A saw-whet owl is recovering at a wildlife refuge in New York state after it was discovered clinging to the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree.

The bird was found by workers helping to transport the spruce 170 miles from Oneonta, New York, to New York City.

"It's just a story out of a movie," said Ravensbeard Wildlife Center director Ellen Kalish, who is caring for the owl.

After the feathered stowaway - now named Rockefeller - was dropped off with Ms Kalish and taken to the wildlife centre, her team began giving him fluids and "all the mice he will eat". Rockefeller had not had anything to eat or drink during his three-day road trip. "It's amazing he didn't get crushed," Ms Kalish said.

Rockefeller was taken to the vet on Wednesday night for a check-up and some X-rays, but Ms Kalish said he appears to be in great condition considering his adventurous week.

"So far, he's pensive and cautious. Very alert, bright-eyed," she said. "And the cuteness factor is just off the charts."

Despite Rockefeller's diminutive size, he is a full-grown adult. Saw-whet owls are the smallest owls in the US north-east, Ms Kalish said, typically growing to no more than 8.3in (17-21cm) tall.

"They're a very interesting species," Ms Kalish said. They are "very" nocturnal, meaning they're typically not seen unless someone is looking for them. Some migrate south for the winter, and some don't migrate at all.

Once Rockefeller has a clean bill of health, Ms Kalish and the Ravensbeard team will release him back into the wild. "Our goal is to release any bird that can be released," she said.

There are about two million saw-whet owls across the US, she said, so Rockefeller will be OK if he doesn't make it all the way back to Oneonta. "They find a new mate each year and go on with their lives," she said.

With all the bad news of 2020, this tiny owl's rescue "was a story that needed to be shared", Ms Kalish said.

And plucky little Rockefeller the owl has lit up this year's Christmas tree with some positive publicity. Source


Voters narrowly approved a ballot initiative to reintroduce wolves into the southern Rockies, where there's plenty of suitable habitat.

Voters in the state narrowly approved a ballot initiative, Proposition 114, paving the way for gray wolves to be reintroduced into Colorado, where they were hunted to extinction by the1940s. This is the first time a state has voted to reintroduce an animal to the ecosystem.

The Colorado Parks and Wildlife department will lead the effort to establish a sustainable population of the animals in the western part of the state beginning in 2022 or 2023. The Southern Rocky Mountains contain millions of acres of suitable habitat—where wolves once thrived—land that could support several hundred wolves or more, biologists say.

Opponents of the initiative conceded they had lost on November 5, but the vote was close: As of Thursday afternoon, with 90 percent of the votes in, there were 1,495,523 votes for and 1,475,235 against. But most of the remaining uncounted votes come from urban areas that strongly support reintroduction.

“Reintroducing wolves will restore Colorado's natural balance,” says Jonathan Proctor, a conservationist with the group Defenders of Wildlife, which assisted the Rocky Mountain Wolf Action Fund in passing the measure.

Supporters say it’s especially timely, since the federal government removed Endangered Species Act protections for the animals in the contiguous U.S. in late October.

The Colorado reintroduction initiative was opposed by many in rural areas, including ranchers, who worry that wolves will kill their cattle.

Many of these opponents have objected to leaving the question of reintroduction to voters, rather than state wildlife officials.

Shawn Martini, spokesperson for Coloradans for Protecting Wildlife, which opposes the initiative, says state biologists have previously declined to introduce wolves.

“This is the first time that any species would be introduced via the ballot box, and there's a reason it's never been done before—direct democracy certainly has its limits,” he says.

Advocates point to the successful reintroduction of wolves to the Northern Rockies in the 1990s, where only one in 10,000 cattle in wolf-occupied counties are killed by the predators on average, Proctor says. The Colorado initiative will also fund a program to reimburse ranchers for lost livestock.

Some hunters also opposed the measure for fear of losing elk to the predators, though in the Northern Rockies, records show wolves have not impacted elk harvests.

Lone wolves

Wolves once ranged over most of North America but were nearly wiped out by the early 20th century in the contiguous U.S. by widespread hunting, trapping, and poisoning, much of it government-sponsored, with only a small population hanging on in the Great Lakes region. They were placed on the Endangered Species List in the 1970s, and in 1995 and 1996 the federal government reintroduced wolves to Yellowstone National Park and Idaho. From there the animals spread to Montana, Washington State, Oregon, and northern California.

But wolves still haven’t established a permanent population in Colorado. There’s also a formidable distance of several hundred miles between the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem and the Colorado state line—and wolves that attempt to travel south can be killed in Wyoming, where it’s legal to kill them throughout 85 percent of the state without restriction.

In January, a small wolf pack was seen in northwestern Colorado, but several of their members were shot when crossing back into Wyoming. Besides that pack, a few more lone wolves have been spotted in Colorado since the 1990s, but not enough to repopulate the state.

“Almost every one we can account for has died or left,” says Joel Berger, a wildlife ecologist at Colorado State University.

Though some scientists have made the argument that it would be better for wolves to recolonize Colorado naturally, “we've waited for 25 years,” Berger says. “It’s unlikely to happen soon.”

Berger, who wasn’t directly involved in the reintroduction initiative, is excited about the prospect of “a connected population of wolves, from Canada down to Mexico” that will help the species maintain genetic diversity as they reclaim their former habitat.

Long-term, wolves have a good chance of moving beyond Colorado—for example, into New Mexico. That could lead to the introduction of new genes into the endangered and inbred population of Mexican gray wolves in Arizona and New Mexico, explains Michael Robinson, a conservation advocate with the Center for Biological Diversity, an organization also involved in passing the ballot initiative. Robinson has been pushing for wolf reintroduction in Colorado for decades.

Wolf benefits

The livestock industry, some hunting groups, and the Colorado Farm Bureau rallied against the measure, which was supported largely by voters in urban areas.

Martini stresses that the majority of rural residents in western Colorado have opposed the measure, whereas supportive urban voters won’t have to live alongside the animals, a scenario he considers unfair.

But conservationists point to the beneficial role of wolves as apex predators and keystone species. They help thin out sick animals, maintaining healthy populations of deer and elk, thus limiting overgrazing and erosion, Proctor says. By killing and competing with coyotes, wolves can support higher populations of other small carnivores, including foxes. And the remains of wolf kills also provide food for many scavengers, including endangered wolverines, eagles, and bears, Robinson says.

Proctor also emphasizes that “the experience of living with wolves in other places, like the Northern Rockies, has shown that wolves are not the threat people sometimes make them out to be.”

Reintroduction program biologists will make it a priority to work with people who live alongside wolves, for example providing training and resources for ranchers to help prevent wolves from preying on cattle in the first place, Proctor adds.

“Colorado has the chance to be better than the other states,” he says, “by being inclusive.”


"I personally have always believed in personal reparations to give back to the people who have shaped our land"

Lana Del Rey has revealed that she donated an advance payment from her latest book to provide clean water for some of the most vulnerable communities of America’s Navajo Nation.

In an Instagram post, Del Rey revealed how the payment, which she received for the book Violet Bent Backwards Over The Grass, has been donated to the Dig Deep Water project.

“No matter what the results of the election just remember we can each as individuals shine brightly and contribute to our world in our own individual way,” she wrote.

“As I’ve been lucky enough to be given an advance from Simon and Schuster, I’m so grateful to be able to spread that money around to foundations that are in need of our help beginning with foundations connected to the Navajo community.

“We hope the @digdeepwater project will find relief with the $350,000 that we delivered to them last month. I personally have always believed in personal reparations to give back to the people who have shaped our land.

“I look forward to updating you on the rest of the donations that we make throughout the year.”

Her comments accompanied a video which showed how many natives of the American Indian territory are struggling to gain access to clean water.

The generous gesture comes after Del Rey debuted an a-capella cover of ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’, which will feature in a new documentary focusing on the fortunes of Liverpool FC.

She shared a black-and-white video which sees her performing an a-capella rendition of the classic track.
The new effort comes after Del Rey returned with new single ‘Let Me Love You Like A Woman’, the first track to arrive from her upcoming album ‘Chemtrails Over The Country Club’.
View this post on Instagram

No matter what the results of the election just remember we can each as individuals shine brightly and contribute to our world in our own individual way. As I’ve been lucky enough to be given an advance from Simon and Schuster, I’m so grateful to be able to spread that money around to foundations that are in need of our help beginning with foundations connected to the Navajo community. We hope the @digdeepwater project will find relief with the $350,000 that we delivered to them last month. I personally have always believed in personal reparations to give back to the people who have shaped our land. I look forward to updating you on the rest of the donations that we make throughout the year.

A post shared by Lana Del Rey (@lanadelrey) on


New Zealand appointed its first Indigenous female foreign minister Monday to represent what's shaping up to be one of the most diverse parliaments in the world.

Nanaia Mahuta, who is Māori, the Indigenous people of New Zealand, four years ago also became the country's first female member of parliament to wear a moko kauae, a traditional tattoo on her chin. The country's previous foreign minister, Winston Peters, is also Māori.

"I'm privileged to be able to lead the conversation in the foreign space," Mahuta said, according to national broadcaster Radio New Zealand.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's center-left Labour Party was reelected in a landslide last month, winning 49.1% of the vote according to preliminary results. Taking 64 of the 120 seats, her party was the first to win a majority since the country's current political system was introduced in 1996.

Ardern's incoming parliament looks set to be one of the most diverse in the world. Almost half of the country's lawmakers will be women -- significantly higher than the global average of 25%.
Mahuta was first elected to parliament in 1996, and has previously held a number of portfolios, including the minister of local government and Māori development.

She is related to the late Māori queen, Te Arikinui Te Atairangikaahu, and the current Māori monarch, Kingi Tuheitia, according to RNZ. The Kīngitanga, or Māori King movement, dates back more than 160 years and is a significant political presence in New Zealand.

In 2016, Mahuta took part in a traditional moko -- or Māori tattooing design -- ceremony, and became the first woman to wear a moko kauae to parliament.

Moko are hugely symbolic and contain information about a person's ancestry, history and status. There are also sacred protocols around tā moko -- the act of applying a moko to a person. Historically, moko were applied with chisels but now tattoo machines are often used.

At the time, Mahuta said she hadn't given a lot of thought to how her tattoo would break new ground. "I've just thought about more a longer projection of my walk in life and kind of the way I want to go forward and make a contribution. That's the main thing for me," she said, according to the RNZ report. Rukuwai Tipene-Allen, a political journalist for Māori Television who also wears a moko kauae, said Mahuta's appointment was hugely significant.

"The first face that people see at an international level is someone who speaks, looks and sounds like a Māori," she said. "The face of New Zealand is Indigenous."

She said the fact Mahuta wears a moko kauae is hugely empowering.

"It shows that our culture has a place at an international level, that people see the importance of Māori, and the point of difference that being Māori brings to such a role," Tipene-Allen added. "Wearing the markings of her ancestors shows people that there are no boundaries to Māori and where they can go."

Politicians from both sides of the political spectrum congratulated Mahuta on her appointment as foreign minister, with Simon Bridges -- the former leader of the center-right National Party -- saying: "It's an important time internationally and you'll be great."

Green Party politician Golriz Ghahraman -- who was New Zealand's first elected refugee MP -- congratulated Mahuta, saying it was "exciting" that the country was "decolonizing" its voice in foreign affairs.


October has not one, but two full moons -- and because it's 2020, the second one naturally falls on Halloween. “A full Moon on Halloween occurs roughly once every 19 years.” Next one is in 2039.

And if you spot what looks like a fiery red star near the full moon, that's Mars. The red planet made its closest approach to Earth earlier in October, and it's still shining bright in the night sky.

October's first full moon was the harvest moon on October 1, and the second is a rare full Halloween blue hunter's moon. While the moon won't actually look blue, the second full moon in one month is usually referred to as a blue moon. This happens every 2.5 to three years, or "once in a blue moon."

Previously, a blue moon was known as the third or fourth full moon in a single season. Typically, the next moon after the harvest moon is known as the hunter's moon -- when hunters used moonlight to hunt prey and prepare for winter. While a blue moon seems rare, a full moon on Halloween across time zones is even more rare -- an event that hasn't occurred since 1944.

However, a full moon occurs on Halloween every 19 years in some time zones, so you can expect a full Halloween moon again in 2039, 2058, 2077 and 2096.

The full Halloween moon will rise at 10:49 am ET on October 31, which explains why the moon will be visible across time zones. If you aren't able to see it due to bad weather or cloud cover in your area, the Virtual Telescope Project will share a live stream of the Halloween blue moon rising above Rome.

This is also the last day of Daylight Saving Time for many people around the world, so set your clocks back an hour on November 1 at 2 am. (The clocks already went back one hour across Europe on October 25 at 2 a.m.)

October Full Moon Names from different cultures Tugluvik (Inuit). Kentenha (Mohawk). Long Hair Moon (Hopi) Ten Colds Moon (Kiowa). Falling Leaves Moon (Arapaho). Corn Ripe Moon (Taos Native American). Hunter's Moon, Blood Moon (Neo-Pagan). Leaf Fall Moon (San Juan Native American). Blood Moon, Wine Moon (Mediaeval English). Blood Moon Falling :Full, Leaf Moon :Dark (Janic). Hunter's Moon, Travel Moon, Full Dying Grass Moon (Algonquin Native American/Colonia).

Other Moon names: Spirit Moon, Snow Moon, Shedding Moon, Winterfelleth (Winter Coming), Windermanoth (Vintage Month), Falling Leaf Moon, Moon of the Changing Season, White Frost moon

VIDEO Full Moon and Northern Lights Time-lapse in Churchill Manitoba