Category Archives: Owls

Owl Befriends Dog

Weird video. That looks like a baby Great Horned Owl to me.

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The Northern Spotted Owl

Interesting article from the Smithsonian Magazine on Northern Spotted Owls. They are being displaced, but not by man, primarily by Barred Owls, a competitor. This raises an interesting conundrum about what we should do about it.

But the Barred Owl invasion is being caused by man. Barred owls do better in the more open forest that is created by massive clearcutting, while Spotted Owls prefer closed canopy old growth. Others say the move west by Barred Owls was due to fire suppression which opened up more forests for them. Yet others say that it’s simply a natural range expansion.

The timber industry is in court litigating now, saying the Spotted Owl decline was caused by Barred Owls and not logging. But it was caused by both, and the logging may have created the more open conditions favored by the Barred Owl. Anyway, returning to massive logging will just reduce spotted owls even further. It’s not a solution.

It’s clear to me that Northern Spotted Owls qualify for uplisting from Threatened to Endangered. The USFWS has been deliberately starved for funds for decades now, first by Republican Bill Clinton, then by Republican George Bush and now by Republican Barack Obama. Barack Obama has a worse record on endangered species even than George Bush’s father, George Bush Sr.

Incidentally, the California Spotted Owl lives in this region, though I have never seen one. It desperately needs to be listed as at least Threatened, but it’s never going to happen, especially under Republican Barack Obama.

The Mexican Spotted Owl lives in the Southwest. It has been listed as Threatened. If I am not mistaken, it is continuing to decline.

DNC Democrats, the mainstream Dems since 1990, are characterized by a savage, vicious hatred for all environmental issues. They are corporate, rightwing Democrats. Bill Clinton was a nightmare on all things environmental, and Obama has been catastrophically worse than Clinton. I don’t understand Obama and why he’s so disastrous on the environment. If Obama is an environmentalist, he will lose to Republicans?

I don’t get it. During the latest wild budget slashing, the USFWS has been cut to the bone worse than ever, after 20 years of endless slashing by rightwing Democrats and rightwing Republicans. What is this “government’s too big” shit anyway? The state at all sorts of levels is seriously underfunded, if anything.

As an environmentalist, why should I support all this insane budget slashing shit? The budget slashing has been going on for 30 years now under rightwing Democrats and Republicans. One of the goals of it is to gut the state’s environmental protection ability. That’s part of the “government is too big” shit. Big Government protects the environment, and White shitheads don’t like that.

This really indicates to me that White Americans are the worst threat to the US environment of any people. White Americans have always been characterized by extreme hatred for the natural world and lust to destroy everything and kill every living thing, all to make a buck, because White Americans are greedheads who care only about money.

There was a brief period from about 1964-1980 when White Americans for some reason became environmentalists. Whites created the environmental movement and pushed through all of our great environmental legislation. Now they’ve turned their backs on all that and it’s just back to kill and destroy.

In fairness, I must say that all 3rd World non-Whites are totally disastrous on the environment too. Destroy everything, kill everything, that’s been the human motto from Day One. To some extent, hunter-gatherers are the exception, but once agriculture steps up, it’s kill kill kill destroy destroy destroy. Hunter-gatherers at least need to allow enough living things out there so they can eat and survive. Agriculturalists don’t.

Really, White Americans are backwards, reactionary, savage, primitive, uncivilized type people, similar to the barbarians of the 3rd World. They shame any proud White man.

The White man should be Civilized Man, guardian of nature.

As you might have guessed, I am an extreme environmentalist, almost an Earth First type. I support tree spiking, the whole nine yards.

More on spotted owls here.

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Deep Ecology – An Overview

Repost from the old site.

One thing people ought to know about this blog is that one of
my philosophies is Deep Ecology. Click that link and you so you can try to figure out what it means. It was part of a debate in the environmentalist (especially radical environmental) movement that probably really got going in the 1990’s.

It had several rivals, including Social Ecology, promoted by a fellow named Murray Bookchin . Deep Ecology was promoted by a guy named Arne Naess. There’s also Ecofeminism, which I’m not really up on, because I can’t stand most kinds of feminism, although pro-porn feminists sounds like they are after my heart.

To me, Deep Ecology means something like, “Up with the animals, down with the people.” I’m not saying kill the people or anything like that, but I think in general, most species have a right to survive just like people. And no, White nationalists may not give me a debate in the comments section of this post about why their race is an endangered species.

Notable Deep Ecologists and influences include Edward Abbey of The Monkeywrench Gang fame, Dave Foreman, founder of Earth First! (many EF’ers are Deep Ecologists), Mike Roselle, also of EF!, Judi Bari (probably framed by the FBI), Rachel Carson, Aldo Leopold , Theodore Roszak, John Zerzan (anarchist intellectual from Oregon) and Gary Snyder (Buddhist beatnik poet).

An overview of the Social Ecology versus Deep Ecology dust-up is here. In general, Deep Ecologists were more anarchists and Social Ecologists were more traditional socialists. I recall a Social Ecologist saying that if an animal had to be driven extinct to keep poor humans from suffering, than so be it.

They also opposed the idea of protecting animals like tigers that kill humans. If a tiger protection plan deepened the poverty of already poor humans, they would oppose that. This is pretty much the mentality of socialist states in the past 100 years, which in general have cared a lot more about the needs of humans than animals.

Deep Ecologists had major roots in the Green Party and the worldwide Green Movement as a whole. They tend to support not just reduced population growth, but actual negative population growth and population declines within nations.

This puts Deep Ecology on an oppositional status with almost all nationalists, especially ethnic nationalists. Ethnic nationalists in particular have always championed high birth rates. White nationalists are extremely pro-natalist for Whites only, and they go nuts over articles about White women having 18 kids. That would keep me out of such a movement right off the bat.

Ominously, all fascists have also always been fiercely pro-natalist.

Capitalism also, dependent on ever-increasing population for the insanity of ever-increasing economic growth, is very much pro-natalist. Capitalist theory holds that population declines will destroy the capitalist economy. That’s a great reason to reject neoliberal capitalism, or possibly capitalism itself, right there.

One of Deep Ecology’s critiques of standard environmentalism is why we should preserve habitats and species.

The standard line is that we must do this because these things can or may provide great benefit for human beings. Wilderness areas are preserved so humans can run around in them, birds are preserved so humans can look at them with binoculars, and rainforests and species are preserved because science can study them and figure out new medical or technological applications to benefit humans.

Deep Ecologists say that this is anthropocentrism. Species and places should be preserved for their inherent value, regardless of whether or not humans can use them or exploit them for human benefit. That’s a major philosophical position that you might want to ponder.

We had a big to-do over the California spotted owl (CASPO) in this part of the Sierra Nevada about 15 years ago. Bottom line is some mills closed, people lost their jobs, homes went into foreclosure, etc. About 100% of the population up here was in favor of the loggers who were wrecking the forest and against the owls.

As it turns out, the restrictions that the Forest Service put in are not even working to preserve the CASPO, and it surely needs to be listed at least as federally threatened. The crooked Fish and Wildlife Service won’t do so because that would mean further logging restrictions.

At the time, I used to delight in infuriating people by saying that 1 spotted owl was worth about 20 humans. Hardly anyone seemed to go along with that.

The species accounts on this blog are in the spirit of Deep Ecology. I’m an animal lover. I wish I could love human animals just as much, but it seems like non-human animals are in general nicer and more reliable.

By the way, Dave Foreman’s Confessions of an Eco-Warrior (1991) is highly recommended as a primer in deep ecology.

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Adventures in Owling

Repost from the old site.

For the last few weeks here in Coarsegold, California (elevation 2000′ in the Sierra Nevada Mountains), I have been hearing strange “Screech! Screech!” noises at night, often very late at night. I’m hearing them right now, as a matter of fact. I’m an experienced bird watcher, and I assumed they were birds, so I grabbed a strong flashlight (you need a strong flashlight to look at any night birds) and went outside.

Most birds are simply not active at nighttime. Day-active birds will usually just go up into a tree and sleep there at night. I had a rare bird on my property in 1990 in Southern California and I had bird-watchers coming every day to come see it.

It was a Brown Thrasher, common in the Eastern US but very rare in the West. The bird stayed on my property for about three days. At nighttime, I went out looking for it and found it in a bunch of trees on the side of the house. We think that they just go up into a tree and probably sleep up there. I guess they need to sleep too, like everything else.

The only birds active at nighttime are generally owls. There are also some birds like nightjars and whippoorwills that become active at dusk. I’m not sure if they stay active at night or not. So if you hear a bird at night, it’s an owl.

Well, I went outside and the strange screeches kept coming from a huge tree nearby. I shone my light up there and there were some good-sized owls up there. I couldn’t figure out what kind they were because it was night and they weren’t fitting into any known categories. One flew away and I noticed how huge it was in flight. I went back in and did some research on the Net.

At first I was thinking “Screech owl” because we do have Western Screech Owls here. But they are quite small and have a distinctive call. They make this call on hot summer nights, often very late at night, but it’s not a screech, in spite of the name. It’s more of a “bouncing ball” call. It’s hard to describe unless you have heard it.

On the Net I learned that baby Great Horned Owls do make a “Screech!” call. That fit in with my perceptions about the birds’ size. A horned owl is a very large bird. They are so large that they are known to prey on house cats. They are also very common in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada.

So these were baby Great Horned Owls. I guess they fledge here in July and August. What was interesting was there were around 5-10 of them in a small area, all calling to each other. The size also ruled out Screech Owls , because they are quite small.

You need to understand that “baby birds”, once fledged, are about the size of adult birds and are often indistinguishable from them. Some smaller birds have juvenile plumage, but among larger birds, it’s not common.

In Orange County in the late 1980’s, I saw two crows of about the same size, one feeding the other one with its beak. This is how birds feed each other. I did some research and learned that that is a baby crow. Baby crows are about the same size as adults. Adults will feed them for a while after they fledge and leave the nest, but then they need to take off.

I also had some acorn woodpeckers living in a huge oak tree on my property in the mountains. They live in communal units of multiple adults and even raise the young communally. They may raise more than one clutch in a good year. I noticed that after the young were fledged, they stuck around for a while, and the adults continued to feed them. Then I guess they took off.

This myth, so beloved by American parents with adult kids still at home long past the time to leave, about adult birds “throwing the young out of the nest” as soon as they fledge, is just not true.

First of all, baby birds can’t fly very well as soon as they fledge. Sometimes if you are lucky in Spring you can see baby birds scuttling along the ground trying to fly. I’ve seen this in House Sparrows in Fresno, California. I think they scuttle along the ground and half-fly for a few days or so, then they get it. They fly for a short distance, then they land. They must be extremely vulnerable to predation in this stage.

Keeping baby birds around after they fledge is a positive adaptation in evolutionary terms. Larger birds such as woodpeckers and surely crows are thought to be more evolved, so they seem to keep the young at home for a while after fledging. Tossing the babies out of the nest is evolutionarily stupid, since if they can’t fly well, they will be very vulnerable to predation.

Trust me, they are vulnerable enough in the nesting phase! I had an Ash-Throated Flycatcher nesting on my Oakhurst property one year. My cats figured out the story after a while, and kept trying to climb up to the nest. I’m sure predators like raccoons are even worse. I even understand that snakes can climb trees and raid nests.

I’ve never seen so many owls as I’ve seen up here in the mountains.

Twice I saw Northern Saw-Whet Owls on the road in Oakhurst, once at dusk and once at 9:30 PM on a sleety night in winter – this one had a mouse in its talons! Saw-Whet Owls descend to the Oakhurst area in winter.

Another time, also in Oakhurst at dusk, I saw small birds “mobbing” something just before dusk. When you see that, it’s generally a predatory bird like a hawk or an owl. It was dusk. I ran inside, got my binoculars, and went back. After a while, I saw that they were mobbing a Northern Pygmy-Owl .

It’s a pretty cool little bird, with fake eyes in the back of it’s head! Nice evolutionary trick to fool you into thinking it’s looking at you when it’s not. I think that this trick evolved to help this small owl avoid predators, because there I’m not sure there is an advantage for a predator to seem like it has eyes in the back of its head.

A couple of years ago, in Oakhurst near some apartments at dusk, I saw a huge bird swoop down on some bare ground in front of some apartments, grab something and take off back up to a Ponderosa Pine tree, where it was promptly mobbed by a bunch of small birds. I stopped and looked long enough to see that it was a Great Horned Owl with a mouse (probably a deer mouse) in its talons.

Mobbing is an interesting tactic. Small birds with fly in large numbers at a hawk or an owl. Often these hawks or owls are the same ones that kill and eat these same small birds. Accipter hawks such as Goshawks are mobbed, but I have never seen a Buteo such as a Red-tailed Hawk mobbed.

Buteos typically subsist solely on small mammals and reptiles and seldom if ever eat other birds. But accipters are bird hawks. They prey on other birds. I once saw a Goshawk being mobbed by small birds, fly out of some underbrush, and over to a post where it sat for a bit while the others continued to mob it.

The idea of mobbing is strength in numbers. Although they attack predators known to prey on them, if you have enough small birds, it will confuse and upset the predator enough to so it won’t attack them. It’s also an early warning system for any other small birds in the area that a predator is in the area. In addition, by mobbing, the small birds try to drive the predator away from them and off to somewhere else.

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On Spotted Owls

Repost from the old site.

There are three subspecies of spotted owls in the US. The Northern Spotted Owl (NSO) ranged from Oregon and Washington down into the California coast ranges and over into the Siskiyous and Cascades.

The California Spotted Owl (CASPO) lives in the Sierra Nevada, down into the Tehachapis and and into the mountain ranges of Southern California.

The Southern California population is isolated in mountain ranges that are not connected and is projected to go extinct over at most 100-200 years. Before mass settlement of Southern California, CASPO may have moved from range to range via river corridors, but now that is not possible. The Techachapi CASPO is probably not sustainable either. CASPO also lives in the Coast Ranges south of San Fransisco.

The Mexican Spotted Owl lives in the Southwest, mostly in Arizona and New Mexico. It was listed as threatened recently and recently had a huge amount of critical habitat set aside. It seems to be threatened by cattle grazing, but I forget how. Serious overgrazing in the Southwest seems to be devastating the grass and forb understory of the old growth pine forests.

This overgrazing has promoted heavy stands of small trees that are susceptible to drought and fire. The truth is that the Southwest should not even be grazed in the first place; it’s too dry and cows just devastate arid regions.

Cows evolved in cold, moist England and they are not well suited to arid regions. During the hot, dry months, they congregate in riparian areas, which they utterly devastate. The Eastern US is much moister, and cattle grazing causes few problems there.

The NSO was declared a threatened species in 1990, setting off the timber wars in the Pacific Northwest. Clinton pushed through a crappy Northwest Forest Plan, which sold out way more to industry than was necessary. Logging in the region declined by 80%, but they had been horribly overcutting for decades.

As one might expect, the new regulations did not save the NSO, and it has continued to decline at 3.5% per year. The continuing decline of the NSO means that it may soon have to be uplisted from Threatened to Endangered.

In the far north, in northern Washington and British Colombia, the NSO is declining at about 7% per year. In southwestern B.C., there are only about 50 owls left and they are going to go extinct in the past few years unless something is done.

All spotted owls have selected for old growth forests. A new threat is the Barred Owl, which is a relative of the Spotted Owl, coming down from the north. The Barred Owl is much more tolerant of the open conditions created by massive clearcutting, and is displacing Spotted Owls in many places. In particular, it is interbreeding with them, creating a new hybrid type.

Loggers claim that the Barred Owl invasion is the true cause of the NSO decline, but they are lying as usual. The Barred Owl invasion is due to the more open conditions created by out of control clearcutting for decades in the Northwest.

The CASPO was petitioned twice for listing, in 2000 and 2004. I haven’t read the petitions, but I have read hundreds of pages of studies on the CASPO. The CASPO, last I heard, was declining at a greater rate than even the NSO. In 2006, the US Fish and Wildlife Service declined to list the CASPO as an endangered species.

That strikes me as a wrong decision, but Bush is listing species at a rate even 85% lower than his rightwing father, George Bush. Bring back George Bush Sr.! As we can see, with the years, the US Republican Party, and consequently the US Whites they represent, have gotten increasingly virulent in the attitude of hatred and destruction towards our precious environment.

Next to the immigrant hordes flooding our shores, our precious slice of American Gaia has no greater enemy than White Americans.

What is curious about this is that White nationalists insist that only Whites are altruistic enough to care enough to be environmentalists in any way. It’s an interesting argument, but it’s sure not true in the US, and almost everyone making this odd argument is voting for the party of Nuke Gaia. Go figure.

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Libertarianism – The Enemy of all Non-Human Life on Earth

As several posts on Occidental Dissent make clear, libertarianism (and its mainstream congener, neoliberalism) is utterly incompatible with the preservation of any non-human and non-domesticated or non-utilitarian life forms. Libertarians like to throw up weird scenarios whereby preserving wildlife, wild spaces and wild places would somehow be more economically viable than exterminating them, exploiting them, and devastating them.

The problem is that this never works out in praxis. Even when we environmentalists produce reports showing that preserving forests and meadows is worth way more than chopping them down or ruining them with cattle, 100% of libertarians always line up with exploiters. I’ve been reading them forever. Libertarian environmentalist is an oxymoron.

Since neoliberalism is just libertarianism, neoliberalism also can never support environmentalism. Market-driven environmental policies must be some kind of a cruel joke. They can never work. In strict economically rational terms, it is either never or almost never economically rational to save species, habitats or places. Destruction and extermination is where the money is, and in neoliberal theory, maximum return is the only variable we are allowed to consider.

Libertardarians now argue that humans (I guess maybe those of White European stock) now care enough about environmentalism that we can zero out government, privatize everything, and everything will still be hunky dory for the bighorns, the spotted owls and timber wolves. Yeah right.

In the first place, this would only work with White people, because only Whites can be environmentalists at the moment, and only more advanced Whites in North America and Europe need apply even here. That’s because Whites in Latin America and Russia have proven to be utterly capable of taking care of the environment. Native Americans and Siberians can probably preserve things too, but they don’t run any states.

Let’s test out the libertarian theory on most liberal-minded of the more progressive Whites on Earth, the ultra-liberals in California (though not a White state anymore, nevertheless, California is one of the most pro-environmental states in the nation).

The argument that humans now care enough about species to preserve them is proven wrong here in the West. Even here in ultra-liberal California, the glorious salmon are nearly extinct. The striped bass fishery in the Delta and Bay has also been ruined. The vast herds of Tule Elk that roamed all over the valleys and coastal areas of our state have been decimated and only exist on miniscule preserves that look like petting zoos. Fishers and spotted owls are being driven extinct by the timber industry as we speak.

A lot of CA endangered species are not real celebrities, but salmon would seem to have quite a bit of worth. Yet the salmon fishery in CA and up and down the West has been decimated. And even the ultra-liberal CA senators like Dianne Feinstein insist that we have not creamed the salmon enough, and need to take them out once and for all now. Feinstein’s mostly doing this for one of her rich Jewish buddies, Stewart Resnick of Beverly Hills. So much for liberal US Jews!

The notion that humans (Anywhere!) now value wildlife enough to be trusted with preserving them in a libertarian society is seriously wrong, and we can prove it right here in California.

In the 3rd World, humans are so bestial, venal, animalistic and backwards that they indeed are well on the way to extrerminating everything non-human, non-domesticated and non-utilitarian in sight.

An excellent argument in favor of White superiority (which I agree with) is, as I noted above, that Whites are really the only humans on Earth (who run states) that care about non-human life enough to preserve it.* Virtually every other race and ethnic group of man will gladly exterminate every single non-domesticated species and non-utilitarian species in its land at the drop of a hat.

Preserving species is something only Whites can do. And it’s something that only White governments can do, the White private sector haven proven endlessly to have failed at this endeavor.

*I honestly wish that non-European states were capable of not exterminating everything in sight, but I doubt it. The Middle East is an environmental catastrophe. The only environmentally decent place is Israel, but that’s populated by White people. The only environmentally progressive place in Latin America is Costa Rica, but once again, that’s a White country. It seems that all Arabs and mestizos can do is destroy.

Asians seem like a nightmare in environmental terms. They aren’t even capable of tender feelings towards cats and dogs, which they massacre for sport and food, so how can they possibly be trusted with non-domesticated things. The Japanese have been some of the worst scofflaws in international fishing and their bestial exploits in whaling have earned them the scorn of the planet.

True, in some ways, Koreans and Japanese seem to want to preserve what’s left on their lands, but environmentally, those places are pretty much human-nuked anyway, mostly by overpopulation. A preservationist impulse isn’t worth much if there is nothing left to preserve.

The hunter-gatherers of Southeast Asia never had the caretaker mindset of American Indians, instead opting for the more primitive mindset of “kill everything that moves.” The extinction process in SE Asia is very advanced and the state does very little to stop it. Environmental consciousness is extremely low.

Probably Vietnam is one of the more standout states. China is just now starting to develop an environmental ethic, but it doesn’t seem to be very advanced, and in a lot of ways, environmentally, China looks like America 1890.

I’m amazed that anything non-human and non-bovine is still walking around in India, where the extinction process is quite advanced, the state is extremely weak, and poachers are everywhere.

Russians have always been some of the most backwards and barbaric of the Whites, and environmentally, that’s still the case. Since the collapse of the USSR things have really fallen badly apart. Market hunters and poachers stalk the land. In Siberia, the poacher harvest of salmon is the same size as the legal harvest. The Amur Leopard and the Siberian Tiger are hanging on by their bare claws, and I expect them to go extinct soon.

Africa has to be one of the worst places on Earth to be a species of wildlife. Africans are primitive people, and primitives tend to kill anything that moves, usually for food. The only reason that there were still huge wildlife populations 50 years ago is due to White colonists, who forbade the Africans from wiping out the animals. With decolonization, Africans quickly set work slaughtering anything that moved.

That they had not done so in centuries past was due only to the crudity of their weapons. You can’t kill many animals with a spear. In 1965, Africans with firearms were a threat the animal population of the continent. The large megafauna were only saved when the former White colonists were called back in by concerned Africans to save the animals.

Many of the large animal populations still exist, but poachers and bush meat hunters take a devastating toll. I don’t see anything positive in the future. Africans don’t seem to be capable of not exterminating animals.

One argument is that non-Whites do these things because they are poor.

Equatorial Guinea now has a PCI of $21,000/year. Anyone seen any nice environmental initiatives coming out of there? Has the wealth of the Japanese prevented them from killing whales? Has Korean wealth prevented them from waging mass pogroms against dogs and cats? Has the relative wealth of Brazil and Argentina prevented environmental devastation in these places? The Gulf Arab countries are extremely wealthy, but my understanding is that they are environmental wrecks.

So much for the “they do it because they are poor” line.

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