Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

As always, click on the image to see a larger version.


Friday, May 21, 2010

Suggestions for 2011 issues of WildBird?

Here's your chance to have my job for a few hours! I often hear folks say how glamorous my job as a magazine editor is, so now you can have a taste of that "glamour." Ready, set, go!

The task: Plan the six 2011 issues. You need to fill 42 of the 48 pages in each issue.

The process:
1. Pull together your 2010 issues.

2. Read the mission statement on the table of contents; consider that throughout this project.

3. Look through your copies, and scrutinize the topics covered in the columns, departments and articles. Do they expand on the mission statement? Do they provide useful and entertaining content? Are they well-written?

4. Change is good; nothing can remain the same for years. What changes would you make to the current line-up of columns and departments? Which would you keep? Which would you remove, and what would you replace them with? Keep in mind the editorial page count: 42 pages.

5. Each issue needs to have a theme around which the advertising salespeople can sell ads. Which themes would you choose? The May/June issue will remain hummingbirds, but the July/August issue -- the birds of prey issue -- is open to suggestions.

6. What topics do you think readers want to see in the feature articles? Make sure that the same topics didn't appear in the last two years of issues.

Isn't that glamorous? I certainly think so [/sarcasm].

All kidding aside, I truly do want to hear from you. This is your chance to play a big role in creating your 2011 issues. What do you want to see? What would you change, and why?

Please send your suggestions before June 25 to with "2011 tips" in the subject line.

Also, if you want to write a feature article, you must follow WildBird's submission guidelines and the freelance tips on WildBird's blog. Fair warning: I won't respond to queries posted in the blog's comments or on the Facebook page.


World Series of Birding: places

If you've read previous posts this week, you know that I took part in this year's World Series of Birding as a member of a "chase car" that shadowed Team Zeiss during the 24-hour competition. You know that I enjoyed hanging out with great folks -- but did you know that I love to drive? That my daily driver of 14 years is a 1972 BMW 2002? That I volunteer to work at BMW club driving schools at racetracks? That I relish the chance to try out twisty backcountry roads?

That's exactly what the chase car gave me: the opportunity to see much more of NooJOYzee -- my previous experiences being limited to highways leading to/from Philadelphia as well as the Garden State Parkway and Cape May County -- and the chance to drive some wonderful asphalt while in hot pursuit of a swiftly moving target. (That... would be Team Zeiss.)

Rest assured, Marleen and Sheila. We didn't drive recklessly or endanger ourselves or anyone else... well, maybe that little rodent that ran in front of the chase car at the last second.

During my seven-hour stint behind the wheel, I might've irritated my navigator and passenger with the number of times that the words "Lookit this gorgeous scenery!" -- or some variation thereof -- came out of my mouth. My previous trips to Cape May involved driving from Philadelphia, so my eyes knew how pretty southern New Jersey can but hadn't seen anything of northern Jersey. My finger became a little snap-happy on the camera, but maybe you -- like me -- didn't know how appropriate the state nickname truly is.

Click on an image to see a larger version.


Thursday, May 20, 2010

World Series of Birding: faces

Last Saturday, I participated in the World Series of Birding as a member of the "chase car" that shadowed Team Zeiss. As for most folks who take part in the 24-hour competition, my sleep deprivation didn't begin at 12:00 a.m. Saturday.

Oh no, it began Thursday night with a red-eye flight from Orange County, Calif., to Detroit, Mich., followed by a delayed flight to Philadelphia. After landing in the City of Brotherly Love on Friday morning, I rode with Zeiss employee Stephen Ingraham to Basking Ridge, N.J., where we collected Catherine Hamilton from an Amtrak station.

Despite the lack of mental refreshment Thursday, my spirits remained high on Friday and Saturday because of the people around me. One of the best perks of my business trips remains the community of birders. As a group, they're utterly wonderful. WildBird trips often seem like reunions of far-flung friends and colleagues.

With many familiar faces among Team Zeiss and the chase car, this crazy undertaking -- to shadow these five birders as they competed for 24 hours to find and identify the most species throughout the Garden State -- seemed a little less daunting. Thanks to Stephen, Catherine, Pete Dunne, Don Freiday, Michael O'Brien, Tom Reed, Will Russell -- and Murphy the golden retriever -- for the memorable night/day/night!

Click on an image to see a larger version.

Tom (left) and Michael

Will (way down the road), Don, Pete and Catherine

Stephen (left) and Catherine

Don (left), Michael, Will, Catherine, Stephen and Pete


Don (left), Michael, Pete, Tom and Will

Tom (left), Pete, Michael, Will and Don

Hm, maybe this post should've been called "Fronts and Rears."


Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Tweeting the World Series of Birding

Part of the fun of attending this year's World Series of Birding stemmed from the increased role of social media. Many birders used Facebook, Twitter and other means to electronically share info about birds and the 24-hour competition.

Among the "tweeters" were @paloons, @aphriza, @canagica, @trbirds, @RedheadsWSB, @Team_eBird, @woodcreeper, @billtacular, @ammodramus88 and @CultureDove. (Who did I miss in that list?) Many of us used the hashtag #wsob to make our 140-character updates more searchable in the "Twitterverse."

During the 2010 World Series, I drove and rode (and catnapped) in a "chase car" that shadowed Team Zeiss: Pete Dunne, Don Freiday, Michael O'Brien, Tom Reed and Will Russell. Stephen Ingraham (@singraham) invited me and Catherine Hamilton (@birdspot) to share the driving/birding/documenting experience with him.

Stephen created a summary post with photos for his blog, and this post combines the tweets from Catherine and me (@WBeditor). Our updates began on May 13 and continued through awards brunch on the 16th, giving friends and followers a peek into the 27-year competition -- sans the sleep deprivation.

Note: The time stamps here are Pacific Daylight Time, as my Twitter account is set to display PDT regardless of my location or the time zone of the originating tweeter. Add three hours to see when we actually tweeted.


@birdspot: I'm deep into preparations for #wsob, which means I'm speed drawing, making food, listening to tapes, packing and missing good birds in CP. 12:42 PM May 13th [CP = Central Park, NYC.]

@birdspot: Parmesan skillet bread. Having a hard time saving this for the 24hr food sahara I'm about to embark on. #wsob 3:19 PM May 13th

@birdspot: Will trade snacks and pearls of wisdom for birds. The bacon bar I will only share for Bar-tailed Godwit. #wsob 6:23 AM May 14th

@birdspot: The pearls of wisdom bit of my last tweet. #wsob 6:25 AM May 14th

@birdspot: Naps are happening here for the team Zeiss chase team. Prepping rigorously ;) #wsob 12:39 PM May 14th

@birdspot: After big planning meet w/team Zeiss (@singraham for pics), it's off for some zzz's...except I'm awake.. #wsob #Ican'tfallasleepat5pm 4:02 PM May 14th

@WBeditor: We're off! Team Zeiss is on the move after good-luck licks from Murphy. #wsob 7:45 PM May 14th [We started driving from Basking Ridge, N.J.]

@birdspot: And we're off! Like mad mad people (just who is driving the Zeiss van?) into a gravid NJ evening (for you @WBeditor). 7:46 PM May 14th [Stephen took the first shift behind the steering wheel.]

@WBeditor: Caffeine stop! 3 Mt Dews now in hand. #wsob 8:30 PM May 14th

@WBeditor: Glorious stars! Crickets. Pinky shake w/ @birdspot. #wsob 8:58 PM May 14th

@birdspot: Hot damn nocturnal flight calls! I don't know em all but boy do I know some and more now. 10:07 PM May 14th

@WBeditor: Sussex County. A hill. Distant lightning. Cool breeze. Night migrants. 60 minutes to pick chips from darkness. #wsob 10:12 PM May 14th

@WBeditor: Will Russell gave us an A+ for decorum. Go @singraham & @birdspot! #wsob 10:23 PM May 14th

@WBeditor: Fireflies! Always a treat for this SoCal native. 10:58 PM May 14th

Courtesy of Nature

@WBeditor: Don Freiday has a lead foot! #wsob 12:46 AM May 15th

@birdspot: 4:20 am. I am eating jalapeno potato chips (forget carrot sticks). My stomach rumblings sound remarkably like the singing marsh wrens. #wsob 1:22 AM May 15th

@WBeditor: The birds are starting to wake up. This will get more fun (c: #wsob 2:23 AM May 15th

@WBeditor: At Stokes State Forest. Beautiful! I'm the driver now of the 'chase car.' Watch me keep up w/ Lead Foot Freiday! 3:12 AM May 15th

@WBeditor: Gah. I grabbed the wrong Mt Dew. This 1 is lime-flavored )c: 3:46 AM May 15th

@WBeditor: Lots of quick stops in Stokes State Forest #wsob 3:48 AM May 15th

@WBeditor: Rte 560. Bridge. All scopes on deck! #wsob 5:04 AM May 15th

@WBeditor: We're at Thunder Mtn. It's not just a ride at Disneyland. Who knew? #wsob 5:37 AM May 15th

@WBeditor: Enjoying a generous serving of GRCA today 5:57 AM May 15th

@birdspot: Driving through suburbia, looking for a mythical mountain and our team #wsob #neverpitstopinthispartofNJeveryoneknowsthis 7:59 AM May 15th

@WBeditor: Thank you @birdspot for becoming the driver when my eyes crossed. The powernap felt delicious. #wsob 10:54 AM May 15th

@WBeditor: Heislerville. Warm sun. Windy. Peeps & peeps. 11:28 AM May 15th

@WBeditor: Quote: "I am so smug right now." #wsob 12:16 PM May 15th

@WBeditor: Gorgeous weather in Cape May! Wonderful hospitality at Avondale by the Sea #wsob 1:39 PM May 15th

@birdspot: I find zee Kentucky Warbler & I am happy. I release my feet from wellies & I am happy. We head to the shore/shorebirds & I am happy. #wsob 1:58 PM May 15th

@WBeditor: Chai tea from WaWa. Mmmm #wsob 2:00 PM May 15th

@birdspot: Everything is a tick #wsob 3:46 PM May 15th

@birdspot: Cool: popup singing Northern Bobwhite while waiting to remeet team Zeiss. Not cool: endless stream of ticks, mostly Deer Ticks. #wsob 4:17 PM May 15th

@birdspot: Mammals: Shrew! Fisher Cat! Dolphins! Bear! Red Squirrel; plus usual yadayada. #wsob 5:11 PM May 15th

@birdspot: Omg tick attached to my scalp. @WBeditor saves my life by having brought tweezers. I am a changed and fearful person. 6:56 PM May 15th

@WBeditor: A rite of passage: I pulled 2 deer ticks out of my friend's scalp tonight. Eeewww. 7:16 PM May 15th

@WBeditor: Zen Zugunruhe, WildBird's team, won the Cape Island Cup again! 7th year. Congrats guys! #wsob 7:53 AM May 16th

@WBeditor: 2 teams ID'ed 228 species & tied for 1st place #wsob 7:56 AM May 16th

@WBeditor: Foundation for Avian Research & Education of NJ and Lagerhead Shrikes tied for 1st. #wsob 7:59 AM May 16th

@WBeditor: Quote: "We're ghost hunters." #wsob 8:10 AM May 16th

@birdspot: #wsob over, awards breakfast scarfed down, new friends made. now let's go birding ;) 10:24 AM May 16th

@birdspot: WSB? Team Zeiss (Michael O’Brien, Don Freiday, Will Russell, Pete Dunne, and Tom Reed) are pretty good birders. Hehe hehehe. OK need sleep. 4:13 PM May 16th


'World Series of Birding' in the news

Every May, gobs of birders converge in New Jersey for the World Series of Birding, a 24-hour birding competition that generates money for conservation efforts. Despite the event's 27-year history, many birders haven't heard of it. That being the case, consider the lack of awareness among the general public and the mainstream media.

After the annual event, held May 15 this year, I like to see how much news coverage the competition received in newspapers, radio outlets and websites. A lot of competing factors go into deciding which news items make the final cuts, but I enjoy seeing how well the event organizers and participants communicated with editors and reporters about covering the World Series.

Here's a roundup of news coverage from traditional media. If you've found other links, please share them.

This bird count is of World Series proportions and it starts tonight
[Side note: Glen Davis is captain of Zen Zugunruhe, sponsored by WildBird for 12 years. --akh]
The World Series of Birding was still 40 hours away, but Glen Davis was already in a competitive state of mind. Davis, 32, from the north end of Ocean City, has been participating in the annual birding event, now in its 27th year, since he was 15 years old.
“We were the first youth team to compete,” Davis said. “Now, the series is full of youth teams.”
So it’s no surprise that he acts on instinct. While he is talking, he sees the shadow of a bird flying overhead. Davis’ head and the heads of several other birders turn like cats salivating over a potential meal.

World Series of Birding is frantic, not genteel
This weekend hundreds of birdwatchers will be frantically criss-crossing New Jersey looking for as many specimens as possible. The annual World Series of Birding turns the normally leisurely activity into a competitive sports with hundreds of thousands of dollars at stake. The 24 hour contest starts at midnight sharp.

120 teams compete for ‘Urner Cup’ in World Series of Birding
CAPE MAY — On the stroke of midnight on Friday night, teams of birders will go head to head in a natural treasure hunt in the birding world, the New Jersey Audubon’s World Series of Birding.

Big birding competition will forgo the gadgetry
Scott Fraser is prepping for the birding big time. So he doesn't just have his binoculars and his scope. He's got his iPhone with its super birding app. He's got his navigational GPS. On a day in the field, he'll be calling and texting, ever in search of feathered updates. And, yes, har har, he'll be tweeting.

And They're Off!
The countdown clock has ticked down to the last half hour before the World Series of Birding bursts out of starting gate and competing teams of birders fan out from Cape May and across New Jersey to check off every species in "North America's premier conservation event": "Every species found--every dollar raised--preserves and protects bird habitat."

Birders use trolley to spot species on-the-go in Cape May
LOWER TOWNSHIP — Janet Crawford, a volunteer naturalist for the New Jersey Audubon Society, has watched birds from many different vehicles — cars, a regular bus, even a school bus.
The resident of the Leesburg section of Maurice River Township decided to switch it up Saturday, boarding a Great American Trolley with a team of other nature enthusiasts to participate in the annual World Series of Birding. The birders bounced across southern Cape May County, clang, clang, clanging from one wildlife hotspot to the next, starting at 5 a.m. and ending at night.


Wordless Wednesday

Siena, Italy
As always, click on the image to see a larger version.


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

May 21: Endangered Species Day

This Friday, you can join the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and many conservation groups in celebrating America's conservation efforts to help threatened and endangered species.

Four signature events are scheduled in San Francisco, Washington D.C., Maine and Montana, and many FWS offices around the country held events last weekend, with more on the schedule for this weekend. Another list of events is available here.

Do you know when the Bald Eagle was "delisted"
or removed from the Endangered Species List? 2007

Want to test your knowledge of endangered species? Take this 12-question test.

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Monday, May 17, 2010

Zen Zugunruhe wins Cape Island Cup again!

The four fellows who represent WildBird and compete in the Cape Island category of the World Series of Birding did themselves proud for the seventh time. They ended Saturday's 24-hour competition with 155 species south of the Cape May Canal -- enough species to earn the Cape Island Cup again. Congratulations, gents!

From left: Matt Garvey, Tait Johansson, Glen Davis and Dave Hedeen

Thanks for Stephen Ingraham for providing the photo.


Thursday, May 13, 2010

Crunch time

Such a whirlwind of activity these days! The birds are moving here and there, and so are the humans who like to find and enjoy them.

The World Series of Birding will take place this Saturday in New Jersey. In other states, birders also are doing Big Days -- which might range from 12 to 24 hours -- as part of "birdathon" fundraisers, earning money per each species identified and putting those pledges toward conservation efforts.

As WildBird editor, I get to attend the World Series, cheering on our sponsored team, Zen Zugunruhe. The four-man team -- Glen Davis, Matt Garvey, Dave Hedeen and Tait Johansson -- plans to compete again in the Cape May Island limited geographic area with hopes of once again winning the Cape Island Cup. Go Zen!

This year, I also get to experience the event from a different perspective, shadowing Team Zeiss and spending 24-plus hours with Stephen Ingraham and Catherine Hamilton. Look for updates via our Twitter accounts! You can search for other birders' tweets by using the hashtag #wsob.

Right now, my movements are restricted to the office while finishing WildBird's July/August issue, the annual birds of prey issue. Tonight, though, I'll fly -- well, not me personally -- from Southern California to Motor City and then the City of Brotherly Love, where Stephen will collect me for the adventure.

Best wishes to all the peripatetic birders, and good luck with your competitive quests!


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

Arizona Sonora Desert Museum near Tucson
As always, click on the image to see a larger version.


Monday, May 10, 2010

NPS, FWS directors sent to Gulf Coast command centers

From the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service:

WASHINGTON, DC – Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced today that Director of the National Park Service Jon Jarvis and Acting Director of the Fish and Wildlife Service Rowan Gould have been dispatched to command centers along the Gulf Coast to help lead efforts to protect coastal communities and natural resources from BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

ROBERT, La. - Unified Area Command releases an image showing
predicted oil trajectory for May 11, 2010. Graphic prepared by NOAA.

Jarvis, who is stationed in the Mobile, Ala., Incident Command Center, and Gould, who is stationed in the Houma, La., Incident Command Center, are among the more than380 Department Of the Interior personnel who have been deployed as part of the oil spill response. Additional DOI personnel already stationed in the region are among the more than 10,000 personnel currently responding to protect the shoreline and wildlife. Jarvis and Gould will work with federal and state natural resource managers to help protect state and federal natural resources.

“We are continuing to put all hands on deck to support the coordinated response to this spill and to do everything we can to help BP stop its leaks and clean up its spill,” Salazar said. “The National Park Service and the Fish and Wildlife Service, under the leadership of Jon Jarvis and Rowan Gould, are on the front lines as we fight to protect the Gulf Coast from the dangers of the oil spill. Their leadership on the ground will ensure that we remain coordinated, prepared, and effective in protecting natural resources.”

On Friday, Salazar dispatched Dr. Marcia McNutt, the director of the U.S.
Geological Survey, to the BP Command Center in Houston to help coordinate the joint efforts of federal scientists who are working with BP engineers to address several technological challenges and approaches to securing the damaged well head, capturing the leak and controlling the spill.

Acting Director Gould joins Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks Jane Lyder at the Houma Incident Command Center. Secretary Salazar also dispatched DOI Director of Intergovernmental Affairs Lori Faeth to support joint response efforts in the Unified Command Center in Robert, La.

The Minerals Management Service continues to work with BP to explore all options that could stop or mitigate oil leaks from the damaged well. Pursuant to MMS’s regulatory authority, all plans are being reviewed and approved by MMS before implementation. MMS has completed its inspections of all 30 deepwater drilling rigs and is now inspecting all deepwater production platforms.

Yesterday, Department of the Interior Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks Tom Strickland, who is coordinating DOI’s onshore response efforts, and National Park Service Director Jon Jarvis surveyed the impact of the oil spill on natural resources on the Gulf Coast, which is one of the most ecologically complex regions in the country and site of a number of national wildlife refuges, national parks protected by Interior on behalf of the American people.

The National Park Service -- which manages Gulf Islands National Seashore, Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve, Everglades National Park, Padre Island National Seashore, and other parks along the Gulf Coast -- has activated two incident management teams in the Gulf. Many other park service employees across the country are supporting the response with technical information and assistance.

The Fish and Wildlife Service manages 24 national wildlife refuges that could be affected by the spill, including Breton National Wildlife Refuge, where oil has been confirmed on the Chandeleur Islands. Twenty wildlife teams have been deployed out of the Houma Command Center for wildlife recovery and related activities, and the Shoreline Cleanup Assessment Team is continuing overflights and shoreline surveys on the Chandeleur Islands. Significant focus will be placed on Mississippi coast’s barrier islands over the next 48 hours out of the Mobile Command Center.

For information about the response effort, visit

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1st oiled birds from BP spill to be released today

From the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service:

The first two oiled birds found in the Deepwater Horizon oil spill have been cleaned and are now recovered and ready for release.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will release the birds at 4 p.m. on Monday, May 10, at Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge on the Atlantic coast northeast of Vero Beach, Fla.

The birds are a Northern Gannet and a Brown Pelican. The gannet, a young male nicknamed "Lucky" by the workers who rescued him, was found April 27 in the Gulf near the source of the leak. Clean-up workers on a boat reached out to him with a pole, and he jumped on it. He was brought to the bird rehabilitation facility at Ft. Jackson, La., on April 30. The Tri-State Bird Rescue team, which includes the International Bird Rescue Research Center, evaluated Lucky and found he was about 80 percent oiled, giving him an orange appearance. He was thin and dehydrated, so wildlife veterinarian Dr. Erica Miller gave him intravenous fluids several times, as well as oral fluids and Pepto-Bismol for oil he might have ingested. He was washed with a Dawn detergent solution on May 1 and has been in an outdoor pool for a few days now, gaining weight.

The pelican, also a young male, was found May 3 on Stone Island in Breton Sound on the Louisiana coast by a team that included personnel from the Service, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries and the U.S. Minerals Management Service. He was taken to the Ft. Jackson facility by helicopter on the day he was rescued. He was thin and moderately oiled over his whole body. The Tri-State Bird Rescue Team and Dr. Miller treated him with IV and oral fluids, and started hand-feeding fish to him the first day. He was washed on May 4 and has been in an outside pool for several days, gaining weight.

Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge was the nation’s first wildlife refuge, established by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1903. It was selected as the release site because it is located within the Indian River Lagoon, the most biologically diverse estuary in the United States. It has a large population of gannets and pelicans for the two rescued birds to join, and it is out of the current oil spill trajectory.

The birds will be released by Dr. Sharon K. Taylor, a veterinarian and the Service’s Environmental Contaminants division chief.

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Friday, May 07, 2010

Louisiana refuge closed due to oil spill

From the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service:
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has closed Breton National Wildlife Refuge to public entry. This closure covers all of Breton NWR, which includes the Chandeleur Islands chain (Chandeleur, Grand Gossier, Curlew, New Harbor Island, North Islands, Free Mason).

Breton NWR appears on the far right.

The refuge closure is important to keep the public safe, to minimize disturbance to nesting colonial sea birds, and to allow personnel conducting cleanup operations and recovery efforts to work safely and efficiently.

The first shoreline impact of oil from spill was confirmed late Wednesday afternoon at Breton, with oil on both sides of the southern half of the Chandeleur Islands. Overflight information indicated sheen and emulsified oil were observed around the islands.

Service personnel and oil response teams have been deployed to conduct and manage cleanup operations. Recoverable oil will be removed, impacted areas cleaned and protection efforts continued.

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Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Contests! We got yer contests here!

Through the magazine and on this blog, you have multiple chances to win prizes from WildBird and our partners. Take note of the upcoming deadlines -- some occur this week! -- and get in on the fun.

First Friday fiction contest
Deadline: Thursday, May 6 - tomorrow!

The birding community encompasses incredibly talented individuals who play with words well when not enjoying birds. This monthly fiction-writing contest gives those wordsmiths a chance to apply their skills to 500-word tales about birds, birders or birding.

Other criteria:
* The tale includes four elements: a setting, a character or characters, a conflict and a resolution.
* It does not anthropomorphize birds.
* You send your wordsmithery to before 5 p.m. PST on the first Thursday of the month, and you include your mailing address.

Why do we need your mailing address? The winner gets to choose a prize from recently published books on WildBird's shelves. For instance, the prizes for the May contest include "A Photographic Guide to the Birds of Jamaica," "Peterson Field Guide to Birds of Eastern and Central North America," "Peterson Field Guide to Birds of Western North America" and "Bald Coot and Screaming Loon: Adventures in the Curious, Mysterious and Remarkable World of Birds."

You'll find examples of previous winners' stories in the blog's right-hand column.

Forum Focus/Lister's Forum
Deadline: Friday, May 7
Backyard Inquiry/Birder's Back Yard
Deadline: Friday, May 7

In every issue, readers will find questions in the Lister's Forum and Birder's Back Yard departments. Chosen responses -- which demonstrate actions that benefit birds and/or birders -- will appear in a future issue, and one of the responses will garner the Backyard Birder or Forum Birder title as well as prizes such as books from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and a gift pack of Swarovski Optik items.

In the November/December issue, the Backyard Birders and Forum Birders appear with the Birder of the Year ballot, and all readers can vote for the most deserving candidate. The winner will appear in the March/April issue and receive a Swarovski binocular, such as the EL 8x32, and a guided trip to a birding hotspot. The 2008 winner, Connie Kogler, described her June 2009 trip to Costa Rica.

22nd Annual Photo Contest
Postmark deadline: Friday, May 14

Every year in the March/April and May/June issues, WildBird publishes the entry form and rules for the annual photo competition. Thanks to generous participation from sponsors, we can offer first-, second- and third-place prizes to the winners in five categories -- amateur, backyard, digiscoping, flight and shorebirds -- as well as a grand prize: a Canon EOS 50D.

Participants can enter two entries per category, and the postmark deadline is May 14 -- so you can take the envelopes to the post office next Friday and remain eligible for judging.

The judges continually feel stumped when faced with the incredible quality of the finalists' images. They look for tack-sharp focus, particularly at the bird's beak and eyes; action; composition; and lighting. (I cannot stress enough the importance of focus; no blurry photos please! -- Ed.) The winning images will appear in the September/October issue.

Now, with all those chances to see your name in print and receive a prize, what are you waiting for? The first deadline is tomorrow!

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Wordless Wednesday

Cape May, N.J.
As always, click on the image to see a larger version.


Monday, May 03, 2010

ABC: 10 sites most at risk from Gulf oil spill

American Bird Conservancy warned that 10 Globally Important Bird Areas are most at risk from the oil slick caused by Transocean's Deepwater Horizon rig explosion on April 20 and the subsequent leak.

Click on the map to see a larger version.

Gulf Coast Least Tern Colony: One of the world’s largest colonies of the threatened Least Tern

Lower Pascagoula River, including the Pascagoula River Coastal Preserve: The coastal marshes at the mouth of the river support Yellow and Black Rails, Snowy Plovers and endangered wintering Piping Plovers.

Gulf Islands National Seashore: It hosts thousands of wintering shorebirds, including endangered Piping Plover, Wilson’s Plover and American Oystercatcher as well as Brown Pelican, Black-crowned Night-Heron, White Ibis and Black Skimmer.

Black Skimmer courtesy of ABC/Ralph Wright

Breton National Wildlife Refuge, including Chandeleur Islands: It hosts the largest tern colony in North America, predominantly of Sandwich, Royal and Caspian Terns. Also American Oystercatcher, Brown Pelican, Reddish Egret, and endangered Piping Plover; also an important wintering area for Magnificent Frigatebird and stopover site for Redhead and Lesser Scaup.

Dauphin Island: An important stopover site for migrant birds including shorebirds, gulls, terns, herons and rails.

Fort Morgan Historical Park: This is an important stopover site for migrant birds including shorebirds, gulls, terns, herons and rails.

Caspian Terns courtesy of ABC/Gary Smyle

Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge: This is an important stopover site for thousands of trans-Gulf migrants.

Eglin Air Force Base: Best known for its inland population of Red-cockaded Woodpeckers, Elgin also has significant coastal habitat for shorebirds and wading birds.

Delta National Wildlife Refuge: Large numbers of wading birds nest here, including White Ibis, Snowy Egrets and herons; thousands of shorebirds use the mudflats in winter and during migration, including Dunlin, Long-billed Dowitcher and Western Sandpiper as well as endangered Piping Plover.

Baptiste Collette Bird Islands: This artificial barrier island, created from dredge spoil, is one of the many Louisiana coastal islands that could be affected. Birds found here include Caspian Tern, Brown Pelican, Gull-billed Tern and Black Skimmer.


Gulf oil spill recovery could cause more damage

An Indiana University wetlands expert recently said cleanup efforts along the Gulf Coast shoreline might increase the environmental damage initiated by the explosion of Transocean's Deepwater Horizon drilling rig on April 20 and the ongoing oil leak.

Christopher B. Craft, the Janet Duey Professor in Rural Land Policy at IU Bloomington and past president of the Society of Wetland Scientists, said:
"They do things like pressure washing rocks and sand, and any kind of attached organisms get blown off. They may end up excavating sand off beaches. The marshes, which really dominate Louisiana coastline, are mostly vegetation, and cleanup there is really going to be problematic."

Oil from the massive leak in the Gulf of Mexico has started reaching coastal wetlands along the Louisiana coast and is expected to reach the shores of Mississippi and Alabama as well.

The IU professor has previously seen the effects of a major oil spill on a coastal region. He was involved in the restoration efforts necessary because of the Amoco Cadiz, a crude oil tanker that ran aground off the coast of Brittany, France in 1978. At that time, it was the largest oil spill ever.

It will take several years for affected Gulf Coast areas to be cleaned and recover and will depend on how much oil actually comes ashore.

"Nature will recover on its own, but in the absence of some human help, it will take a long time," he said.