Monday, August 25, 2008
Today, I would like to call your attention to a very beautiful bird that can make your day if you are lucky enough to see it. One neighborhood I lived in down in Houston I used to see this bird on the wire from time to time - what a treat! It is said that this bird forms late summer, pre-migratory roosts of up to a 1,000 birds in the flock. Now, that would be a spectacular sight indeed!
If you are in one of the seven states that this bird is found in, definitely keep your eyes open, check the wires - it can be seen from your car.
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
- Assessing habitat suitability for rare birds
- Designing and implementing bird survey studies
- Eliminating risks to birds
- Developing mitigation measures to avoid or minimize potential impacts.
Brian states that "the most rewarding aspect of my job is educating clients about birds and their habitats, as well as cooperating with the regulatory agencies to find solutions for avoiding and minimizing impacts to birds and other wildlife."
With the advent of wind farms as a source of energy I am very gratified to learn of some measure of sensitivity to birds. Any efforts to mitigate or minimize impacts to birds while achieving energy related goals are most welcome!
Note: Photo above is of a Black-throated Blue Warbler
Monday, August 11, 2008
"Our idea, in a nutshell, is to reconstruct, primarily for the use of the university, a sample of original Wisconsin - a sample of what Dane county looked like when our ancestors arrived here in the 1840s."To realize their vision, Leopold and botanist John Curtis gathered plants from remnants of the native prairie, and carefully nurtured their growth at the Arboretum site. With the realization of their vision, the Arboretum became the site of something that once seemed impossible - the restoration of a native ecosystem destroyed by man. Thus, the Arboretum became the birthplace of the discipline of restoration ecology. You can still see the prairies planted by Leopold and Curtis to this day.
Nowadays, the practice of restoration ecology, is practiced by government agencies and even some private nonprofits (e.g. the Prairie Enthusiasts, a grassroots organization that has restored and protected more than 30 sites totalling 2,066 acres in Wisconsin and northwestern Illinois). But perhaps the best news these days from this field of endeavor is that it is being practiced by private landowners. An example to be found in Wisconsin is that of Kathie and Tom Brock. They have spent their retirement years restoring and tending to 140 acres of prairie and oak savannah in western Dane county. The land when purchased by them was worn out by grazing and farming. Now Red-headed Woodpeckers breed in the oaks and more than 300 species of flowers, some rare, have been recorded at the site.
In commenting on the embrace of restoration ecology by private landowners, Buddy Huffaker, the Director of the Aldo Leopold Foundation, said this:
"Our perspective is that this is a movement that continues to gather momentum. What we're doing is not only building restored landscapes but reconnecting people to the landscape. We see an insatiable demand from landowners for wanting to do the right thing."
Heartening news indeed.
|Before and after photos of restoration project|
Restoration Ecology By Sigurdur Greipsson
Ecological Restoration: Principles, Values, and Structure of an Emerging Profession (The Science and Practice of Ecological Restoration Series)
By Andre F. Clewell, James Aronson
Friday, August 1, 2008
For most of my birding life if you wanted to see a Whooping Crane (and of course add it to your Life List) you had to make a pilgrimage down to Aransas National Wildlife Refuge in Texas. In the mid 1980s, I did indeed make the trip along the Texas coast to Rockport to see the bird. From there, I took a boat trip that took us as close as we dared to a feeding adult crane. It was definitely quite a sight, but it was not like a typical life lister where the "thrill of the chase" comes into play. But I knew this was the only way for me to see the bird so I accepted things as they were.
Fast forward about two decades and much like the tumbling down of the Berlin Wall, the seemingly unchangeable has changed. Thanks to the folks at the International Crane Foundation in Baraboo, Wisconsin it is now possible to see a Whooping Crane in the wild at some place other than Aransas. I was fortunate to have this experience in August, 2006.
It all started with a post on the Wisconsin BirdNet listserv that a Whooping Crane had been sighted at a pond on Hyslop Road just outside of Waunakee, Wisconsin. Subsequent posts described the regularity of the crane's visits to the pond. One post said the bird was always there around 1700 hours (evidently a former military man). I live about 12-15 miles away from this location so it was a total no brainer to head over there one fine summer afternoon. When I arrived, there were four other people staring intently in the direction of the pond. It was pretty warm - I remember the asphalt road was a bit sticky under my feet as I approached the group. I was just about to ask if anyone had seen the crane when lo and behold there it was - right out in the open in all its glory. It was feeding with a flock of about 25 Sandhill Cranes, which in and of itself was a beautiful thing to behold. Nobody said a word as the five of us stood there agog at the sight before us. It felt surreal to me to be seeing this bird like this in Wisconsin. It definitely ranks as one of my great thrills in birding.
Photo above is of cranes landing at the Platte River in Nebraska.