by Doctor Science
Yesterday morning I spent about an hour along the Raritan River in central NJ. The river is less than 50m wide at that point, so it's possible to look at every one of the several thousand Canada Geese present, trying to find a rare goose (Cackling, Snow, White-Fronted, etc.) mixed in, even if (like me) you're only carrying pretty light-weight binoculars. No dice this time, but I did see an adult Bald Eagle flying up the river and onto a perch on the other side. This picture:
taken along the Raritan last year by Flickr user magarell gives a good idea of the view, though I had no golden glow of sunset.
As I looked at the bird I exclaimed with joy, and told a runner passing by, "It's a Bald Eagle!" The great thing about adult Bald Eagles is that even a binocularless mundane can recognize them, because they're so large, clearly marked, and familiar from pictures. Which is one reason Ben Franklin was full of it, wanting to make the turkey our American symbol. Sorry, Ben, Wild Turkeys are just *creepy* -- they move like velociraptors.
I started birding in 1969, when Bald Eagles were almost extirpated in the US outside of Alaska. The birds have made an incredible comeback, so that even NJ, once down to a single nest, now has more than 100 nesting pairs. My instincts are still set on "really rare! see it while you still can!", though, for Peregrine Falcons and Ospreys as well as for Eagles.
And yes, it's really true that these birds, already threatened, were driven to the brink by DDT. It's unspeakably exasperating to have to say this, but if you've heard that DDT had nothing to do with the Bald Eagle's near-extinction it was a lie. Not a mistake, not a different scientific opinion, a lie. The most assiduous spreader of that lie is anti-environmentalist Steven Milloy;
Tim Panogos Ed Darrell is exhaustively documenting and refuting the cloud of untruths Milloy keeps squirting out.
Why does Milloy keep doing this? Probably mostly because there's money in it, but I also couldn't help noticing something he said, which I've seen picked up and repeated elsewhere in the FoxNewsOSphere:
Banning DDT wasn’t about birds. It was about power.This reminded me of something Gandalf says about Sauron (in the book Fellowship of the Ring; like most of Tolkien's more elegant phrasings, it didn't make it into the movie):
For he is very wise, and weighs all things to a nicety in the scales of his malice. But the only measure that he knows is desire, desire for power; and so he judges all hearts.I don't know how to counteract this kind of poison when the perpetrators don't have a One Ring that can be destroyed. What would it take for people like Milloy to lose their megaphones? Or at least to be laughed at and ignored, instead of requiring time and energy to counteract?
by no means a proper emblem for the brave and honest Cincinnati of America, who have driven all the King Birds from our country; though exactly fit for that order of knights which the French call Chevaliers d'Industrie-- that is, Captains of Industry, businessmen.