Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Nesting Bald Eagles in Philly

For the first time in 200 years, Bald Eagles built a nest in the City of Brotherly Love.

"They have eggs in the nest and you can tell they are incubating by their behavior," said Doug Gross, an endangered bird specialist for the Pennsylvania Game Commission.

The raptors laid eggs in a former Navy yard. City and state officials worry that the species' endangered status and nest fidelity will conflict with plans for a $150 million produce market and a new marine terminal. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service might remove Bald Eagle from the federal endangered species list in June.

If all goes well, Philadelphia might host chicks like these (click on the image for a larger version):

Photo courtesy of U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

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Monday, March 26, 2007

Excellent article about backyard habitat on

Check it out. Val Schroeder of Camano Island (north of Seattle) deserves kudos.

Schroeder ripped up her grassy lawn because, even though it looked beautiful, it provided no shelter or food for animals. Then she looked for indigenous plants that would thrive in her yard with little maintenance.

"Living on an island, water conservation is a big issue," she says. "So I looked for plants that are drought tolerant and can handle the weather."

She added bird feeders and baths to provide needed food and water to native bird species.

"When you can't get people to buy huge tracts of land [for preservation as natural habitat], but you can get them to do something with their backyards, that's a lot of backyards to link up," Schroeder said.
(Emphasis mine.)


Woo hoo! Another First Friday entry

A second entry appeared in the inbox this weekend. I'm hoping to receive even more before the April 4 deadline.

This community includes great writers. It'd be a pleasure to see them turn their talents to fiction.

I'd like to hear tips about making First Friday more appealing. As the host, what would you do? Thanks in advance.

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Friday, March 23, 2007

Nature artists donate proceeds to conservation charities

Have you heard of the Artists for Conservation Foundation? It used to be known as Worldwide Nature Artists Group. Its member sell their art through the site and commit a portion of the proceeds to a conservation charity.

The current Art for Conservation potential pledge total stands at more than $13 million. The designated charities include National Wild Turkey Federation, Ducks Unlimited, BirdLife International's Save the Albatross campaign, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, BirdLife International, International Crane Foundation and HawkWatch International among others.

"Among the Willows" by Linda J. Parkinson

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Thursday, March 22, 2007

First Friday fiction due on April 4!

Have you read a good short story about birds, birders or birding lately? Better yet, have you written one?

Consider participating in First Friday, a monthly contest that solicits 500-word pieces of fiction. The winner receives the choice of two recently published books from the WildBird office, like Silence of the Songbirds by Bridget Stutchbury or National Geographic Birder's Journal.

The next deadline is Wednesday, April 4.

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Have you reduced the lawn on your property?

With the official start of spring, National Audubon Society encourages homeowners to conserve water by replacing unneeded lawn areas with native plants. You'll find action plans and online resources via those links.

In its Audubon at Home program, NAS says:
Our choices of plants, landscape materials and design, and garden practices have an enormous impact on our outdoor water use. Lawns require two-and-a-half to four times more water than shrubs and trees. Indeed, it is estimated that in the course of a single year, a typical suburban lawn uses 10,000 gallons of water over and above that provided by rainfall.
That's a sobering thought, particularly in this dressed-up desert in which I live.

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I and the Bird #45

Join the festivities at Journey Through Grace, as Jayne celebrates her birthday and hosts I and the Bird! She's collected a wonderful assortment of gifts.

Send contributions for the next carnival to Corey by April 3.

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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Any skeptics on global warming or climate change?

Al Gore spoke to Congress today about global warming. That article naturally highlights differences of opinion, as journalism is wont to do.

One organization that disagrees with Gore is the Competitive Enterprise Institute, which made a concerted effort to disseminate its side of the discussion before Gore's appearance today. It said, "The only facts and studies Gore considers are those convenient to his scare-them-green agenda. And in numerous instances, he distorts the evidence he cites." Do you see logical mistakes in the CEI paper?

Also, have you heard of the hypocrisy charges against Gore? He encourages the American public to purchase carbon offsets, which could benefit him financially. Some folks argue that this diminishes the strength of his argument about this "moral" issue, his description of global warming. What do you think?
So, where does Gore buy his ‘carbon offsets’? According to The Tennessean newspaper’s report, Gore buys his carbon offsets through Generation Investment Management, a company he co-founded and serves as chairman:

Gore helped found Generation Investment Management, through which he and others pay for offsets. The firm invests the money in solar, wind and other projects that reduce energy consumption around the globe…

As co-founder and chairman of the firm Gore presumably draws an income or will make money as its investments prosper. In other words, he “buys” his “carbon offsets” from himself, through a transaction designed to boost his own investments and return a profit to himself. To be blunt, Gore doesn’t buy “carbon offsets” through Generation Investment Management - he buys stocks.
I don't think that this discussion is over.

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Students compete in 42nd annual bird-calling contest

I always knew the folks up in Northern California are a little... different. This proves that teenagers who live near Berkeley take bird calls to a higher level.

Big bird Aaron Macholl-Stanley and his buddies Shaheen Axtle and Derek DeRoche were part of the flock of bird callers willing to make feathered fools of themselves at Piedmont High's 42nd annual bird-calling contest.

The threesome took second place in the competition, which may win them a spot on "Late Night with David Letterman," a dandy perk for a bunch of high school students.

The man himself, Letterman, will review the videotape of Friday's contest, and choose three or four callers to appear on his show later this month, according to the contest's producer, Amy Booker.
Follow that link to watch an amusing audio slide show.

Photo courtesy of Contra Costa Times

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British scientists use feathers for bird-flu clues

At Durham University, researchers measured strontium isotope levels to pinpoint birds' previous migratory stops. The metal accumulates in feathers and provides more precise data about location than radio or satellite tags. The scientists studied sedge warblers, and their research appeared in the Royal Society of Chemistry's Journal of Analytical Atomic Spectrometry.

Dr. Laura Font said:
"By determining migration pathways, the arrival of potential vectors of diseases from infected areas can be anticipated.

"Knowledge of migratory routes also helps evaluate the likelihood that individual avian influenza outbreaks could be related to migratory bird movements rather than anthropogenic activities, such as poultry movements, which are believed to be the main vector of avian influenza in most outbreaks."
Sedge Warbler courtesy of BBC

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Monday, March 12, 2007

10 endangered birds under review

The Pacific region of U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service will review the status of 10 birds -- among other species -- protected by the Endangered Species Act. Public comments are welcome until May 7 about the 71 species, which occur in Oregon, Hawaii, Northern Mariana Islands and Guam.

Periodic status reviews of all listed species are required by the ESA at least once every 5 years to determine whether a species’ classification as threatened or endangered is still appropriate. If the best scientific and commercial data produced since the time of listing are not consistent with the current classification of any species, the Service will recommend a change in the species’ federal classification. A species could be recommended for reclassification from endangered to threatened (downlisting), from threatened to endangered (uplisting), or for removal from the federal list of threatened and endangered species (delisting).

Information that is considered in a status review includes:
· Species biology, including but not limited to, population trends, distribution, abundance, demographics and genetics;
· Habitat conditions including, but not limited to, amount, distribution and suitability;
· Conservation measures that have been implemented that benefit the species;
· Threat status and trends; and
· Other new information, data or corrections including, but not limited to, taxonomic or nomenclatural changes, identification of erroneous information contained in the list, and improved analytical methods.
The avian species include:
· Bridled White-eye (Zosterops conspicillatus conspicillatus) in Guam
· Guam Rail (Rallus owstoni)
· Hawaiian Crow (Corvus hawaiiensis)
· Hawaiian Duck (Anas wyvilliana)
· Hawaiian Hawk (Buteo solitarius)
· Mariana Common Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus guami)
· Nightingale Reed Warbler (Old World warbler) (Acrocephalus luscinia)
· Oahu Elepaio (Chasiempis sandwichensis ibidis)
· Palila (honeycreeper) (Loxioides bailleui)
· Small Kauai Thrush (Myadestes palmeri)

Bridled White-eye courtesy of U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

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Cleveland falcons have been busy

The two Peregrine Falcons that regularly nest on a Cleveland, Ohio, skyscraper returned last month. Now, it looks like SW, the female, is ready to lay eggs.

To subscribe to Falcon Flash e-mail updates about her and Buckeye's progress as parents, visit Raptors in the City.

You can see clips from the Falcon Cam, updated each minute, here.

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Sunday, March 11, 2007

First eaglet hatches at Norfolk garden

On Saturday, the live video camera at Virginia's Norfolk Botanical Garden revealed the first eaglet to hatch from the three eggs in the Bald Eagle nest.

The two remaining eggs are expected hatch before Thursday the 15th. Keep tabs by clicking on the "live" link above!

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Saturday, March 10, 2007

First lady visits Midway Atoll

Earlier this month, first lady Laura Bush visited Midway Atoll, participated in a Native Hawaiian ceremony for the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Marine National Monument and planted native bunch grass that will benefit endangered Laysan Ducks. (Click on the map for a larger version.)

Bush said she has been an avid bird-watcher all her life, but she does not keep a checklist of birds she has seen, as some birders do. She noted that she had never before seen any of the three albatrosses she saw yesterday: the Laysan albatross, the rarer black-footed albatross and the only golden albatross in the country.

Asked if she had volunteered to make this trip, Bush did not hesitate in answering, "Absolutely."
Bush also said she supports the removal of lead paint from former Navy buildings; the paint chips poison the birds, prompting conservation groups like American Bird Conservancy to campaign for full and prompt funding of the clean-up effort.

Photo courtesy of Honolulu Star-Bulletin

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Friday, March 09, 2007

Texas search for Ivory-billed Woodpecker

In east Texas, searchers delve into Big Thicket National Preserve, a Globally Important Bird Area.

Campbell, 23, and a pair of companions in similar kayaks are on a tedious winter-long canvass of Texas' famed Big Thicket, an often impenetrable jungle of swamps choked with thorny vines and prodigious pine and cedar trees, in pursuit of the ivory-billed woodpecker.

The bird, at 20 inches with a nearly 3-foot wingspan, is the third-largest woodpecker in the world and the biggest woodpecker north of Mexico. It was thought to be extinct until a kayaker reported seeing an ivory-billed along the Cache River in east-central Arkansas.

"There's a lot of doubters out there that this bird does exist," said Campbell, from Emmaus, Pa. "I believe it exists."
More here.

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Recycle plastic bottles for an avian charity?

Have you heard of TerraCycle's Bottle Brigade program? I learned of it this week because of an Orchard Supply Hardware effort to collect 20-oz. plastic bottles with proceeds to benefit the California State Parks Foundation.

The Bottle Brigade program could be a good fundraiser for bird conservation groups, no?

Who can sign up for the Bottle Brigade program?
We welcome anyone from almost any organization to join in our recycling efforts! There are some practical considerations your organizations should keep in mind. For example, our program is not designed to accommodate recycling centers or individual residential households. We currently only collect 20oz. soda bottles with their labels removed.

What do I need to sign up for the Bottle Brigade program?
Signing up for TerraCycle's Bottle Brigade program is easy! All you need is a 501c3 charity (and their Tax ID #) to donate to, and of course, 20oz. soda bottles! We have a list of many noble organizations to donate to if you do not currently have one in mind, including the option to save 10 square feet of rainforest through the Nature Conservancy. You will also need a valid email address and a non-residential address for us to mail boxes to you.

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Thursday, March 08, 2007

Buzzard Day

Whowouldathunk: Turkey Vultures have their own holiday. Numerous websites recognize March 15 as Buzzard Day... and here I thought March 15 was just the Ides of March (thanks to Mrs. Idler's 10th-grade English class).

Regardless, the avian garbage disposals apparently get their due on March 15. They also are the guests of honor at Buzzard Sunday in Hinckley, Ohio.

Check out this Turkey Vulture Society bumper sticker!

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Game Commission introduces students to bluebirds

Thanks to the Pennsylvania Game Commission, students in Jefferson County have learned about nesting Eastern Bluebirds since 1995. Wildlife Conservation Officer Michael Girosky worked with schools in his district to supply nestboxes and has seen the program catch students' interest.

"Teachers and PTAs call to request it, and I hear more positive feedback about this program than any other activity I am involved in," Girosky said. "I have high school students telling me how they have continued to maintain and build more boxes on their own just because they were introduced to the bluebirds way back in the fifth grade.

"I will attempt to continue this program as long as possible because it not only gives the children a outstanding and unique opportunity to learn about and help the bluebirds; it is the best program that I have found to bring the Game Commission into the classroom on a neutral subject that all can agree on and shows us in the best light to the kids, parents, teachers and administration of the schools in the community."

The commission says early to mid-March is the right time to offer clean nestboxes. For oodles of details, visit the North American Bluebird Society.

Photo courtesy of PGC/Jake Dingel

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I and the Bird #44

Grab a beverage, settle into a comfy chair, and enjoy the latest edition of I and the Bird.

Mark the calendar: The deadline for the next edition is March 20. Send contributions to Jayne of Journey Through Grace.

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Monday, March 05, 2007

Open season

Want to ask a question about WildBird, its editor or magazine publishing? Pose it in the comments. I'll answer just about any question this week, while on deadline for the May/June issue.

Fire away. For your efforts, you might win Kaufman Field Guide to the Insects of North America. Don't be shy. You know you want to read all about damselflies, walkingsticks, antlions and skippers.

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Friday, March 02, 2007

Addition to Detroit River refuge

Part of 1,600-acre Lake Erie Metropark in Michigan will transfer to Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge. The transfer will encompass about 780 acres of wetlands and upland habitats.

According to,
The park is one of the top birdwatching sites in the Great Lakes and one of the best locations in North America to watch hawks. It also is well recognized for its Marshlands Museum and Nature Center, a 200-acre nature study area, and its annual Hawkfest in September that attracts thousands of birders and guests.
Hawkfest is scheduled for Sept. 15-16 this year.

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Oregon condors gettin' busy

Another California Condor at Oregon Zoo laid an egg in late February. Ojai, a 22-year-old condor, produced the egg on Feb. 24 at the zoo's Jonsson Center for Wildlife Conservation.

"We weighed and examined the egg, and all appears to be in order," says Shawn St. Michael, assistant condor curator. "We should know whether or not it's fertile in a few weeks."

Tama laid the first egg of the breeding season on Feb. 17.

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Thursday, March 01, 2007

WildBird's 19th annual photo contest

WildBird proudly offers a Canon EOS 30D digital camera as the grand prize this year.

To become eligible for it and one of the other prizes shown on page 41 of the March/April issue, follow these rules very carefully. A panel of judges will choose three winners from each of the five categories -- amateur, backyard, digiscoping, flight, water birds -- plus one grand-prize winner.

The entry form appears on page 39 of the March/April issue. The form will not appear online. If you don't receive WildBird in your mailbox, then ask for the March/April issue at a local Wild Birds Unlimited or Wild Bird Centers of America or a national bookseller.

Official Contest Rules

* All entries must be postmarked by April 28, 2007.

* This photo contest is open to everyone except employees of WildBird and BowTie, Inc.

* Each contestant may enter up to two photographs per category.

* Each participant confirms that each entry has not been published in another commercial publication for payment or offered online for sale. Similar in-camera duplicate photos are not eligible.

* Each contestant agrees to allow WildBird to post one entry on the magazine's website, without compensation, to promote the contest.

* One grand-prize photo will be selected from all the contest entries.

* Color 35mm slides, 21/4-inch transparencies, prints at least 6x8 inches but no larger than 8x10 inches, and digital files will be accepted. Do not send duplicate or glass-mounted slides.

* Digital files must arrive on compact discs, one image per CD.

* In order to be suitable for publication in WildBird, digital files must be 300 dpi; at least 6x8 inches in size; TIFF, EPS or SHQ JPG format; RGB; and 8 bit. A high-quality 6x8-inch print must accompany each CD.

* Due to the constraints imposed by early digital cameras used in digiscoping, only entries in the digiscoping category may possess a print size of 5x7 inches and arrive with a 5x7-inch high-quality print.

* Only photos of native species photographed in the United States and Canada are eligible for the amateur, digiscoping, flight, water birds and backyard categories.

* To write the captions, we need the story behind the photo. Give us interesting details about how you attracted the bird to your yard or how you observed the bird in the field.

* The amateur category is open to individuals who have not won a prize in a previous WildBird photo contest and have not received payment from WildBird for the publication of an image.

* All backyard photographs must be taken in a yard; show a feeder, birdbath or nestbox; and include species regularly seen at those features. Photos taken at wildlife refuges, parks, sanctuaries and commercial lodges are not eligible.

* All digiscoping entries must cite the spotting scope and eyepiece used to create the image.

* All flight photos must convey the essence of avian flight. Motion and focus will be primary considerations.

* Entries for the water birds category should feature only shorebirds, wading birds, waterfowl and seabirds.

* All birds photographed for this contest must be alive and living in the wild. Controlled studio portraits, photos of captive birds and "posed" birds -- especially nestlings -- will not be accepted.

* Each entry must be submitted separately -- one entry per envelope.

* Write the entry's category on the front, lower-left area of the envelope.

* Every image must arrive with a separate, completed entry form. Photocopies of the form are acceptable.

* Do not use staples or paper clips; they can scratch your photos. WildBird is not responsible for lost or damaged slides.

* If you want your slides and transparencies returned, each entry must arrive with a self-addressed, stamped envelope. Provide ample postage in addition to a return address on each envelope. Prints and CDs will not be returned.

* Due to the volume of submissions, the staff will not make exceptions to these rules. Please follow them carefully to avoid disqualification.

* Winners will be selected by a panel of judges and the WildBird staff.

* Winners will be notified by mail; do not call or send an e-mail.

* Winning images will be published in the September/October 2007 issue and may be used in advertising and marketing of WildBird without compensation.

* All slides and transparencies will be returned in October. No prints or CDs will be returned.

Good luck!

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