Thursday, January 31, 2008
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
Peregrine falcons are now more numerous in New Jersey than they were historically.
“Falcons are a top-of-the-food-chain species, like eagles,” Clark said. “They were never as abundant as deer.” Twenty nesting pairs, she said, are more than the state had in the early 1900s.According to a report (pdf) on the state raptor website, there were 20 breeding pairs of peregrine falcons statewide in 2007. Of those, 4 nested on cliffs in the Palisades, 13 on towers and buildings, and 3 on bridges. New Jersey sent 12 young falcons to Virginia and West Virginia to help recovery programs there.
“There were at least six pairs at the Palisades Cliffs,” she said. “And we have some historical data that there were four to five pairs along the upper Delaware River. That’s it.” ...
“We never set a numeric goal for the population, because when we started, we didn’t have good historic information,” Clark said. “But one of our milestones was always to get them back into historic habitat.”
That natural habitat is Palisades Cliffs. Early attempts to place fledgling falcons at what are called “hacking” sites at the cliffs failed. “The release of young birds didn’t work in the cliff area,” Clark said, “because they were eaten up by great horned owls.”
Hacking, or hack sites, refers to feeding the falcons, while allowing them to fly and go wild as they learn how to hunt for themselves.
Adult falcons can stand up to the big owls, but the fledglings weren’t yet strong or smart enough. So the state shifted its repopulation efforts in the 1980s to towers in salt marshes.
There were fewer predators there. As a result, the birds did well in New Jersey and other states. “The salt marshes were the engine that fueled the recovery,” Clark said. “Here and in Delaware, Maryland and Virginia.”
Monday, January 28, 2008
This morning I went to see the Scott's Oriole that was reported from Union Square Park in New York City. The oriole has been sighted repeatedly over the past several days in a small garden on the southwestern corner of the square. Apparently it was first seen in December, but at the time someone misidentified it as an orchard oriole. The bird's true identity was only established last week.
When I arrived, several birders were present, but the oriole was not. As we waited, several raptors flew through the park, including a peregrine falcon, an American kestrel, and a Cooper's hawk. There was a single yellow-bellied sapsucker tapping at the trees and a marge mixed crowd of white-throated sparrows and house sparrows picking through the garden.
About a dozen people had gathered by the time the oriole appeared. It sunned itself for a short time at the top of a tree and then flew to the ground to feed. After a few bites it flew into a nearby bush and perched there for about fifteen minutes. While I was watching, it did not display any of the aggressive behavior noted by Corey.
The Scott's oriole was my 300th life bird.
Several photos of this Scott's oriole are available around the internet, especially on Flickr. I noticed that the feathers of the back and head, rather than being plain black, have an intricate pattern of black, gray, and green. Some of that can be seen in this photograph, but the effect is much more striking in person.
As a side note, a building across the street from the park has a speaker that plays peregrine calls to scare away the pigeons. The pigeons do not seem to be bothered by this at all since they sit on a ledge above the speaker, even while the calls are playing. They only budge when a real peregrine appears.
After deserting the feeders for the last two months of last year, the birds have suddenly returned in large numbers again. House sparrows are still mostly absent, but others are coming back.
There have been house finches and dark-eyed juncos...
...and mourning doves.
One of the squirrels managed to open a suet feeder and run off with the cake, which was still fairly large when I last saw it.
Sunday, January 27, 2008
A study of Lark Buntings shows that female songbirds look for different traits in prospective mates, depending on the conditions present in a particular year.
For male lark buntings, reproductive success depends on whatever traits are in vogue among females that season. By staying flexible and seeking out partners with the physical qualities most needed at the moment, females ensure that more chicks successfully leave the nest. If the prairie is overrun by ground snakes, for example, mother birds might choose the most protective males -- a quality that might be signaled by wing-patch size. If grasshoppers are scarce the next year, maybe they will look for partners with big beaks, which might make them good providers.Apparently this is the first time changes in preference have been documented in female songbirds.
A link provides some good pictures and videos of lark bunting mating displays.
As John mentioned, this weekend is the Big Garden Birdwatch in the U.K. The event is run by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds to monitor trends among common European birds. Results from previous surveys indicate severe declines in the population of house sparrows and starlings. Meanwhile, chaffinchs and great tits have grown in number. According to the BBC, over 400,000 people participated last year.
North America has similar event coming up in a few weeks - the Great Backyard Bird Count. As always, the GBBC will fall on Presidents Day weekend, February 15-18.
I added a new ratings feature to my blog posts. So far it only seems to appear on the newest post on the homepage, but it does display each individual post page. I added it to get another source of information for which posts are most interesting to readers. So, if you like a post, give it a good rating, and I will try to write more like it.
Saturday, January 26, 2008
Nature blogs now have their own toplist: the new Nature Blog Network developed by Mike of 10,000 Birds. Toplist sites rank member blogs according to traffic levels, given an idea of how your site is doing compared to others. The list is similar to other birding toplist sites like Fatbirder 500 or Bird Top 100. The new toplist is limited to blogs and is open to naturalists other than birders. As more people join, the site will help bloggers find out about other bloggers who write on similar themes.
The second site is Birdstack, created by David of Search and Serendipity. This is a bird listing site for world listers. You can add observations of any bird species from anywhere in the world, with a great amount of detail about the birds and locations. It also provides forums and sidebar widgets for websites. Eventually the site will provide an easy way to share sightings from the western hemisphere with eBird. Unfortunately I have been too busy the last two weeks to try it as much as I would like, but the site looks promising.
Friday, January 25, 2008
News and links about birds, birding, and the environment
- A new study suggests that avian flight evolved when birds learned to flap their wings at the correct angle.
- Delaware will retain its limit of 100,000 males on the horseshoe crab harvest.
- About 15,000 birds at the Great Salt Lake have died of avian cholera.
- A hunter in Mississippi shot a northern pintail that was banded in Japan. This was the first Japanese band recovered in the Mississippi Flyway.
- The French oil company Total received a €575 million fine for an oil spill in 1999 that affected 150,000 birds.
- The British government is exploring whether habitat can be replaced for the 65,000 birds that would be displaced by a Severm barrage.
- 10,000 Birds: Join the Nature Blog Network
- Search and Serendipity: Birdstack: World bird lists online for free
- Susan Gets Native: Species profile: Barred Owl
- Field of View: Birds of the Chukchi Sea
- Drawing the Motmot: Painting The Bird With Bling
Thursday, January 24, 2008
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
Last weekend I put the "DC" back in "A DC Birding Blog" with a return trip for the Tenth Annual C&O Canal Midwinter Bird Survey. This count is sponsored by the DC Audubon Society with the help of several regional bird clubs and many birders. (About 80 birders participate each year.) For the last two years I have helped to coordinate the count by providing web support and contacting volunteer observers from previous years.
For this year's count, I counted birds with two other coordinators, Mary and Denise, on some segments close to D.C. We spent the morning covering miles 4 and 3, which includes the Chain Bridge and Fletcher's Boathouse. Our party included some special guests, including officials from the Interior Department, National Park Service, and National Audubon Society.
We recorded 37 species in the two miles. The highlight for me was a small flock of American tree sparrows, a species I have seen only twice before in D.C. We were also treated to common mergansers, both kinglets, a yellow-bellied sapsucker, and several flocks of eastern bluebirds. Near the Chain Bridge, we picked up belted kingfisher, ring-necked ducks, and wood ducks. The last birds for the morning were two pileated woodpeckers that visited Fletcher's Boathouse while we stopped for photos and coffee. Our guests seemed to enjoy the morning. I certainly enjoyed being back at one of my old birding spots.
The afternoon session was a (slow) race against time, as Denise, Mary, and I needed to complete a four-mile stretch before the light became too dim to see birds. Starting at Edwards Ferry, we had to backtrack for almost a mile to cover all of mile 30 before heading west towards White's Ferry. Our first mile was full of woodpeckers, including four yellow-bellied sapsuckers. We also saw several red-shouldered hawks, a species I rarely see in New Jersey. As we made our way through subsequent miles, flocks included a hermit thrush and several winter wrens, one of my favorite birds.
The real highlights, though, were the owls. As the afternoon light faded, barred owls became more active. We saw our first when it flushed from close to the towpath and landed in a tree farther back in the woods. It sat and looked directly at us for a long time. The second flew in and landed at close range before flying off again. As I have remarked before, watching a barred owl at close range is one of the true privileges of bird watching. Seeing two is even better. Later, as we trudged along the towpath in the dark, a great horned owl gave its booming call. In the course of walking six miles, the three of us managed to record at least 47 species of birds, not bad for a winter day inland.
Saturday's C&O Canal Count received positive press from several Washington-area newspapers. The most notable was a Metro section article in the Washington Post, which assigned a reporter to follow our group in miles 3 and 4. Reporters from other local papers interviewed count volunteers near Williamsport, MD, in Frederick County, near Cumberland, MD, and at Edwards Ferry.
Data from the count is trickling in; a running tally is available in the right sidebar here. Totals are provisional until the data has been reviewed. We already have some good sightings confirmed, though. The highlights so far are a golden eagle in mile 152 and four chipping sparrows in mile 4. The latter is a first record for the canal count. Photos from the count are being posted here and here.
The Navy announced yesterday that it would drop plans to build an Outlying Landing Field near Pocosin Lakes NWR.
The Navy also announced that it is abandoning four other North Carolina sites previously under consideration in Craven, Bertie, Hyde and Perquimans counties. Instead, the Navy will consider two new sites in North Carolina -- Sandbanks in Gates County and Hales Lake in Camden/Currituck counties -- and three in Virginia - Cabin Point, Mason, and Dory.The project was vehemently opposed by environmental groups and local residents and never gained any support among North Carolina's federal legislators. Senators Dole and Burr both opposed the OLF site, as did Governor Easley.
Congress failed to provide money for the project in this fiscal year and taken steps to de-authorize funding for the project in the future. Previously, the US Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Navy had violated federal environmental laws in planning for the OLF.
For five years the Navy has attempted to locate a landing field to practice jet take-offs and landings 3.5 miles from Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge. The refuge hosts more than 100,000 snow geese and tundra swans, and other waterfowl each winter, which would be greatly affected by the Navy jets that would use the OLF to practice each day. In addition, the Navy’s OLF plans prohibited farmers from growing corn, wheat and soybeans – staples of the local farming economy – on 25,000 acres of farmland surrounding the proposed landing field....
The Southern Environmental Law Center, representing the National Audubon Society, North Carolina Wildlife Federation, and Defenders of Wildlife and the law firm of Kennedy Covington, representing the community interests in the case, filed a lawsuit against the Navy in 2004, arguing that the Navy violated the National Environmental Policy Act in planning for the OLF. This lawsuit resulted in rulings from a federal district court and the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals that the Navy had indeed violated national environmental laws in selecting the site for the OLF.
Friday, January 18, 2008
News and links about birds, birding, and the environment
- Scientists have found antibiotic-resistant E. coli bacteria in Arctic birds living in isolated locations. The resistant bacteria probably arrived in the Arctic via migratory birds.
- Botulism is killing thousands of birds around Lake Michigan. The disease may be spread through zebra mussels and round gobies that are eaten by many birds.
- A climatic atlas predicts that three-quarters of European bird species will see their ranges shrink due to climate change.
- North American bird ranges are also shifting northward.
- Gulls in some coastal areas of Spain show high levels of toxins in their blood. The toxins are linked to a oil spill in 2002.
- A species of nematode found in Peru reproduces by inducing infected ants to display themselves for birds to eat and then hatching eggs in the resulting bird droppings.
- This year's flock of young whooping cranes has reached its winter home in Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge, Florida.
- The Laysan Duck had a productive breeding season in 2007. There are now about 200 of the species in the Midway Atoll NWR.
- The seafood company responsible for 23 bald eagle deaths has apologized for the incident.
- 2007 and 1998 are tied as the second-warmest years on record. (The warmest was 2005.)
- BESGroup: Scratching on the wing
- Towheeblog: The physics of puffery
- BirdCouple: What are we feeding them?
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
Dave of Bird TLC pointed out this sad story from the Anchorage Daily News:
About 50 eagles were watching and waiting for a meal outside the Ocean Beauty Seafoods plant when the uncovered dump truck pulled out of a garage, said wildlife biologist Brandon Saito, of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.Many of the eagles survived but were in urgent need of medical care for injuries or oiling. Dave has updates on their condition.
Once the birds began landing to gorge themselves, their massive numbers pushed others down into the sludge, which was about the consistency of quicksand, Saito said. Factory workers, who had apparently moved the truck out only for a few minutes, pulled it back inside when they saw what was happening.
"It's not a very big space for that many eagles to get into," Saito said. "Some of the birds got crushed and buried. Some were drowning in the slime. It was really heavy, thick stuff."
Temperatures in Kodiak on Friday afternoon were in the midteens, causing some of the soaked eagles to "flash freeze" when they were pulled free, Saito said.
Monday, January 14, 2008
The 10th Annual C&O Canal Midwinter Bird Survey will take place next Saturday, January 19th. This count is coordinated by the DC Audubon Society with the help of several other bird clubs and numerous individuals. Each January, teams of observers fan out along the 184.5-mile canal to count birds along short sections of the towpath. Last year, at least 80 birders participated on count day. Somewhere between 100 and 150 birders have participated at least once during the past ten years.
The count was begun to monitor the winter birdlife in the C&O Canal National Historical Park, which follows the course of the Potomac River from Washington, DC, to Cumberland, Maryland. The park's biodiversity is impressive; volunteers have recorded 113 species over nine years, and over 80 species will be found in a typical year.
We hope that the bird survey may eventually reveal how some long term trends affect the park's birdlife. Counties of Maryland and Virginia west of DC have undergone a remarkable land use transformation in the past two decades. Former agricultural areas have been paved over to create suburbs and exurbs. In addition, climate change has altered migration patterns of many species, with some wintering farther north and others not coming south in lower numbers.
Most of the mile segments have been assigned, but there is still time for DC-area birders to sign up and participate. (Currently miles 30-33, 39, and 76-80 have no volunteers at all.) Just send an email to email@example.com and let us know your skill level and what areas of the canal interest you the most.
Friday, January 11, 2008
News and links about birds, birding, and the environment
- Siberian jays have developed alarm calls that communicate not only the presence of a predator but also the predator's behavior. The jays give different calls depending on whether a hawk is perched, searching for prey, or attacking.
- Analysis of satellite imagery from the island of New Britain shows that 12% of the forests overall, and 20% of forests under 100m, was lost between 1989 and 2000.
- Tricolored blackbirds in California's Central Valley abandoned their nests by the thousands after their eggs failed to hatch this summer. The cause is uncertain, though unusually dry weather may have contributed to a lack of food.
- Scientists are studying winter habitats of the red knot to learn more about possible causes for the species's precipitous decline. A key question is what role Florida's beaches play.
- The number of nests of two critically vultures in Nepal has doubled in the two years since the replacement of diclofenac, an anti-inflammatory drug given to cattle.
- An avian retrovirus has now killed thousands of crows in six New York counties: Orange, Dutchess, Albany, Jefferson, Montgomery, and Steuben.
- The Asbury Park Press has recommendations for attracting birds to your backyard.
- Three rare slaty-backed gulls recently appeared in Massachusetts.
- A Scottish farmer lost his government agricultural subsidies because his game warden killed birds of prey.
- New York City passed a law requiring large stores to provide bins for customers to recycle plastic bags.
- Mike's Birding & Digiscoping Blog: Getting Close to Birds
- Sibley: A Character Index for Redpoll identification
- Metafilter: John James Audubon's Birds of America
- Big Spring Birds: Birding by Ear
- Iowa Voice: House Finch - Hold On to That Seed!
- Two Birders to Go: Ruby, Ruby
- Friday Ark #173
- I and the Bird #66
- Tangled Bank #96
- Birds in the News #113
- Learning in the Great Outdoors #8
- Carnival of the Blue #8
- Writers from across the blogosphere
Thursday, January 10, 2008
Wednesday, January 09, 2008
I have written about eBird on a few occasions on this blog (for example, here and here). EBird is a website, run by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, that solicits sightings reports from birders across the Americas. Data from the submitted checklists is used by scientists at the CLO for population and distribution studies. The site's public software allows registered users to view their own submitted data, along with data submitted by other birders.
Since late summer, I have been contributing lists of my bird sightings to eBird. In December, one of my lists became the one millionth checklist submitted to eBird.
The one millionth checklist was one I submitted for a recent trip to Liberty State Park. Shortly after the submission, I received a notification from eBird that my name would be featured in a press release and that they would send me a pair of Zeiss binoculars as a gift to commemorate the occasion. The news came as a real surprise. I had no idea that eBird was planning a prize for the one millionth checklist, or that the one million-checklist milestone was even approaching.
The press release is now online.
Here is the millionth checklist.
|Location:||Liberty State Park|
|Notes:||30degF; 20mph wind|
|Number of species:||34|
|American Black Duck||30|
|Great Blue Heron||1|
|Great Black-backed Gull||3|
|American Tree Sparrow||3|
More and more companies and individuals are using "carbon offsets" to balance their contribution to global warming. A "carbon offset" basically puts a price on greenhouse gas emissions - pay x amount of money per y amount of carbon dioxide to an offset company, which then puts the money into "green" projects. Common examples include investment in wind or solar energy and tree-planting. Now the FTC is investigating the claims made by offset companies.
Carbon offsets are essentially promises to use money in a way that will reduce carbon emissions. Panelists at the F.T.C.’s session on Tuesday raised a number of questions about certifications behind the claims, wondering if the offset companies might be double-counting carbon reductions that would have happened even without their efforts.Right now the offset market is largely unregulated. Some guidance from the FTC could be very useful.
There is even disagreement over how much carbon dioxide can be neutralized by tree-planting, which is the type of offset that is easiest to grasp.
Carbonfund.org, for example, which provides offsets to companies like Amtrak, U-Haul and Allstate, uses the offset money in three ways: to plant trees; to subsidize wind and solar power so that it can be sold at more competitive prices; and to purchase credits on the Chicago Climate Exchange, which barters among hundreds of companies trying to reduce their emissions.
Even the companies that market carbon offsets say they have wondered if the providers were living up to their promises. When Gaiam, a yoga-equipment company, began selling offsets for shipping to consumers through the Conservation Fund, a nonprofit organization, Chris Fischer, the company’s general manager, says he insisted on visiting one of the tree sites in Louisiana.
Also, new research shows that switchgrass is a far better feedstock for ethanol than corn.
Switchgrass yields more than 540 percent more energy than the energy needed to produce and convert it to ethanol, making the grassy weed a far superior source for biofuels than corn ethanol, reports a study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).I am not sure if this finding is sufficient to make biofuels fully viable, but it enhances their credibility. Corn-based ethanol is a loser for many reasons - including fertilizer runoff and higher food prices. If ethanol is to be a viable long-term energy source, it needs to lose its dependency on corn as quickly as possible.
Collecting data from 10 farm sites in Nebraska, North and South Dakota in which farmers grew switchgrass in fields ranging from 7 to 23 acres over a five year period, Marty Schmer, a researcher with the Agricultural Research Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and colleagues found that, on average, switchgrass produced biomass equivalent to 320 gallons of ethanol per acre — more than 60 percent more the average yield for an equivalent area of corn after factoring in fossil fuel use for fertilizers and pesticides. The study also found that average greenhouse gas emissions from cellulosic ethanol derived from switchgrass were 94% lower than those from gasoline.
Tuesday, January 08, 2008
Today felt unbelievably like spring - so warm that some butterflies (orange sulphurs?) were flitting around. It was a fine day to visit Sandy Hook and check for some recent sightings. At first, it was slow going - the Bohemian waxwing was not with the waxwing flock, the Townsend's solitaire was not by the maintenance building, the king eiders were not at Lot C, the orange-crowned warbler was not at Spermaceti Cove, and the western kingbird was not at the North Beach Pavilion.
The Hook was not bereft of birds. The holly forests around the scout camp and maintenance areas were full of golden-crowned kinglets and yellow-rumped warblers, along with a couple hermit thrushes. A handful of tree swallows were still present. One of the more interesting sights of the day involved some very common birds. At the North Beach Pavilion, a northern mockingbird was vigorously defending its perches from the intrusions of numerous European starlings. It was thirty against one, but that one mockingbird succeeded in chasing them away.
Finally, a second try in the late afternoon netted the Townsend's solitaire. It landed in the top of a tree in front of a large yellow maintenance building on Randolph Road. After flying again to a second tree, it perched in full view for several minutes before diving back into the shrubs. My impression was of a very nervous bird as it kept twitching its wings and tail. This bird has persisted at Sandy Hook for over a month and has been seen by many birders (e.g., here and here).
In the end I missed five potential lifebirds but saw a good one.
Monday, January 07, 2008
The Maryland Department of Natural Resources is holding hearings on whether to allow a private wind company to lease state land for a wind farm.
A Pennsylvania company, U.S. Wind Force, is asking the state for leases in Potomac and Savage River state forests so it can clear about 400 mountaintop acres and erect about 100 wind turbines, each about 40 stories tall. The turbines would be visible from Deep Creek Lake and much of Western Maryland.Comments may also be submitted online.
The agency has moved the first public hearing from an elementary school, which had a small capacity, to the larger Garrett College Auditorium at 687 Mosser Road in McHenry. This hearing has been moved back a week, from the original Jan. 23 date to Jan. 30 at 6:30 p.m.
The second hearing, also postponed for a week, will now be will held at 6:30 p.m. on Jan. 31 in Room 161 of the Arundel Center, 44 Calvert St. in Annapolis.
I generally support the use of wind power as a source of cleaner energy, but this project seems dubious to me. One concern with wind power is what effect turbines may have on birds in a particular location, particularly during migration. The most obvious threat is the possibility of birds hitting the turbines. A more insidious threat is the reduction of habitat by 400 acres, and the degradation of surrounding forest with the introduction of more edge areas. Answering that concern would require significant field research; I would hope that the DNR would have that data on hand before granting permission for the project. (There is at least some cause for concern.)
My second concern is the use of public land for private gain. State parks and forests should primarily benefit the public - by conserving natural resources, preserving historic sites, and providing opportunities for recreation. Some commercial use of public lands is acceptable. For example, I would certainly endorse leasing fields for agriculture in WMAs since the practice benefits both the leaseholder and wildlife. A 400-acre wind farm is something else entirely. It would present a substantial and permanent intrusion into one of the wildest areas of Maryland. All of the profits would go to the energy company while the citizens of Maryland would be left with a smaller state forest and possibly less wildlife.
Overall, I think this is one project that the DNR should drop. What do you think?
Sunday, January 06, 2008
Linnaeus's Legacy is a relatively new blog carnival that showcases blog posts about biodiversity. As one might expect from the name, taxonomy is one of the carnival's core topics. However, the carnival also accepts posts about evolution, endangered species and extinction, ecology, and other related subjects.
Greg Laden has posted the third edition of the carnival. The next edition will be in February.
BIGBY is an acronym for "Big Green Big Year." This is a list of all the species that I see in 2008 while using only foot, self-propelled vehicles, or public transportation. For a longer explanation, see here.
|1||Snow Goose||Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge||3/29/2008|
|2||Brant||Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge||3/29/2008|
|3||Canada Goose||Donaldson Park||1/1/2008|
|4||Mute Swan||Kearny Marsh||1/28/2008|
|5||Gadwall||Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge||3/29/2008|
|6||American Black Duck||Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge||3/29/2008|
|8||Blue-winged Teal||Cape May Point SP||8/27/2008|
|9||Northern Shoveler||Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge||3/29/2008|
|10||Green-winged Teal||Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge||3/29/2008|
|11||Greater Scaup||Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge||3/29/2008|
|13||Common Goldeneye||Johnson Park||1/6/2008|
|14||Hooded Merganser||Donaldson Park||2/23/2008|
|15||Common Merganser||Johnson Park||1/6/2008|
|16||Red-breasted Merganser||Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge||3/29/2008|
|17||Ruddy Duck||Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge||3/29/2008|
|18||Common Loon||Johnson Park||1/6/2008|
|19||Double-crested Cormorant||Donaldson Park||1/2/2008|
|20||Great Cormorant||Donaldson Park||1/1/2008|
|21||Great Blue Heron||Johnson Park||1/6/2008|
|22||Great Egret||Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge||3/29/2008|
|23||Snowy Egret||Cape May Point SP||8/26/2008|
|24||Little Blue Heron||Cape May Point SP||8/27/2008|
|25||Tricolored Heron||CMBO Hawk Watch||9/1/2008|
|26||Green Heron||Cape May Point SP||8/26/2008|
|27||Black-crowned Night-Heron||Cape May Point SP||9/4/2008|
|28||Glossy Ibis||Cape May Point SP||8/26/2008|
|29||Black Vulture||New Brunswick||4/26/2008|
|30||Turkey Vulture||Donaldson Park||2/27/2008|
|31||Osprey||Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge||3/29/2008|
|32||Bald Eagle||Donaldson Park||2/23/2008|
|33||Northern Harrier||Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge||3/29/2008|
|34||Sharp-shinned Hawk||Johnson Park||1/6/2008|
|35||Cooper's Hawk||Union Square||1/28/2008|
|36||Red-tailed Hawk||Donaldson Park||1/1/2008|
|37||American Kestrel||Union Square||1/28/2008|
|38||Merlin||CMBO Hawk Watch||9/1/2008|
|39||Peregrine Falcon||Union Square||1/28/2008|
|40||American Coot||Central Park||3/29/2008|
|41||Semipalmated Plover||Cape May Point SP||8/26/2008|
|43||American Oystercatcher||Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge||3/29/2008|
|44||Spotted Sandpiper||Cape May Point SP||8/29/2008|
|45||Solitary Sandpiper||Donaldson Park||5/19/2008|
|46||Greater Yellowlegs||Cape May Point SP||8/26/2008|
|47||Lesser Yellowlegs||Cape May Point SP||8/26/2008|
|48||Ruddy Turnstone||Cape May - The Rips||8/24/2008|
|49||Sanderling||Cape May - The Rips||8/24/2008|
|50||Semipalmated Sandpiper||Cape May Point SP||8/27/2008|
|51||Least Sandpiper||Donaldson Park||5/19/2008|
|52||Baird's Sandpiper||Cape May Point SP||9/4/2008|
|53||Pectoral Sandpiper||Cape May Point SP||8/27/2008|
|54||Short-billed Dowitcher||Cape May Point SP||8/26/2008|
|55||Laughing Gull||Cape May - The Rips||8/24/2008|
|56||Bonaparte's Gull||Donaldson Park||1/30/2008|
|57||Ring-billed Gull||Donaldson Park||1/1/2008|
|58||Herring Gull||Donaldson Park||1/1/2008|
|59||Lesser Black-backed Gull||Johnson Park||1/6/2008|
|60||Great Black-backed Gull||Donaldson Park||1/1/2008|
|61||Least Tern||Cape May - The Rips||8/24/2008|
|62||Gull-billed Tern||Cape May - Sunset Beach||8/26/2008|
|63||Black Tern||Cape May - The Rips||8/27/2008|
|64||Common Tern||Cape May - The Rips||8/27/2008|
|65||Forster's Tern||Cape May Point SP||8/26/2008|
|66||Royal Tern||Cape May - The Rips||8/27/2008|
|67||Black Skimmer||Cape May Point SP||8/30/2008|
|68||Rock Pigeon||Donaldson Park||1/2/2008|
|70||Long-eared Owl||Central Park||1/28/2008|
|71||Chimney Swift||Donaldson Park||5/19/2008|
|72||Ruby-throated Hummingbird||Cape May Point SP||8/27/2008|
|73||Belted Kingfisher||Johnson Park||1/6/2008|
|74||Red-bellied Woodpecker||Donaldson Park||1/2/2008|
|75||Yellow-bellied Sapsucker||Union Square||1/28/2008|
|76||Downy Woodpecker||Johnson Park||1/6/2008|
|77||Hairy Woodpecker||Donaldson Park||1/21/2008|
|78||Northern Flicker||Donaldson Park||1/2/2008|
|79||Eastern Wood-Pewee||Higbee Beach||8/31/2008|
|80||Least Flycatcher||Cape May Point SP||8/27/2008|
|81||Eastern Phoebe||Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge||3/29/2008|
|82||Great Crested Flycatcher||Cape May Point SP||8/29/2008|
|83||Eastern Kingbird||Donaldson Park||5/19/2008|
|84||White-eyed Vireo||Higbee Beach||8/31/2008|
|85||Warbling Vireo||Donaldson Park||5/19/2008|
|86||Philadelphia Vireo||Cape May Point SP||9/4/2008|
|87||Red-eyed Vireo||Cape May Point SP||9/3/2008|
|88||Blue Jay||Donaldson Park||1/2/2008|
|89||American Crow||Donaldson Park||1/1/2008|
|90||Fish Crow||Johnson Park||1/6/2008|
|91||Purple Martin||Cape May - The Rips||8/27/2008|
|92||Tree Swallow||Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge||3/29/2008|
|93||Northern Rough-winged Swallow||Donaldson Park||4/11/2008|
|94||Bank Swallow||Donaldson Park||5/19/2008|
|95||Barn Swallow||Donaldson Park||5/19/2008|
|96||Carolina Chickadee||Donaldson Park||1/25/2008|
|97||Black-capped Chickadee||Donaldson Park||1/2/2008|
|98||Tufted Titmouse||Johnson Park||1/6/2008|
|99||Red-breasted Nuthatch||Central Park||1/28/2008|
|100||White-breasted Nuthatch||Donaldson Park||1/2/2008|
|101||Brown Creeper||Johnson Park||1/6/2008|
|102||Carolina Wren||Donaldson Park||1/2/2008|
|103||House Wren||Donaldson Park||4/23/2008|
|104||Golden-crowned Kinglet||Johnson Park||1/6/2008|
|105||Blue-gray Gnatcatcher||Cape May Point SP||8/26/2008|
|106||Hermit Thrush||Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge||3/29/2008|
|107||American Robin||Donaldson Park||1/2/2008|
|108||Gray Catbird||Donaldson Park||4/23/2008|
|110||Brown Thrasher||Higbee Beach||8/31/2008|
|111||European Starling||Johnson Park||1/6/2008|
|112||American Pipit||Donaldson Park||2/23/2008|
|113||Cedar Waxwing||Cape May - Sunset Beach||8/26/2008|
|114||Blue-winged Warbler||Cape May Point SP||9/2/2008|
|117||Magnolia Warbler||Cape May Point SP||9/2/2008|
|118||Black-throated Blue Warbler||Cape May Point SP||8/26/2008|
|119||Yellow-rumped Warbler||Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge||3/29/2008|
|120||Prairie Warbler||Cape May Point SP||9/2/2008|
|121||Black-and-white Warbler||Higbee Beach||8/31/2008|
|122||American Redstart||Cape May Point SP||8/26/2008|
|124||Northern Waterthrush||Cape May Point SP||8/29/2008|
|125||Common Yellowthroat||Cape May Point SP||8/27/2008|
|126||Western Tanager||Central Park||3/29/2008|
|128||American Tree Sparrow||Donaldson Park||1/2/2008|
|130||Savannah Sparrow||Donaldson Park||2/23/2008|
|131||Song Sparrow||Donaldson Park||1/1/2008|
|134||Northern Cardinal||Donaldson Park||1/2/2008|
|135||Indigo Bunting||South Cape May Meadows||8/28/2008|
|136||Bobolink||CMBO Hawk Watch||9/1/2008|
|137||Red-winged Blackbird||Donaldson Park||2/7/2008|
|138||Rusty Blackbird||Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge||3/29/2008|
|139||Common Grackle||Donaldson Park||1/25/2008|
|140||Boat-tailed Grackle||Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge||3/29/2008|
|141||Brown-headed Cowbird||Donaldson Park||2/19/2008|
|143||Scott's Oriole||Union Square||1/28/2008|
|144||House Finch||Donaldson Park||1/2/2008|
|145||Common Redpoll||Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge||3/29/2008|
|146||American Goldfinch||Donaldson Park||1/1/2008|
Last updated: 9/6/08
|1||Snow Goose||Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge||3/29/2008|
|4||Canada Goose||Donaldson Park||1/1/2008|
|5||Mute Swan||Great Swamp NWR||1/5/2008|
|7||Wood Duck||Great Swamp NWR||1/5/2008|
|9||American Wigeon||Great Swamp NWR||1/5/2008|
|10||American Black Duck||Great Swamp NWR||1/5/2008|
|12||Blue-winged Teal||Cape May Point SP||8/27/2008|
|13||Northern Shoveler||Trenton Marsh||1/10/2008|
|14||Northern Pintail||Great Swamp NWR||1/5/2008|
|15||Green-winged Teal||Great Swamp NWR||1/5/2008|
|16||Eurasian Teal||Richard W. Dekorte Park||2/2/2008|
|17||Canvasback||Richard W. Dekorte Park||2/2/2008|
|18||Ring-necked Duck||Trenton Marsh||1/10/2008|
|19||Greater Scaup||Fort Wadsworth||2/9/2008|
|20||Common Eider||Sandy Hook||1/16/2008|
|21||Surf Scoter||Island Beach State Park||4/5/2008|
|22||Long-tailed Duck||Island Beach State Park||4/5/2008|
|24||Common Goldeneye||Johnson Park||1/6/2008|
|26||Common Merganser||Johnson Park||1/6/2008|
|27||Red-breasted Merganser||Sandy Hook||1/8/2008|
|28||Ruddy Duck||Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge||3/29/2008|
|29||Wild Turkey||C&O Canal - Edwards Ferry||1/19/2008|
|30||Red-throated Loon||Sandy Hook||1/16/2008|
|31||Common Loon||Johnson Park||1/6/2008|
|33||Horned Grebe||Sandy Hook||1/8/2008|
|34||Northern Gannet||Sandy Hook||1/16/2008|
|35||Brown Pelican||Two Mile Beach||7/1/2008|
|36||Double-crested Cormorant||Donaldson Park||1/2/2008|
|37||Great Cormorant||Donaldson Park||1/1/2008|
|38||American Bittern||Great Swamp NWR||1/5/2008|
|39||Great Blue Heron||Great Swamp NWR||1/5/2008|
|40||Great Egret||Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge||3/29/2008|
|41||Snowy Egret||South Cape May Meadows||7/2/2008|
|42||Little Blue Heron||Cape May Point SP||8/27/2008|
|43||Tricolored Heron||CMBO Hawk Watch||9/1/2008|
|44||Green Heron||Two Mile Beach||7/1/2008|
|45||Black-crowned Night-Heron||Hereford Inlet||6/30/2008|
|46||Glossy Ibis||South Cape May Meadows||7/2/2008|
|47||Black Vulture||I-287 (Somerset Co.)||1/5/2008|
|48||Turkey Vulture||Sandy Hook||1/8/2008|
|50||Bald Eagle||Gunpowder Falls||1/20/2008|
|51||Northern Harrier||Great Swamp NWR||1/5/2008|
|52||Sharp-shinned Hawk||Johnson Park||1/6/2008|
|53||Cooper's Hawk||Perth Amboy - Waterfront||1/27/2008|
|54||Red-shouldered Hawk||Great Swamp NWR||1/5/2008|
|55||Red-tailed Hawk||Donaldson Park||1/1/2008|
|56||Rough-legged Hawk||Great Swamp NWR - Overlook||1/5/2008|
|57||American Kestrel||I-287 (Somerset Co.)||1/5/2008|
|58||Merlin||CMBO Hawk Watch||9/1/2008|
|59||Peregrine Falcon||Union Square||1/28/2008|
|60||American Coot||Trenton Marsh||1/10/2008|
|61||Semipalmated Plover||Cape May Point SP||8/26/2008|
|62||Piping Plover||South Cape May Meadows||7/2/2008|
|64||American Oystercatcher||Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge||3/29/2008|
|65||Spotted Sandpiper||Cape May Point SP||8/29/2008|
|66||Solitary Sandpiper||Donaldson Park||5/19/2008|
|67||Greater Yellowlegs||Negri-Nepote Grasslands||4/26/2008|
|68||Lesser Yellowlegs||Cape May Point SP||8/26/2008|
|69||Ruddy Turnstone||Cape May - The Rips||8/24/2008|
|71||Semipalmated Sandpiper||Cape May Point SP||8/27/2008|
|72||Least Sandpiper||Donaldson Park||5/19/2008|
|73||Baird's Sandpiper||Cape May Point SP||9/4/2008|
|74||Pectoral Sandpiper||Cape May Point SP||8/27/2008|
|75||Purple Sandpiper||Fort Wadsworth||2/9/2008|
|76||Short-billed Dowitcher||Cape May Point SP||8/26/2008|
|77||Laughing Gull||Island Beach State Park||4/5/2008|
|78||Bonaparte's Gull||Sandy Hook||1/16/2008|
|79||Ring-billed Gull||Donaldson Park||1/1/2008|
|80||Herring Gull||Donaldson Park||1/1/2008|
|81||Lesser Black-backed Gull||Johnson Park||1/6/2008|
|82||Great Black-backed Gull||Donaldson Park||1/1/2008|
|83||Least Tern||Two Mile Beach||7/1/2008|
|84||Gull-billed Tern||South Cape May Meadows||7/2/2008|
|85||Black Tern||Cape May - The Rips||8/27/2008|
|86||Common Tern||Two Mile Beach||7/1/2008|
|87||Forster's Tern||Cape May Point SP||8/26/2008|
|88||Royal Tern||Cape May - The Rips||8/27/2008|
|89||Black Skimmer||Hereford Inlet||6/30/2008|
|90||Rock Pigeon||Donaldson Park||1/2/2008|
|92||Yellow-billed Cuckoo||Lord Stirling Park||5/24/2008|
|93||Black-billed Cuckoo||Cross Estate||6/21/2008|
|94||Great Horned Owl||C&O Canal - Edwards Ferry||1/19/2008|
|95||Barred Owl||C&O Canal - Edwards Ferry||1/19/2008|
|96||Long-eared Owl||Central Park||1/28/2008|
|97||Short-eared Owl||Suydam Road||3/1/2008|
|98||Chimney Swift||Duke Farms||4/19/2008|
|99||Ruby-throated Hummingbird||Dismal Swamp||5/17/2008|
|100||Belted Kingfisher||Johnson Park||1/6/2008|
|101||Red-headed Woodpecker||Great Swamp NWR - Overlook||1/5/2008|
|102||Red-bellied Woodpecker||Donaldson Park||1/2/2008|
|103||Yellow-bellied Sapsucker||C&O Canal--Fletcher's Boathouse||1/19/2008|
|104||Downy Woodpecker||Great Swamp NWR||1/5/2008|
|105||Hairy Woodpecker||Trenton Marsh||1/10/2008|
|106||Northern Flicker||Donaldson Park||1/2/2008|
|107||Pileated Woodpecker||Great Swamp NWR||1/5/2008|
|108||Eastern Wood-Pewee||Lord Stirling Park||5/24/2008|
|109||Willow Flycatcher||Lord Stirling Park||5/24/2008|
|110||Least Flycatcher||Cape May Point SP||8/27/2008|
|111||Eastern Phoebe||Manasquan Reservoir||3/15/2008|
|112||Great Crested Flycatcher||Washington Crossing State Park||5/10/2008|
|113||Eastern Kingbird||Franklin Parker Preserve||5/3/2008|
|114||Northern Shrike||Great Swamp NWR||1/5/2008|
|115||White-eyed Vireo||Higbee Beach||8/31/2008|
|116||Yellow-throated Vireo||Bowman's Hill Wildflower Preserve||5/10/2008|
|117||Warbling Vireo||Dismal Swamp||5/17/2008|
|118||Philadelphia Vireo||Cape May Point SP||9/4/2008|
|119||Red-eyed Vireo||Bowman's Hill Wildflower Preserve||5/10/2008|
|120||Blue Jay||Donaldson Park||1/2/2008|
|121||American Crow||Donaldson Park||1/1/2008|
|122||Fish Crow||Johnson Park||1/6/2008|
|123||Purple Martin||Villas WMA||7/1/2008|
|124||Tree Swallow||Sandy Hook||1/8/2008|
|125||Northern Rough-winged Swallow||Donaldson Park||4/11/2008|
|126||Bank Swallow||Donaldson Park||5/19/2008|
|127||Barn Swallow||Negri-Nepote Grasslands||4/26/2008|
|128||Carolina Chickadee||Trenton Marsh||1/10/2008|
|129||Black-capped Chickadee||Donaldson Park||1/2/2008|
|130||Tufted Titmouse||Great Swamp NWR||1/5/2008|
|131||Red-breasted Nuthatch||Central Park||1/28/2008|
|132||White-breasted Nuthatch||Donaldson Park||1/2/2008|
|133||Brown Creeper||Johnson Park||1/6/2008|
|134||Carolina Wren||Donaldson Park||1/2/2008|
|135||House Wren||Donaldson Park||4/23/2008|
|136||Winter Wren||Trenton Marsh||1/10/2008|
|137||Golden-crowned Kinglet||Johnson Park||1/6/2008|
|138||Ruby-crowned Kinglet||C&O Canal - Edwards Ferry||1/19/2008|
|139||Blue-gray Gnatcatcher||Scherman-Hoffman Wildlife Sanctuary||6/21/2008|
|140||Eastern Bluebird||C&O Canal--Fletcher's Boathouse||1/19/2008|
|141||Townsend's Solitaire||Sandy Hook||1/8/2008|
|142||Veery||Bowman's Hill Wildflower Preserve||5/10/2008|
|143||Hermit Thrush||Sandy Hook||1/8/2008|
|144||Wood Thrush||Washington Crossing State Park||5/10/2008|
|145||American Robin||Donaldson Park||1/2/2008|
|146||Gray Catbird||Donaldson Park||4/23/2008|
|148||Brown Thrasher||Dismal Swamp||5/17/2008|
|149||European Starling||Great Swamp NWR - Overlook||1/5/2008|
|150||American Pipit||Donaldson Park||2/23/2008|
|151||Cedar Waxwing||Sandy Hook||1/8/2008|
|152||Blue-winged Warbler||Lord Stirling Park||5/24/2008|
|153||Northern Parula||Negri-Nepote Grasslands||4/26/2008|
|154||Yellow Warbler||Negri-Nepote Grasslands||4/26/2008|
|155||Chestnut-sided Warbler||Cross Estate||6/21/2008|
|156||Magnolia Warbler||Washington Crossing State Park||5/10/2008|
|157||Black-throated Blue Warbler||Washington Crossing State Park||5/10/2008|
|158||Yellow-rumped Warbler||Sandy Hook||1/8/2008|
|159||Black-throated Green Warbler||Dismal Swamp||5/17/2008|
|160||Pine Warbler||Assunpink WMA||3/30/2008|
|161||Prairie Warbler||Franklin Parker Preserve||5/3/2008|
|162||Palm Warbler||Duke Farms||4/19/2008|
|163||Black-and-white Warbler||Webb's Mill Bog||5/3/2008|
|164||American Redstart||Cape May Point SP||8/26/2008|
|165||Ovenbird||Franklin Parker Preserve||5/3/2008|
|166||Northern Waterthrush||D&R Canal, Weston Mills||4/19/2008|
|167||Louisiana Waterthrush||Bowman's Hill Wildflower Preserve||5/10/2008|
|168||Common Yellowthroat||Negri-Nepote Grasslands||4/26/2008|
|169||Hooded Warbler||Scherman-Hoffman Wildlife Sanctuary||6/21/2008|
|170||Scarlet Tanager||Bowman's Hill Wildflower Preserve||5/10/2008|
|171||Western Tanager||Central Park||3/29/2008|
|172||Eastern Towhee||Negri-Nepote Grasslands||4/26/2008|
|173||American Tree Sparrow||Donaldson Park||1/2/2008|
|175||Field Sparrow||Negri-Nepote Grasslands||4/26/2008|
|176||Savannah Sparrow||Donaldson Park||2/23/2008|
|177||Grasshopper Sparrow||Negri-Nepote Grasslands||4/26/2008|
|178||Song Sparrow||Donaldson Park||1/1/2008|
|179||Swamp Sparrow||C&O Canal--Fletcher's Boathouse||1/19/2008|
|181||White-crowned Sparrow||Richard W. Dekorte Park||2/2/2008|
|183||Northern Cardinal||Donaldson Park||1/2/2008|
|184||Rose-breasted Grosbeak||Bowman's Hill Wildflower Preserve||5/10/2008|
|185||Indigo Bunting||Griggstown Grasslands||6/1/2008|
|187||Red-winged Blackbird||Great Swamp NWR - Overlook||1/5/2008|
|188||Rusty Blackbird||Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge||3/29/2008|
|189||Common Grackle||Great Swamp NWR - Overlook||1/5/2008|
|190||Boat-tailed Grackle||Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge||3/29/2008|
|191||Brown-headed Cowbird||Donaldson Park||2/19/2008|
|192||Baltimore Oriole||Webb's Mill Bog||5/3/2008|
|193||Scott's Oriole||Union Square||1/28/2008|
|194||House Finch||Donaldson Park||1/2/2008|
|195||Common Redpoll||Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge||3/29/2008|
|196||American Goldfinch||Donaldson Park||1/1/2008|
Last updated: 9/6/08
Saturday, January 05, 2008
The Great Swamp in winter provides opportunities to see some unusual birds, if you know where to look for them. This afternoon, my mother, sister, and I set out to find some of the more interesting species reported recently.
Our first stop was the wildlife center on Long Hill Road. We quickly encountered a northern shrike, perched high in a tree above the first of the blinds along the boardwalk. I would have passed it off as just another gray bird on a gray day, except that it struck fear into the smaller birds gathered at the bottom of the tree. Dark-eyed juncos froze with their heads turned sideways to look at it. A flock of black-capped chickadees mobbed the shrike until it finally flew across the meadow where it set off another explosion of alarm calls. It turns out that chickadees are better at identifying members of the genus Lanius than I am.
Another surprise waited inside the blind. Just outside the blind's windows, not ten feet away, an American bittern stalked through a puddle. Being a bittern, it stood very still and moved its feet very slowly. I have never seen a bittern for so long and at such close range before, so it was my first chance to study the subtle and intricate feather patterns on the bird's back. Field guide illustrations do not do justice to this beautiful bird. An American tree sparrow at the feeder - normally a noteworthy bird for me - almost seemed banal by comparison.
The "Friends" blind - the blind at the far end of the boardwalk - had an assortment of waterfowl gathered into one huge flock. I saw wood ducks, black ducks, an American wigeon, a green-winged teal, northern pintails, as well as the unusual suspects. My sister added a gadwall to that list. There were probably other species as well - either too distant or obscured by larger birds. Near the blind a pileated woodpecker called repeatedly before it flew across the trail.
A subsequent drive along Pleasant Plains Road yielded two rough-legged hawks (life birds!) perched in two separate trees. I think that both were light morph, rather than Patrick's dark morph hawk, but it was difficult to tell with that light and viewing angle. Also present along the road were a few northern harriers, American kestrels near the bookstore, and red-headed woodpeckers near the gated bridge. Several small groups of wood ducks flew back and forth across the road. At dusk, hundreds of red-winged blackbirds and thousands of common grackles flew past the overlook. Unfortunately neither owl species reported from Pleasant Plains Road made an appearance today, even at dusk. Maybe we will have better luck another time.
Friday, January 04, 2008
News and links about birds, birding, and the environment
- A record number of whooping cranes returned to Texas for winter this year. Currently there are 257 cranes in the Coastal Bend area, with a few more expected to arrive soon.
- Measures to reduce bird deaths at Altamont Pass wind farms so far are behind schedule. A legal settlement among Alameda County, the wind farms, and conservationists called for the shutdown or relocation of the 300 deadliest turbines to reduce raptor deaths by 50 percent. A Scientific Review Committee has determined that an additional 100 will also need to be shutdown to meet that goal.
- The number of Florida Scrub Jays is shrinking even in protected areas that have been set aside for them.
- Avian reovirus, which causes internal hemorrhaging, is killing hundreds of crows in New York State.
- South Brother Island in the Bronx is now a city park. The island provides nesting territories for 3,000 great egrets, snowy egrets, black-crowned night-herons, and double-crested cormorants.
- Coverage of Christmas Bird Counts: Loveland (CO); Jonathan Dickinson SP (FL); Cape Cod; St. Clair NWA (ON); Uxbridge (ON); Comal County (TX); Lake County (FL); Groveland (CA); Truro (MA); Bucks County (PA).
- In San Diego, amateur kayakers rescue birds caught by baited fishing lines.
- Following Delaware's lead, Maryland may create its own birding trail (pdf, p. 9).
- Biofuels may have worse environmental effects than fossil fuels. They emit less carbon when burned, but their production requires vast amounts of farmland and reduces biodiversity, especially in the tropics.
- California has filed a lawsuit against the EPA for blocking its fuel efficiency regulations.
- BrdPics: Make It Count
- CBCs in the blogs: Ramsey (NJ); Buffalo River (TN); DeKalb (IL); Taney County (MO); Prineville (OR); Sandia Mountains (NM); Pittsburgh; Hudson.
- Earth, Wind, and Water: Top 10 Nature Moments meme participants
Wednesday, January 02, 2008
BIGBY stands for "Big Green Big Year." The concept of a green big year grew out of discussions on listserves and blogs about the impact of listing on climate change. The amount of greenhouse gases that most birding trips add to the atmosphere is probably relatively small compared to other sources. However, it seems good for birders to be mindful of how their hobby affects the environment.
The writers behind the Sparrowworking blog came up with some criteria for a green year list. The list should include only bird species seen in locations reached by foot, self-propelled vehicle, or public transportation. The "self-propelled" category can include canoes and skis, though it primarily refers to bicycles. So far 118 birders have signed up to attempt a BIGBY this year.
This type of undertaking is going to be easier for some birders than others. City-based birders should have a decided advantage. Those in New York City, in particular, have access to a dense public transportation network that links to some very good birding sites. Birders in DC can bird by Metro. People living in suburban areas are likely to have a harder time, since 20th-century housing developments were generally not designed to be walkable and transportation options are more limited.
I decided to compile a list of birds I see while meeting the BIGBY requirements. In about half a year of birding, I saw 93 species within walking distance in 2007. That figure does not include spring migration, when most species are easier to find and identify by voice. Plus, an occasional birding trip by public transportation is a real possibility. So for 2008, I should be able to build a good BIGBY list.
The Iowa Caucuses are tomorrow, January 3. Soon after, there will be another series of primaries, culminating in a big primary day on February 5. It's hard to believe that we will have nominees from both parties so quickly, but this is an unusual election year.
For whom should birders vote? Our next president needs to make conservation a priority and change the long-standing American opposition to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. After the regressive policies of the last seven years, we need significant change to come quickly. Which candidate offers the best hope of doing this remains an open question.
To help answer this question, Nate of The Drinking Bird, assessed each presidential candidate's views on conservation and other bird-related issues. Grist also has some good resources, including fact sheets and interviews for every candidate. The resources at Grist emphasize climate change and energy issues. The League of Conservation Voters has its own assessment.
Tuesday, January 01, 2008
Tai Haku, who writes the Earth, Wind & Water blog, challenged fellow nature bloggers to name their own top 10 nature moments of 2007. The theme has since been taken up on many other blogs, so it is time for me to do it.
Here are my top ten, listed chronologically.
- Watching eastern phoebes and black-capped chickadees in the snow on the C&O Canal.
- A day for "little brown jobs" around the Mall and Hains Point.
- Welcoming the early spring migrants at Hughes Hollow.
- My first visit to the wetlands at Poplar Point, when I saw my 200th species in D.C.
- Listening to barred owls in Rock Creek Park.
- Discovering the Franklin Township grasslands sites (and their avian inhabitants).
- Listening to the grunting of harbor seals at Bolinas Lagoon in California.
- The visit my sister and I made to Jamaica Bay to look for shorebirds.
- Seeing clapper rails and an American bittern at dusk at Sandy Hook.
- Finding lots of white-crowned sparrows (and a Nelson's sharp-tailed sparrow) at Sandy Hook.
Meanwhile, I have already seen my first birds of 2008. The very first was a dark-eyed junco. (These photos were taken a couple days ago with the Birdcam.)
Happy New Year!