Tuesday, December 29, 2009

the big issue

As the end of 2009 draws near, climate change is the "big issue" for many of us who follow environmental news and are concerned about our effect on this planet. Ethical choices are clearly outlined by the things we've learned about the changing climate, but certainly many differences of opinion exist.

To provide a few of the best resources for learning more about climate change, ethical issues connected with our behavior, and how to address these matters, here are a few links:

A way to look at "the four sides of the issues" as of right now, by the great innovator Stewart Brand ---

A brief but concise summary of the issues from Worldwatch ---

The much more detailed but excellent links from the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme can be found here. One can subscribe free to Global Change magazine at this link.

Download the excellent Climate Change Reference Guide here.

A fine book entitled The Ethics of Climate Change - Right and Wrong in a Warming World by James Garvey - see a set of short reviews here. Philosopher Peter Singer has described Garvey's book as 'a model of philosophical reasoning about one of the greatest challenges any generation has ever faced.'

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network e-newsletter

Read the latest news on Whimbrels, Red Knots, Oystercatchers and other shorebird species - see the current e-newsletter of the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network here.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

news from Copenhagen

News from the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen is at this link.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Another online resource for birders

Online resources for those who are interested in birds are many. I have such a resource, also - access it at this link. My website provides links to a variety of ornithological resources - in addition to my CV, my field trip information, some links to bird monitoring projects, and the web page for the MCAMMP Project.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

BirdLife International News - ecosystems and climate change

BirdLife International has a news alert for Dec. 10 - see it here. And to read more about these topics, see the Worldwide Fund for Nature page, here, and the Nature Conservancy's page on this subject here. An even more in-depth section can be found at this link.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

ClimateCounts scores - how big companies are faring

If you go to Climate Counts.org, you can find out here how companies are faring in their attempt to deal with climate change, reduce their emissions, etc.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

the missing parts of my education

To truly understand environmental problems at both a local and global scale, there were certain pieces of conceptual understanding that I did not have during my undergraduate and postgraduate education. I am chiefly referring here to economics - in particular to environmental or ecological economics. I am currently attempting to address that conceptual lack by going back to the foundations of this discipline. Right now, I am reading a book that provides a foundation in those concepts I previously had missed. I recommend: Beyond Growth, by economist Herman E. Daly. 1996. Beacon Press, Boston. Read it, and you will possibly come to a similar conclusion: solutions to environmental problems without accompanying and integrated economic solutions are not complete solutions.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Conservation plans for 5 North American shorebird species

Conservation plans for these 5 North American shorebird species

American Oystercatcher (Haematopus palliatus)
American Golden-Plover (Pluvialis dominica)
Sanderling (Calidris alba)
Whimbrel (Numenius phaeopus)
Wilson’s Phalarope (Phalaropus tricolor)

are available at the website of the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network.

Their most recent online newsletter is at this link.

Monday, November 30, 2009

loon migration study

I seldom see loons except in fall migration - I just don't travel to northern WI much. But I am VERY interested in seeing them in fall.

The folks at USGS in LaCrosse have a valuable ongoing study, with links to results at this url:

With progressively milder Novembers and milder early Decembers, I expect the earlier CBCs (those that fall before the last week of December) along the lakeshore to gradually produce more loon records. We'll see...

Alternative Birding News for November 30, 2009

The Boreal Songbird Initiative has a set of factsheets on a wide variety of conservation topics, available at this link.

Also available are a set of PowerPoint presentations on related topics, found here.


Bill Hilton's hummingbird research project has recent news here about the RTHU in 2009.


Updates from the Global Raptor Information Network are found at this link.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Center for Conservation Biology - ornithology

Read a fascinating array of project information at the website of the Center for Conservation Biology. The CCB is involved in shorebird, raptor, salt-marsh habitat, and general habitat-related research projects, and are involved in education and management as well. Worthy of support...

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

"extreme" migration - new research on Eleonora's Falcon

Eleonora's Falcon is a stunning raptor that breeds along rocky Meditteranean coastlines. Read about new research on its "extreme" migration; (not at all what was once thought concerning this bird). The news is at this link on the BirdLife International website. Named after a Sardinian princess of the fourteenth century - who was possibly one of the first people to create laws protecting falcons, Eleonora's Falcon is the only European bird known to breed during autumn instead of summer, and feed its young on the songbirds that migrate between Europe and Africa between July and October.

Friday, October 23, 2009

international bird conservation news

Recent news from BirdLife International can be found at this link.

Information from the World Parrot Trust is at their website.

See new and recent work of the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center at this link.

The website of the IUCN - The International Union for Conservation of Nature can be found here.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Monday, October 19, 2009

to the Gulf Coast and back




Here's a bit of news from last week. I attended an avian radar class in northwestern Florida, and it was excellent. The time I had for birding while in FL was however somewhat limited. Since it gets light so late in the day now, and dark so early, and the class lasted all day, I did not have a lot of time for doing much other than focusing on the class. I did see some birds, though, since I was camping in St Andrews State Park. There were lots of people camping there including many families with children (I kept wondering why those kids were not in school?), so the best time to be out looking was right at dawn. I saw numerous terns (Caspian, Royal, and Sandwich Terns) and Brown Pelicans, but surprisingly few shorebirds on the beach there. A freshwater wetland in the park held Great Blue and Little Blue Herons, Snowy Egret, Cattle Egret, and Great Egret - along with alligators. Nearby I saw a few Loggerhead Shrikes, which are very rare here in WI and all other north-central states now. One only finds them reliably in the south and west nowadays. Mockingbirds were ubiquitous.

I had to get to class soon after that, so time for birding was very brief each day. Since I had driven to FL instead of flying, I did see a few birds en route - while making short stops in waysides and roadside parks. I had hoped to do more looking while en route home, but it rained intermittently almost all the way from Montgomery AL to n IL. Southern Alabama was most productive - again in waysides and some parks right along the highway. A Wood Stork was the highlight, there - in the flooded bald-cypress woods of Frank Jackson State Park.

I went out one evening with 5 other people to try for a look at the federally-endangered Red-cockaded Woodpecker in the longleaf pine forest in that region of FL (which is a plant community almost as rare itself as the bird is, although there is restoration going on in some areas), but we were unsuccessful, except one person did have a quick glimpse of one bird. We waited until dark, but regrettably, I did not see it.

Very early one morning I went with 2 other people southeastward along the coast for a while. We did see some birds, but passerines were very sparse and hard to find - I think we were between waves of migration. I also heard some nocturnal migrants at night, but in nowhere near the density I have experienced during the last month in WI. We did manage to see some butterfly migration that morning, however, which we had been directed to look for - the very beautiful Gulf Fritillary (Agraulis vanillae ) http://www.butterfliesandmoths.org/species?l=1664 was quite numerous there, along with Common Buckeye (Junonia coenia) http://www.butterfliesandmoths.org/species?l=1775 and a variety of others which I am still identifying as I search through references.

One of my favorite southern trees - Sweetgum - (Liquidambar styraciflua) is very lovely in autumn color. I saw many colorful ones in southern IL along roadsides, even through the rain. Fall color was evident as far south as central Tennessee.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Live and Let Live - a guest post

This guest article was written by Adrienne Carlson, who regularly writes on the topic of online nurse practitioner schools . Adrienne welcomes your comments and questions at her email address: adrienne.carlson1@gmail.com

Live and Let Live

The downside of growing up in a city is that you are so far removed from nature and all that is associated with it – your ears become attuned to the drone of traffic, your eyes and nose to the incessant smell and feel of smoke and dust, and your temperament to the hustle and bustle of life in the fast lane. So when you happen to find yourself plucked out of the noise and the commotion and put into an environment where the silence is such that you can almost hear yourself think, you feel out of sorts. But only for a while that is, and then you begin to realize the difference that birds can make in your life.

I grew up in Jersey City, but I was forced to live with my grandparents during my fourteenth year when my parents were going through a difficult time in the marriage and were trying to sort out their differences. Although my mom explained the situation to me, it was too much to take in for my teenage brain, and I went reluctantly to stay with her parents who lived near the Adirondack Mountains. I was resentful at first, but the sheer beauty of the place held me captive in no time at all, and I knew I could never again live in a city and not feel claustrophobic.

It is only when we commune with nature that we truly understand why so much importance is being accorded to the environment. It is only when we hear the song of the birds early in the morning and throughout the day that we feel sad that cities do not provide us with such pleasures. And it is only when you breathe in clean, fresh air, do you realize how much we take Mother Nature for granted.

Civilization has progressed in leaps and bounds, but it has come at the cost of nature. For one to thrive, the other cannot survive, not with the way man is going about achieving progress. By cutting down trees and destroying natural habitats indiscriminately, we are reducing the amount of rainfall the earth receives and causing wildlife to become extinct. A recent study published by the Australian Biological Resources Study (ABRS) states that 9.2 percent of all known animal and bird species are threatened and in danger of extinction due to habitat loss, climate change and other environmental changes caused by man. According to the report, of the 1.9 million species identified so far, more than a fifth of all known mammals, 29 percent of amphibians and 12 percent of birds find themselves in the endangered list.

This begs the question - can nature and progress coexist without the latter destroying the former altogether? Yes, it is possible, if mankind is willing to try and make amends for the ravages wrought in the past and also take more rational and practical decisions in the future. We must wake up to the fact that without nature and her bounty, we cannot survive. So if we are to rebuild our world and create a sustainable environment for ourselves and our fellow creatures, we must do more to prevent climate change and global warming through the indiscriminate destruction of nature.

Animals and bird species are resilient, so if given the chance to survive, they will do so. It is up to us to provide them with the opportunity to live and make our world a better place.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

news from the American Bird Conservancy, other news

Read the most recent news from the American bird Conservancy here.


Looking northward, see information on Canada's Important Bird Areas at this link.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Sturgeon Release this Saturday!

Join the folks from Riveredge Nature Center for the Annual Return the Sturgeon event at Thiensville Village Park this Saturday, October 3rd. This is a very special event, involving the efforts of scientists and citizens, and the Forest County Potawotomi. Don't miss it! Activities begin at 1 pm, and sturgeon releases take place from 2:30 to 4 pm. Read more about it at the website of the Riveredge Nature Center, here.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Am. Bird Conservancy news, other news, publications

News from the American Bird Conservancy is available here.


I'm very pleased to be able to announce that the journal Studies in Avian Biology is about to publish a new paper:

“Citizens Behind the Science: Employing Citizen Volunteers in Urban Bird Research”, by Timothy L. Vargo, Owen D. Boyle, Christopher A. Lepczyk, William P. Mueller and Sara E. Vondrachek. In press.

This paper is a result of the MCAMMP project's research and our 150+ fantastic volunteers! See more about MCAMMP here.


I just received a new issue of the journal The LBJ: Avian Life, Literary Arts. Read more about it at their website.

Friday, September 25, 2009

US Fish & Wildlife Service releases climate change strategy

"The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today releases a proposed strategic plan that will guide the agency’s efforts to respond to the unprecedented threat posed by global warming". Read the news release regarding the USFWS climate change strategy here.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

across Wisconsin in September...

I'm grateful to have seen these things while afield in September, including a Marsh Wren at our banding station, mushrooms on a riparian woodland study site, flaming maples, dew-laden branches, needles and leaves in a spruce-tamarack bog, and the sunrise over Wisconsin Point in Superior. It has been an extraordinary series of opportunities to witness the glory of autumn in Wisconsin, while alone, or in the company of talented and brilliant colleagues, or with citizens interested in learning more about the natural world in our state. And I still have weeks more of this in store!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

some favorite places, part 1

If one wants to see absolutely beautiful examples of all of Wisconsin's plant communities and experience the natural history of Wisconsin, perhaps the best way I know is to visit Wisconsin's State Natural Areas (SNAs). The photos above are from one of these, Spruce Lake Bog in Fond du Lac County. Besides being a showplace for wonderful bog flora and birds, it's far more easily accessible than many other bogs. Best time to visit? Pick your favorite season. Learn more about the State Natural Areas at the website of the SNA Program. Some fall color is beginning to be visible here, with the highly-colored leaves of Red Maple (Acer rubrum) mixed in among the tamaracks and other woody species. Underfoot are pitcher plants, arrowhead, spagnum mosses, water hemlock, and many, many others. I had a Yellow Rail here once in autumn, on the bog mat that surrounds the lake.

Monday, September 7, 2009

for vultures

I'm a tad late, but that's not going to stop me from participating in Blog for Vultures day!

Recall all of the times you have gazed with awe upon the sight of vultures soaring, and then ponder their critical role in ecosystems around the world. They face many challenges today, including a complicated threat from chemical contamination.

Read more at the International Vulture Awareness Day site, the ReconcilationEcology blog, and this Washington State Univ page.

birding just to the south of us...

If you're heading southward into the Chicago area, you might want to check out the Chicago Region Birding Trail Guide, here. There are many excellent locations in which to find birds and experience the natural history of this area. I hope to be doing that myself this sometime this fall! I've been staying close to home most of this year - limiting travel is the right choice for me. But I do make an exception now and then!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

new raptor watch starting this fall

Here is info (which can be shared with anyone interested) for the first Forest Beach Migratory Preserve Raptor Watch date on Sept 27th. There's no fee, of course, and anyone is welcome!
I'll start at 7 am on September 27th, in the parking lot of the former Squires golf course (which is now Forest Beach Migratory Preserve, owned by the Ozaukee Washington Land Trust). Restoration activities are now in progress at this new preserve - a lot of hard work and effort are helping to create a new stopover site for migratory birds at this location.
It's easy to find. Go north out of Port Washington on Highway LL. Turn right on Highway P at the Squires billboard. When you get all the way to the east end of P, turn left and go about 150-200 yards. The clubhouse and parking lot are right there - I'll be parked there (white Chevy), and standing with a scope and tripod. For those who do not wish to walk far (or at all), if winds are westerly or northwesterly, you can bring a lawn chair and sit right next to your vehicle. If these weather conditions exist it is possible to observe raptors without leaving the parking lot - great for those whose health conditions may prevent them from hiking far or at all. I will lead groups around the site several times throughout the morning and early afternoon, but those who wish to do so can stay right there.
Here's a map - if you zoom out you can see all of the connecting roads.


The hawkwatch will continue into at least early afternoon. Please call or write if you have any questions!


William P. Mueller
Conservation Chair - Wisconsin Society for Ornithology (WSO)
Project Coordinator - Milwaukee County Avian Migration Monitoring Partnership (MCAMMP)
(414) 698-9108

Friday, September 4, 2009

excellent blogs

Some really good reading and useful info can be found at the following blogs and websites; I recommend them:

Gossamer Tapestry

Wisconsin Butterflies.org

Mike McDowell's blog

The Ohio Nature Blog

The House and Other Arctic Musings

mosaic of habitats - KMSF


In the northern unit of the Kettle Moraine State Forest, one can find magical spots like the one pictured above - mosaics of small wetlands surrounded by forest. The marsh here is deep enough to have provided habitat for nesting Pied-billed Grebes, and now hosts a migrant Green-winged Teal - while the forest surrounding it harbors the expected Red-eyed Vireos, Eastern Wood-Pewees, Great Crested Flycatchers, Veeries, Ovenbirds - and near here, a Red-shouldered Hawk. Migrant passerines will be making use of this land mosaic in the weeks ahead.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

grasshopper and goldenrod time


It's that late summer/early autumn time for goldenrods like this example: Solidago rigida - and the little guy who is using this flower cluster for a temporary launch pad.

Friday, August 28, 2009

wet woods and the muddy Root River


It's late August and time for the beginning of the autumn avian transect counts on the MCAMMP project (see it here). One of my favorite sites is adjacent to the Root River. These last few days rain has swelled the Root, and made the woods very wet, creating good conditions for the fruiting bodies of fungi (we call many of these mushrooms). Here's a large Boletus - I don't know which species it is. It's about 20 cm in height. There were also some Amanita sp. and other mushroom species present.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Alternative Conservation and Birding News

Alternative Conservation and Birding News

See some recent good news from boreal Canada, regarding years of conservation negotiations, at this site.

Read recent news from the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network here.

Research news from the Edward Grey Institute of Field Ornithology is available at this link.

Watch a new Cornell Lab of Ornithology video here.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Take a look: 350.org

Please take some time to take a look at the website 350.org --- then take some time to think about what it might mean for you. It's worth considering what change can mean, and whether or not we want to be part of it, and have enough courage to be part of it.

Friday, August 14, 2009

THE falls...

Did you know that Wisconsin has the fourth-tallest waterfall east of the Rockies? If you've never been there, it's worth a side trip when you're in Douglas County, not far south of the city of Superior. Big Manitou Falls, at 165 feet, is THE falls in northwestern Wisconsin. If you're interested in waterfalls, see the Great Lakes Waterfalls website.

What are Leah and Hannah up to?

Leah and Hannah have been traveling this summer - to Chicago (visiting the open-air Calder sculpture, above, and in the Chicago Art Institute), to the high country of Colorado (with dear friend Mikayla, above), to Arches NP and Mesa Verde NP and other southwestern sites (see "The Gossips" and some petroglyphs they photographed), and lastly, Hannah with dad to the North Shore of Lake Superior (at the Split Rock lighthouse overlook, at top). Leah's got us both beat as far as traveling, though - she's in Boston at a conference, now!

Monday, August 10, 2009

North Shore images and remembrances

My daughter and I had a wonderful array of wildlife on the North Shore of Lake Superior this last week, including many ravens, loons, Merlin, Golden-crowned Kinglets, Red Crossbill, and a still-vocal Philadelphia Vireo in the forest in Cook County (almost to the US/Canada border). Despite being in the right habitat, we were, however, unsuccessful in our search for moose!

We also went to Split Rock lighthouse, the Temperance River gorge (photos above, and a bit of video below), and the Lake Superior shore in a number of locations.

wetlands and prairies, plus Blazing Stars!

If you've never been to Crex Meadows State Wildlife Area in Burnett County, you're missing some wonderful wetlands and prairies. These Blazing Stars (Liatris, sp.) are in bloom there right now. Among wildlife species seen this weekend were Common Loon families, Greater Yellowlegs, many Sandhill Cranes, and Trumpeter Swans. A very rare Western Tanager was highly unusual, and far out of its geographic range. Along with several other rare species seen in the Midwest recently, this bird is from the west and may be on the move due to drought conditions. To learn more about Crex Meadows, go to this site.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Steve B.'s new site

Steve Betchkal, who is an extraordinary guy, has a new site, focusing on birds and birding: Many More Birds 2 U - be sure to check it out, it's superb.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

new issue of the online journal Conservation Letters; wind and birds; other news

A new issue of the online journal Conservation Letters is available here. All of the other issues from this year are linked here.

Read about the "Bird of the Month" (this month it is the Willet) at the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center, here. A nice collection of Willet photos is on their site here.

A new white paper entitled "Minimizing the Impact of Wind Turbines on Lake Michigan's Wildlife" is available from the Bird Conservation Network, here.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

research on seabirds and climate change at PRBO

The Point Reyes Bird Observatory (PRBO) has done research on bird populations for more than 40 years. See information on their most recent work on seabirds at this link, which includes a link to an NPR story and other research results on other species and species groups.

Friday, July 24, 2009

species accounts online: more information than you find in a field guide

There is a fairly wide variety of online species accounts that give information on identification, life history, ecology, population, habitat preference, conservation of avian species. Here are links to just a sampling.

Here in Wisconsin, (of course ours are the best! - are you kidding me?), you can find the WBCI All-Bird Conservation Plan species accounts - just go to this link. Not all species are yet posted, but the Priority Species are.

The Western Great Lakes Bird Conservation site still has some excellent links to species accounts here. The links in the last column on that page no longer appear to be working, however. More, on a related site ("Forest Birds of the Western Great Lakes") can be found here.

The Cornell Lab of course has their All About Birds page, and the USGS Patuxent Wildlife
center has these grassland birds species accounts.

Somewhat more simplified (limited to identification, similar topics) species accounts from the online Sibley guide can be found at this eNature site.

NatureServe Explorer has excellent information - go to this link and fill in a species name in the search box. Click on the link to the species name that results, and there is a table of detailed fields.

You can find Wisconsin DNR accounts to the "Working List" species here.

This Smithsonian page on the Sedge Wren is not a species account in the same sense that the others are, but still worthwhile reading.

There are many more - quite a few states and provinces have their own.

Friday, July 17, 2009

recent news on birds and collisions


News from a Temple University study on birds and collisions is available here - thanks to Noel Cutright for sharing this. See the links page on birds and collisions at the Wisconsin Bird Conservation Initiative website for more resources on this topic. This WBCI collisions & birds page is due for updating this summer and fall - check back in a few months for more information. Sue Foote-Martin and I are discussing and planning some changes and additions.

The above now-famous photo, take by WBCI's Andy Paulios, dramatically illustrates the effect of a brief period of tower collisions on migrating passerines. This photo has been used internationally to educate people about this subject.

Communications tower collisions and window collisions (although having somewhat different causes and effects) both take a huge toll on birds. An excellent resource for PREVENTION of collisions at private residences and businesses is found at the two matching pages on the Wisconsin Humane Society website.

Do a bit of online searching and you'll find a number of groups who continue to deny that towerkills of birds are a problem. Hmmm....I'll just carefully suggest that you draw your own conclusions.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

What is Leah doing these days?

In addition to some gardening (and when Leah does gardening with her sister Marian, they are SERIOUS about it!), Leah is working on a variety of projects this summer. More below....

Leah is working on her studio again. If you follow this blog, you may remember she and I and her brothers and nephews are restoring an old building on their family's farm. Last August, we poured a new foundation, then in September we moved the building to its new location, and raised the building 2 feet (that is, it is 2 feet taller than it once was). That's a lot easier to say than to do! Now we're removing old siding, preparing to put insulation in the roof and knee-wall, and removing other sections which will be replaced. If you'd like to see video from last summer of the building being moved, go to this link.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

more alternative ornithological (and other) news

See updates from the Boreal Bird Initiative at this link - you'll find a lot of worthwhile reading, there.

NABCI, the North American Bird Conservation Initiative, has published its summer newsletter; see a copy of it here.

Ecology and Society, the excellent online journal, has a recent issue - you'll find it linked here.

The Chicago Park District is now including bird-safe design in its building planning. See more about that.

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service has some bird-related news online here.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

following an ethical path when bird-finding in the nesting season

Remembering that some species can be sensitive to playing tapes, please refrain from tape use when seeking rare, endangered or threatened bird species during the nesting season. While there is certainly a lot of disagreement about this topic, I highly recommend reading the WBCI Issues Committee ethics paper, found here. This paper may be re-done in the future, because there is always much discussion and re-thinking on ethical matters in birding. Some aspects of that paper will eventually be revisited. General rules can be provided, but not every situation is the same. You may be with a professionally-guided tour group, for example, and the leader might make use of the tape. If that is done in a judicious manner, it may be completely acceptable, and do no harm to nesting birds. On the other hand, a string of individuals visiting a site and each playing a recording may be confusing and disrupting to nesting birds. Why not "take the high road" on this? Protecting nesting birds is important for the future of the species, AND for future birders and birding opportunities as well. I always suggest thinking deeply about any valuable or important activity; you might be surprised by your conclusions!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

bird conservation news, carbon footprints and travel, more ornithology notes

Bird Conservation News Items

There is news on the American Bird Conservancy BirdWire newsletter: links to news stories are here.

News from the Point Reyes Bird Observatory is here.

BirdLife International news stories are here.

You can subscribe to ABC's electronic newsletter here.


Traveling Far?

If you're traveling a long distance this year, consider rail travel to reduce your carbon footprint. Although we don't have many high-speed rail lines in the US as yet, here's an example from HSR in Europe: a rail passenger in Spain on the Madrid-Barcelona line accounts for only one-sixth of the carbon emissions of an airplane passenger traveling the same distance. Regular rail travel via AMTRAK in this country still moves a lot of people at lower carbon emissions than air travel. There is admittedly some disagreement about this. Learn more about the carbon footprint of your mode of travel (and more) here at the Nature Conservancy calculator webpage.


Research News from the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center is available at this link. Other items from the SMBC are found here, and a scientific paper relating to one of this past winter's famous news stories is here.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

conservation, environment & ornithology news

News from BirdLife International can be found at this link.

If you've never looked at it before, try the site of the Great Lakes Information Network, here -- lots of valuable information.

The United Nations Environment Programme website has some new features worth investigating. One interesting feature is the Atlas of Biodiversity, for example. Set up the world map in any one of several ways - to see the distribution of threatened bird species, click on making that feature the active layer.

A long list of pdf documents on birds and conservation is available at the online "Conservation Library" of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, here. An excellent resource!

Learn about the development of wind power in the Great Lakes: whether you're for it or against it, you can see presentations and an agenda from the recent conference of the Great Lakes Wind Collaborative at this link. I attended this conference - it was very worthwhile.

Learn about Great Lakes United, an international advocacy organization promoting stewardship of the Great Lakes, at their website.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

information on lead and wildlife, wind power and bird populations

Two important items:

Please help move us forward in 2009 in the effort to eliminate lead in hunting ammunition and fishing tackle. Lead continues to be threat to birds and other wildlife. Read an excellent editorial here.

Secondly, look for information from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in the coming weeks and months regarding wind power and assessing its effects on bird populations. Last evening I attended a presentation by Dr. Ken Rosenberg and Dr. Andrew Farnsworth, at a "Cornell on the Road" series. Along with a group of other ornithologists, they are meeting in southeastern Wisconsin over the next three days to discuss "State of the Art Technology for Predicting Broad-Scale Migration and Pinpointing Local Concentrations in Real Time". This meeting is intended to discuss the uses of acoustic monitoring, radar, other monitoring methods, weather data, correlations of radar with avian density and species identification, and how models can predict both movements and concentrations of birds. The meeting will produce a "draft consensus statement" with one stated goal being the planning of research that will help in quantifying risks to birds, among others - this information will be disseminated to the ornithological community and the public in the coming months.

Friday, June 12, 2009

favorite passerines: news, research, other items


One of my favorite warbler species, Kentucky Warbler, is very uncommon in Wisconsin, and is listed as a Threatened species here. I seldom see this species because I rarely go to Wyalusing and the other better-known haunts of this bird. I tracked a singing male for nearly an hour in Baxter's Hollow, once - and then finally found him. I recall once finding one in fall in Buckhorn State Park, in Juneau County - that was unexpected - fall records are few and far between. Read about the Kentucky here, and about some research here. Then, this link takes you to the Wisconsin All-Bird Plan species account.

Another of my favorite warbler species, Yellow-breasted Chat, is probably not a warbler after all. Some genetic research indicates this species possibly has more affinities with tanagers and/or other groups, although it remains in the AOU Check-List (for now) under warblers.

See some online resources as follows: here. See a video of a singing Yellow-breasted Chat here.
A detailed range map is available here. A gallery of images from the Visual Resources for Ornithology website is here.

Monday, June 8, 2009

conservation news - early June, '09

See recent news from BirdLife International here.

The organization NatureServe has a new initiative to study the vulnerability of species to climate change. Read about it here.

The USFWS has a climate change strategic plan also; they've set up a wide array of resources to help their own staff and the public learn more. See it here.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

BirdLife International position paper on climate change

The staff of BirdLife International has prepared a 24-page position paper on climate change. You can find it at this link. A quote: "The scientific evidence is overwhelming: climate change is happening, it is largely caused by human activities, it presents very serious global risks for people and biodiversity around the world and it demands an urgent global response. The direct and indirect impacts of climate change are of central concern to BirdLife’s objectives and targets, in terms both of biodiversity and of human development. The BirdLife Partnership operates in over one hundred countries and territories worldwide with over 2.5 million members, 10 million supporters and over 1 million hectares owned or managed. Together the BirdLife Partnership forms the leading authority on the status of birds, their habitats and the issues and problems affecting bird life. BirdLife has a significant contribution to make to the climate change debate."

Sunday, May 31, 2009

photos around the garden

Photos from the many faces of Mary's and Leah's garden...