Friday, April 26, 2013

Joe Neal muses on powerlines, great blue herons and unintended cruelty

I've been looking at a webpage and related materials about new powerline routes proposed by Southwestern Electrical Power Company (SWEPCO) through Ozark hill country in northwest Arkansas. One route would impact a Great Blue Heron nesting rookery on a tributary of White River below Beaver Lake. The lines would run between the rookery and the river, where adults feed themselves and haul food back to nestlings.

If this route is chosen, the adult herons will have another obstruction to dodge and fledglings more risks, potentially deadly, as they learn the Great Blue trade.  Unfortunately, they don't all learn how to dodge wires.

In June 2011, I photographed a fledgling Great Blue near Siloam Springs, flight feathers on one wing terminally wrapped around a high wire. It took a couple of days to die up there, a sad jerking and hanging, plain for all to see, avian calvary at the intersection of nature and modernity.

Seeing such, and gruesome varieties – a Neotropical migrant like a Hooded Warbler who traveled thousands of miles unscathed, then smacks into our picture window, comes to mind here --really should sober us up, get us serious about some alternative ways, but . . . but the cruelty, most of it not deliberate, proceeds.

I will be pointing this out in my letter to SWEPCO. When our time comes to reach the pearly gates, god of ALL could be -- not grandpa with soft beard -- but Great Blue Heron with long sharp beak, maybe even that one hung on high wire at Siloam.

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