California Condor, Worm Castings, Chicken Contact Lenses, and Other News Bits

This collection of news bits from 1981 includes stories about a setback in efforts to save the California condor, research into the production of worm castings, and chicken contact lenses.

| March/April 1981

  • 068 california condor - Fotolia - kojihirano
    Efforts to save the California Condor from extinction suffered a setback when a condor chick died during an examination by researchers.

  • 068 california condor - Fotolia - kojihirano

 FLYING FEATHERS: A $500,000 project to save the California condor — only 30 of the birds are known to be alive today — came to a halt as a result of the death of a baby condor being examined under the program. The nestling died from shock and acute heart failure while being scrutinized by two researchers.

 WORKER WORMS: The National Science Foundation has awarded a $25,000 grant to a Michigan research team investigating the use of earthworms to convert biodegradable household garbage into a usable form. In tests that should sound familiar to most composters, the worms — contained in a wooden box filled with bedding material — turn organic waste into nutrient-rich worm castings suitable for potting soil.

 CHICKEN CONTACT LENSES? A company called Animal Optics plans to market red-tinted contact lenses for chickens — eyepieces which will cost about 20¢ a pair — by the fall of 1981. The optical aids supposedly obscure the birds' vision, thereby reducing their urge to peck each other to death. The company estimates that the lenses can reduce a flock's death rate by up to 5% ... and will save large-scale poultry farmers a penny per dozen eggs.

 KEEP THOSE CARDS AND LETTERS COMING: The National Marine Fisheries Service has spent more than $500,000 in an unsuccessful effort to rename nine species of fish that possess such "repugnant" colloquial names as "toadfish", "hogsucker", "grunt", etc .... hoping that Americans will be more apt to eat the fish if their monikers are less repellent. Field & Stream magazine's Ed Bern reported one good suggestion: Call all of them "bass," and "people will be lugging home gunnysacks full."

 A FAMILY RENTAL TAX: Some new proposed regulations released by the IRS include a provision to penalize families who are renting property to close relatives ... even if their kin is being charged at the prevailing market rate. If passed, the regulations would disallow the usual tax deduction that the family could take if the property were leased to non relatives.

 TUNE IN: Watch for "Garden Song," a special television film featuring Alan Chadwick, the man who brought biodynamic /French intensive gardening to this country ... reports on "the method" itself ... and profiles of organizations promoting biointensive growing. The program was produced by John de Graaf and Jim Mulligan, under the aegis of PBS station KTCA. For more information about viewing dates, contact KTCA.


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