California Condor Makes Comeback but Wind Power Seen as Threat

March 11th, 2021

California Condors have made an inspiring comeback from near extinction, but worries remain about how many will be killed by wind power.

A possible solution… make more birds?

To help compensate for any birds that may be killed by their turbines, wind power company Avangrid Renewables wants to breed California Condors in captivity. If all goes as planned, they will release six 1.5-year-old condors over a three-year-period. Watching these birds grow does seem like a fun job.

It’s a good thing North America’s largest flying birds are roaming the skies again. Just look how handsome they are. santana

Saving California Condors

So, if a wind power company wants to join in with captive breeding — the more the merrier, right? Well, not everyone agrees, but doing something to negate the impact of wind turbines on condors is better than ignoring the problem.

According to a recent New York Times article, conservationists say that wind companies should be forced by the government to do more to prevent the bird deaths. What can be done?

A recent study from Norway found that painting at least one turbine blade black brought about a 70 percent decline in bird deaths. Ars Technica has more on this study. What are your thoughts on wind companies breeding condors?

CA Condor Facts

These condors have a nine-foot or more wingspan, and they can weigh more than 20 pounds. They also live up to 60 years in the wild!

The condors lay only one egg per year, and they aren’t sexually mature until six or seven years old. This slow mo reproduction rate is part of the reason the bird are endangered.

Condors are also face threats from lead ammunition used by hunters. Switching to non-lead bullets can help save these endangered birds.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says there are now about 160 California Condors flying around freely in Central and Southern California. In Arizona and Utah, there are about 80, but the total condor population is 440 birds. That’s only possible because of captive breeding programs.

Earth Day 2021 April 22

March 2nd, 2021

Each day is earth day, but on April 22, it’s time to take a few extra minutes to consider what more you can do.

The theme for Earth Day 2021 is “Restore Our Earth.” Learn more at

Brooklyn Botanic in spring. Image by Peggy Rowland.

Here are five ways you can do more this Earth Day.

One: Increase your knowledge. Take a clean energy quiz.

Two: Participate in the Great Global Cleanup with a group, on our own, or even while jogging, running or walking. It’s called plogging!

Three: Reduce plastic waste by refilling your own reusable water bottle.

Four: Include pollinator-friendly plants in your garden or balcony pots.

Five: Write to your representative. Find your representative and tell this person how you feel about climate change. Ask for action.

Have fun this Earth Day 2021!

It’s Help a Horse Day. Foster a Horse.

April 24th, 2020

You’ve heard a lot about fostering pets, but did you know that horses need fostering too? April 26 is Help a Horse Day, so there’s no better time to learn more.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the ASPCA is expecting to see a rise in the number of horses that need rehoming. Right now, equine adoption organizations across the country are asking for more foster homes for horses.

There are only so many stalls available to rescue groups, and that’s why finding foster homes for horses is so important. When you foster a horse, your local rescue group has a stall open for the next horse needing help.

If you have the land for a horse, or if you can secure a stall at a local boarding barn, you may be a good match. To learn more, visit

If you can’t foster a horse, please observe Help a Horse Day by spreading the word to others.

How Staying at Home to Avoid Spread of Coronavirus Changes Things for the Better

March 26th, 2020

Covid-19 is some horrible stuff. People are dying, or becoming extremely ill. Doctors and nurses are in trouble without the supplies and support they deserve and need. There’s a major disruption of daily life, employment and the economy, but there are some things about self-isolating, or obeying safer-at-home orders from your local mayor that are good.

Eek. Yeah, some things about this pandemic are good.

First, some of us are getting back to better conservation of resources. It’s nearly impossible to find paper towels (and toilet paper) in the stores. For me, it’s been impossible lately. That means I really think twice about what I’m using paper towels to do. I’m making more sustainable choices that will hopefully continue after this disruption is just a memory of 2020.

Second, it’s helping us be more flexible. I’m guilty of sticking with what I know I like, and even going to multiple stores to get those items. But, I’m learning that it’s not that big of a deal to not have my favorite foods, as a long as I have food! I don’t have to be as picky as I was. Healthy, yes, but not picky. I’m finding I can make my shopping routing much more simple than it was before.

Third, we’re driving less. I didn’t have to commute, but my husband did. Now he’s working from home, saving gas, helping to lower pollution, and having more time to enjoy simple things. Maybe some companies will be more flexible in the future about allowing employees to work from home.

Fourth, more time with pets! Yeah, people’s cats are making appearances on video conferences, but that’s great. Everyone is getting to know each other in a whole different way. And dogs, the walks they’re getting! Which brings me to….

Fifth, neighbors are exploring their neighborhoods more. We all take so much care to pick neighborhoods we like when we move, but so few of us actually spend time walking, running, biking, drawing on the sidewalk after we move. Since I’ve been working from home for years, I’ve always enjoyed walks in the middle of the day. Previously, I would just see the same few people out, or no one at all. Now, the streets of my neighborhood are teeming with people enjoying nature.

Sixth, more time with family (those you live with). If you don’t have to drive to work, you get more family time, and earlier dinner! I know that some families are separated right now, avoiding visiting each other, and many people are feeling isolated without social contact. Keep in mind: Social distancing won’t last forever!

Seventh, more hand washing. I’m a germaphobe anyway. I like it when people wash their hands. Let’s keep it up. But here’s hoping I can one day again find hand sanitizer in the store.

And finally, good grief, I finally updated this blog. Stay safe and healthy. And try to keep those good habits after this is over!

ASPCA Rescues Animals Displaced by Northern CA Wildfires

August 6th, 2018

If you’re like me, you think of the animals left behind during disasters. It’s not always a sad story, and some of these rescue images may bring happy tears to your eyes.

The ASPCA is assisting local agencies with field rescues and emergency sheltering for animals affected by wildfires in Lake and Mendocino counties.

Lake County Animal Care & Control and its animal disaster response team Lake Evacuation & Animal Protection (LEAP) requested the assistance.

LEAP and ASPCA responders have been checking individual residences for pets and livestock, and providing food and water for animals during wellness checks requested by pet owners.

In Lake and Mendocino counties, the ASPCA has assisted nearly 50 animals, including cats, dogs, birds and livestock.

This assistance from the ASPCA is possible through support from Lewyt Rescue Fund.

“Rescuing animals in desperate need of assistance during emergency situations like the wildfires burning through California is exactly why the Lewyt Rescue Fund was established,” said Wendy McColgan and Thomas Amlicke, trustees of the Alex and Elisabeth Lewyt Charitable Trust.

In Northern California, the ASPCA has assisted more than 2,500 animals affected by the wildfires. Consider helping the ASPCA with their wildfire disaster response efforts.

Images provided by the ASPCA. 

Can you recycle disposable coffee cups?

May 29th, 2018

If you’ve been tossing disposable coffee cups into your recycling, you might be an aspirational recycler. A disposable coffee cup can ruin, or contaminate, a big batch of recycling. This is a case of reuse (taking your own cup) proving better than recycling.

Thanks to The New York Times article, “6 Things You’re Recycling Wrong,” I learned the term “aspirational recycler.” And I learned that the lining inside disposable coffee cups (which keeps them from leaking) makes them difficult and expensive to recycle. Of course, plastic lids and plastic coffee cups, like you might receive for an iced coffee, may still be recyclable.

To avoid becoming an accidental aspirational recycler, check with your local facility for information on what you can recycle. Cause hopeful assumptions do more harm than good. Happy recycling.

image via MorgueFile

No Easter Pets, Please

March 30th, 2018

Have you seen those blue or pink baby chicks that appear in some farm or pet stores around this time of year? Well, if you haven’t, pretty please don’t go in search of them.

They make terrible gifts, even if they aren’t dyed pink. The same goes for ducklings or rabbits bought on the spur of the moment. Continue reading »

Help End Plastic Pollution on Earth Day 2018 and Beyond

March 25th, 2018

Earth Day is celebrated on April 22, but the lessons of Earth Day last 365 days a year, as long as you’re open to that! This year, Earth Day Network is focusing on ending plastic pollution.

Plastic is everywhere. Since plastic was invented in the 1950s, we’ve produced 9.1 billion U.S. tons, and 91 percent of plastic isn’t recycled. By the year 2050, there could be more plastic in the oceans than fish! Right now, there’s more microplastic in the ocean than there are stars in our Milky Way. (Sources via Earth Day Network)

Besides its invasive nature, why is plastic the enemy? Plastic items are clogging waterways and injuring or killing wildlife. Plastic pollution is also endangering human health in complex ways we’ve only begun to understand.

I’m not trying to depress you. We can change all this. Consider your own plastic pollution footprint. One of the most important things you can do to lower your footprint is refuse plastic. If there is no other option, recycle the plastic you have.

Learn more about ending plastic pollution with the Earth Day Network Toolkit.

One Minute Low Fat Mock Apple Pie

March 25th, 2018

When you have to avoid fat, but still want something sweet, turn to the mock apple pie! Because I detest long introductions to recipes, here you go:

One-Minute Low-Fat Mock Apple Pie Dessert

  1. Pour 4 ounces of unsweetened natural applesauce in a bowl. I like Mott’s.
  2. Mix in a dash of ground cinnamon.
  3. Add a very small dollop of Truwhip Skinny on top (very optional), or make your own whipped cream. I usually just enjoy this without the cream.
  4. Get in your hands on four water crackers (they serve as a “crust”).
  5. Dip the water crackers into the applesauce mixture, and be surprised at how good this low-fat, easy apple pie tastes!

I came up with this treat after learning that I needed to stick to low-fat foods because of gallbladder issues. Those have, I think been resolved by a recent surgery, but I’m going to stick with this healthy, fun dessert.

If you need to know exactly how much fat you’re consuming, please look at the fat content of your applesauce, water crackers and whipped topping (if using). Low-fat dishes contain less than 3 grams of fat per serving. And, of course, you’d be wise to have just one serving.

The Arctic Melt, Images of a Disappearing Landscape

April 20th, 2017

Photographer Diane Tuft traveled to places few human eyes ever see. By plane, boat and helicopter, she explored Norway’s mountain glaciers, the Arctic Ocean’s sea ice and Greenland’s icebergs and ice sheet.

book-cover-arctic-meltIt’s important, hard work! As we’re all living life in our neighborhoods, sipping coffee or walking the dog, we don’t really think about all that melting ice in the planet’s northernmost regions.

But we should. The Arctic Melt, Images of a Disappearing Landscape allows you to sit back all warm and comfortable in your favorite chair with a cat on your lap while you explore vast glaciers and frigid seas.

(Disclosure: I received a complimentary review copy of this book.) It’s a big book – 10×13 and 176 pages. I felt like a kid with it in my lap. But it’s not a hernia art history book.


The book can grace your coffee table, and insert itself into many conversations. After all, how many photography books out there feature dramatic icebergs?

No, you won’t find any cute animals in this book, but that’s good. It gives you more brain power to quietly contemplate the austere beauty of ice and snow and meltwater.

Plus, do you like a good haiku? Tuft, who photographed melting ice for you relentlessly during the summers of 2015 and 2016, has also composed haikus to help readers better understand her impressions of the regions she photographed.


Is there a lesson among all these photographs? Yep. And it’s that we can’t ignore those things we can’t see. Plus, now you see them….

From the Foreword by Joe Rome, Ph.D., “It is vital to tell this story because the most important ice on the planet is far away from where most people live so they can not see what is happening to it firsthand. It is important because it is not too late to save most of that ice and because failing to do so would destroy civilization as we have come to know it.”


While that sounds ominous, it’s also hopeful.

Keep shouting out that you believe in action against climate change.

More information about the book:

The Arctic Melt, Images of a Disappearing Landscape by Diane Tuft with Foreword by Joe Rome, Ph.D., will be published by Assouline in April 2017.

ISBN is 9781614285861.

All photography in this post is from The Arctic Melt, Images of a Disappearing Landscape.