Friday, October 31, 2008

smoky gold tamaracks


Look back in Aldo Leopold's "A Sand County Almanac" to see what "the Professor" said about smoky gold. It's the season of high color for that wonderful deciduous conifer, the tamarack, Larix laricina - the golden tree of autumn bogs and swamps.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

MCAMMP study sites, continued

Warnimont Park is one of the eight MCAMMP study sites, in this case one of those located along Milwaukee County's lakeshore. Warnimont, like its neighbor Grant Park, has a well-developed system of wooded ravines. It is used by many migrant birds during both spring and fall migrations. See more about the MCAMMP project here.

Friday, October 24, 2008

the light is coming through


Standing in the light of God is where I always said I wanted to be.
Why do I forget that I have already received this gift?
Why do I endlessly worry, and fail to see it all around me?
This light goes on, falling right here,
whether I am attentive or not.
May I finally awaken, and truly open my eyes and see it.
Grace surrounds me; I open my hands and heart
and mind to accept it.

another great conference, and a superb volunteer

The Citizen-based Monitoring Network hosted another great conference this weekend, in Onalaska, WI. Saturday's list of presentations, with a banquet and keynote speaker on Saturday evening were capped by the now-annual awards for projects and volunteers who have done fantastic work on many types of monitoring projects. MCAMMP won an award for Project of the Year last fall, and one of our volunteers (Lynn Ratkowski) received a Volunteer of the Year award last fall as well. This year another of our volunteers won this award - that's remarkable in itself. But the volunteer in question deserves some additional praise. Jenn Callaghan not only does a superb job on MCAMMP, but she also volunteers LOTS of hours on two other citizen science projects at Milwaukee's Urban Ecology Center. All in all, that's just an amazing feat. Congratulations, Jenn! Jenn's pictured above, surrounded by students visiting the MCAMMP banding station.

Witnessing her receiving this award were a few other special people who work on this and a host of other related projects: Tim Vargo and Jesse Hill of UEC, and Owen Boyle. Tim, Manager of Research and Citizen Science at the UEC, is one dynamic person who leads or directs dozens of projects going on at the Center. Jesse is a weekend educator at the Center. Owen is Southeast Regional Ecologist for the Wisconsin DNR, and an exceptional scientist and researcher. Tim and Owen and I, along with Chris Lepczyk of the University of Hawai'i, (another extraordinary ecologist/ornithologist, who wasn't here tonight) have worked together on MCAMMP and other projects for several years, and I can't praise them enough - I'm grateful to know them and work with them.

The conference continues tomorrow. To learn more about the Citizen-based Monitoring Network, go to the website

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

autumn magic

The colors I have seen in the past week speak for themselves; there is nothing to add, nothing I can say that could adequately describe their beauty.

bird conservation news, other items

Read the latest news on bird conservation topics from the American Bird Conservancy at this link


Want to see a Saw-whet Owl up close? Attend this Saturday's OwlFest at Woodland Dunes Nature Center in Two Rivers. It's a great place, and you can support their activities by attending and donating - check them out at this link.

Monday, October 6, 2008

So, how many are there, anyway?


If you peruse the Partners in Flight landbird population database, you can find out how many individuals of a certain species are estimated to be in North America. How about Red-winged Blackbird? 190,000,000 (and that's less than there were a few decades ago, when they were the continent's most abundant species). How about some other common species?
American Robin: 310,000,000
Black-capped Chickadee: 34,000,000

What about some declining species?
Cerulean Warbler: 560,000
Golden-winged Warbler (with a much smaller geographic range): 210,000

If you're interested and want to query the database yourself, go to this page, and read the how-to.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

looking down and up at autumn


When this season is upon us and I am in a woodland or forest, I spend an inordinate amount of time looking down at the ground, and up into the canopy. I never grow tired of this visual activity.