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As Niagara Falls / Tales of the strange but true

>Cardinals rule!

In this space last week we reported on a male cardinal that keeps pecking at the glass windows of a house in Wheatfield, surmising at the time the bird presumably was mistaking his reflection for the female he craves.

Now comes a Lockport Road neighbor, Karen Kuchta, who has an even bigger problem.

Not one, but several cardinals have been flying full force like kamikaze pilots into her windows, half a dozen times a day for the past four months.

Our investigative team went looking for an answer and discovered the bizarre behavior is more about real estate than romance.

Cardinals and robins are two species of birds that fly into windows as a "territorial response," said John A. Farfaglia, an educator with Cornell Cooperative Extension in Lockport.
The images they see in the windows appear to them to be other birds, he said. The male cardinals are letting the "other male cardinals" know that this is their territory.

Farfaglia suggested drawing blinds to cut the reflection or taping a piece of cardboard on the outside of the window to stop the birds.

Don't even think about trying to nail one of the birds with a gun, he warned. "They're protected," he said, "and they're beautiful."

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>Be prepared

There aren't too many places where city leaders have to worry about Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts getting mixed up with prostitutes.

But Niagara Falls Councilman Charles Walker raised that concern earlier this month about a good-hearted effort to build a community center and computer lab in the city's North End.

A one-paragraph proposal given to city leaders about the project gave two examples of the types of programs the facility might house: One that would work with women dealing with prostitution and drug use, and the other a training resource center for Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts.

Walker didn't understand how those two could co-exist.

"I would hate to see those kinds of meetings going on at the same time," said Walker, who was assured that they will be separated.

But Walker couldn't be appeased. "I just can't see Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts and prostitutes in the same place."

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>End of an era

Niagara County District Attorney Matthew J. Murphy III will be the longest-serving occupant of that office in the county's history by the time he steps down Dec. 31.

Murphy said a friend of his asked him if that were true, and on Murphy's request, county historian Catherine Emerson produced a list of all 35 DAs in the county's history. Murphy is breaking the longevity record of Mortimer M. Southworth, who held the office from 1859 to 1874.

"Apologies to Mr. Southworth," Murphy wrote in a note to the media.

Perhaps more impressive is that Murphy is the only Democrat in the last 100 years to win an election for DA. Every district attorney since 1895 had been a Republican, except for Russell D. Coogan, who kept the seat warm for a year as a gubernatorial appointee in 1979.

Murphy is unopposed in this year's election for county judge, which will be the second time in his career he's followed Peter L. Broderick Sr. into an office. Murphy defeated Broderick, a 12-year incumbent, for district attorney in the 1991 election. Broderick made a comeback and won the election for judge in 1998.

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>Jagow the Magnetic

Niagara County Clerk Wayne F. Jagow realizes that not everyone owns a large building upon which the Niagara County bicentennial logo can be painted.

As slides of the first six barns adorned with the logo were presented at last week's County Legislature meeting, Jagow also unveiled the latest bicentennial souvenir: the bicentennial fridge magnet.

"You may not have a barn, but you have a refrigerator," Jagow said as the magnets were distributed in the audience. "I want to make sure you get your refrigerator magnets. This is the first time government ever gave you anything."

With contributions from Pam Kowalik, Denise Jewell and Thomas J. Prohaska of the News Niagara Bureau.

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