she even ask for advice if she doesn't want to take it? Was it some sort of juvenile prank? A cruel trap to bait us into responding (who would ever fall for that;)? Why does she hate us so much when we're only trying to help? Why is everything so dark and cold this time of year? Why is the Blogger spellcheck so hard to use? Why can't the Bears win every game? Why can't we see a Green-tailed Towhee in Illinois? Why, why, why...(sob)...why, -- waaaaaaaaah!

But no matter how mean and cruel people are to us, we have to dry off the tears and move on.

We owe it to our readers.

We spent the whole morning online trying to Google a way to find the Minnesota RBA just in case we ever see a rare bird up there. We finally figured that out after a few hours, and noticed that there was some sort of book holding up the corner of our computer desk. We picked up the book and oh no -- we forgot to mention our new book, "101 Ways to Help Birders!!!" You can find this book at, it was released six weeks ago and is currently ranked as the #12,293,456 best-selling book at Amazon. (#234,564 in Sweden--yeah!) We would like to give our readers a bit of a preview of this book. Remember, this book is available at, Buteo Books,, and eBay. Here is an excerpt of the first five chapters of the book, which is currently available at

Chapter One: If you see a rare bird, call the local RBA or contact the local internet birding list.
Chapter Two: If you see a rare bird, call the local RBA or contact the local internet birding list.
Chapter Three: If you see a rare bird, call the local RBA or contact the local internet birding list.
Chapter Four: If you see a rare bird, call the local RBA or contact the local internet birding list.
Chapter Five: If you see a rare bird, call the local RBA or contact the local internet birding list.

If there is any interest, we will past Chapters 6-101 later, after we have a nice dinner of wild(Barnacle) goose, mashed potatoes, and gravy.

Friday, November 03, 2006

FONT -- Focus On Nature Tours/Armas Hill

We have heard a few stories about the above-referenced birding tour company, and we were actually considering a Japan tour with FONT until we heard about alleged problems on one of their recent tours there. Here is a link that contains a pretty distressing story about an aborted FONT trip to Newfoundland this past summer:

The Better Business Bureau link on that site lists seven complaints against FONT.

Do any of our readers have experience with F.O.N.T., good or bad?