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5 months ago

Woodpecker species holding its own in Alabama

On the banks of the Coosa River, a federally endangered woodpecker continues to hold its own, with a little help from friends.

For more than 30 years, Alabama Power Company biologists have worked to protect and expand red-cockaded woodpecker (RCW) populations on Lake Mitchell, which contains the largest population of RCWs on private property in the state.

The aptly-named woodpecker measures about 7 inches tall and is black and white except for the red streak males have along the side of their heads.

Each spring, Alabama Power partners with federal and state agencies to identify and track the bird through banding. In early May, biologists with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife or the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources will scale pine trees up to 30 feet to check on that year’s offspring.

The baby birds, just 6 to 9 days old, will be given a unique band of colored rings along their tiny legs.

“Their eyes are shut, and they are still pretty much featherless, but the size is about right where you can put bands on them,” said Eric Soehren, an ecologist with the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. “If you wait too long – you can go 10 or possibly 11 days – but by then their eyes have opened up, and it’s a lot harder to pull them out. There is a small window of time in which you want to target.”

The bands will allow scientists to track the birds over their lifetime. Some birds from Lake Mitchell have turned up more than 100 miles away.

The first survey of red-cockaded woodpeckers was conducted in 1985. After last year’s nesting season, 11 active clusters produced a total of 17 fledglings – nine males and eight females. That’s in addition to 31 adult birds, bringing the total population of RCWs in 2017 to 48.

In addition to tracking, Alabama Power assists the woodpecker by providing habitat for the species.

While most woodpeckers carve openings in dead trees, RCWs bore holes exclusively in mature, living pine trees. To give the birds more nesting habitat, Alabama Power carves openings in trees using chainsaws.

“At the end of the next season, we will look at the number of birds there and compare that to the number of tree cavities at each cluster. If the number of birds exceeds the number of cavities, then we will hire consultants to go out and install artificial cavities for the birds,” said Chad Fitch, a biologist with Alabama Power. “That way, all the birds will have a place to live.”

Alabama Power also helps keep the longleaf pine forests that woodpeckers depend on healthy with regular prescribed burning and tree thinning.

“The habitat for red-cockaded woodpeckers really would not exist without thinning and prescribed burning at Lake Mitchell,” Fitch said. “We have prescribed burning at each cluster every other year or as needed to maintain an open, park-like area for RCW habitat.”

About the red-cockaded woodpecker

The red-cockaded woodpecker primarily feeds on ants, beetles, cockroaches, caterpillars, wood-boring insects, spiders and, occasionally, fruits or berries.

RCWs are a cooperative breeding species, which means some of the male birds from previous years will help take care of their half-siblings and future generations.

The nesting season runs from April to June and breeding females typically lay three to four eggs each season. Group members incubate eggs for 10 to 11 days. Once hatched, nestlings remain in the tree cavity for 26 to 28 days.

Upon fledging, the young often remain with the parents, forming clusters with three to four members. Groups can grow to as large as 10 birds; however, there is only one breeding pair within each cluster.

The “helpers” are all male as juvenile females generally leave the cluster before the next breeding season in search of solitary male groups.

The main predator of RCW nests is rat snakes. To combat these predators, the birds keep sap flowing from the pine trees as a defense mechanism.

The red-cockaded woodpecker plays a vital role in Southern pine forests. Several other animals, such as nuthatches, bluebirds, bees, wasps and other woodpeckers, use cavities excavated by RCWs.

(Courtesy of Alabama News Center)

1 hour ago

Will Ainsworth slams Democrats for Kay Ivey health ‘October surprise’: ‘Sick,’ ‘despicable’

ENTERPRISE — On Tuesday, a report surfaced questioning the circumstances of a hospital visit then-Lt. Gov. Kay Ivey made in Colorado in 2015. That has led some to suggest the resurfacing of the story was part of a so-called  “October surprise” deployed by Democrats against the incumbent governor and intended to better Ivey’s general election opponent Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox’s chances in next month’s contest.

Ivey has disputed the report in an appearance at the Tuscaloosa Republican Party Lincoln-Reagan Dinner later in the day and called it “plum sad” Maddox’s campaign would resort to such tactics.

On Wednesday after speaking to the Republican Women of Coffee County at the Enterprise Country Club, Republican lieutenant gubernatorial nominee Will Ainsworth also criticized Democrats believed to be behind the report.

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Ainsworth told Yellowhammer News the Ivey report and the weaponization of it was part of the Democratic Party’s “playbook,” and he likened it to what Brett Kavanaugh faced during his U.S. Supreme Court associate justice confirmation process before the U.S. Senate over the past several weeks.

“That’s just the Democrat’s new playbook,” Ainsworth said. “I mean, if you look at what they did to Kavanaugh, what they’re doing to Kay Ivey – they just try to destroy people based on lies. I think that’s sick. I think that’s despicable. I think Governor Ivey is in great health and certainly doing a tremendous job as a leader. I think it’s terrible what they’re trying to do, but they’re desperate, and that’s the only tactic they can go back to.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and is the editor of Breitbart TV.

5 hours ago

The sky is holding up just fine in Alabama

“The sky is falling, the sky is falling,” cried Chicken Little in the ancient European folk tale about a manic chicken who believes the world is coming to an end. The expression “the sky is falling” has passed into the English language as a common idiom indicating a hysterical or inaccurate belief that calamity is looming.

Twenty-five centuries later, lets cue, stage left…Walt Maddox.   The Mayor’s recent stump speech to a business luncheon in Birmingham was a cavalcade of doom and gloom.  A melancholy prognosis based on a miserable catalogue of what the liberal mayor believes is wrong with Alabama.  The Democrat from Tuscaloosa has hitched his caboose to the Chicken Little express.  Destination “Glum Town, USA.”

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Maddox told the suit and tie audience that he fears the millions of Alabamians who drive over the state’s roads face death every day, simply by crossing a bridge.  By his account Alabama’s bridges will collapse at any minute, killing commuters in droves.

The Democratic nominee, wants to bring Obamacare to the state – as his number one priority.  Maddox inferred if Alabama took the “free money,” the state could “afford to build a new UAB, think about that’.  We did think about that Walt, the money isn’t free.  Cash doesn’t fall from the money tree to be scooped up by liberals paying for socialist policies.  He believes “…there are literally two Alabamas.”  Sorry, you are wrong Walt.

While on the subject of free money – a recurring theme throughout the Maddox pitch – he wants to provide every felon released from Alabama’s jails a free iphone, so they can get about their business.  Not sure why, or who pays, but this smacks of the Obama Phone vote buying scandal.

Maddox is endorsed by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s anti-gun group “Mom’s Demand Action.”  Despite assurances to the contrary, Maddox toes the liberal anti gun line and is fundamentally opposed to the Second Amendment.  “[L]et me make my position clear. I will never favor taking any existing constitutional right away from any American unless we, as a people, come to the conclusion that restraint of some rights helps ensure the pursuit of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness by all.”  Ummm, ok Mr. Mayor.

Sure, Walt Maddox is erudite, speaks without notes and is photogenic.  But Bobby Kennedy he is not.  There was no uplifting message.   No inspirational vision for Alabama.  There was no call to action.  Instead there was a pall of pessimism.  As Mr. Maddox trashed Alabama’s constitution, he conveyed despondency.  The Democrat downplayed the strong state economy that has a record number of Alabamians working in the state. Dismissed Governor Ivey’s 2019 education budget, the largest in Alabama in a decade.  He seemed disinterested in Alabama’s historically low unemployment.  But he did want to teach felons how to work their new iphones….so there is that.  Seem’s Mayor Chicken Little is afraid of a leaf falling on his tail.

LCDR Greg “GW” Keeley, USN (ret) is the Managing Partner of Dreadnaught. Keeley is a contributor to The Hill, Washington Times, Daily Caller, Fox News. He is a veteran of Iraq and, Afghanistan and served in the U.S Congress as Senior Advisor to the Vice Chairman of the House Armed Service Committee, the Chairman of the House Foreign Relations Committee and the Chairman of the Republican Senate Policy Committee.

6 hours ago

The “October Surprise” in the governor’s race is something we heard about a year ago?

If this is really the final push for Walt Maddox to get his campaign’s “Kay Ivey is sick” narrative into the news, they may want to try again.

The Alabama Political Reporter published a “bombshell” is just a regurgitation of an old story. Their report includes comments from the former head of ALEA, Spencer Collier, who is currently suing former Governor Robert Bentley and is probably unhappy that Governor Ivey’s office has spent money defending Bentley because the law requires it.

Again, we already heard all of this, from this same outlet, in 2017. Ivey denied it then, too, Collier was part of this denial.

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Pretty damning? I guess.

Or not. Kim Chandler from the Associated Press used the APR report as a jump-off into a story on Ivey’s health. The big takeaway? Ivey’s doctor calls BS.

Ivey said she had altitude sickness during the trip and released a letter from her doctor saying he saw no evidence of a mini-stroke when he examined her a day after her discharge and that hospital tests in Colorado were also negative.

I guess the Collier angle is new, but is this it? The Governor is sick, trust us? Her opponent says she is too sick to be Governor, so vote for him?

There are no public incidents, except clear deception by APR’s Josh Moon and NBC’s affiliate in Mobile portraying some meltdown. There have been no spills, no stumbles, and don’t pretend she not out there on the trail because she is.

If I believed she was too sick to be Governor, why would I vote for a guy I disagree with on most things instead of voting for her and a Lieutenant Governor from the same party with the same general views?

This is Roy Moore 2.0, she must be viewed as unacceptable so you have to vote for the other guy regardless of what he believes.

To further highlight how sad this all is, al.com’s Kyle Whitmire finally got around to writing about how disastrous Walt Maddox’s first campaign ad was and declaring the gubernatorial election over. Whitmire used the APR story in his piece, too, talking about how it is all too little too late.

Don’t bank on that. This is literally the only thing Maddox and his media allies have going for them.

This will get much worse.

Yes, it is October, but this is hardly a surprise.

@TheDaleJackson is a contributing writer to Yellowhammer News and hosts a conservative talk show from 7-11 am weekdays on WVNN

6 hours ago

Company seeking to fill 850 jobs between two South Alabama locations on Thursday

According to a press release published by NBC 15, one company is seeking to fill a massive amount of jobs between two of its locations in southwest Alabama on Thursday.

Alorica, “the largest provider of customer experiences to North American consumers,” will attempt to hire 550 employees at its site in Saraland and 300 employees at its Mobile facility.

This comes as a part of the company’s first “National Recruiting Day” spanning more than 80 sites across the United States and Canada on Thursday from 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.

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The expansive initiative will focus on growing Alorica’s existing global workforce of more than 100,000.

For those who are unable to attend the hiring event this Thursday, prospective employees can still apply for a position online or by using the company’s walk-in hours Monday-Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Alorica’s two Mobile-area locations are:

  • 727 US Hwy 43 (Saraland Blvd.), Saraland, AL 36571
  • 5441 HWY 90 W Suite 1, Mobile, AL 36619

Find out more about the company here.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

8 hours ago

Ivey’s doctor confirms the governor is in good health

The primary care physician for Governor Kay Ivey on Tuesday released a letter confirming the governor is in good health and refuting a report alleging that she had suffered a ministroke in April 2015.

Dr. Brian Elrod of Montgomery, who has been Ivey’s doctor for “many years,” wrote that the governor had indeed been hospitalized at a conference in Colorado that month in 2015, however “extensive” tests conducted at the hospital “were all negative.” Additionally, Elrod himself examined Ivey the day after she was released from the hospital, saying that “I saw no evidence of a transient ischemic attack (ministroke).”

More tests later that year, including an EKG and echocardiogram, were deemed “unremarkable” and “normal.” Then, a cardiologist visit in December 2015 “also showed no new concerns” and “her nuclear imaging study in January of 2016 was likewise unremarkable and suggested ‘a relatively low risk of cardiovascular events.'”

Elrod added that he could not comment “on what condition may have led to her hospitalization in April of 2015,” but that the governor’s health since then “has remained good with no indication of increased cardiovascular risk.”

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In vintage fashion Tuesday night, Ivey responded to a question on the allegations about her health with gusto while hitting at her Democratic opponent, Walt Maddox, who is trailing in the polls by 20 – 25 percent.

“The letter I released today from my doctor clearly confirms what I’ve been saying all along: I’m in good health,” Ivey said.

On the timing of the allegations against her, she added, “It makes me have to assume that Mayor Maddox is desperate because his liberal record is not connecting with Alabamians. Besides, y’all covered this issue a year ago.”

The allegation that Ivey had suffered a ministroke in 2015 was first published last year by the Alabama Political Reporter (APR), with it gaining little to no traction. Now, with Tuesday marking exactly 21 days until the November 6 general election, APR republished the same allegations.

When questioned directly whether she had experienced “stroke-like symptoms,” Ivey responded by saying “altitude illness, they called it.”

The reporter then asked Ivey if she is confident that she is in good health.

“You’re right about that, friend,” Ivey quipped. “No step too high for a high-stepper.”

This comes after Elrod in May released a general letter about the governor, writing that “Governor Ivey has had physicals for the past 15 years, and she is in excellent health.”

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn