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 ) was quite numerous there, along with Common Buckeye (Junonia coenia) 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:

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.