Lying: The New American Distinguishing Character

We, as Americans, have learned to relish lying. We advocate it; laud it; and vote in favor of it. We attend rallies where lying is the primary element and wave our banners, flags and posters in support of it. Lying has become the ultimate process to dispute annoying scientific realities; to ignore history; to promote self-worth; and to increase corporate and personal wealth.

As lying has become the most valuable asset of those seeking to advance themselves politically and economically, we joyfully advance the most skillful liars to the highest of positions. Our citizenry is not only supportive, it is unduly proud of those who tell the most outstanding lies.

Given this fact, should we now develop university curricula to teach lying as a science; how best to apply it; when it is most affective; and toward whom it needs to be directed (e.g. Lying 1A and 1B)?

We fortunately have a President who is adept at this practice; Senators and congresspersons who fully support this activity; and now, 2 supreme court judges who have not only been accused of lying, but have been proven that they have done so under oath with impunity.

What has happened to us?

Raptorial Birds-Part 2

While Part One showed a part of the 51 species of raptorial birds native to North America, the number pales to the variety found in tropical climes such as South America and South Africa that have almost twice as many (Brazil and Ecuador 98 each and South Africa 81). And, due to the forested conditions and savannahs, finding and photographing in many of these areas depends more on luck than skill. However, I have been fortunate enough to photograph 31 of these on my excursions. Here they are:

Lappet-faced Vulture (South Africa)

Lapped-faced vulture 1

King Vulture (Costa Rica)

King Vulture 16

Black Vulture (Costa Rica)

Black Vulture 4

White-backed Vulture (South Africa)

White-backed vulture 1

Crested Caracara (Panama)

Crested Caracara 3

Carunculated Caracara (Ecuador)

Carunculated Caracara 7

Yellow-headed Caracara (Panama)

Yellow-headed Caracara 1

Harpy Eagle (Panama-captive)

Harpy Eagle 1

Tawny Eagle (South Africa)

Tawny eagle 1

Bateleur (South Africa)

Bataleur, Kruger NP, South Africa

Ornate Hawk-eagle (Panama)

Ornate Hawk-Eagle 3

Martial Eagle (South Africa)

Martial eagle 2


African Fish Eagle (South Africa)

African fish eagle 1

Black Hawk-eagle (Panama)

Black Hawk-eagle 1

Brown Snake-eagle (South Africa)

Brown snake eagle 1

Lizard Buzzard (South Africa)

Lizard Buzzard 1

Secretary Bird (Tanzania)

Secretary Bird

Variable Hawk (Ecuador)

Variable Hawk 3

Roadside Hawk (Brazil)

Roadside Hawk 5

Black-collared Hawk (Brazil)

Black-collared Hawk 8

Savannah Hawk (Brazil)

Savannah Hawk 2

Rock Kestrel (South Africa)

Rock Kestrel 1

White-tailed Hawk (Panama)

White-tailed Hawk 1

Great Black Hawk (Brazil)

Great Black Hawk 8

Plumbous Hawk (Panama)

Plumbous Hawk 4


Pale Chanting Goshawk (South Africa)

Pale-chanting Goshawk 1

Gray Hawk (Panama)

Gray Hawk 1

Pearl Kite (Panama)

Pearl Kite 2

Snail Kite (Brazil)

Snail Kite 4

Gray-headed Kite (Panama)

Gray-headed Kite 4

Striped Owl (Panama)

Striped Owl 3


Scopes Owl (South Africa)

Scops Owl 1

Mottled Owl (Panama)

Mottled Owl 1

Pearl-spotted Owl (South Africa)

Pearl-spotted owlet 3 copy

Spectacled Owl (Panama)

Spectacled Owl 2

Cape Eagle-owl (South Africa)

Cape Eagle-owl, Cape Town, South Africa

Roe, roe, roe your vote…

As usual, I’m confused. For most of my life I’ve watched the national news; followed the critical issues congress is faced with and strives to solve; and listened to our Presidents explain things in a logical manner. But somewhere along the line I’ve totally missed the disaster facing us by not overturning Roe v. Wade. As this issue appears so important that it pales all other issues I’m asking those of you who find this to be the sole driving issue of the 22nd century to please enlighten me as to how overturning Roe will:

• Promote world peace
• Curtail global warming
• Solve our opioid addiction problem
• Restore our crumbling infrastructure
• Eliminate pollution
• Activate a workable immigration system
• Reduce gun violence
• Create jobs thus eliminating homelessness
• Provide healthcare and education for all

I know there must be a valid and logical answer that has escaped me so, please, those of you who stand on the street corners with your signs and ignore our Constitutional commitment for separation of church and state, help me out here so I, too, can understand the crisis facing us if this is not carried out.

My Life With Raptorial Birds

Generally, ones introduction to raptorial birds is in the negative vein. Chicken Hawk, Buzzard, Butcherbird, Shite-hawk, Carrion Crow, Quail Hawk, etc., all derogatory titles to describe members of this group of avian predators. Farmers wrongly believe they choose to primarily prey on their poultry; sport hunters promote the false premise that they significantly reduce the populations of those small game species (quail, rabbits, etc.) they seek to shoot themselves; and children are taught animals that kill other animals are in some sense, “bad” (of course, exempting we humans).

Red-tailed Hawk (“Chicken Hawk”)


When I was a child my Dad identified American kestrels (sparrow hawks) as “Butcherbirds,” confusing their predatory activity with the shrike ( a passerine bird that impales its insect and small rodent prey on thorns or barbed wire fences because it has no grasping talons to hold it while it feeds.) The kestrel’s practice of hovering in place while seeking prey would entice him to throw rocks at it. Later, I wondered why he’d want to protect the kestrel’s prey species (grasshopper, mice) since he set traps for mice in the garage and sprayed DDT in our vegetable garden to kill grasshoppers. I doubt he ever thought much about it.

American Kestrel (“Butcherbird”)

Kestrel 10a

Loggerhead Shrike (“Butcherbird”)

Loggerhead Shrike 5

Recently, my neighbor insisted a large oak snag be removed from the field behind our homes because it was occasionally used as a nighttime roost for a half-dozen turkey vultures that she termed ‘harbingers of death.” (The snag eventually fell in a winter storm much to her delight).

Turkey Vultures (“Buzzard”, “Carrion Crow”)

IMG_4299 (3)

My interest in birds, including raptors began early in life and increased exponentially as I studied birdlife through college. I vividly recall seeing my first bald eagle; identifying the various species of raptors in Arizona; and, later, being hired by the US Forest Service to study California condors. That work allowed me to spend a bulk of my time in the field with Fred Sibley, a Fish and Wildlife Service ornithologist who schooled me in observing and identifying many raptorial species. Red-tailed hawks, golden eagles, peregrine falcons, and many others. Later, Sandy Wilbur shared these experiences with me.

California Condor


Moving on to northern Idaho I became intricately involved in the osprey populations that frequented the rivers and lakes– St. Joe, Coeur d’Alene, Pend Oreille– of that area. Although the area provided ideal habitat for this species–significant fish populations, natural and man-made nesting structures–the populations had declined due to reduced reproductive success. Becoming participant in the studies conducted by Wayne Melquist and Don Johnson of the University of Idaho, we surveyed osprey populations, banded nestlings and assessed DDT levels in the population. As the DDT levels began to decline due to the ban in 1972, reproductive success began to rise and there is currently a healthy viable population in that area, not to speak lightly of the return of nesting bald eagles, once extirpated from the area.

Osprey (“Fish Hawk”)


From Idaho I returned to California and headed up Forest Service programs to recover endangered species. None the least of these were the California condor, bald eagle, peregrine falcon and spotted owl. Here I was lucky enough to spend field time with Butch Olendorff, Dave Harlow, and Brian Walton and other pillars of the raptor community of biologists. And, then as now, my photographic efforts always highlighted raptorial bird species.

Peregrine Falcon (“Duck Hawk”)

Peregrine 10
A few species, such as the osprey, are termed circumpolar because they are found world-wide. Others are found in both North and South America and others spend the winters on one continent while spending the summers on another. In review of my photo portfolio I realized I now had images of 23 of the 33 North American raptor species and 26 found in South America and South Africa that I’ve taken on my photography excursions.

Ornate Hawk Eagle (Central America)

Ornate Hawk-Eagle 4copy

I continue to add to this collection but for now, these are my chosen images, Part One includes the North American Species and Part Two, those from other countries. Enjoy!


Part One-North American Raptors


Bald Eagle (Washington)

Bald Eagle, Seabeck, WA

Golden Eagle (California)

Golden Eagle, Clovis, CA

Red-tailed Hawk (California)


Rough-legged Hawk (Oregon)

Rough-legged Hawk 3

Red-shouldered Hawk (California)

Red-shouldered Hawk 16

Swainson’s Hawk (Texas)

Swainson's hawk 4

Harris Hawk (Texas)

Harris Hawk 1

Gray Hawk (Arizona)

Gray Hawk 7

Cooper’s Hawk (California)

Cooper's Hawk 6

Northern Goshawk (Montana)


Northern Harrier (California)


Swallow-tailed Kite (Florida)

Swallow-tailed Kite 1

White-tailed Kite (California)

Black-shouldered Kite 1

Snail Kite (Florida)

Snail Kite 1

Crested Caracara (Texas)

Northern Caracara 5

Peregrine Falcon (California)

Peregrine 12

Merlin (Oregon)

Merlin 10

American Kestrel (California)

Kestrel 15

Turkey Vulture (California)


Black Vulture (Baja)

Black Vulture 1

California Condor (California)

California Condor 2

Barn Owl (California)

Barn Owl 2

Great Gray Owl (Montana)

GGOwl 1

Burrowing Owl (Idaho)

Burrowing owl 14

Long-eared Owl (California)

Long-eared Owl 2

Pygmy Owl (California)

Pygmy Owl 10

Great Horned Owl (California)

GtHOwl 2


I was away last week and when I returned I noted a lead story in national news service that bragged, “Democrat Danny O’Connor almost won it in his race against Republican Troy Balderson” and then went on to crow about how close he had come and the ensuing future “Blue Wave.” Well, I hate to rain on your parade, Progressives, but celebrating “almost winning” doesn’t get you a cup of coffee at Starbucks!

In my younger days I was a pretty fair college track athlete. However, many times did I endure the slaps on the back and comments of my teammates, “Good job, you ALMOST won that one.” So, experience allows me to dampen your elation Progressives, because “almost winning” is simply LOSING! Almost winning didn’t put my name in the record books; didn’t give me a spot on the USA Olympic Team; didn’t put my face on the Wheaties Box or in the Nike ads.

I’m a Progressive who wants to see America continue to move forward as a democratic society, not a fascist state; as a leader in science, education and human rights, not as a puppet of the oligarchs; towards what inspired those who wrote our Constitution and who looked to the day when we might be world leaders (we were once…remember?), Where do you think we’d be if on June 7, 1944, Dwight Eisenhower had said, “Don’t be discouraged because WE ALMOST WON!” Yet I see the pundits on tv and in the logs yelling “Looking good because we ALMOST won that one.” The truth is, if you “almost won” you’d better start trying harder.  Do you hear me, Progressives?


High Desert

Back to Oregon…back to Fort Rock where several miles beyond pine forest meets high desert sage. The summer heat draws to birds to the shallow basins where water from the winter rains, caught on steel aprons and directed into underground cisterns, flows into these two sites and provides a source of life-giving water to many bird and mammal species.

Even though it was hot and dry, bird activity was much less this year than before. I logged in about 21 species in 3 days but many were only single sightings. But, only a year away from 80 I prided myself on still being able to camp out again, even though I needed the comfortable cot and foam futon to replace sleeping on the ground on a thin Thermopad. But away from the light pollution of our cities and two moonless nights, the star show was spectacular. How it brought back my many nights almost 60 years ago in the Arizona deserts.

Fort Rock

Fort Rock, Oregon

Ponderosa & Sage Ecotone


Water Basin


Photo BlindDSC03411(1)



Pinyon Jay

Pinyon Jay 15

Red Crossbill

Red Crossbill 16

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Yellow-rumped Warbler 14

Mourning Dove

MourningDove 14

Western Tanager

Western Tanager 3

Clark’s Nutcracker

Clark's Nutcracker 22

Green-tailed Towhee

Green-tailed Towhee 9

Sage Thrasher

Sage Thrasher 12

Brewer’s Blackbird

Brewer's Blackbird 1

Mountain Chickadee

Mt Chickadee 20

Chipping Sparrow

Chipping Sparrow 1

Lazuli Bunting

Lazuli Bunting 4

Cassin’s Finch

Cassin's Finch 13

American Robin

Robin 13

Mountain Bluebird

Mountain Bluebird 8

Western Bluebird

Western Bluebird 25

Northern Flicker

Northern Flicker 21

White-headed Woodpecker

White-headed Woodpecker 24




Do As I Say, Not As I Do

“Just remember, what you are seeing and what you are reading is not what’s happening,” Trump told his minions in Chicago yesterday. If not for the threat of protests I have no doubts he would have continued, paraphrasing Exodus 20:2-3 by saying “I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of immigrants, out of the house of Democracy.”
Then he would have followed by taking credit for paraphrasing quotes of the Italian fascist dictator, Hitler’s ally, Benito Mussolini, in:
• The Press of Italy is free…as long as it supports the regime.”
• “Democracy is beautiful in theory; in practice it is a fallacy. You in America will see that some day.”
• “Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power.”
• “We become the strongest…when we have no friends upon whom to lean, or to look to for moral guidance.”
Of course, at the end of WWII the Italian people executed Mussolini and dumped his body in a public square in Milan. We can only hope.