Corvallis, OCT 15 (AP/UNB) — As he stood amid the thick old-growth forests in the coastal range of Oregon, Dave Wiens was nervous. Before he trained to shoot his first barred owl, he had never fired a gun.
He eyed the big female owl, her feathers streaked brown and white, perched on a branch at just the right distance. Then he squeezed the trigger and the owl fell to the forest floor, its carcass adding to a running tally of more than 2,400 barred owls killed so far in a controversial experiment by the U.S. government to test whether the northern spotted owl's rapid decline in the Pacific Northwest can be stopped by killing its aggressive East Coast cousin.
Wiens is the son of a well-known ornithologist and grew up fascinated by birds, and his graduate research in owl interactions helped lay the groundwork for this tense moment.
"It's a little distasteful, I think, to go out killing owls to save another owl species," said Wiens, a biologist who still views each shooting as "gut-wrenching" as the first. "Nonetheless, I also feel like from a conservation standpoint, our back was up against the wall. We knew that barred owls were outcompeting spotted owls and their populations were going haywire."
The federal government has been trying for decades to save the northern spotted owl, a native bird that sparked an intense battle over logging across Washington, Oregon and California decades ago.
After the owl was listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act in 1990, earning it a cover on Time Magazine, federal officials halted logging on millions of acres of old-growth forests on federal lands to protect the bird's habitat. But the birds' population continued to decline.
Meanwhile, researchers, including Wiens, began documenting another threat — larger, more aggressive barred owls competing with spotted owls for food and space and displacing them in some areas.
In almost all ways, the barred owl is the spotted owl's worst enemy: They reproduce more often, have more babies per year and eat the same prey, like squirrels and wood rats. And they now outnumber spotted owls in many areas of the native bird's historic range.
So in a last-ditch effort to see whether they can save spotted owls, federal officials are resorting to killing hundreds of federally protected barred owls.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service experiment, which began in 2015, has raised thorny questions: To what extent can we reverse declines that have unfolded over decades, often due partially to actions by humans? And as climate change continues to shake up the landscape, displacing species and altering how and where plants and animals live and thrive, how should we intervene?
The experimental killing of barred owls raised such moral dilemmas when it first was proposed in 2012 that the Fish and Wildlife Service took the unusual step of hiring an ethicist to help work through whether it was acceptable and could be done humanely.
Just as with other conservation measures that involve killing one creature to save another, the program also prompted litigation and debate.
Federal and state officials, for example, have broken the necks of thousands of cowbirds to save the warbler, a songbird once on the brink of extinction. To preserve salmon runs in the Pacific Northwest and perch and other fish in the Midwest, federal and state agencies kill thousands of large seabirds called double-crested cormorants. And last year, Congress passed a law making it easier for Oregon, Washington, Idaho and American Indian tribes to kill sea lions that gobble imperiled salmon runs in the Columbia River.
The owl experiment is unusual because it involves killing one species of owl to save another owl species — and it may well be the largest killing program involving raptors.
In four small study areas in Washington, Oregon and Northern California, Wiens and his trained team have been picking off invasive barred owls with 12-gauge shotguns to see whether the native birds return to their nesting habitat once their competitors are gone. Small efforts to remove barred owls in British Columbia and northern California already showed promising results.
The Fish and Wildlife Service has a permit to kill up to 3,600 owls and, if the $5 million program works, could decide to expand its efforts.
Wiens, who works for the U.S. Geological Survey, now views his gun as "a research tool" in humankind's attempts to maintain biodiversity and rebalance the forest ecosystem. Because the barred owl has few predators in Northwest forests, he sees his team's role as apex predator, acting as a cap on a population that doesn't have one.
"Humans, by stepping in and taking that role in nature, we may be able to achieve more biodiversity in the environment, rather than just having barred owls take over and wipe out all the prey species," he said.
Marc Bekoff, professor emeritus of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Colorado, Boulder, finds the practice abhorrent and said humans should find another way to help owls.
"There's no way to couch it as a good thing if you're killing one species to save another," Bekoff said.
And Michael Harris, who directs the wildlife law program for Friends of Animals, thinks the government should focus on what humans are doing to the environment and protect habitats rather than scapegoating barred owls.
"Things were put into motion a century ago. We really have to let these things work themselves out," said Harris, whose group unsuccessfully sued to stop the killing and is now contesting an Endangered Species Act provision called an "incidental take" permit that exempts landowners who kill spotted owls during activities considered lawful, such as logging.
"It's going to be very common with climate change," Harris said. "What are we going to do — pick and choose the winners?"
Some see a responsibility to intervene, however, noting that humans are partly to blame for the underlying conditions with activities like logging, which helped lead to the spotted owl's decline. And others just see a no-win situation.
"A decision not to kill the barred owl is a decision to let the spotted owl go extinct," said Bob Sallinger, conservation director with the Audubon Society of Portland. "That's what we have to wrestle with."
Barred owls are native to eastern North America but began moving West at the turn of the 20th century. Scientists believe they migrated to western Canada across the Great Plains in the early 1900s, using forests that popped up as people learned to manage wildfires and planted trees around farms. They arrived in Washington in 1973 and then moved south into Oregon and California.
If the experimental removal of barred owls improves the spotted owl populations, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife may consider killing more owls as part of a larger, long-term management strategy. Enough success has been noted that the experiment already has been extended to August 2021.
"What we're trying to do is find a way to manage barred owls — not to get rid of them completely — ... so that spotted owls can still survive on the landscape while we look for opportunities to help the spotted owl recover," said Robin Bown, who leads the agency's owl experiment.
At the study site, Washington's Central Cascades, only a few pairs of spotted owls remain and Wiens questions whether they can be saved there. But in Oregon and Northern California, they're at least more robust, while still dwindling.
"We're seeing a pattern with removals that the spotted owls that were there when we began are still there, yet the area where we're not doing removals, they're vanishing very quickly," Wiens said. "But we're not seeing new spotted owls move into these areas. New owls moving in is really the key sign of success."
"I certainly don't see northern spotted owls going extinct completely," he said, adding that "extinction in this case will be much longer process and from what we've seen from doing these removal experiments, we may be able to slow some of those declines."
Wiens has established a routine: It is pitch black when he parks his truck on an isolated road west of the central Oregon town of Corvallis, the town where he grew up. The forest reverberates as rain pelts towering stands of Douglas firs and cedars.
Wiens is 6 feet, 6 inches tall, but the trees dwarfs him as he approaches a clearing, the ground squeezing like a sponge at his every step. He sets a digital bird caller on the ground, steps back and waits as the first of several vocalizations penetrates the night, sounding a lot like: "Who? Who? Who cooks for you?"
Barred owls can't stand intruders in their territory so they will swoop in to chase another owl out. Sometimes, they attack.
Wiens ramps up the pre-recorded calls until he hits one that sounds a lot like screeching monkeys. Somewhere in the darkness comes the muffled call of a male owl. "You hear that?" he says, his headlamp scanning high branches. "He's way up there." He plays a few more calls, but the male bird never shows.
That same night, at another remote location, Wiens' colleague Jordan Hazan has better luck.
Just after midnight, after spending several hours in the woods, Hazan carries a dead male owl in a white plastic bag into the lab in Corvallis. Inside the tight space, he weighs it, lays it on the counter and spreads the wings to measure its wingspan, revealing streaks of white and dark brown feathers on the bird's chest.
The owl appears intact, an effort taken so specimens can be shipped out for research at museums and universities across the country. Several dozen had been shipped earlier that day to the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago.
"They're beautiful birds. It's a little sad to have to kill them," said Hazan, a wildlife technician who took the job in 2015 after spending two years surveying for increasingly scarce spotted owls.
His hands still shake every time he pulls the trigger.
"You're taught all of your life that owls and raptors are to be protected," he said. "People ask me how it is killing the owls. As a hunter, it's fun going out and bagging your ducks and geese. With the owls, you don't get any kind of pleasure out of it. It's just something you have to do."
Courtyard- a term usually denoting an enclosed, open to sky space, has often been a design feature in most architectural masterpieces all around the world. Its initiation is from our rural roots, where no cluster of houses lacked “উঠান”. However, with the rapid urban sprawl, the concept of courtyard had been replaced with rigid skyscrapers. Presently, the concept of courtyard is regaining popularity in spatial design in an attempt to bring in a part of the open into the built environment. Bay’s Park Heights in Dhanmondi is an example on how to create sellable open spaces for the public in spite of being a commercial building. Almost hidden within the site, the park side plaza of this building houses “The Courtyard” that offers a unique leisure space amidst the monotonous concrete jungle.
Indoor seating arrangement with food counters; Photo © Itminan Tasneea
With their passion for food and art, the space caters to art fanatics and food lovers, by being an art gallery and a multi-concept restaurant.
Vibrant greens, brightly lit atmosphere with delightful water features welcome you to this place. What awaits inside is a well-designed restaurant with attention to details reflected in every corner. The lush greens peaking from concrete offers a soothing atmosphere for individuals, be it the youngsters who are visiting for chill, or workers meeting up for official meetings.
Water plaza view from drop-off; Photo © Itminan Tasneea
The monochromatic tone of furniture and the pop of colors in the display add to the chicness of the restaurant. The expression of exposed bricks is a fantastic focal point in the space adding texture to the interiors, where else, the exposed concrete material brings a warm atmosphere to the restaurant, making visitors feel welcomed and relaxed.
The frameless glass walls open up to its highlight ‘the courtyard’. Shaded with a glass canopy, the outdoor space is full of natural daylight and ventilation, which one often forgets residing in glass towers. The curved enclosure acts as the wall for displaying art. In their own language,
Landscape feature with concrete treads and greens; Photo © Itminan Tasneea
“Imagine walking through a garden, with works of art hanging amidst greenery and flowers. This coalescence of spaces and of purposes would teleport guests into a distant wonderland that is available in no other space in the capital.”
The restaurant has already gotten its fair share of popularity after its launch among architecture enthusiasts, youngsters and office workers. Even though it’s located in the busy Mirpur Road, being below road level, helps in noise reduction. The transition of the indoor and outdoor seating gives off a European food street vibe.
Peeking into the courtyard from higher plinth; Photo © Itminan Tasneea
The restaurant is also thinking to add another level of seating arrangement in their park side plaza that merges into the landscaped greens and designed stairway elements.
Besides, there is a secluded seating arrangement that can be used for official meetings. The walls are well decorated with art, and pots of green peeps through every space. Different sized vintage bulbs are suspended from the ceiling for additional lighting during the night, which turns the evening setting into a much romantic one.
Lighting arrangements in the double height space, Photo © Itminan Tasneea
The Courtyard stars as a community space in the heart of Dhanmondi with an emphasis on rooting creative cultural communities to the space with the unison of art and food. Its opening hours are from 12:00 pm to 10:00pm.
Having lived so close to Bihari camp (also known as Geneva camp) at Mohammadpur, I have always wanted to try the area’s food items other than Mostakim’s Chaap. Thus, I jumped at the opportunity of getting inside the camp and experiencing the scene there first-hand.
Right beside the chaap shops is a road so narrow that it’s hard to believe that an entire community resides there. From tailoring shops to residential area, this place has it all. After walking through the clothing shops for about 10 minutes, we came across a big banner where it’s written ‘Stranded Pakistanis General Repatriation’. You start hearing murmurs of Urdu being spoken by almost everyone here and the area makes you feel like you are in a country of its own.
One of their highlights in terms of food is Boba’s Biryani. Run by a mute chef, who also happens to be the one serving the biryani, you will be greeted warmly by him. We signed him to provide us with 2 packets for takeaway and he was happy to show us some of his stunts with the potatoes while packaging the food. The biryani was slightly oily but had good amount of beef. Why I like their biryani so much is because of the kick of mustard which is obvious in every bite. Next we had puris and cha from a random tea stall. They were frying the lentil/daal puris right there so we got to try fresh and warm ones. For Tk 5 each, they were an absolute delight; not too oily and neither spicy. Their milk tea was also a pleasant companion to the puris. Had the place been not so deep inside the camp, I would be a regular there. Right beside that stall was a shop selling Egg Buns. It’s exactly what the name seems like, scrambled egg with onions and green chilis placed inside warm and toasted buns. The buns looked extremely fresh and I could honestly imagine it to be served as burger buns. I wish they sold them individually too! You can also find Chaat Potatoes, Salted Pomegranates, Quail and Chicken Boiled eggs, amongst other interesting food items.
We ended the day at Muslim Variety Kabab and Soup since Mostakim didn’t have any seats available there. We ordered the 10 soft Luchis, a Beef Boti Kabab, a Brain fry, and 2 cold drinks for Tk 250 only. While the taste wasn’t as good as Mostakim’s, it was perfect to end an eventful foodventure.
A drop down on the Celsius scale and the rustling of the falling leaves – safe to say that Autumn has arrived. For us Bangladeshis, it feels like a thousand summers have passed in the last few months. It’s finally time to bid our farewells to the chaotic summer months and welcome Autumn. The calm sweep of the seasons demands a change in our wardrobes, so let’s dive in and see how we can stay trendy this Fall!
Let’s talk colours. Looking beyond the classic fall shades of maroons and browns, there are a few additions this year that demand our attention. By now you have probably seen an outbreak of millennial purple on your Instagram feed and looks like it is here to stay for the cooler seasons this year. Fashionistas are adorning themselves in hues of lilac and lavender (yes, there is a difference) by incorporating these shades in their Fall outfits. Whether it’s a touch of lavender in your accessories or going all the way by sporting a full monochromatic lavender outfit – this colour is definitely one of the season’s favourites.
Moving onto the surprise guest appearance to the panel of fall favourite shades this year is *drumrolls* - neon! That’s right. Neon brights are no longer confined to scorching hot summers or monsoons. They have well paved their way into the colder months. You can go full out with a bright pink or neon green jacket, sweater or top or instead if you feel that it is too loud for your taste – you can fashion yourself a pair of neon shoes or earrings to keep it simpler yet fun.
L-R – House of Holland, Emporio Armani, Brandon Maxwell
Pistachio green has been spotted quite heavily on the fashion scene and we are here for it! The soft pale green shade has been making rounds on both the runways and streetstyle and it’s truly a treat to the eyes. You can mix up different shades of green like pistachio, olive or sage in your outfit. Take a pistachio top and pair it up with a sage green sweater or jacket or put on a pair of olive pants. Even mixing whites with hues of pistachio is great idea. The versatility of the colour makes it easy for us to get creative when picking our outfit!
L-R – Ryan Roche, Marc Jacobs, Jil Sander
These three colours have accompanied the plums, neutrals and burnt oranges this season to help us pick our fall outfit. Some of the major trends we have spotted for this fall are capes, asymmetric necklines, long-hemmed coats, the 80’s padded shoulders with its dramatic silhouettes and an unexpected upsurge of feathered apparel. Basically, we are drawing inspiration from a multitude of eras to fashion ourselves the perfect autumnal look. In terms of accessories, the tiny handbag trend is still going strong which is practically impossible to get any use out of. However, if you’re a fan of functionality like the average citizen then you can opt for a trusty crossbody or belt bag. Other accessory trends to try out this summer are statement earrings and oversized chain-link jewels which are constructed with both earrings and chokers packing force into any look you exhibit.
The temperature has calmed down but your style certainly does not have to! It’s the best season to try out an array of fascinating trends before committing to our winter essentials. So, let’s enjoy this season in all its glory!
Mumbai, Oct. 12 (Xinhua/UNB) -- Learning to speak Mandarin has indeed changed the life of Hiral Sangani, a 27-year-old Indian woman. Her proficiency in the Chinese language landed her a job in the Air China Mumbai Office.
Fascinated by the Chinese culture, Hiral started to learn Mandarin in 2016. One year later, she earned a chance to study in China on a scholarship program sponsored by the Chinese government.
"I studied Mandarin in Beijing International Studies University for a year," she said, adding that while at university, she got a Chinese name "Wang Hela."
"I chose to learn Mandarin because I was attracted by the amazing Chinese characters and the culture behind them," she added. Aside from Mandarin, she can also speak English and her native Hindi.
Her efforts paid off: Hiral passed the fifth level of the Chinese Proficiency Test, which means she can give a speech in Mandarin.
Moreover, Hiral said her experience in China has broadened her horizon, deepened her insight into the Chinese culture and created more possibilities for her in the job market, helping her join the Air China Mumbai Office, a company running the only direct flight between Beijing and Mumbai.
"The year-long experience I gained from living and studying in China has made significant changes in my life," she said.
Air China hosted various cultural activities in Mumbai this year, which have effectively boosted tourism and enhanced cultural exchanges.
As a member of the group, Hiral has put her multilingual skills and cultural insight to use at these events, contributing to the mutual understanding between the two cultures.
"According to Indian customs, most girls at the age of mine have already been married and busy raising children. However, I became independent after studying abroad and joining Air China," Hiral said, describing how mastering Mandarin has changed her life for the better.
"With a stable income, I could not only take care of my parents but also support my younger brother to get a better education. People are impressed by my achievements," she added.
"Chinese parents usually bring up their children by asking their own to follow others' brilliant children as examples. In the eyes of neighbors, now I am becoming one of those examples," she said proudly.
Data shows that nearly 90,000 passengers flew between Beijing and Mumbai by Air China in 2018. Air China enjoyed a 13-percent growth in revenue year-on-year from passenger transportation through the Beijing-Mumbai route in the first half of 2019.
"With the further exchanges of our two countries in various aspects, I believe that the popularity of the Mandarin language will be growing among Indians. More Indians will be interested in learning the language," Hiral said.
"I am teaching my friends Mandarin in my spare time, which can allow more people to have a better understanding of China," the young lady added.
"I believe our two countries and peoples can be much closer to each other once language is no longer a barrier," Hiral said.