Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Dead Body Found at Swallow Cliff

Since Swallow Cliff is a pretty popular spot for local birders, we're posting the entire article:

Woman's body found at Swallow Cliff
December 26, 2006
By Jonathan Lipman Staff writer
An unidentified woman was found dead in a picnic grove near Palos Park on Christmas morning, authorities said.

A fully clothed white woman, between 25 and 35 years old, was found about 9 a.m. Monday in the Swallow Cliff Forest Preserve near 119th Street and LaGrange Road, forest preserve district police spokesman Steve Mayberry said.

A man walking his dog made the grisly discovery in a grassy area of the grove and contacted police.

There were no immediate signs of foul play, but the odd circumstances have prompted a full death investigation by the county sheriff's police, which handles detective work for the district police, Mayberry said. Police have not ruled out homicide.

"We think it was something that happened overnight," Mayberry said. "We can't be sure, but there was no indication that (the body) had been there for a very long time at all."
Investigators at this point have no leads into who the woman was, Mayberry said.

"Unfortunately, she did not have any ID with her. We are hoping that with dental records and things, the medical examiner's office can make an identification," Mayberry said.
The medical examiner's office did not have any information as of Monday evening. An autopsy is scheduled for today.

Anyone with information about the case can call forest preserve police at (800) 870-3666.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Cat Exterminator Finds Ivory-billed Feathers?

Well, if you don't think that the IBWO and Jim Stevenson cat-shooting stories are odd enough on their own, one of our astute readers has posted a link in a comment that shows how those two stories are linked. Apparently, Jim Stevenson found an IBWO nest cavity with feathers in the 1980's.

If you don't believe us, read it for yourself (click on "Winter'06"):


We've try to lay off on the IBWO stuff for a while (there's no need for us spend time on issues that are being fully covered on other sites) but this one was just too good to pass up.

Let the comments fly, this ought to be entertaining.

TINY UPDATE: Well, we're too busy birding (for once, and near an area that actually did have verifiable IBWOs in the 20th century) to actually spend much time on this, but one could speculate that David Pashley might know more about Jim's sightings, which might have occurred near Everett Slough, which might be found on the Florida DeLorme page 48, go to the SW corner and go NE diagonally, it's the second block. Just glad we're not ones running an all-IBWO, all-the-time website. How do you determine just how crazy some of the TBs out there really are? C'mon, is Jim less crazy than, as crazy as, or more crazy than: Mary Scott? Bill Smith? Jesse Gilsdorf? Exactly *how* do you determine how ridiculous a claim must be before you endorse it? Fun fun stuff.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

And they're off---but can migration re-wind?

Well, today is the official beginning of our favorite time of year--Christmas Bird Count season. There don't appear to be any Chicago-area counts scheduled for today, but there are a few downstate counts taking place, and today is the beginning of "Count Week" for some of the big Chicago-area CBCs.

Here's the big question facing all of the counts that will take place this weekend in this part of the Midwest: will the unseasonably warm weather (one forecaster predicts 60 degrees on Saturday in parts of northern Illinois) help or hurt the count totals? Last weekend almost every non-moving body of water in the Chicago area (away from Lake Michigan, of course) was frozen solid. Most moving water (rivers, streams, even the tiniest creeks) seemed to still be open. There was also a pretty tough layer of snow and ice everywhere; those conditions seemed ot really concentrate landbirds last weekend along areas of open or running water.

This weekend, all of those lakes and sloughs should un-freeze; marshes along rivers will almost certainly be open, and fields and prairies will be wet: free of snow and ice, with possible habitat for snipe and who knows what else. So, will we see empty prairies and and sloughs this weekend, or will those areas fill up with birds that headed a south a week or two ago when everything froze? We have this working theory that ducks (and for that matter all birds) try to stay as far north in their range as their specified habitat allows, so they can get back to their breeding grounds in the spring as soon as possible. So puddle ducks would stay as far north as they can to find the particular kind of water resource that they need to feed. Is that true? Can micro-weather conditions of a limited duration prompt migration to re-wind to where it was two or even three weeks ago, thereby giving us some birds that woud normally only be seen in late November and not in late December? We have no freakin' idea, but it will be a fun hypothesis to test out!

So good luck and good birding to all of the folks doing the FermiLab, McHenry, Lisle/Arboretum, and Chicago Urban counts this weekend, and to everyone around the world who is doing their 1st or their 100th count this weekend.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Help us help Jim Stevenson

We haven't forgotten the whole feral cat episode. We have probably received more comments and mail on that issue than on any other issue (that doesn't involve a certain large woodpecker species) since the site began. However, to start our FJS campaign, we need a bit more information, and for legal and strategic reasons we can't ask Jim ourselves. So, the first thing we need is a PDF or a link to the actual animal cruelty law (don't know if it's a statute, ordinance, or whatever) that Jim is accused of violating. The name of the presiding judge or officer and the prosecuting entity would also be useful. We don't have time right now to dig this up but we're guessing that someone out there has the info handy already.

Here is a good example of why CBC data can be important

If are an avid ABA-area lister, or if you regularly bird Florida, you probably know that Smooth-billed Ani has been virtually extirpated from the state, and essentially from the entire United States. So, what is an enterprising birder to do? Field a petition to get the species listed as state-endangered in Florida. What is the hard evidence supporting that request? Christmas Bird Count data! Check out the actual petition and the attached CBC data for Florida:


Tuesday, December 05, 2006

It's Christmas (Bird Count) Time Again--Hooray!!!

Well, we have been buried (literally and figuratively) since the conclusion of BINAC's You're A Peon Vacation, partially because we are diligently preparing for the upcoming Christmas Bird Count season. When we're not out killing feral cats, there's nothing we like more than participating in a good old-fashioned CBC. So we will try to blog on a few counts that we are doing, and give our readers (whether they be experienced counters or CBC virgins) a few tips for making your count day a big success.

One thing that you have to do on your CBC is embrace modern technology...only 4-5 years ago we were still dealing with paper Topo maps, then we moved on to Terraserver and crappy aerial photos, and now we have the "full monty" through the excellent Google Earth. We know that other bloggers have already talked about using Google Earth for CBCs (we seem to recall that Nuthatch posted a nice tutorial last year) so there is no need to reinvent the wheel, but check out Bill Schmoker's site at brdpics.blogspot.com for a nice piece on how to use Google Earth on your CBC.

We're probably too lazy to do the surfing on our own, but if you have a blog with a CBC tutorial, or if you run across a good one on someone else's blog, sent us the link and we'll post them here.