Monday, April 03, 2006

Cooler Day: Part II...

I know...I said I'd write something today about some of the stories I punted on yesterday. Well, after working late, I got home just in time to watch the first real thunderstorm of the season roll through. It's hard to not pay attention when the skies open and hail starts falling. So, that and the fact that I haven't eaten dinner are the reasons why yesterday's promise has become today's regret.

Anyway, not wanting to leave you totally without Haydukian ramblings, I've got a few things worth posting.

First, if you haven't yet checked out Howard County Blog #1's analysis of the proposed county capital budget you should. Part I, Part II (Education) and Part III. He has been doing a superb job laying out the numbers and asking questions, without unnecessary partisanship. I only wish I had more time now to get into these numbers myself, but I guess I'm too busy complaining about my wife going to Orioles games (see below).

Second, remember that this Wednesday RestorUS.org is hosting a candidate forum at the Glenwood Library in on Rt. 97 in Cooksville. Here is the schedule:

5:00 pm - 6:00 pm - Meet & Greet (All Candidates are Welcome)
6:00 - 7:00 - County Executive Candidates
7:00 - 8:00 - County Council Candidates (5th District Candidates Only)
8:00 - 9:00 - School Board Candidates
If nothing else, it will be an opportunity to see grown men insult each other for things wholly unrelated to the future of our county. Good times.

Finally, I have been thinking about this for a few weeks and hope to write something about it soon. But for now, I'll pose the question and let you ponder and maybe help me answer it. You may remember that a few months ago a roost of vultures was terrorizing a neighborhood in Columbia. I believe the vultures have since found other sleeping accommodations. But that's not the point.

As I was wandering Town Center on a recent sunny day, I noticed that our downtown lacks something most others have: pigeons. Now, I'm not saying I necessarily want massive flocks of pigeons moving into our city, but certainly their presence -- predicated on a supply of food from humans -- is some type of indicator of an area's "vibrancy," or something like that. At the time, I thought about writing about our dearth of pigeons and how this was related at least tangentially to our currently non-people friendly downtown, but nothing ever materialized.

Then, I began to think about vultures more generally, perhaps in response to seeing them roost in the mornings on the sides of several of Town Center's taller buildings. There is nothing that I know of that would keep pigeons and vultures from co-habitating the same spaces -- the two generally don't compete for food -- but there is clearly some limiting factor preventing pigeons from moving in. This may be the lack of vibrancy (or people walking around) or it may be something else. That's also not what I'm concerned about either.

What I am interested in is why we have a proliferation of vultures and what this says about our community. My quick take is that vultures are and will always be more suited to live in Columbia because of our numerous acres of open space, which provide habitats for small- and medium-sized mammals, and our miles of unobstructed asphalt, which provide anti-habitat (or dying grounds) for small- and medium-sized mammals.

Vultures, like pigeons, live off of our waste, though they prefer the waste we create when fast cars meet small creatures. Pigeons, on the other hand, rely on either people or trash cans for scraps, both of which (I'm guessing) we lack in high enough concentrations to support a viable population.

I'm going to stop here, as this ornithological discussion has dragged on long enough. Let me know if you have any thoughts on the Great Vulture-Pigeon discrepancy in the comments. The only thing I'll add is, although I'm not terribly fond of pigeons in general, seeing them in Town Center wouldn't be all bad. First, it would mean more people are downtown walking around. Second, it would dramatically increases the chances of The Baddest Bird of Them All taking up residence on the side of one of our tall buildings, which, in case you were wondering, would be sweet.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hawks and Falcons are making a huge comeback and pigeons are good eatin! Additionally the vultures go where the rotting corpses (not human) but deer and I would have to imagine that the incredible over population and annual die off of deer have something to do with the proximity of the vultures (not far from the wooded overpopulated woods which can't feed the overabundence of deer)

So there I've boiled it down to supply and demand for you - suprised you didn't mention geese?

PS- Its just not fair that you got to enjoy the beach!

DukeFan said...

There is a wonderful Bird & Wildlife Preserve near Cape May, NJ where migrating Peregrine Falcons make an annual stopover.

I saw one snatch a smaller brid out of mid-air. It's a bad bird.

Hayduke said...

Anon,

Sheesh...economics is everywhere, huh? But you are exactly right with supply and demand.

I thought about geese immediately after I posted it. I'm not sure where they fit -- well, habitat-wise, I guess they fit in just about everywhere.

Sorry about the beach. It really was a perfect beach day on Friday, aside from the fact that the water was only a few degrees above freezing. Though it was cold enough to keep the people out, the dogs -- naturally -- didn't seem to mind.

If I had known a discussion about birds would generate such a response, I wouldn't have written about them long before.

Hayduke said...

Check that..."would have"

Anonymous said...

The Geese fit in on the shore of Lake Kittamaqundi and of course they have no natural predators living there with them (maybe we need a goose blind near clyde's)?


ANON