February 20, 2012

Happy President's Day

written by Rosa MorganPresidents' Day, originally known as Washington's Birthday, falls on the third Monday of February. Here are a few historical tidbits about our nation's leaders, including Grant's speedy equine mischief.

3rd President, Thomas Jefferson spent more than 40 years designing and building his Virginian home, Monticello.

16th President
, Abraham Lincoln's son, Tad, successfully pleaded for the turkey's life who was intended for Christmas dinner. Now every Thanksgiving, the U.S. president grants one gobbler a last-second reprieve from the butcher's block, to be released into the wild at a national reserve.

Late one night, 18th President, Ulysses S. Grant exceeded the speed limit while riding his horse in the streets of Washington, D.C. . After recognizing the president, a police officer was reluctant to issue the $20 ticket, but Grant insisted he be fined.

24th President Grover Cleveland was a draft dodger. He hired someone to enter the service in his place.

28th President,
Woodrow Wilson is thought to have had dyslexia because he could not read until he was 11 years old.

32nd President, Franklin Delano Roosevelt contracted polio at the age of 39, however, millions of Americans never knew he was a wheelchair bound paraplegic. He was so superstitious that he refused to leave town on a Friday or sit at a table of 13.

February 15, 2012

Oh Miss Astor What A Disaster!!!!

Salutations Gentle Reader,

Ain't technology grand; at least it is for semi- intelligent persons, present company excluded. I have destroyed my blog with one misplaced click of a button on my Smart phone. That is, I deleted a year's worth of photos on my blog, and now must laboriously replace them. So, be patient, and all of them in due time will be replaced.

Crying, rather wailing, in my teacup!

February 6, 2012

Martha: The Last Known Passenger Pigeon

written by Rosa Morgan

My tail feathers shudder when I consider I'm the last of
Ectopistes migratorius. And so, I, Martha the Passenger Pigeon, feel compelled to bear witness to my noble species, and how swiftly we were massacred into extinction.

John James Audubon's painting catches the loving nature of our life long mating character.
Hen and cock are so dedicated to their young squabs that they both lovingly sit on their eggs, and once hatched, they feed them a cheesy milk, which they produce.

Our numbers were once huge. An 1866 sighting in southern Ontario noted 3.5 billion migrating birds made up a flock that spanned 1 mile wide, 300 miles long, and took 14 hours to pass a single point.

So how did the most abundant bird in the world in the 19th century dwindle down to me being the last one alive?

Part of the problem was that our sheer numbers left devastation in our path. The weight of large nesting groups broke off tree branches. We ate all edible nuts, seeds, and berries as we went, and our droppings were so thick, it often destroyed the forest understory. In other words, we were not environmentally friendly.

However, monetary gain was the biggest factor which led to our demise. At a penny a bird, we were a ready and inexpensive source of meat for slaves and the poor; and huntsmen attacked us without compunction.

Due to our communal breeding habits, we were easy targets, but that didn't stop trap-shooters from using us in tournaments. In 1881, at Coney Island N.Y. 20,000 of my kin were killed in one sporting event.

Mr. Bergh's Anti-Pigeon Bill was passed by the Senate, but this law was generally ignored by huntsmen, and attempts to save us by breeding surviving captive birds proved unsuccessful.

That's where I come into the story. I lived my entire life in the Cincinnati Zoo. They gave me a cock to mate with, but how can one feel amorous under such dire circumstances. We were genetically programmed to breed with hundreds, thousands, even millions of our brethren surrounding us with love. I died at at 1 p.m. on September 1, 1914 at the age of 29, but do not shed a tear for me in vain. Let my death and that of all passenger pigeons be a reminder that life on Earth is precious, and we must do our best to preserve its diversity.

John Herald sings tribute to Martha