Monday Bear Bird Blogging:

Yesterday's fishing on the lower Yellowstone River was for the birds. Despite favorable weather conditions, we caught very little. I did, however, snag this picture of a bald eagle perched in a tree along the river.

The fishing on the upper Yellowstone was much better today. Casting hoppers all day, I caught browns, rainbows, and a cutbow. As for the birds, we passed under a tree in which two bald eagles were perched. It was a magnificent sight, but I was too slow to grab a picture.

Now it's back to the real world, where incomplete manuscripts and a massive stack of FAR forms await.

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. Monday Bear Bird Blogging:
  2. Gone Fishing:
Professor Adler's post about 538's temperature bet offer one month ago is about to come due

Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight is offering a bet to those who do not believe human activity is contributing to a gradual warming of the atmosphere. [Hat tip: Legal Planet] Given that quite a few climate skeptics frequent this site — and tend to turn the comment thread following every climate-related policy post into a debate on the existence of global climate change — I figured at least one would take his bet.

As I said last month, someone living where I do could probably (and would, as it turned out) have cleaned up had they taken the bet. Making a climate bet to the entire country is stupid in a world where climatologists aren't completely incompetent at figuring out medium term regional trends. Warmer temperatures made it a sucker's bet on average, but it was still exploitable.
8.18.2009 12:06am
I'll say it was exploitable, according to NOAA, 6 states had their coldest July ever. Even more impressive, a total of 26 states had a July 2009 in the bottom 10% of July temperatures over the last 115 years.
8.18.2009 1:41am
"I did, however, snag this picture of a bald eagle perched in a tree along the river."

Why would someone leave that picture in a tree? And what right did you have to remove it?
8.18.2009 8:36am
Happily, bald eagles are a dime a dozen these days. A magnificent bird, particularly when soaring overhead in a family flock of two or three.

Now what you really needed to do while fishing is look for an American dipper, a tiny black bird which frequents rivers like those in which you fished. It has a bobbing "dip" motion which distinguishes it. We spent a week in Montana in 2001 looking for that bird, only to see it later in Canada.

Or, ask a local birder, and there are undoubtedly thousands in Montana, about the local special birds.
8.18.2009 9:27am
Uh_Clem (mail):
Happily, bald eagles are a dime a dozen these days.

True. Although for the first 30 years of my life our proud national birds were as rare as hen's teeth. They nearly became extinct, with less than 500 nesting pairs.

Cause of the decline? primarily DDT.
Cause of the recovery? primarily, the government banning DDT.
8.18.2009 10:19am
Is a Cutbow a Cuthroat trout or a Rainbow/Cuthroat cross? Are they doing tis in the wild or a hatchery?

DDT? Are you sure? I thought Bald Eagels were not considered threated in Alaska and Canada. If DDT was the primary problem why wouldn't it be a problem up there too?
8.18.2009 11:09am
ASlyJD (mail):
Larson, how much DDT do you think was sprayed in areas where very few people live?
8.18.2009 12:01pm
Jim Miller (mail) (www):
For pictures of bald eagles, you also want to try Seattle suburbs. (The picture was taken in Kirkland, which is close to the center of the Seattle metropolitan area.)

As for DDT and bald eagles: Their numbers were growing the lower 48 states before DDT was banned. (DDT can be persistent, so that's a stronger statement than it may seem at first glance.) They were never endangered, or even threatened, in Alaska.
8.18.2009 2:25pm

Wasn't DDT also used for control of insect pests in agriculture? Wasn't that the main reason for use in the US as well as in Canada? Most of the DDT used in the US was not sprayed in Bald Eagle habitats either. Wouldn't DDT get washed into watersheds, rivers and lakes where Eagles would feed on contaminated fish? There is also the issue that DDT was persistent, spread through ecosystems, contaminated prey species and accumulated in predators.

Sorry, I do not see a difference between the situations in Canada, Alaska and the US
8.18.2009 3:05pm
ASlyJD (mail):
Currently, 5% of Canada's land is arable with another 3% used for permanent pasture. Furthermore, 75% of Canada's population lives within 100 miles of the United States. Even assuming the eagles could only live in a third of what was left over when every bit was sprayed with DDT, the eagles still had plenty of virgin territory.

In Alaska, only about 1% of the land is privately owned. and only 1.6 million acres were farmed in 1960. This suggests that very little DDT spraying was done.

I've not found good numbers for the contiguous US alone, but I believe it's safe to say that multiple times more land was used for agriculture and was sprayed than what was done in Alaska or Canada. While DDT did pollute the water system and accumulate in the higher level predators, it simply wasn't used to the same extent in areas that don't rely on agriculture. Perhaps a few eagles who lived immediately downstream of an Alaskan sprayer were affected; I don't know. But when the unmolested population is so large, the affected birds wouldn't have shown up in the statistics.

And I'm not saying that DDT was actually the cause; rather, I'm pointing out the fact that eagle populations were unaffected in areas with little to no human habitation and not even near areas of human habitation is not proof of anything.
8.18.2009 4:54pm

You have changed your point from where very few people live, which could be reasonably interpreted to be rural areas and inhabited downstream by birds of prey, to completely uninhabited.
8.18.2009 5:57pm
ASlyJD (mail):
I suppose my comment was unintentionally vague. Allow me to amend

Larson, how much DDT do you think was sprayed in areas where very few people live?


How much DDT do you think was sprayed in a state, larger than the next three largest states combined in which .2% of the US population lives, and a country, twice as large as the United States but only having a population of 11% of the United States, both areas having very limited agriculture and no malarial mosquitoes?
8.18.2009 7:24pm

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