Do power lines affect the health of birds, when they perch on them?

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Questions about birds I answered on Quora the week of 3/13/17

Do power lines affect the health of birds, when they perch on them?

I can’t speak to power lines but I know that Quaker parrots are colonial animals. They build large nests where a whole colony can live enabling them to survive brutal Chicago winters.

A heat source they seek out and build their nests in is electrical transformers. CommEd has access to a number of Quaker rescues who will come and get the birds when requested.

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Old School Falconry Jargon Untangled

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per Craig Hendee – In the case of the Peregrine only, the males are called Tiercels. Throughout history if you said Tiercel, it meant male Peregrine. The female is called the falcon. If you said falcon, it meant and was understood to be a female Peregrine. Nowdays only the purists or those with great knowledge of the history of falconry and its language would understand it as such. 
mitchr with hooded falcon on gloved hand
When the gentleman commented on the photo as “nice tiercel” he was saying nice male Peregrine, and meant to be understood as such. I know that he did it intentionally so that we would know of his level of knowledge. Very few falconers have a good understanding of the old terms and meanings. You technically should say male Prairie falcon, but many people would say tiercel Prairie falcon which is incorrect. There are intense epic battles over language on the internet which I love to see. 
Under no circumstances should a female raptor be called a hen, such as saying hen red-tail. That will bring down the wrath of many falconers who hate it. It would be female red-tail. There are numerous other names such as a male sparrowhawk which is a musket and the female which is called the spar or sparrowhawk, or the male merlin which is called a Jack, and the male Hobby called a Robin. You just have to learn them.

Male Peregrine falcon on arm of woman in medieval costume

How do Condors & Vultures end up with lead poisoning?

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Note: As we follow the path of these majestic scavengers of the sky we learned the term “Condor” belongs in two distinct bird species but are both referred to as “New World” vultures. Learn a little about Condors & Vultures here.


Amanda V.- CA condors actually seek out and preferentially eat the bits of lead shot left in a carcass, because in the natural world, those would be bone bits and provide them necessary calcium. This is why so many have succumbed to lead poisoning. And when a mate dies, they will find another mate, if there is another viable adult around. But much like parrots, they do have to have a good personality match- they will not just go with anyone. NW Vultures are highly intelligent as well (another similarity with parrots, although they have very different social systems).

Catherine Tobsing – Lead is “sweet” tasting so I can see why they would seek it out, so sad. It is largely a myth that some birds will mate for “life”, yes, if they are the type of bird that stays together during the “off” breeding time they will likely stay with their mate, but if one dies, they will mourn awhile, but will seek a new mate eventually.
I recall a traffic jam once on a highway and it turned out to be a Canada Goose had been hit by a car and its mate would NOT leave it. Some people had to stop, and ward off the surviving mate in order for others to pull the heavy dead goose off the highway before traffic could move again. I cried then, and am shedding a tear now, even 10 years afterwards.
Yes, I mentioned to Mitch that the wings are likely the most beautiful part of a vulture. Certainly the head is usually the least part. In the midwest (Illinois, Indiana) we have the Turkey Vultures (or turkey buzzard) and when they fly, looking up and seeing the underside of their wings is magnificent.
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Flying eagle point of view

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I really enjoy your e:mails and am always interested in the things I learn, or the laughs I get. One thing, they are never boring. Sometimes I see something I’d love to share with my bird club. I have forwarded some stories to friends, but I just became editor of the MidAmerican Cage Bird Society (MACBS) and want to know if I could occasionally reprint an article?

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