Friday, September 29, 2006

Name that bird

Time: July
Location: Rockport, Ill.

First person to name that bird correctly can receive one of two books: Flyways: A Celebration of Waterfowl and Wetlands by Gary Kramer or Wings Over Montana: A Celebration of Wild Birds by Donald M. Jones.
Guesses in the Comments, please. The winner will be notified on Monday.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, September 28, 2006

I and the Bird #33

Sit a spell to soak up this week's birding carnival, hosted with flag flair by Kay of Don't Mess with Taxes in Texas.

Status review of Snail Kite, Wood Stork and other species

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service will carry out a five-year status review of Snail Kites and Wood Storks, both listed as endangered, as well as 35 threatened and endangered species in Florida, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Georgia, Alabama and South Carolina.

You're encouraged to provide written comments and information about the species before Nov. 27.

Pertinent information would discuss: (1) species biology, such as population trends, distribution, abundance, demographics and genetics; (2) habitat conditions, including amount, distribution and suitability; (3) conservation measures that have been implemented; (4) threat status and trends; and (5) new data or corrections, including taxonomic or nomenclatural changes; identification of erroneous information contained in the ESA list, and improved analytical methods.

Wood Stork details can be sent
via e-mail to Sandy_MacPhersonATfwsDOTgov
via fax to 904-232-2404 or
via regular mail to
Sandy MacPherson, Jacksonville Field Office, U.S. FWS
6620 Southpoint Drive South, Suite 310
Jacksonville FL 32216

Snail Kite information can be sent
via e-mail to Cindy_SchultzATfwsDOTgov
via fax to 772-562-4288 or
via regular mail to
Cindy Schulz, South Florida Ecological Services Office, U.S. FWS
1339 20th St.
Vero Beach FL 32960

Wood Stork courtesy of U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Almost $70 million for conservation

Earlier this week, the Department of the Interior announced that several states will receive federal money for conservation planning and habitat purchases. More than $67 million in grants will go to 27 states, which applied to the Cooperative Endangered Species Conservation Fund.

Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne said,
"Our ability to successfully conserve habitat for imperiled species depends on long-term partnerships and voluntary landowner participation. These grants provide the means for States to work with landowners and communities to conserve habitat and foster conservation stewardship efforts for future generations."
I like the emphasis on "voluntary" and "landowner participation." We shouldn't coerce adults into habitat and species conservation, and we need to respect that they should receive compensation for improvements on their land or the purchase of it.

Why should you read a run-down of the grants? Because it shows that our government works with our fellow citizens to protect the habitat that we birders highly value.

Naturally, the funds will benefit at-risk mammals, amphibians and plants as well as birds. Habitat Conservation Plan land acquisition grants that mentioned avian species include:

California: Western Riverside County MSHCP - least Bell's Vireo and coastal California Gnatcatcher

Michigan: Point Betsie Piping Plover HCP (Benzie County) - Piping Plover

Montana: Native Fish HCP-Blackfoot Easement Project (Lewis & Clark, Missoula and Powell counties) - Bald Eagle, Trumpeter Swan, Columbian Sharp-tailed Grouse

North Carolina: Sandhills HCP-Odom Tract (Scotland County) - Red-cockaded Woodpecker

Texas: Cibolo Canyonlands Golden-cheeked Warbler Land Acquisition (Comal County) - Golden-cheeked Warbler

Washington: Plum Creek HCP-Methow Watershed (Okanogan County) - northern Spotted Owl, Bald Eagle; Plum Creek HCP-Swamp Lake/Amabilis Mountain II (Kittitas County) - northern Spotted Owl; Plum Creek HCP-Hyak Gold Creek Corridor (Kittitas County) - northern Spotted Owl, Bald Eagle, Marbled Murrelet; Washington DNR HCP-Hoh River Conservation Corridor (Jefferson County) - northern Spotted Owl, Bald Eagle, Marbled Murrelet; Washington DNR HCP-Barr Creek Forest Protection (Skagit County) - northern Spotted Owl, Bald Eagle, Marbled Murrelet

Habitat conservation planning assistance grants that mentioned avian species include:

Arizona: Multi-species HCP for Tucson - cactus Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl, western Yellow-billed Cuckoo

Arkansas: Big Woods of Arkansas - Ivory-billed Woodpecker, interior Least Tern, Red-cockaded Woodpecker

: Yuba & Sutter Counties - wintering habitat for various migratory species

Florida: Walton County HCP - Piping Plover

Montana: Montana Division of Natural Resources Forested Trust Land HCP - Bald Eagle

For more than this sample of grants, read the whole document.

Photos courtesy of U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

Timeliness of sightings

Are you a chaser who loves to go out on a scavenger hunt for a recently reported, unusual bird? If not, do you simply like to read listservs that disseminate such reports, keeping track of what's going on where in your state or region?

I like to keep tabs on New Jersey because of regular events in Cape May. The listserv recently included a post that came across as a complaint about not being able to see an unusual bird because those who had seen it did not disseminate details quickly enough -- by a matter of minutes and hours.

One of the responses to Sunday's post came from an 18-year-old fellow. He wrote:

Sometimes I really have to scratch my head when I read some of the messages which appear on this listserv...

I as well would like to say thanks to those who report their sightings, update the hotlines, and alert us to the whereabouts of rare birds. When I started birding at age 11 (in 1999), NJ-Birds and the Cape May hotline were my only real good sources for current birding information. Not only was the information distributed in a timely manner, it was always extremely accurate, and directions, if needed, were always dead-on (my parents appreciated that far more than I did). The contributions of Laurie, Paul and various others greatly assisted me during the beginning of my birding career, just as they still do today, and we should be ever-so-grateful that we have such a great network of information here in NJ.

Yet obviously, SHBO should be raising money during next year's World Series of Birding so that they can purchase a system which will instantaneously send out e-mails, phone calls, faxes, telegraphs and Morse code to every birder in the state within two minutes of the sighting of a rarity at the hook. Mark me down for$1.50/bird.

I think he makes a valid point within his sarcastic humor. What do you think?

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

IBWOs in Florida?

Rumors about an Ivory-billed Woodpecker announcement at the American Ornithologists' Union meeting in Veracruz, Mexico, have been flitting about for a few months. Today, the New York Times ran an article about the search in the Florida Panhandle, northwest of Panama City.
Geoffrey Hill, of Auburn University in Alabama, and Daniel Mennill of the University of Windsor, in Ontario, both biologists and ornithologists, say 14 sightings and extensive sound recordings “provide evidence that ivory-billed woodpeckers may live along the Choctawhatchee River in the Florida Panhandle.”
Their paper appeared in the journal Avian Conservation and Ecology. An excerpt from the paper's Discussion section states:
Our observations, acoustic encounters, audio recordings, measurements of cavities, and analysis of feeding sign provide evidence that Ivory-billed Woodpeckers may live along the Choctawhatchee River in the Florida panhandle. In a 1-year period from 21 May 2005 to 19 May 2006, members of our search team saw birds that we identified as Ivory-billed Woodpeckers 14 times.
The N.Y. Times article cites ornithologist John Fitzpatrick as well as author/artist David Sibley.
Dr. John Fitzpatrick, director of the Cornell lab, who had consulted with Dr. Hill about the findings before publication, said, “They’ve got a lot of intriguing evidence.”

“This is a perfect illustration of the fact that we need to get a multigroup multistate, comprehensive range-wide search for this bird undertaken,” Dr. Fitzpatrick said.

David Sibley, author of “The Sibley Guide to Birds,” a critic of the report on the Arkansas bird, called the Florida report “intriguing”, but said it “really provides very little evidence for the existence of Ivory-bills there.”
No doubt more discussion will ensue.

P.S. Thanks, J.B.

First Friday prizes

For his winning entry in this blog's monthly fiction contest, Clare Kines of The House & Other Arctic Musings received the chance to choose two recently published books. He selected The Illustrated Owl: Screech and Snowy and Bird Songs: 250 North American Birds in Song.

Pretty cool prizes, eh? Jealous? Gonna let the Canadian keep winning this contest? A few minutes and 500 words could net you some quality bird books for your reading pleasure!

The third edition of First Friday will appear on Oct. 6, with entries due on Wednesday, Oct. 4. I'm looking forward to seeing your short stories about birds, birding and birders!

Given the month, maybe entries could include a Halloween or owl element?

Monday, September 25, 2006

Disgruntled about Peregrine on Idaho state quarter

Thanks to Marc Crapo of Aston, Idaho, for pointing out the petition to remove the Peregrine Falcon from the Idaho state quarter. Created by Dan Carscallen, the petition has garnered 359 signatures.

Among its arguments are

The quarter should be representative of the uniqueness of the Idaho, its individuality, and it’s qualities which set it apart from other states. The falcon is far too ubiquitous to be uniquely Idaho. The Peregrine Falcon has one of the most global distributions of any bird of prey. This falcon is found on every continent except Antarctica, and lives in a wide variety of habitats from tropics, deserts, and maritime to the tundra, and from a sea level to 12,000 feet.

We strongly urge that this option be discounted, since the number one criteria for the state quarter is "Designs shall have broad appeal to the citizens of the state", and the Peregrine Falcon does not have said broad appeal. Boise is home to the World Center for Birds of Prey, The Peregrine Fund's world headquarters. There is far more to Idaho than Boise. This is yet another reason for people in North, Central, and Southeast Idaho to feel alienated and estranged from its so-called State capitol.
Anyone else heard anything about this or similar disagreements about birds on state quarters?

Father-and-son bird counters

Very nice to run across this article about Richard and Sigurd Bjorklund, who have conducted weekly surveys at Illinois River National Wildlife and Fish Refuges for four years.

But watching birds fly - and thrive - is the reward for hours spent counting, and for Sigurd, countless miles in the car.

"It is wonderful to be out on the cross dike and to have the pelicans come over and be able to hear the wind going through their wings, and to watch what appears to be such an awkward bird be so graceful in the air."

American White Pelicans courtesy of U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

Friday, September 22, 2006

First Friday: Sept. 8 edition

Congratulations to Clare Kines of The House & Other Arctic Musings! He again crafted the winning story in this edition of First Friday. (My apologies for the delayed announcement!)

With his well-done tale, Clare's secured the right to choose two recently published books from the WildBird bookshelves. If you'd like to earn that right, then write an original 500-word short story about birds, birding or birders that includes a setting, a character or characters, a conflict and a resolution. Also, the birds cannot be anthropomorphized.

For the October edition of First Friday, please send your birding fiction on Oct. 4. Thank you to this edition's participants!

Now, for your enjoyment, "The Lark" by Clare Kines.

Roy James tried to use his shaving mirror to look over the wall. He strained to reach high enough as dawn was starting to break over this little bit of Flanders. He was looking for the larks, he could hear them singing as the light grew. It was a lark that put him here, behind this wall.

Scarcely a fortnight had gone by since he went over the top with his battalion. Ypres was a terrible place, and no man’s land the most terrible place of all. The noise, always the noise, whiz-bangs and 5-10’s, and the heavier guns never let up. Then there were the angry wasps of the Bosch’s machine guns, just overhead or lower, trying to reach out to you. They always reached out for him, but they’d never found him yet.

He’d been at the Front since the beginning, two years now. Two years enveloped in that noise, always with the smell of death swirling around him. He’d narrowly escaped being gassed the first time he was in this terrible place. A piece of shrapnel had blinded his lieutenant, and he’d been detailed to take him back from the line. His regiment had been decimated, overrun when the regiments on both their flanks turned and ran as the green fog hit them, but they had stood their ground, and barely anyone answered roll the next day.

When the noise got too loud, he’d disappear back to the family farm in Alberta. He had spent his youth watching prairie-chickens on their booming grounds, and the Grey Geese making their way north in the spring. As the noise grew, he’d go back there, crawling on his belly to watch them on his pond, but the war kept drawing him back away from the birds. He’d even been mentioned in dispatches twice for actions during trench raids, but there was always the noise.

After they led the attack, those wasps pinned them down in a shell hole. He watched as the sergeant major, not 10 yards way, spiraled up in the mist as a shell landed at his feet, only he didn’t come down. Looking for him was when he saw the lark, dazed in the mud, its little chest heaving.

It seemed so clear that he had to save her, so he tucked her against his breast, and he stood and walked back to the line, the wasps reaching but never finding him. He kept walking and was five miles back when he let her go, and watched her climb into the air.

That was where they found him and arrested him. Cowardice, they said, desertion at the worst time, the height of battle. No matter no one got farther than the wire.

So now as dawn was breaking, the door behind him opened, and the chaplin and new sergeant major led him out to the other side of wall. As they put the hood over his head, he listened, and one by one the larks fell silent.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Bicknell's Thrush in the news

Nice to see this unusual species get some play in the mainstream online media.

(Yes, I'm channeling the InstaPundit form of blogging.)

Taking a pulse

In this article about Tim Gallagher's upcoming talk about the Ivory-billed Woodpecker rediscovery, he says:
"I knew that the ivory-bill had been the Holy Grail of bird-watching for more than half a century, but I had no idea how deeply other people would respond to the news," he said. "Apparently when National Public Radio broke the story of the rediscovery on April 25, 2005, hundreds of people across the United States who were on their morning commute had to pull over to the side of the road -- they were crying and couldn't see well enough through their tears to drive.

"I can feel that intensity and passion from the audiences wherever I travel, and it makes me very hopeful about the future."
Are you one of those birders who reacted emotionally 17 months ago?

Do you know someone who choked up at the news?

How do you feel and think about the IBWO search now?

Would you attend the IBWO festival in Brinkley, Ark., this winter?

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Happy Feet special event

Yesterday morning's e-mail included this invitation:

In case you're unfamiliar with the animated film, it focuses on Mumble, an Emperor Penguin that cannot sing -- an essential skill for finding a mate. Mumble can tap dance, but his inability to sing leads to his isolation and exclusion from his parents and the colony. He has to strike out on his own and finds new friends, such as the Adelie Penguins and Rockhopper Penguin in the poster above.

Luckily, my schedule yesterday could accommodate a last-minute jaunt to West Hollywood, a mere 52 miles away through dense SoCal. Leaving Irvine about 4 p.m., I found the Pacific Design Center on Melrose Avenue at 5:15 and entered the Silver Screen Theater's reception area to find this:

Around the ice sculpture milled lots of happy children, eating penguin and tuxedo cookies, chocolate-dipped strawberries and powdered-sugar-covered brownies. At two stations, some kids played the Mumble video game by Midway, but most of the minors lined up to take their picture with this fellow:

As tempted as I was to push aside the children to play the game and to sit beside the Black-footed Penguin, I resisted. Believe me: It was a struggle.

Then we entered the theater and had the pleasure of watching four talented teenage tap dancers in tuxedos perform a lively routine that included a cameo from four BFPEs. Then a studio executive provided an introduction to the 20-minute video that was narrated by the film's Australian director, George Miller ("Babe: Pig in the City"). I didn't know that work began on "Happy Feet" four years ago -- before "March of the Penguins" arrived in theaters in 2005. If I understood correctly, Savion Glover participated in the film's tap-dance sequences.

During yesterday's impromptu field trip, I particularly enjoyed seeing the kids respond to the live penguins. How can we channel that enthusiasm for a funny-lookin' bird into an enthusiasm for local birds?

Birdy holiday greetings

Christmas apparently is just around the corner. National Geographic recently sent out samples for this year's holiday cards.

A fair number of them--six--featured birds. I'd like to run a little poll to see which card garners the most votes among y'all. Please leave a comment!

"Cardinal Joy"

"American Holiday"

"Brrrrr Humbug"

"A Christmas Party"

"Wreath of Peace"

"Color of the Season"

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Ask the editor!

Here's a chance to pose questions about magazines, freelance writing, editing or WildBird. Please do so in the Comments, which is where I'll respond.

You're welcome to send an e-mail, with "ask the editor" in the subject line, to which I'll respond in a future post. Anonymous e-mails, however, won't be considered. Please sign your name and city to your words.

Fire away!

Friday, September 15, 2006

Tracking migration

In a Washington Post article earlier this week, "Figuring Out Birds’ Migrations, Motivations," the reporter presented the scenario of a bird that spends time in a balmy locale, flies thousands of miles north to lay eggs and raise young and then flies thousands of miles south to a tropical climate.

Then the article says:
The first step is to track the birds as they fly. And that is exactly what scientists are now doing for the first time.
I stumbled across the words "now doing for the first time." I think that the reporter didn't do enough homework (tsk, tsk, said the journalism graduate).

Anyone want to let the reporter, Shankar Vedantam, know about previous satellite-tracking projects?

Marbled Godwit courtesy of U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Congressional Wildlife Refuge Caucus update

Back in May, I mentioned that only four names appeared on the roster of the caucus representing the National Wildlife Refuge System. Today, the grapevine reports that 100 members now belong to the caucus. The bipartisan membership represents 37 states and 168 of the 540 NWRs.

In late July, the caucus introduced legislation to deal with invasive species: House Resolution 5900, the Refuge Ecology Protection, Assistance & Immediate Response (REPAIR) Act.

The caucus includes the following representatives. If you don't see yours in this (really long) list, find out why! Again, if we don't hold our elected officials responsible for accurately representing our interests, then we don't have a legitimate basis for complaint.

Co-chairs: Ron Kind (WI-3rd district) and Jim Saxton (NJ-3rd district)
Co-vice chairs: Mike Castle (DE-at large) and Mike Thompson (CA-1st district)

Spencer Bachus (AL-6)
Vic Snyder (AR-2)
J.D. Hayworth (AZ-5)
Raul Grijalva (AZ-7)
Doris Matsui (CA-5)
Lynn Woolsey (CA-6)
George Miller (CA-7)
Pete Stark (CA-13)
Anna Eshoo (CA-14)
Sam Farr (CA-17)
Dennis Cardoz (CA-18)
Bob Filner (CA-51)
Mark Udall (CO-2)
John Larson (CT-1)
Rob Simmons (CT-2)
Christopher Shays (CT-4)
Nancy Johnson (CT-5)
Ginny Brown-Waite (FL-5)
Cliff Stearns (FL-6)
Robert Wexler (FL-19)
Clay Shaw (FL-22)
Alcee Hastings (FL-23)
Jim Marshall (GA-3)
Ed Case (HI-2)
Leonard Boswell (IA-3)
Donald A. Manzullo (IL-16)
Ray LaHood (IL-18)
Dennis Moore (KS-3)
Ben Chandler (KY-6)
Marty Meehan (MA-5)
John Tierney (MA-6)
Edward Markey (MA-7)
Michael Capuano (MA-8)
Steven Lynch (MA-9)
Wayne Gilchrest (MD-1)
Benjamin Cardin (MD-3)
Tom Allen (ME-1)
Michael Michaud (ME-2)
Vernon Ehlers (MI-3)
Dale Kildee (MI-5)
John Dingell (MI-15)
John Kline (MN-2)
Jim Ramstad (MN-3)
Betty Collum (MN-4)
Mark Kennedy (MN-6)
James Oberstar (MN-8)
William Lacy Clay (MO-1)
Chip Pickering (MS-3)
Walter Jones (NC-3)
David Pryce (NC-4)
Howard Coble (NC-6)
Earl Pomeroy (ND-at large)
Charles Bass (NH-2)
Donald Payne (NJ-10)
Rush Holt (NJ-12)
Frank LoBiondo (NJ-2)
Frank Pallone (NJ-6)
Steve Rothman (NJ-9)
Jon Porter (NV-3)
Tim Bishop (NY-1)
Steve Israel (NY-2)
Anthony Weiner (NY-9)
Carolyn Maloney (NY-14)
Jose Serrano (NY-16)
Maruice Hinchey (NY-22)
Brian Higgins (NY-27)
Randy Kuhl (NY-29)
Dan Boren (OK-2)
Pete DeFazio (OR-4)
Darlene Hooley (OR-5)
Jim Gerlach (PA-6)
Curt Weldon (PA-7)
Michael Fitzpatrick (PA-8)
Paul E. Kanjorski (PA-11)
Allyson Schwartz (PA-13)
Tim Holden (PA-17)
Tod Platts (PA-19)
Joe Wilson (SC-2)
John M. Spratt (SC-5)
Lincoln Davis (TN-4)
Bart Gordon (TN-6)
Marsha Blackburn (TN-7)
John Tanner (TN-8)
Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18)
Lloyd Doggett (TX-25)
Solomon Ortiz (TX-27)
Thelma Drake (VA-2)
James Moran (VA-8)
Rick Boucher (VA-9)
Brian Baird (WA-3)
Norm Dicks (WA-6)
Jim McDermott (WA-7)
Adam Smith (WA-9)
Tammy Baldwin (WI-2)
Thomas Petri (WI-6)
Alan Mollohan (WV-1)

North American Wetlands Conservation Fund

Thirty conservation projects in 17 states and 12 provinces will receive portions of almost $29 million from the North American Wetlands Conservation Fund. The Migratory Bird Conservation Commission approved the distribution this week, and those funds -- plus nearly $130 million from partners -- will restore almost 210,000 acres of wetlands and uplands.

Established by the North American Wetlands Conservation Act, the fund receives money from Congressional appropriations; fine, penalties and forfeitures under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act; interest from the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Act; and excise taxes through the Dingell-Johnson Sport Fish Restoration Fund.

According to Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne:
"This is a marvelous example of how the public and private sectors can and do work together to maintain and expand outdoor opportunities for Americans. Acre-by-acre, public and private partners are restoring wetlands across the nation. Wetlands provide excellent habitat for wildlife and provide millions of Americans with a range of outdoor recreational opportunities."
The commission also approved the purchase of more than 4,250 acres for these national wildlife refuges:

* Arkansas: White River NWR and Overflow NWR
* California: Grasslands Wildlife Management Area and North Central Valley Wildlife Management Area
* Maine: Sunkhaze Meadows NWR
* Maryland: Blackwater NWR
* Massachusetts/Vermont: Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge
* Michigan: Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge
* Minnesota: Glacial Ridge NWR (new in Polk County!)
* New Hampshire: Lake Umbagog NWR
* New Jersey: Edwin B. Forsythe NWR
* Texas: Trinity River NWR

State Audubons receive Fujitsu technology

Three independent Audubon societies in Connecticut, Rhode Island and New Jersey will receive $3 million worth of Fujitsu technology. The donated products come from a $30 million technology grant focused on nonprofit and community-based organizations.

The societies will receive assorted hardware and software, including file servers, external hard disk drives, Tablet PCs, laptops, plasma screens and LCD projectors. With the technology, the organizations plan to gather, store and analyze data about birds and their behavior; create more accurate maps of sanctuaries; and investigate migration patterns by examining Doppler radar, bird banding archives and audio recordings.

With plasma screens and LCD projectors connected to Tablet PCs, birders can create interactive exhibits and educational programs. Pretty darn cool what technology can do for birds and birders!

I and the Bird #32

Peek at this month's first installment of the biweekly birding carnival at Sand Creek Almanac, and read revealing snippets about other birders' passions!

Friday, September 08, 2006


Friday follies -- whee!
Rubber ducks galore for glee!
Thank you, Shelly P.!

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Help a young reader?

Letters in the mail
No time for reader questions
Can you help her please?

In calligraphy, Katie wrote:
has a blue heron ever been known to nest on the ground? Because I think I found one near a lake. Thank you. Sincerely, Katie R.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Crunch time

Deadlines rule my world
No fun until Friday night
Fat Tire, wait for me

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Do you BioBlitz?

After learning of the BioBlitz organized by Chippewa Nature Center in Midland, Mich., I have to ask, how common are these events?

Have you participated in one? What was it like?

Friday, September 01, 2006

Friday follies: Happy Feet

Am I the last one to hear about the singing penguin movie, Happy Feet?

Due in theaters on Nov. 17, the animated flick focuses on Mumbles Happy Feet, voiced by Elijah Wood. The cast includes Robin Williams, Hugh Jackman and Nicole Kidman. Check out this fun trailer from the site!

Thanks, Mom!