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August 2022

Cormorant Rescue at the Celery Farm

Yesterday morning, Julie McCall texted me that a Double-crested Cormorant was walking on the path near the deer exclosure.

We both knew this was not where these waterbirds belong, so we went into action.

When I arrived, the cormorant walked up to us, as if to ask for our help. IMG_6317

With a little coaching from The Raptor Trust, we coaxed it into a big blue recycling bin and gave it a lift to the Franklin Lakes Animal Hospital, where it got a quick exam and much better transport.

The cormorant is now at The Raptor Trust.

I will let you know when Julie and I hear more.

Thank goodness for the Franklin Lakes Animal Hospital, The Raptor Trust, and the volunteer "raptor runners" who transport the sick, injured and orphaned birds. What would we do without them all?

Resized_20220818_122254                                                               Photo by Donna Pontrelli of the Franklin Lakes Animal Hospital.

The Perils of a Pesticide

IMG_8020Environmentalist Tom Gilbert has a compelling opinion article about the threat that "neonics" pose to birds and beneficial insects. It's in The Record.

Here's a sample:

The DDT ban spurred the chemical industry to develop alternative insecticides, including a class known as neonicotinoids, or “neonics” for short. They were touted as being safer for birds and animals.

It wasn’t long, however, before neonics came under criticism for harming pollinators, including domesticated honeybees, butterflies and wild native bees. Neonics affect insects’ nervous systems, causing paralysis and death. In 2018 the European Union banned the use of three common neonics on field crops, although there are some exemptions. 

A new report by naturalist and author Scott Weidensaul points to neonics as the most likely cause for declining numbers of farmland and grassland birds — including many found in New Jersey, such as bobolinks, savannah and field sparrows, many species of swallows and kingbirds.

You can read it here:

Crunch-Time for Lanternflies!

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   I killed my first two spotted lanternflies in the Celery Farm today. They were crawling at eye level on a Tree of Heaven, and easy to smack with my hand. 

    It felt good to do something so simple to protect the environment, but in the grand scheme of things, the arrival of all these bugs may be causing an over-reaction:

    Long-term, you’re better squishing the egg masses they create – but more on that several paragraphs down. 

   Lanternflies can live for up to two days before they eat plants, so it’s best to kill ‘em on sight.

   I hear all sorts of advice about how to do so. One local magazine suggested putting sticky tape (like old-fashioned fly tape) on tree, and putting a screen around it to keep birds from getting stuck. Sounds like a bit of work, and what about butterflies and moths?

   The article also suggested calling an exterminator. I would hope that the extermination would not involve poisons or other chemicals that kill non-target insects (butterflies and moths) or get into the soil.

   From what I’ve read in The N.Y. times, squashing these attractive bugs may not make a difference – but it can’t hurt.

   More important is crushing the egg masses, which contain roughly 50 future lanternflies and will form on tree trunks and the undersides of large branches in the coming weeks.

   A little-known but effective way to crush the egg masses is with a small metal or wooden pastry roller and rolling over the crushing egg masses. You might wear protective glasses in case things gets real squishy.

   I found this website helpful in identifying SLF egg masses: