Readers 2004


(This 718th Buffalo Sunday News column was first published on January 2, 2005.)


This past year my correspondence folder has been thicker than ever. Here are a few responses:


For those concerned, as I am, for the welfare of the unidentified soldier who maintains the Birding Babylon website,, all appears well. He recently wrote: "This evening on another run to drop someone off at the helipad I saw a little Ruppell's Fox by the side of the road. As we passed, it turned and ran off into the bushes flashing its very fine tail. Our force protection guys are constantly cursing all the holes that the foxes and jackals dig under our perimeter fence. There's too much good stuff inside the wire; nothing is going to stop them coming in." Let's hope they're all that sneak in.


Many also asked to be informed about Andy Skurka's progress hiking across North America. He recently e-mailed: "Arrived in Michigan last week, finishing 2004 just north of Battle Creek. The crux of this trip is now before me. Looking forward to it." And from the website "The weather has been terrible. The temperature has been about 35 and it has been raining. Andy reports that his gear has been performing perfectly. This is rewarding, because he spent many hours thinking and planning for this. His spirits are good. Total miles hiked: 3106."


Several letters and pictures came from Jack Hurley, the Dwight, Ontario canoe builder. This past year one of his canoes was dedicated to Al and Helen Chestnut of Camp Pathfinder in Algonquin Park. That brings back pleasant memories as, many years ago, I joined Al on two canoe trips through the park. I can imagine no finer couple to be so honored.


Each year several readers ask what to do with a dead bird they have found. It is difficult to respond adequately as state, national and international regulations are involved, some of them even appearing to me to be contradictory. I turned to ornithologist Art Clark for guidance. Here are excerpts from his response: "Basically, it is illegal (without both Federal and State salvage permits) to have in your possession any protected bird or its nest or eggs, or any part thereof. So, what can you do?