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When a yellow northern cardinal alighted on their bird feeder, David and Tina Gourley of Gravel Switch were puzzled. When a second one joined it, they were shocked.

The first bird — bright yellow, not the typical brilliant red — showed up Jan. 21 and has come back frequently, Tina Gourley said. The next weekend, the second one arrived.

"It looked like a cardinal," she said, "but we'd never seen anything like it."

Apparently not many other people, including bird experts, have seen a yellow Northern cardinal, much less two.

The first bird stayed at the Gourleys' feeder long enough for the Boyle County couple — who enjoy feeding birds but don't describe themselves as birders — to get a few photos of it through a window.

They sent the pictures to the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife, which forwarded them to the Kentucky Ornithological Society.

Society member Brainard Palmer-Ball, a retired zoologist with Kentucky Nature Preserves, contacted Auburn University professor Geoff Hill, who had co-authored a research paper on the coloration phenomenon in 2003. Hill confirmed that a genetic mutation affected the color of the birds' plumage, Palmer-Ball said.

It is evidently a rare mutation.

The first documented yellow Northern cardinal was "collected" in 1989 by the Museum of Natural Science at Louisiana State University, according to Hill's research paper.

Typical cardinals get their rich red feathers by metabolizing their food into a certain pigment, Palmer-Ball said. With the yellow Northern cardinals — not to be confused with a separate South American species known simply as a yellow cardinal — a mutation causes the metabolic process to create a different type of pigment.

He also said that Hill's research showed that, as with albino animals, there is probably something associated with the mutation that affects the birds' overall health and fitness.

Because of that, Palmer-Ball said, the birds are less likely to live very long.

He also said they're less likely to reproduce, but that it's possible that one of the yellow cardinals is an offspring of the other. The two also could be siblings.

Palmer-Ball said the most common color mutation that he has seen in birds is albinism, in which a bird has a few white feathers, a patch of white or an overall paleness. He remembers seeing a pink cardinal, the result of what's called dilute albinism.

Tina Gourley said the other birds that come to their feeder don't seem to know what to make of the yellow cardinals.

"It seems like when they come to the feeder, the other birds clear out and let them have it," she said. They've seen only one bold chickadee come to the feeder when the cardinals are there.

Posted by By Will Scott
Lexington Herald-Leader

This week officially kicked off preparations for our Fourth Annual "Walk for the Animals" to be held Saturday, April 30th.

 

 

Pledge Booklets/Registration Forms are now available at the following locations in Lawrence County:

  • LC Humane Society Animal Shelter, 820 Isaac Park Road
  • Tri-County Animal Clinic, 11 Rhubens Branch Rd. (Hwy. 23)
  • Ashley's Salon, 205 E. Pike Street
  • Hometown Realty, 110 S. Clay Street Suite #1
  • Home Federal Savings & Loan, 119 N. Main Cross St.
  • Louisa City Hall
  • Louisa Sporting Goods, 212 Madison St. (beside Dee ’s Restaurant)

The deadline for pre-registration is April 14th. Please come join us for the "Walk For The Animals 2011".

 

Please share this info with your friends and family! If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact me.

Thanks,

Beverly Pack

Chairperson, "Walk for the Animals"
Lawrence Co (KY) Humane Society

cell  606-571-6224

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In this day and age, many of us who are friends and advocates of people with disabilities are constantly astonished by the continued lack of progress in our fellow Americans’ understanding and acceptance of people with different abilities and the assistive technologies they employ. At least, I know that I am.

Please allow me to introduce myself. My name is Kyria Henry, and in 1999, at the age of 12, I founded the nonprofit, paws4people™, fulfilling my simple dream to use dogs as a means of helping people. With the assistance of my father, we launched this program to enhance the lives of special and regular education students, seniors and those living with a serious illness or disability by utilizing the “special powers” of canine companionship. Our highly-trained Assistance Dogs provide support in areas including: mobility service, psychiatric service, educational assistance, rehabilitative assistance and social-therapy.

To date, paws4people™ has more than 175 dogs within its various specialized programs. These dogs have accomplished more than 300,000 therapeutic contacts. Additional dogs are in various stages of their training and will also enter these working programs. In all, paws4people™ has more than 150 volunteers and operates in nine states.

Presently, we specialize in training customized Assistance Dogs for two general populations: children and adolescents with physical, neurological, psychiatric or emotional disabilities; and Veterans and active-duty Service Members with Chronic/Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (C-PTSD) and/or Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI).

Working in, developing and progressing the field of Assistance Dogs for the past 12 plus years, I have discovered countless times that the lack of acceptance, which impacts Americans with disabilities on a daily basis, readily extends to the Assistance Dogs so highly trained and relied upon to serve those individuals.

Almost everyone today is aware of the service Dog Guides provide to people who are blind; and the ways we should interact (or rather, not interact) with them in public – the fact that they have access to absolutely any public place with their handler who is blind and so forth. More recently, the public has become accustomed to people with obvious mobility limitations, namely those who use wheelchairs, being accompanied by Mobility Service Dogs. Credit for this increased awareness is due to the many organizations nationwide – and now worldwide – that are placing Mobility Service Dogs, as well as increasing publicity and awareness of them and their importance in the lives of people with disabilities.

However, there are many newer, unique applications of Assistance Dogs with which people are still unfamiliar. As such, their role, necessity and access rights are often questioned. As an organization that specializes in training and placing many of these “newer” types of Assistance Dogs, paws4people™ has recognized the vast need for education on this issue, as with so many others the world of disabilities has and will continue to face.

For example, in the philosophy of paws4people™, a child with a disability has equal potential gain from the use of an Assistance Dog as an adult with a disability. We believe that children and adolescents can and should be considered as clients and be taught how to utilize a custom-trained Assistance Dog to mitigate the effects of their disability. In these instances, proper training and utilization of an Assistance Dog allows a child with a disability to independently perform tasks that are common for his or her peers. Over time, this negates the necessity of over-dependence on adults and aids, hence allowing the child to grow and mature more like their typically developing peers. This, in our philosophy, is the very essence of independence – and helping a person to gain independence is the most commonly stated role of an Assistance Dog.

As another example, paws4people™, through our paws4vets™ program, is specializing in placing Psychiatric Service Dogs with Veterans and active-duty Service Members with psychiatric or emotional diagnoses as a result of PTSD and/or TBI. These dogs must perform tasks for the benefit of these Veterans with disabilities; and it should be mentioned that simply providing emotional support does not qualify*. Many of these recipients have “invisible disabilities” and consequently, their use of Assistance Dogs and rights to gain access with their dogs to any public venue are questioned more readily than a handler of an Assistance Dog whose disability is visible. Therefore, we feel it is important for people to learn and understand that these dogs, when utilized correctly and within the confines of the law, are providing invaluable services to their users by allowing them to further their recovery and return to their previous lifestyles. This is yet another example of priceless, well-deserved independence.

I hope that these few examples have served to broaden your consideration and understanding of Assistance Dogs in our society. The mission of paws4people™ is to widen the scope of education about the limitless world of Assistance Dogs, the countless jobs they can perform and the wonderful recipients they so loyally and lovingly serve. So the next time you see a dog working in your neighborhood grocery store or politely laying under a table at your favorite restaurant, realize that the person on the other end of the leash might be someone you least expect. In fact, the Assistance Dog might be serving someone without you even being able to identify the reasons why and how. But isn’t that what the world of different abilities is about? Teaching ourselves and others to un-train our brains and expect the unexpected – that every individual is capable of achieving anything, regardless of the way their body or mind goes about doing it – even if it requires the help of a dog.

Posted By Guest Blogger Kyria Henry, Founder, paws4people

At just 12 years old, Kyria Henry founded paws4people, and later paws4vets, training and pairing service dogs with Veterans, active duty Service Members, children, seniors and individuals living with disabilities or serious illnesses. In 2011, she was recognized as the grand-prize winner in Ikea’s national Life Improvement Sabbatical Contest, where she received $100,000 to spend a year focusing on helping others through her organization.