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Tag: birds

NC college starts pet-friendly dorm

Lees-McRae College, located in the mountains of North Carolina, has designated its first pet-friendly dormitory, allowing students who live there to bring along their dogs, cats, birds, fish, ferrets, and hamsters.

With the opening of the Spring 2011 semester, Bentley Residence Hall went co-species. 

“I am so excited that Lees-McRae College has joined the ranks of pet friendly colleges and universities.  We love our pets and we recognize that students who are pet owners are generally responsible and caring individuals,” said Barry M. Buxton, president of the Presbyterian college. “We want to encourage pet adoption and awareness that all of God’s creatures are sacred.”

Students living in Bentley Hall are now allowed to bring their pets from home to school with them to live in their rooms. Under the new policy, qualifying students can have fish, hamsters, gerbils, guinea pigs, birds, ferrets, cats and dogs under 40 pounds. (We’d argue dogs over 40 pounds are sacred, too.)

Previously, students were only allowed to have fish in residence hall rooms.

Under the new pet friendly policy, faculty and staff are also encouraged to bring their pets to campus.

“It is great to be able to have my two dogs for companionship while I am studying and doing homework in my room,” said student Lauren Lampley, owner of Shih Tzus Heidi and Buckley. “This responsibility also forces me to manage my time well enough to take care of them and make sure I make time to spend with them.”

The approved pets for the inaugural pet friendly program include a Boston Terrier, a small Labrador retriever, two Shih Tzus, a pomeranian/Chihuahua mix, a miniature dachshund, a Maine coon mix, a Siamese mix, a leopard gecko, a Dutch rabbit, two ferrets and two birds.

The new policy represents the latest in a trend toward colleges welcoming pets, noted Joshua Fried, director of Petside.com: “We know how much the companionship of a pet can benefit a college student, particularly in the form of stress-relief and as a remedy for homesickness.”

“Now I have two alarms,” one student joked. “When I ignore my alarm clock, my dog licks my face and my nose until I get up. She really cares about my education.”

Lees-McRae College, a four-year, co-educational liberal arts college, is located in the Blue Ridge Mountains of northwestern North Carolina in the town of Banner Elk.

(Photo courtesy of Lees-McCrae College)

Gull talk

I got intrigued with a pair of seagulls again – this time two that I was sharing a parking lot with in the town of Bar Harbor, Maine.

I pulled in to see if I could fire up the old Internet and catch up on some blogging while sitting in the car.

The brown gull drew my attention first, with a sing-song tweet-TWEET-tweet that proved far more reliable than my Internet connection. It reliably emitted the call every four seconds as it searched the ground around my car for food.

Finding none, the brown gull kept tweet-TWEET-tweeting as it walked right up to the other other gull.

I don’t know if the other gull was a relative, suitor, friend, parental unit, or maybe – considering they didn’t look anything alike — a surrogate parent. But the brown gull clearly wanted something from it.

The grey and white gull would turn its head when the brown gull got too close. But the brown gull was a pushy creature – it just kept getting into the white and grey gull’s face, saying “tweet-TWEET-tweet” the whole time.

Once the grey and white gull got tired of retreating and turning away, the brown gull used its beak to pry open the other gull’s mouth, then conducted a very thorough search inside of it, pausing only to say “tweet-TWEET-tweet.”

After listening to 30 minutes of tweet-TWEET-tweeting, I finally broke up one of Ace’s treats and threw the pieces their way, buying me enough silence to get my work done. There was only one thing I had intended to do that — despite, or maybe because of the constant reminder — I forgot to do:

Tweet.

(To see a synopsis of Ace’s travels so far, click here.)

(To see all of “Travels with Ace,” click here.)

Gulls will be gulls

Sitting on a post off the pier in Provincetown over the weekend, this gull seemed to be king of the mountain — but it didn’t last for long.

I was enjoying a cup of clam chowder — yes, another one — and Ace was laying at my feet, halfway under the bench, when I decided he was picture-worthy and took out my camera.

Sure, they are scavengers, but I like watching them — whether it be soaring regally through the sky or picking through trash like hungry hobos.

The seagulls around Provincetown have pretty good pickings, but — kind of like the humans outnumber the parking spaces — gulls far outnumber the posts in the water, which seem to be the perching spot of choice.

I’d only taken a couple of photos when a fellow gull looked down from above and, apparently either wanting the spot, or feeling he was American’s next top gull model, swooped down and bumped the first off the post.

I wasn’t going to take his picture, but then he proceeded to do something resembling a victory dance.

After I finished the chowder, and Ace cleaned the cup, gull No. 1 — apparently wanting his perch back — swooped down and knocked No. 2 off.

Then he sat there a few more minutes, looking proud as an eagle.

It wasn’t long before he went back to being a scavenger, though.

When some fishermen on a boat were cutting bait, he vacated the post for a closer look, hovering in the air and being pushed backwards by the wind.

He’d flap his wings to get closer, hover, float backwards, and flap his wings again.

Then, seeing no handouts, he went back to his post.

Seagulls kind of have it all figured out. I was forking over money at every turn in Provincetown.

Seagulls? They pay for nothing. They scavenge scraps, sleep wherever they want, squawk whenever they feel like it, and park for free. I salute them.

The best part of being a liveaboard

What I’ve liked most about being a liveaboard are the visitors — be they friends or fowl.

There’s a family of ducks that pops by regularly.

Egrets? I’ve had a few, but then again, too few to mention. Just one actually, who, while making croaky-clicky noises from somewhere in that long and winding throat, landed softly on the edge of my boat, then took off the second I started fumbling for my camera.

And then there was this guy (top) – you tell me what he is — who didn’t seem to mind being photographed at all. Perhaps he’s an egret, too, though he was much smaller than the giant croaking one.

They were all welcome on the ark, with the exception of members of the rodent and snake families who I’m happy to report we saw none of at all — for which I thank the feral cats.

In our week living aboard a friend’s 30-foot sailboat in Baltimore, we’ve had a few human visitors, too, and I’ve enjoyed sharing what’s not really mine — the river, the boat, the sunsets … pretty much everything I offered except for Ace’s company, my beer and my now empty box of Cheeze-Its.

While offering little, I received much and thanks go out to the friends we’ve tried, tested, sought favors from and shacked up with. Maybe it is home, after all.

I think I’m actually moved — and it wasn’t just the bobbing of the boat. My return visit and the kindness Ace and I were shown by the friends, former Baltimore Sun colleagues, new liveaboard acquaintances and the occasional sea bird has meant a lot.

Once again, it’s hard to leave. The urge to nest is growing stronger. I’m wondering, how can I go back to a lonely Motel 6 after all  this? Do I have another three months on the road in me? Does Ace?

I guess we’ll see. Because it’s time to go — gotta fly.

Highway Haiku: How the Pelican Got Its Beak

 

“How the Pelican Got Its Beak”

At its creation

Pelican must’ve told God,

“Put it on my bill.”

 

(Highway Haiku is a regular feature of “Dog’s Country,” the continuing tale of one man and one dog spending six months criss-crossing America. To read the latest installments, click here. To read all of “Dog’s Country,” from the beginning, click here.)

Could cadaver dogs be replaced by vultures?

Skilled as dogs are at finding dead bodies, police in Germany think they’ve found an animal even more adept at the task.

Police in Walsrode, Germany, say they have trained a vulture named Sherlock to lead them to cadavers.

By placing a GPS device on his leg, they can track him and respond — I’d hope before he’s eaten too much of the evidence.

“If it works, it could save time because the birds can cover much more area than sniffer dogs or humans,” officer Rainer Herrmann told the Daily Mail.

The turkey vulture, a natural scavenger, feeds almost exclusively on carrion, finding its meals through keen vision and a sense of smell that allows it to detect the gasses produced during the decay of dead animals from as high as 3,000 feet in the air.

“‘It was a colleague of mine who got the idea from watching a nature programme,”  Herrmann said. ”

Sherlock can even find remains in woodland or in thick undergrowth. Unlike sniffer dogs, who need regular breaks, Sherlock doesn’t seem to get tired and can cover a far larger area.

Sherlock is being trained at Walsrode, the largest bird park in the world with 650 different species.

Trainers hope to assemble a squadron of crimefighting vultures, but — given that the vultures aren’t native to the area, would have to be raised from chicks to be tame, and require lots of training — it will be a while before they are called to duty.

Dogs suspected in flamingo deaths at zoo

flamingosBaton Rouge Zoo officials think a pack of wild dogs may be responsible for the Sunday night deaths of 17 flamingos, more than a third of the zoo’s flock.

Despite having 24-hour security, the zoo didn’t discover the deaths until staff arrived for work Monday morning,  Phil Frost, zoo director, told The Advocate.

Zoo officials don’t know how the dogs got into the zoo, or through an additional fence and into the flamingo enclosure, but they said canine paw prints were detected.

Besides the 17 flamingos killed, one more bird was injured in the attack and was being treated at the zoo’s hospital, said Mary Wood, the zoo’s marketing director.

The remaining 30 members of the flock who survived were back on display Monday. Zoo officials aren’t sure how they managed to survive the attack.

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