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your life on the Crystal Coast
Outer Banks Wildlife
Diving Our Coast
Who’s Your What’s Daddy, Underwater Cowbird? In September
The Island Church
Are You Weary?
SU M M E R / FA L L 2 0 2 0
Inside This Issue your life on the Crystal Coast
Who’s Your Daddy, Cowbird?
TA B L E O F C O N T E N T S
10 OWLS: Who’s Your Daddy, Cowbird? Cowbirds don’t build their own nests. Instead, they lay their eggs in a host bird nest, and rely on those foster parents to raise their chicks for them. They are the most common brood parasite of more than 140 species of birds.
12 A Moment of Reflection: Are You Weary? Pastor Paul Ortiz of The
Island Church in Emerald Isle has some uplifting words to help us during these interesting times we are living through. With thoughtprovoking quotes from the Bible, he helps to lift our spirits.
13 Diving Our Coast: What’s nderwater In September? Lee Moore of Discovery
Diving gives us an update on what’s happening underwater in September, as well as giving a recap in the ways that the global pandemic has affected the diving industry, and the ways it is recovering. Charters are running again!
CarolinaSalt.com » Late Summer / Fall 2020 CAROLINA SALT 3
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CarolinaSalt.com » Late Summer / Fall 2020 CAROLINA SALT 9
OUTER BANKS WILDLIFE SHELTER LINDA BERGMAN–ALTHOUSE urprise! Cowbirds don’t build their own nests. Instead, they remove an egg from another species’ nest, replace it with one of their own and then rely on the surrogate parent to incubate the egg and rear the nestling. Wow, how lazy can one bird be? Or is that smart? Naturalists speculate that because of the Cowbird’s nomadic lifestyle (accompanying grazing herds of bison or cattle), they stray too far from home to reach a nest in time to deposit an egg, so they evolved to rely on another bird’s nest. They aren’t very particular when scouting for a nest to deposit an egg either, although they are said to prefer “cup-shaped” regardless of species. Cowbirds are the most common brood parasite of more than 140 species of birds. So, when a nest has fallen from a tree in eastern North Carolina and a rescuer brings the babies to the Outer Banks Wildlife Shelter in Newport, the staff has raised an eyebrow or two when they see three tiny Carolina Wrens and a big ol’ baby that simply doesn’t seem to belong. Very quickly we realize a Cowbird, probably a Brown-Headed Cowbird rather than a Bronzed Cowbird for this area, has dropped by a wren’s nest to lay an egg. Common targets are the nests of chipping sparrows, cardinals, bluebirds, eastern towhees, finches, chickadees, nuthatches, red-eyed vireos, red-winged blackbirds, song sparrows, spotted towhees, titmice, yellow warblers and robins. Robins have been known to recognize the different egg, which is smaller in size for them and we’re not sure if they notice that their own eggs are an opaque blue while the Cowbird egg is spotted and off-white, but they peck a hole in it and remove it from their nest. The Cowbird’s egg is similar in color and shape to a House Sparrow’s egg, but larger. There are reports of other birds who perceive the Cowbird egg as a parasite as well and either ignore it or also remove it from the nest. Most of the time any other surrogate momma bird will not notice the imposter egg, eventually hatching them all. Cowbirds generally hatch first and are larger, more aggressive and get more than their fair share of food (nearly half of all the food offered is snatched by the cowbird). Therefore, that baby cowbird will grow more quickly than its nestmates, crowding them out of the nest (possibly to their death) and quite often ends up dwarfing its smaller, adoptive parent (inset picture). Heavy parasitism by cowbirds has pushed some species to endangered status and has probably hurt populations of some others. If you think about it, this is a good strategy for the cowbird, because instead of putting energy into raising young, the female cowbird puts her energy into laying eggs—sometimes more than three dozen per season. It is on record that 10 CAROLINA SALT Late Summr / Fall 2020 » CarolinaSalt.com
Who’s Your Daddy, Cowbird?
one exceptional cowbird deposited 70 eggs in one season! They are very scruffy and gray and not too much to look at as newborns and fledglings, but as adults, males are extremely handsome birds with satin sheen, black bodies and chocolate brown heads. The pretty and more subtle female is gray-brown all over with very faint streaking coloration found in her feathering. They both have stout builds, strong wedge-like beaks and a slightly notched tail. A group of cowbirds is called a corral or herd. Cowbirds may feed and roost in large to enormous flocks from 50 to 10,000 birds, especially in winter months and usually forage on the ground for seeds and insects in a mixed flock of blackbirds, grackles and starlings. They get their name from their close association with livestock such as bison, buffalo, cattle and horses as they search for insect prey which includes beetles and grasshoppers stirred up by the movement of large herds of grazing animals. When they aren’t munching on insects, Cowbirds eat seeds from grasses, weeds and crop grain. Cowbirds have other names that might sound familiar to you. Some folks refer to them as Cow-Pen Bird, Cow Bunting or Buffalo Bird. You might wonder, since they are raised by another species, how do they learn to be a Cowbird? Studies tell us that “how to be a cowbird” is mostly genetically encoded. A Cowbird innately knows its own song, calls and displays and recognizes and mates with its own species, despite never encountering another of its own kind before courtship. If you see a small songbird feeding a much larger fledgling, that Momma or Daddy is a host or let’s say stepparents, to a cowbird. I
guess the more modern phrase by today’s vernacular is “bonus parent!” Despite the species’ offensive habits, especially putting other little songbird’s lives in jeopardy due to egg trading, the bubbly song of a male brown-headed cowbird in the springtime can be a pleasant addition to your backyard community. Like it or not, Cowbirds are native, so they are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. This means that in most cases, eggs cannot be removed from nests without a permit. The name of the game, after all, is survival of the fittest and that odd behavior of delivering eggs to surrogate bird Moms to raise has ensured their survival and increased their abundance, making them more widespread than their original introduction with no indication of decline. This author noticed the arrival of a young Cowbird to her backyard feeding station this year for the first time ever, accompanied by a number of Carolina Wrens and Cardinals. Since both sets of parents were feeding him, it’s not absolutely apparent who his true foster Momma and Daddy are! So, even though Cowbirds are a bit or a whole lot bullyish, when you can’t beat’em, join and enjoy them. €
ABOUT OWLS TAKE A TOUR of the facility at 100 Wildlife Way in Newport. To volunteer, call 252-240-1200. If your organization would like to learn more about wildlife, our education animals jump at the chance!
A MOMENT OF REFLECTION
ARE YOU WEARY? AN ISLAND CHURCH PERSPECTIVE
hese are very interesting times we are living in. There is so much happening around us and in the world that has caused a great deal of consternation. There is political unrest. There is political division. There is uncertainty everywhere. Covid-19 has resulted in so much change in our lives in just the last 120 days it is hard to believe how quickly we arrived here. There is concern of when we will get to the other side of this. As if that were not enough, we are seeing protests, riots and destruction around our country. Hate is the new love. Our nation is becoming unrecognizable. Turn on the news and 99 percent of what you see or read is negative. That really leaves a lot of people fearful. My advice is to turn it off. I saw a very thoughtful and compelling post the other day. It read, “If you believe everything you read, why not read the Bible?” That is very provoking. Everything we see happening in the world today are the words of the Bible unfolding before our very eyes. God is sovereign over all! Daniel 2:21 declares, “He changes times and seasons; He deposes kings and raises up others. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning.” God is not surprised by any of this and better yet, He has provided for all of it. If you are weary, there is hope! Jesus said, “Behold, the hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home and will leave Me alone. Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with Me. I have said these things to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” JOHN 16:32-33 If you are weary right now and concerned about the future, look to Jesus who found His peace in God the Father. There is rest, peace and hope found in the God of the Bible. He created the world and has a plan for it. God came into the world in the person of Jesus Christ to redeem the world unto Himself. He makes right what is wrong. Moreover, He has overcome the world! With all the chaos and unrest in the world, there is only one who has overcome it all! Jesus is a place of rest! Even in the middle of the chaos of the world today, His peace and rest are available to anyone who would come to Him. All through the history of the world we have evidence of the sustaining character of God for those who would trust in Him, even in the most difficult and tireless circumstances. Psalms 3 is David’s prayer and acknowledgment of the work of God in his life. “O Lord, how many are my foes! Many are rising against me; many are saying of my soul, ‘There is no salvation for him in God.’ Selah But you, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory and the lifter of my head. I cried aloud to the Lord and he answered me from his holy hill. Selah I lay down and slept; I woke again, for the Lord sustained me. I will not be afraid of many thousands of people who have set themselves against me all around. Arise, O Lord! Save me, O my God! For you strike all my enemies on the cheek; you break the teeth of the wicked. Salvation belongs to the Lord; your blessing be on your people! Selah.” PSALMS 3:1-8 If you look to world for hope, you will find none. All that this world offers to any of us is temporary. What Jesus offers is eternal. It is forever! Acknowledge God and He will acknowledge you. Jesus’ offer to anyone who is willing is this, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” MATTHEW 11:28-30
If you are weary, I offer you Jesus the hope of the world. Government doesn’t have the answers. Political parties don’t have the answers. The greatest minds of the world do not have the answers. God has provided the answers and hope. It is found in His Word and Jesus is the Word! He is not hiding, you can find Him today! €
12 CAROLINA SALT Late Summr / Fall 2020 » CarolinaSalt.com
THE ISLAND CHURCH PASTOR PAUL ORTIZ
Paul Ortiz is a follower of Jesus Christ, not religion. A husband and father, he is pastor of The Island Church in Emerald Isle. Reach him at paul@TheIslandChurchEI.org
DIVING OUR COAST W H AT ’ S U N D E RWAT E R I N S E P T E M B E R
S JOIN DISCOVERY CONTACT
Discovery Diving at 252-728-2265 or visit them on Facebook to see what classes and events are coming up. You can also visit them online at discoverydiving.com.
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works to continue sinking ships to create artificial reefs here in North Carolina, but their resources are limited. To get involved, visit carolinareef.org.
eptember is when the water normally begins to start cooling. The offshore water temperatures have been between 78 and 80 degrees on the bottom and the surface temperatures have been between 82 and 84 degrees. Water temperatures should remain in the low 70s throughout September. Opportunities to see migrating marine life will offer additional possibilities to the ever-present diverse marine life off of the Crystal Coast. This year’s diving season has been unique to say the least. At the beginning of the year, the boats were limited in the days they could leave the dock because of high wind and waves. When the weather began to get better, Covid-19 impacted the way we live our lives. Travel was restricted by the federal government and this limited where you could go to dive. Local diving should have increased, but the limitations put in place by the governor prevented boats from carrying the number of people necessary to cover the fuel costs. Outside recreation was encouraged, but in limited numbers. This limitation caused the crew boats and the six-packs to stay at the dock. In May, the dive boats began running charters again. The weather continued to be uncooperative. June saw better weather and the boats were running more consistently. The Outrageous V began running in June under new management since Captain Terry Leonard retired last September. June saw good weather and conditions for diving. July continued with good weather and conditions. Visibility offshore in the south ranged from 60 to 100 feet and the water temperatures ranged from 78 to 80 degrees on the bottom. The surface temperatures ranged from 86 to 88 degrees. The Caribsea on the east side saw visibility range in the 40 to 60 feet range. The inshore visibility ranged from 40 to 60 feet and the water temperatures ranged from 78 to 80 degrees. This continued into August until Hurricane Isaias passed by the Crystal Coast. Isaias entered North Carolina at Wilmington Monday night and continued through the eastern part of the state through early Tuesday morning. The Crystal Coast was spared the strong winds and storm surge usually associated with hurricanes along the coast. As the tropical storm was approaching Florida, the swells were already beginning to affect the ocean off of the Crystal Coast. Even though we didn’t experience the usual effects, there were 16 foot waves offshore. The swells and waves caused the sandy bottom of the ocean to be disturbed. This greatly reduced the visibility on the wrecks inshore and offshore. On Wednesday after Isaias had passed, the visibility on the tug was only 1 to 2 feet. On Thursday, the visibility about 25 miles offshore was 15 feet and on Friday, the visibility had increased to 25 feet. It will take about a week for the clear water to return. If you would like more information on diving on some of the best wrecks with some of the best marine life in the world, contact Discovery Diving at 252-728-2265 or at email@example.com or like us on Facebook to see what events are coming up in the near future. €
CarolinaSalt.com » Summer / Fall 2020 CAROLINA SALT 13
CAPE HATTERAS TIDE CHART North Carolina, Cape Hatteras, Bogue Inlet
N 34° 39' / W 77° 06' Date
SEPTEMBER THROUGH NOVEMBER
North Carolina, Cape Hatteras, Bogue August Inlet 2020
High Moonrise Tide
Moonset High Tide Phase
N 34° 39' / W 77° 06'
5:56a 9:25p Full 2.3
Tu8:00p 10:56a 10:06p 2.5
We7:59p 11:38a 10:33p 2.5
Th7:58p 12:27p 10:59p 2.5
Fr7:57p 12:45a 11:26p 1.8
Sa7:56p 1:45a 11:54p 1.8
Mo7:54p 3:56a 12:25a 2.0
Th7:42p 12:23a 10:18a 2.1
Fr7:41p 1:31a 11:28a 2.0
Sa7:39p 2:42a 12:37p 2.0
©2020 FreeTideTables.com - For comparison only - Times are local - Tides in feet from MLLW
©2020 FreeTideTables.com - For comparison only - Times are local - Tides in feet from MLLW
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