Local

October 26, 2012

Birds of a different feather

Tags:
by Linda Welz
452 AMW public affairs
121015-F-EQ386-001
A Great Blue Heron flies over the parade field at March Air Reserve Base. The majestic avian visits various fields on base in search of food, which consists of small mammals and insects. (U.S. Air Force photo/Linda Welz)

March Air Reserve Base is home to the mighty C-17 Globemaster III and the reliable KC-135 Stratotanker. But did you know it’s also home to several species of other birds, of the feathered variety? In particular, the Great Blue Heron has become a frequent visitor to the base parade field and visits it in the morning and the evening to hunt its prey.

“As with other areas on base, the parade grounds are a welcoming retreat for our feathered friends. They entertain us,” said Maria Briones, 452nd Air Mobility Wing financial management office.

The base commander has nicknamed one of the birds, Hap, but ladies in the financial management office call it Clyde, according to Faith Saunders, who works there.

“I just think these birds are fascinating and a good stress reliever,” Saunders said.

This stork-like avian moves its tall legs deliberately, one in front of the other, almost stealth-like until it spots a meal, which could range from insects to rodents, as its staple, fish diet is not available here. It looks statuesque in the grassy area as it patiently waits until just the right moment to go in for the kill. With lightning-quick reflexes, it uses its long bill like a dagger to render its prey motionless in an instant, after which, the Heron swallows its catch whole. The Great Blue Heron can swallow prey much larger than its long, thin neck by controlling its neck muscles, much like a snake. It stands about four feet tall with its neck fully extended and has a wing span that can reach up to 6 feet.

Although this species is protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, which makes it unlawful to pursue, hunt, take, capture or kill any bird and to ship or transport any bird or its parts, nest or egg, it doesn’t address nudging the birds to move along when needed for flight safety; theirs and ours.

The Great Blue Heron weighs about five or six pounds, said Heather Barker, wildlife manager and ecologist with the Birdstrike Control Program. With that mass and the possibility of the Heron entering our flight path, a bird strike to one of our aircraft would be significant, she said.

“I’ve just seen two of them, but there may be more. With such a small number and the time of day they fly over the airfield, usually early morning before there are flights scheduled, the risk is much less,” Barker said.

She has spotted them in several of the grassy areas on base because of the holes and resident small mammals, she said. The Great White Egret, a different species, is also a regular.

“They know my truck already so sometimes I park farther away and send the dog in,” Barker said. “They are very cautious. Their tactic is to stand extremely still and blend in, but my dog trusts me when I tell her there’s something there. She’s looking for it so the second it moves, she sees it.”

The purpose of harassing the migratory birds is to get them to relocate to an area where they won’t fly over the airfield or into the flight path. If the dog chases them away enough times, they will most-likely move to an area where they will be safer; a win-win for every bird, feathered or not.

A Great Blue Heron holds a rodent it just caught near the parade field at March Air Reserve Base, Calif., Oct. 16, 2012. The Heron hunts daily at various locations on base and has been dubbed “Hap” by the commander and “Clyde” by financial management personnel. (U.S. Air Force photo/Linda Welz)




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
   
 

 
U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Russell S. McMillan

March airmen repair base water drainage channel

U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Russell S. McMillan Senior Master Sgt. Robert Montgomery, heavy equipment superintendent, 163rd Civil Engineering Squadron, California Air National Guard, March Air Reserve Base guides an exca...
 
 

Ghost stories, paranormal experiences abundant at March Field

(Final in a five-part series on things that go bump in the night) You may not have noticed that last week’s ghost story left you hanging. What did the chaplain see when he looked out the window in his door? What did your imagination tell you? Did you finish the story? Read on and you...
 
 
Leon_Hornecker-John-J_-Pershing

Are Airmen’s ghosts still around?

Portrait of John J. Pershing by French painter Léon Hornecker (1864-1924), oil on canvas, 1903.(This work is in the public domain in those countries with a copyright term of life of the author plus 80 years or less.) (Fourth i...
 

 
(Courtesy photo/Joe Mora)

Shadowy figure blocks exit to room in March Field building

(Courtesy photo/Joe Mora) A camera captures what appears to be a shadowy figure (left side) sitting in one of several chairs lined up against a wall in a building on March Air Reserve Base Wednesday, Aug. 13, 2014. The image wa...
 
 
Seal_of_the_Governor_of_California

Governor’s Military Council convenes at March Field

Col. Russell Muncy, commander, 452nd Air Mobility Wing, March Air Reserve Base, California, hosted a meeting of the Governor’s Military Council here Thursday, Sep. 25, 2014. Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr., established the Counc...
 
 
Courtesy photo/Joe Mora

Is March Field haunted?

Courtesy photo/Joe Mora Standing in the midst of a laser grid, Senior Airman Joe Mora (left), 452nd Aerospace Medicine Squadron, March Air Reserve Base, California, places the device on a table while setting up for a paranormal...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>


Directory powered by Business Directory Plugin