Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Texas birding center on list of must-see green landmarks

On the website of "Travel & Leisure" magazine, a list of 10 must-see green American landmarks includes a hotel, a parking garage, a baseball stadium -- and the World Birding Center at Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park in Mission, Texas.

The introduction to the slideshow says
For this story, we’ve identified places around the country—from Pocantico Hills, New York, and Mission, Texas, to Marin County, California—that are emblematic of a new generation of savvy, environmentally tuned design destinations that, in small ways and large, are changing the traveler’s landscape. ... Strategies that were considered a little oddball only a few years ago—like photovoltaic panels, green roofs, and wind turbines—are finding their way into the language of everyday architecture, everyday life, and everyday travel.
About the WBC, "Travel & Leisure" said:

Avid birders know that the Rio Grande Valley is the place to be if you want to glimpse a Swainson’s hawk or a green jay or any one of hundreds of species that favor this unique ecosystem of thornscrub and subtropical woodland. The World Birding Center maintains nine protected habitats along the Mexican border, from the Roma Bluffs to South Padre Island. Roughly in the middle, its headquarters sits on 750 acres in Mission, Texas, and was designed by the San Antonio architectural firm Lake/Flato to be equally hospitable to humans and birds. The buildings, situated in what had once been onion fields, are a graceful variation on the Quonset hut, a style chosen for its ties to the area’s agricultural heritage and because, as architect Bob Harris puts it, “the purity and simplicity of its form fits in a stark landscape.” The distinctive curved roof also handily channels rainwater into a collection system that supplies “guzzlers” for the birds and maintains the mud puddles that keep the dragonflies happy.


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

New conservation partnership begins today

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service began a conservation partnership with Wildlife Habitat Council today. In signing a memorandum of understanding, the organizations will work together to encourage corporate participation in habitat conservation and restoration.

FWS Director H. Dale Hall said, "The Fish and Wildlife Service is excited about working with the Wildlife Habitat Council and applying our mutual resources to vital natural resource management and education projects across the country. Today, the successful conservation of our nation’s wildlife and its habitat requires action from both the public and private sectors. The signing of this new agreement represents a major step forward in that direction.”

A 20-year-old nonprofit organization, WHC aims to increase the quality and amount of wildlife habitat on corporate, private and public lands. It focuses on creating partnerships with corporations and conservation groups. According to its website, more than 2.4 million acres in 48 states, Puerto Rico and 16 other countries are managed for wildlife through WHC-assisted projects.

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Monday, October 27, 2008

Birdfeeding study seeks birders

A survey organized by the Wild Bird Feeding Industry Research Foundation wants more input from birdwatchers who stock feeders at their apartments and houses. Project Wildbird will run through December 2008 and involves an online survey of backyard birdfeeding experiences that typically takes 15 minutes to complete.

With the data, the foundation plans to make recommendations about the food and feeders most likely to attract desired species. Hundreds of participants from 46 states and six Canadian provinces have submitted data so far.

Please spread the word!

WildBird is not affiliated with the foundation.

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Condors in new home at San Diego Wild Animal Park

Almost a week has passed since the condors inspected their new home at San Diego Zoo's Wild Animal Park. The endangered Andean and California Condors were evacuated last October when the Witch fire damaged San Pasqual Valley and burned the condors' breeding facility and 600 acres within the park.

The five condors are part of a captive-breeding program that aims to create more young and release them in the wild to replenish the species' diminished numbers. Although the breeding facility is off-limits to the public, park visitors can see three condors at the Condor Ridge site.

Click here to see a six-image photo gallery of the condors and their new facility.

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Friday, October 24, 2008

Dedication of new national wildlife refuge on Oct. 25

Saturday, Oct. 25, marks the dedication of Theodore Roosevelt National Wildlife Refuge in Rolling Fork, Miss. The ceremony will take place during the Great Delta Bear Affair festival, honoring the country's 26th president and his 150th birthday. Roosevelt established the refuge system in 1903.

The new refuge is part of the renamed Theodore Roosevelt National Wildlife Refuge Complex, formerly known as the Central Mississippi Refuges Complex. The complex includes six other refuges: Hillside NWR, Holt Collier NWR, Mathew Brakes NWR, Morgan Brake NWR, Panther Swamp NWR and Yazoo NWR.

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Thursday, October 23, 2008

U.S. Army builds owl condos for small birds

In northeastern Oregon, the U.S. Army is working with local volunteers, biologists and military personnel to create "owl condos," or artificial burrows, for dozens of Burrowing Owls on the grounds of Umatilla Chemical Depot in Hermiston.

From a press release:

The depot has enjoyed more than 64 years of relative isolation in the dry Shrub-steppe of northeastern Oregon since it began operating in October 1941 on the eve of World War II. That isolation has had a somewhat unintended result, creating a nature preserve, where today the Army actively protects wildlife and the environment on the depot. The Army also partners with other agencies to protect or develop habitat for various species. ...

The Burrowing Owl population in the United States is declining. It’s listed as a national “Bird of Conservation Concern” in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) Pacific Region and other parts of North America. It’s also listed as “endangered” in Canada and “threatened” in Mexico. In 2006, under terms of the international Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA), the U.S., Canada and Mexico jointly selected the Burrowing Owl as a “Species of Concern” due to loss of habitat. The international choice of the bird highlighted the need for Burrowing Owl habitat protection and development. ...

FWS Biologists, UMCD Environmental staff, and volunteers partnered to construct new owl burrows in 2008 from modern materials that mimic desirable features of those abandoned badger dens—including the prerequisite darkness and dirt floors. The artificial burrows have several advantages including easy access points for banding or counting owls, plus predator-proof construction. Future plans include addition of a low-light video camera.
Many more details appear at the press release link above. Birders might like to know that the depot sits near Umatilla National Wildlife Refuge and Cold Springs NWR, not far from McKay Creek NWR and the city of Pendleton.

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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Bird Education Network conference in February

Bird Education Network, Council for Environmental Education and Flying WILD plan to host a national conference on Feb. 22-26 at Jekyll Island Club Hotel on Jekyll Island, Ga. The event will focus on "bird conservation through education," and the downloadable registration packet is here. Early registrants pay $295 before Dec. 15; later registrants pay $350.

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From the BEN website:

The conference is open to anyone with an interest in bird education and conservation efforts, including directors, administrators, and educators from federal, state, and local government agencies, conservation organizations, zoos/aquariums, bird-related businesses, universities, K-12 schools, nature centers, Audubon centers, bird clubs, other NGOs, and related non-profit groups.

Guest Speakers: Throughout the conference there will be a diverse group of guest speakers, including Kenn and Kim Kaufman ("Working Toward a Bird Literate Society"), Audrey Peterman ( "Creating Dynamic Relationships with Diverse Audiences"), David Waller ("Lessons to Share on Bird Conservation, Wildlife Education Funding, and Building Coalitions"), and Donald and Lillian Stokes ("Reaching and Motivating the Public with Important Bird Messages").

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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Peregrine Fund founder receives conservation award

In recognition for his work on behalf of birds of prey, Dr. Tom Cade recently received the Sarkis Acopian Award for Distinguished Achievement in Raptor Conservation. Presented by Hawk Mountain Sanctuary Association, the award honors Cade's achievements in raptor conservation and consists of a $10,000 cash prize and a medallion honoring conservationist and philanthropist Sarkis Acopian, Hawk Mountain's largest benefactor.

From a Hawk Mountain press release:

Dr. Cade is recognized worldwide for having developed captive breeding and release programs for birds of prey at Cornell University in the 1960s. His work led to the creation of The Peregrine Fund and, ultimately to the rapid recovery of Peregrine Falcon populations across much of the species’ North American range. His pioneering work led to other breakthroughs in the field of endangered species research, and his techniques were later used on Bald Eagles, California Condors, Harpy Eagles, and other species.

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'Get Outdoors, It's Yours'

A new campaign encourages minors, their parents and their teachers to spend more time exploring the natural world. "Get Outdoors, It's Yours" debuted last week in Baltimore during the National Recreation and Park Association Congress and Exposition.

A U.S. Department of the Interior press release cited Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne (above with pop group Jonas Brothers) and Secretary of Agriculture Ed Schafer:

"...there is a crisis in America in which our kids are increasingly disconnected from nature,” said Secretary Kempthorne. “We must get children off the couch and outdoors. We must get them to turn off the computers and televisions and turn on to the power of wild places and wild creatures to lift them up – to rejuvenate body, soul and spirit.”

“We want every child in America to experience the great outdoors, whether it is in a remote mountain wilderness or a city park,” said Secretary Schafer. “Children react positively to nature. Working together, the federal agencies can help families foster their curiosity about nature and develop a deeper appreciation of precious natural resources.”
Many details appear at the Get Outdoors, It's Yours website. Please spread the word!

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Monday, October 20, 2008

Ultralight aircraft lead endangered birds during migration

On Friday the 17th, 14 Whooping Cranes followed ultralight aircraft from Necedah National Wildlife Refuge in Wisconsin to begin their fall migration to wintering habitat on Florida's Gulf Coast.

The group of young, endangered birds are the eighth flock in an annual program coordinated by Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership. The birds will follow four ultralights on a new route Wisconsin, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama and Georgia. Their final destination: Chassahowitzka and St. Marks national wildlife refuges.

From a press release by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service's Southeast regional office:

“We are excited about the migration this year,” said Joe Duff, CEO of Operation Migration, the WCEP partner that leads the ultralight migration. “The new migration route offers opportunities for increased outreach and conservation education. Also, we know it will be safer, and we hope it will be faster.”
The ultralight pilots and support crew post updates along the way, so you can check their In The Field journal to learn of progress and challenges along the new route.

Click on the map to see a larger version.

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Urban Conservation Treaty signed by NYC

From U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service:

New York City became the ninth city in the nation this week to sign an Urban Conservation Treaty for Migratory Birds. The Treaty, a partnership among The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), New York City Parks and Recreation, Audubon New York and New York City Audubon, is a commitment to restore, conserve and protect valuable bird habitat within New York City’s urban environment and to develop an informed public through education and training programs.

Backed by a $65,000 challenge grant from the Service, the Urban Conservation Treaty will support initiatives throughout New York City. Partnering organizations will match the grant money with funding and “in-kind” contributions of goods and services, with a total contribution of more than $450,000.

For the vast majority of urban and suburban residents, birds represent their most frequent contact with wildlife,” said Lynn Scarlett, Deputy Secretary of the Department of the Interior, who took part in the signing ceremony. “New York City, which lies along the Atlantic Flyway, is an essential urban sanctuary for migrating birds. We are pleased to work with New York City and other partners to support bird habitat conservation.”
New Orleans signed the treaty first in 1999. Other cities are Anchorage; Portland, Ore.; Houston; St. Louis; Chicago; Nashville; and Philadelphia.

Is your local bird community working with government agencies to have your city sign the treaty?

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Friday, October 17, 2008

SkyWatch Friday

Oct. 14 along Newport Beach's Back Bay Drive after dawn

The week began with a mid-day outing in the company of Mike Bergin. The creator of 10,000 Birds and I noshed, gabbed and tried to find birds amid the Santa Ana winds at Upper Newport Bay Nature Preserve.

Tuesday morning, I collected Mike as the sky began to lighten. After a cursory stop at Back Bay Science Center, we inched along the one-way Back Bay Drive until we reached a parking lot with a boardwalk and displays.

Are those Long-billed Curlews among the Marbled Godwits and Willets?

Yes, those are Long-billed Curlews and worthy of some shots,
as were the eight Black Skimmers that appeared later.

Mountains to Sea Trail, Back Bay Loop.

Song Sparrows appeared everywhere.
One found its reflection in my car's passenger mirror rather irritating...

and it left souvenirs of its extended time with my car.
Perhaps I'll cover the mirrors next time.

For more, sky-focused images, check out SkyWatch Friday!


Thursday, October 16, 2008

Red-cockaded Woodpeckers at Disney wildlife preserve

From The Ledger in Florida:

If you are ever asked how to put a red-cockaded woodpecker to bed, the answer is beak-first.

Friday evening, biologist Monica Folk worked her way up the trunk of a longleaf pine. A strap connected to a box containing a red-cockaded woodpecker was slung over her shoulder.

I helped carry some of the gear through restored open pinewoods at Disney Wilderness Preserve, a 12,000-acre nature preserve stretching from Lake Russell to Lake Hatchineha at the edge of Poinciana.

She opened the box and then opened a bag inside the box that held the bird. She reached in and gently put the bird inside the tree cavity.

Once the bird is tucked inside the hole in the tree, a wire mesh cover is secured over the hole to keep the bird there until morning.

The hole, by the way, is an artificial nest cavity. This is a technique that was developed in the 1990s to provide an instant nesting and roosting site for newly introduced birds.

In the morning the barrier will be yanked off with a string attached to it and the bird will get its first look at its new home.

Last year I was one of the designated string yankers.

Red-cockaded woodpeckers are not a common sight in this part of Florida.

There's a small colony at the Avon Park Air Force Range, but encountering a red-cockaded woodpecker in the wild is often a matter of chance unless you spot them coming and going from their nest trees, which are usually marked with a band of white paint.

I encountered one out feeding at Ocala National Forest once, and it was such a surprise, I stopped for a while to savor the moment.

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I and the Bird #86

For a highly entertaining read, visit I and the Bird #86, hosted by N8. He crafted an excellent carnival. You don't want to miss it!

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Friday, October 10, 2008

National Wildlife Refuge Week, Oct. 12-18

From the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service:

Whether it's taking a walk among the fall colors, spotting a rare bird species, or learning about the cultural resources that are part of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's conservation mission, National Wildlife Refuge Week, October 12-18, celebrates the diversity and resources of America's 548 national wildlife refuges. And it's a great opportunity to find a family event in your community.

"America's wildlife refuges offer great places to teach our children the importance of making a lifelong commitment to our nation's natural resources," said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director H. Dale Hall. "Exploring the outdoors and learning how all living things are connected to one another is what National Wildlife Refuge Week is all about."
You can look for a NWR Week event at this special events calendar, and you can look for more refuges near you at this zoomable map.

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Sky Watch Friday

Sunday, Sept. 28, in Leipzig, Germany

Please visit Sky Watch Friday every week to peruse lots of pretty pictures and start your weekend on a serene note.


Thursday, October 09, 2008

Birder of the Year's Costa Rica adventure

The 2007 Birder of the Year shares details of the prize trip in July 2008.
By Cindy Beckman

Each fall, WildBird readers choose the Birder of the Year from the previous issues’ Backyard Birders and Forum Birders. (See page 34 of the November/December 2008 issue for the 2008 Birder of the Year candidates and ballot. Turn to pages 20 and 30 for your chances to participate in the 2009 program.)

As the 2007 Birder of the Year, Cindy Beckman of Spring Valley, Ohio, received a copy of “The Shorebird Guide” and “Pete Dunne’s Essential Field Guide Companion” from Houghton Mifflin, a Swarovski squall jacket, a Swarovski 8x32 EL binocular (right), and round-trip airfare to Costa Rica and a rental car courtesy of Swarovski Optik North America. -- Ed.

When I learned last December that WildBird readers had chosen me as 2007 Birder of the Year, an award that included a Swarovski binocular and a five-day trip to Costa Rica, I couldn’t believe my ears. Having never won anything in my life, I felt ecstatic.

After meeting WildBird Editor Amy Hooper, Swarovski rep Clay Taylor and guide Alex Villegas in San Jose, Costa Rica, in late July, the five of us -- including my husband, Jim -- stopped at the home of Richard Garrigues, co-author of “The Birds of Costa Rica: A Field Guide” with Robert Dean (Zona Tropical, 2007). Richard graciously signed our field guides, and we five set out for Dominical, three and a half hours south. We stayed the night at Villas Rio Mar amid the rain, lightning and thunder that goes with the “green” season.

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Bright and early on day two, we birded near the lodge. Along the river, we saw three species of kingfisher -- Green, Ringed and Amazon. Three fledgling Green Herons huddled on a branch at the water’s edge. Everywhere we looked, we saw the brilliant crimson and bold black of Cherrie’s Tanagers.

As we sat in the lodge’s open-air dining room, we noticed a lot of activity in a small tree. Searching the tree, I noticed a plain brown bird among the colorful mob. It turned its head, and I heard Alex exclaim, “Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl!” We were treated to several minutes of the diminutive owl and the relentless mob trying to evict him.

We set out for the Bosque del Rio Tigre Lodge on Osa Peninsula, driving in and out of rain. Luckily, little rain had fallen before our noon arrival, and the water level allowed us to cross the river in the SUV.

One of the lodge owners, Liz Jones, greeted us and took Jim and me to our cabin for the next three days and nights. Apart from the main lodge and with rainforest on all sides, it offered a comfortable bed under a mosquito net and a bathroom with cold running water.

At the lodge, a mixed flock of tanagers, trogons, tityras, hummingbirds and other species arrived as if to welcome us. As the birds departed, the rain arrived and continued most of the day and evening. We saw some amazing birds near the lodge -- Gray-necked Wood-Rail, Little Tinamou, Charming Hummingbird.
On the third morning, we walked with Liz’s husband, Abraham Gallo, whose knowledge of the area and the wildlife is remarkable. Three Scarlet Macaws flew into a nearby tree and began feeding, maintaining their positions for more than 30 minutes.

In the same area, a female Turquoise Cotinga settled on a treetop. With delicate scalloping in soft shades of gray, she possessed a subtle beauty -- not as flashy as her turquoise and violet mate but breathtaking nevertheless.

On our walk, Alex and Abraham pointed out birds such as tody-flycatchers, greenlets and tyrannulets that we would have missed or been unable to identify without their expertise. They sorted through the all-too-similar flycatchers and even found an Olivaceous Piculet, the smallest woodpecker in Costa Rica.

Looking through the scope after Clay announced “Swallow-tailed Kite,” I felt amazed to see a tree full of kites -- 18 that we could count. Later, lying on a large leaf near the path was an eyelash viper, another of Costa Rica’s beautiful snakes. It was a splendid morning!

That afternoon, we hiked up a stream to find a White-tipped Sicklebill, a hummingbird with a decurved bill. We hiked in the stream that this elusive hummingbird was known to inhabit, carefully stepping into the swiftly moving water. After getting good looks at the sicklebill through Clay’s spotting scope, I started the return hike in the stream.

On our next and final day of birding, we left at 5 a.m. to reach Rincon, known to harbor the endangered Yellow-billed Cotinga. Although the bird is easy to see at this location in the dry season, it could be elusive during the wet season.

Our early departure paid off, because Alex spotted a cotinga within two minutes of getting out of the SUV. We found a second male cotinga, farther away but easily identified through the scopes.

Then a female and a fledgling flew in, and we watched as the female appeared to be feeding what we thought were insects to her youngster. When Clay later checked his digiscoped photos, the “insect” turned out to be a leaf.

Along the road, we received excellent looks at various species, including Chestnut-mandibled Toucan, Lineated Woodpecker and a female Spot-crowned Euphonia, one of the few females that rivals males for beauty. While searching for birds, it was difficult to miss the white-faced capuchins cavorting in the trees, but our guides found the well-hidden three-toed sloths.

A female Black-bellied Whistling-Duck crossed the road with 13 ducklings in tow, their yellow and black patterns making it almost impossible to count them. Watching them, it was easy to see how they thwart predators.

On the final afternoon, Jim and I set out on a walk of our own. After an uneventful trek, we encountered one of the best mixed flocks I have ever seen. As we looked into the forest, we saw movement everywhere.

Black-cheeked Ant-Tanager, a species endemic to Costa Rica, was one of the first birds we identified. Chestnut-backed Antbird, Plain Xenops, Buff-throated Foliage-gleaner, Gray-headed Tanager, Black-hooded Antshrike, Dot-winged Antwren, Russet Antshrike, Olivaceous Piculet and more -- some that we identified and some that were too fast or too deep in the shadows for us to venture a guess. It was a wonderful ending to an amazing experience, unlike any I’ve ever had, and one that I will never forget. I am very grateful to WildBird and Swarovski Optik for making it possible.

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Tuesday, October 07, 2008

New York Times: "Audubon's Species: Bird Art, in All Its Glory"

Did you catch the delightful article by Cornelia Dean about John James Audubon and three recent books about bird art? The article begins with an unfortunate incident:

In 1812, John James Audubon filled a wooden box with about 200 of his paintings of American birds and left it with a relative for safekeeping while he went off on one of his many trips. When he returned to retrieve the paintings, he discovered to his horror that they had been destroyed, shredded by nesting rats.

As he described it later, his first reaction was “a burning heat” in his brain, a headache so intense it kept him awake for days.

Then, though, he reconsidered. “I felt pleased,” he wrote, “that I might now make better drawings than before.”

We know the results — Audubon turned himself into the most famous practitioner of what some call “bird art.” Copies of his “Birds of America,” published section by section in the mid-19th century, are among the most valuable illustrated books.

Carolina Parakeet by John James Audubon, couresty of

Check out the online article, if only for the photo of an X-ray showing a Kiwi carrying an egg. Viewers also can watch a slide show of beautiful and interesting images, like the one above.

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Monday, October 06, 2008

fate of South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center?

Many birders visit South Padre Island when they venture to south Texas -- and for good reason. The Gulf Coast island draws an incredible variety of species, especially during migration.

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The island's convention center and boardwalk lure innumerable birders, and the South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center meant to serve them with three boardwalks; a building containing an information desk, a gift shop, restrooms and a small auditorium; and an observation tower.

Hurricane Dolly, however, arrived on July 23 during the center's construction, and the water soaked metal supports that have rusted now. Now, the center's progress is in question. The question: repair or rebuild?

Railing on the boardwalk was also damaged, but that has been repaired.

In the meantime, some work is continuing, including scaffolding on the observation tower.

For now, [Cate] Ball is a staff of one working out of her home. She will eventually hire a staff.

The building was supposed to open last month, she said, but now, "I have no clue on a date."

Whatever decision is made, Ball said the center will open in 2009.


Saturday, October 04, 2008

An update from Texas' Bolivar Peninsula

From an Associated Press article, "Beaches once thick with birds quiet thanks to Ike":

GILCHRIST, Texas (AP) — One of North America's renowned bird migration and bird watching areas is strangely silent.

Blame Hurricane Ike. ...

Just like humans, the birds need three basics that Ike took away: cover, food and water.

"There's no fresh water," said Texas Parks & Wildlife biologist Cliff Shackleford, who said a good rain would ease the peninsula's woes. "That surge killed everything and dumped salt water into everything, probably for miles.

"It doesn't mean they all died, but we don't really know. The birds ... need to drink, they need to bathe and salt water just doesn't do it."

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Friday, October 03, 2008

Sky Watch Friday

Monday, Sept. 29, in Berlin's Tiergarten: the statue of Victoria atop the Victory Column, inaugurated in 1873 and located within the Great Star

You can see a plethora of sky photos via Sky Watch Friday each week. Enjoy!


Thursday, October 02, 2008

I and the Bird #85

Consider getting gussied up in your favorite theater-going attire and then enjoying the fine performance of "Love and Birding: A Blog Carnival in Three Acts." You'll no doubt crack a grin while soaking up the plethora of posts.

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Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Hurricane Ike report from Texas Parks & Wildlife

Here, you'll read about oil spills and saltwater intrusion along the Texas coast caused by Hurricane Ike in mid-September.

Chip Wood, an assessment biologist with Texas Park & Wildlife Department’s Natural Resources Trustee Program, said they're concerned about spills on various refuges and sanctuaries because migrating waterfowl will arrive in late October. "We’re working to monitor cleanup progress," he said. "If there’s still black oil on the water as birds come in to roost, they can be oiled. Experience shows waterfowl will typically not avoid contaminated areas."

Authorities ask people to call the National Response Center at 800-424-8802 to report pollution or displaced hazardous materials. To report oiled or injured wildlife in areas affected by Ike, call the TPWD Law Enforcement communications dispatcher at 281-842-8100.

The saltwater intrusion might prove a bigger problem in some areas.
But it’s another story for the Sabine Lake system marshes near Beaumont-Port Arthur, which are mostly freshwater and unused to high salinity. In recent decades, freshwater flow to these wetlands has already been reduced by industrialization along the Sabine River and the Intracoastal Waterway. At the storm’s height, the tide gauge at the Neches River saltwater barrier showed water flowing upriver 30 times faster than the river was flowing downstream before the storm surge. Now, levees and other infrastructure built around area wetlands are slowing Ike’s saltwater surge from draining.

"This hurricane may really be a pivotal factor that moves these freshwater marshes over to more saline type marsh," said Jamie Schubert, a Coastal Fisheries Division marsh ecologist who is team leader for upper coast ecosystem assessment. "Most plants here are used to freshwater, and once they die, that could affect the soil and lead to marsh loss. Increased marsh loss can affect the entire food chain. And that could have long-term impacts for fisheries production, including commercial and recreational species that use these marshes, such as red drum, white shrimp, and blue crab."
Map courtesy of Wikipedia

NY Times: birding at Point Pelee

Back from spying unfamiliar hawks while speeding along the German autobahn, I enjoyed reading this Sept. 26 article -- "Glimpses of Elusive Quarry: Warblers, Ducks and My Dad" -- in the New York Times. The author, not a birder, learns about birding's appeal during a day's outing with her father:

My father walked nimbly along the path, pointing his binoculars skyward. “Look,” he said to me, “there’s a Blackburnian warbler.” For a second, as I focused my binoculars, I caught the warbler’s distinctive orange-and-white plumage. I looked again, and it was gone. Birding, I was realizing, is an ephemeral pleasure: beauty suddenly appears and then just as suddenly vanishes, leaving you with a longing to see it again. I suspect that no matter how many birds you see, how many species you check off your list, this longing never goes away.
No doubt more than few folks can concur.

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