Tuesday, April 26, 2005

The Bird Fest Begins At The National Zoo

Bird Fest At The National Zoo (April 30-May 5th)

Come Celebrate International Migratory Bird Day

Saturday, April 30 to Thursday, May 5
Weekend family festival:
Saturday, April 30 and Sunday, May 1 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

  • "Superbirds!" special, live theatre program for school groups on May 3, 4, and 5.
    Showtimes 10 a.m. and 1 p.m., daily.
  • Book signing and lecture by David Sibley—May 2, 7:30 p.m. Lecture will be "Birdwatching in the 21st Century" where he will talk about illustrating and writing the Sibley Guides to Birds and the joys and challenges of birding and bird conservation.
  • Flying WILD Teacher Workshop, Saturday, April 30 from 9 a.m. to noon
  • DC Audubon Society will be and exhibitor
  • Links for more information on event and to volunteer.

Monday, April 25, 2005

End Of Civil War Makes Way For Birders In Angola

Bird Life International: Ian Sinclair

The first ornithologists to visit northern Angola since the end of the country's civil war have 'rediscovered' three species of bird not seen for decades, a conservation group said on Wednesday. The six-day expedition at the end of January yielded sightings of the orange-breasted bush-shrike and the white-headed robin-chat, two small birds not been seen by scientists since 1957. (Reuters Story)

* Story from Bird Life International

Osprey Live From The Anacosta

Earth Conservation Corps

Earth Conservation Corps and EarthCam bring you a real-time view of an osprey nest located on the Anacostia River in Washington, D.C. The nest, which looks like a huge pile of sticks, is on a pier under the Frederick Douglass Bridge and is occupied by two chicks and their parents.

The Earth Conservation Corps' Osprey Nest webcam is part of an educational, youth media project funded by the National Geographic Education Foundation. Fifth-grade students from Neval Thomas Elementary in Northeast Washington are following Earth Conservation Corps members on their field studies of raptors on the Anacostia River, and plan to use the webcam as part of an on-going, five-year study of birds of prey on the river.

*Osprey Cam

Anacostia Effort Aims To Clean Up Neighborhood And River


60 Minutes on CBS reports on a neighborhood Anacosta River clean-up effort that hopes to rub off on the community.

Police say that so far this year, more than half the murders in Washington were committed there -- earning Anacostia a reputation as one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in America.

The Earth Conservation Corps recruits young people from Anacostia to join the last thing most of them ever considered -- an environmental program.

Saving both the river and the neighborhood is the goal of a group that teaches young people about the environment, and uses that experience in an effort to change the neighborhood and their lives, Ed Bradley reports.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Field Trip To Pennyfield Lock

Photo from birdingamerica.com

Join DC Audubon on Sunday, May 1, for a visit to Pennyfield Lock on the C & O Canal. Meet at the lock parking lot at 7 a.m. Directions are below but please bring a map since odometer readings may vary.

We expect Spring migration to be in full swing by then, and we'll enjoy the song and color of Orioles, Tanagers, Vireos, Warblers, and others. Our walk will start from the lock parking area and proceed slowly up the canal towpath (west) to around milepost 21, the "Seneca breaks," where we'll pause to enjoy the view of the Potomac River. We'll return by the same route. Total walking distance is around 2.5 miles. Bring water and a lunch or snacks if so inclined. Insect repellant and sunscreen highly recommended; the path is level but can be rocky so sturdy footwear is advised. We should be back to our cars by around noon.

If you intend to participate, visit the DC Audubon Site to RSVP

All replies should include a phone number where you can be reached the evening before the trip, should a last-minute weather postponement be necessary. The leader will attempt to put those in need of rides in touch with those willing to offer them. Please indicate in your reply if you would be willing to offer a ride to a birder near you who needs one, and the general vicinity you'll be coming from.

DIRECTIONS: From the Beltway (I-495) take River Road (exit 39) west 3.3 miles to Potomac. From the intersection with Falls Road (2nd traffic light), continue on River Rd. another 5.1 miles to Pennyfield Lock Road on the left. Take this road to the very end, bearing left at the bottom of the hill, and continuing to a small parking lot where a gated road leads to the lock just east.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Ornithologie Online

Fran├žois Nicolas Martinet engraved illustrations of birds for books by some of the most influential ornithologists in 18th-century France. Towards the end of his career, Martinet drew upon his experience engraving birds for others and published his own ornithology books, producing plates until his death sometime in the late 1780s or early 1790s. The Smithsonian has made Martinet's book of hand-colored illustrations, Ornithologie, available online.

Ganders Away


Virginia Beach is teaming up with community groups and animal activists, including an unlikely alliance with Norfolk-based People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, to help curb the geese population and usher them out of the city and elsewhere.

Tactics include: searching for goose eggs and rendering them unhatchable and scaring the birds from Mount Trashmore's lakes.

Two years ago, the city contracted with the Department of Agriculture to trap and kill or shoot an undetermined number of Canada geese and ducks at Trashmore.

The effort brought protests from residents and animal-rights groups and led to what some hope becomes a model for the rest of the region, thus bringing about the development of the new methods.

* The Virginian-Pilot Story

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Books On Birdsong

While Donald Kroodsma, a specialist in the interpretation of bird songs, has released a new book, The Singing Life of Birds: The Art and Science of Listening to Birdsong, he is also the subject of another book -- about those who listen to birds.

Birdsong, by Don Stap, details the work and passions of people who analyze the sounds of birds. Stap followed Kroodsma from the lab into the field to write his account of the researcher at work.

Listen to the NPR story

David Rothenberg, a jazz musician, explores birdsong through science, poetry and music in Why Birds Sing: A Journey Into the Mystery of Bird Song (Basic Books). He examines not only why birds sing, but what their songs mean to other birds and to humans, and how birdsongs can be instinctive or learned. He points out that although males sing to defend territory or attract mates, they also sing when no females or male competitors are present - perhaps, he suggests, because they simply enjoy singing. (AP Story)

Why is everyone aflutter over Birdsong? Birdsong may reveal clues to brain function. Listen for more on NPR.

Cedar Waxwing Not Welcome in Louisiana's Strawberry Fields

Tormented by strawberry-pilfering cedar waxwings, Louisiana berry farmers are dealing with the federally protected birds the only way they know how, with guns

With warm weather predicted for the next few days leading up to peak strawberry season and the Ponchatoula Strawberry Festival set for Friday through Sunday, farmers in Tangipahoa and Livingston parishes said the only challenge left is to keep the berries out of the birds' bellies.
One farmer, who planted about 17 acres, said his crew cleared Wal-Mart's stock of shotgun shells last week, as prime picking time got under way.

Unfortunately for that farmer and his strawberries, cedar waxwings are protected by the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918. Anyone caught shooting them could face up to six months in jail and a fine up to $15,000 for the misdemeanor, said Philip Siragusa, special agent with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Lafayette.

Cedar waxwings pose an annual threat, traveling the South in flocks in search of fleshy berries. But many growers said the feathered fruit eaters have stuck around longer than normal this winter.

More From The Times-Picayune
LIsten to the story on NPR

Sunday, April 10, 2005

She Comes Bob Bob Bobbin' Along

Spring is here at last. The Cherry Blossoms are painted pink across the Tidal Basin and Dawn is full of the songs of the American Robin. The National Wildlife Federation has a nice website dedicated to this harbinger of Spring.

Its name in Spanish is "mirlo primavera" which means spring blackbird. The robin is one of the first birds to sing in the morning and is one of the last to be heard at night. The male is most vocal, usually singing from high points in the morning and during courtship.

Secret Service Keeps Eye On Duck

The Secret Service, which has the job of guarding the president and other dignitaries, now has a new temporary duty -- protecting a mother duck and her nine eggs.

The duck, a brown mallard with white markings, has had several names suggested by Treasury Department people, including "Quacks Reform," "T-Bill," and "Duck Cheney." It has built a nest in a mulch pile right at the main entrance to the Treasury Department on Pennsylvania Avenue.

The Secret Service's uniformed division, which provides protection for the White House and Treasury building, has set up metal guard rails to protect the nest, which has attracted the notice of tourists on their way to see the White House. (CNN/AP Story)

Monday, April 04, 2005

Join The Neighborhood Nestwatch

Every spring, birds breed in our backyard. Some of these birds have survived the winter here while others have made the difficult trek from the tropics and the southern United States.

Team up with the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center and gather data by peeking into the backyard love lives of your neighborhood birds. Follow a their lifestyles as they build nests, lay eggs, and raise their chicks and maybe even return each Spring.

Eight species of birds are monitored by Neighborhood Nestwatch:

· Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis)
· American Robin (Turdus migratorius)
· Northern Mockingbird (Mimus polyglottis)
· House Wren (Troglodytes aedon)
· Gray Catbird (Dumatella carolinensis)
· Carolina Wren (Thryothorus ludovicianus)
· Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia)
· Carolina Chickadee (Parus carolinensis)

Have you seen any of them in your backyard?

Rock Creek Park, a sort of backyard for the District, has been a part of the Nestwatch in the past. The data collected is available in the Smithsonian website here.

An Evening With The Mother Goose Of The Whooping Cranes

Photo courtesy CBS News

It takes an unusual type of person to help teach a flock of birds to migrate. Flying in ultralight aircraft, that's exactly what Operation Migration pilots are doing by leading rare and endangered birds on their migration from wintry northern climes to warm southern locales. The organization's latest endeavor, working jointly with government agencies and other non-profit organizations, is to teach whooping cranes a migration route from central Wisconsin to the west coast of Florida.

Hope Takes Wing - A Journey To Save A Species is a 56-minute film chronicling the history of the Whooping crane and details their 2003 southward ultralight-guided journey, finishing with the cranes' somewhat different return trip north in the spring of 2004. A Lecture follows the film at 8 p.m. Joe Duff, one of Canada's leading commercial photographers, is Co-Founder of Operation Migration and was a key player in the production of the 1995 movie, "Fly Away Home."

General Electric Aviation Lecture
An Evening with Joe Duff
Wednesday, April 27
7:00 PM to 9:00 PM
Lockheed Martin IMAX® Theater Gallery
115 National Air and Space Museum, National Mall

Related stories on Blog: Whooping Crane Killed By Bobcat

IBA One Day In The District?

Audubon expands its conservation activities in Maryland and DC with the recognition of 14 Important Bird Areas. The list of the IBAs reflects the diversity of the Maryland-DC landscape, and includes expanses of Chesapeake Bay marshlands, stands of coastal plain forest, and even small mountain bogs in rural corners of Garrett County. Two specific examples are the 2,250-acre Chapman’s Forest in Charles County and the 5,000-acre Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge in Kent County. Chapman’s Forest qualified as an IBA based on its rich diversity of forest bird species. Eastern Neck NWR hosts tens of thousands of waterfowl in winter and is globally important for the Tundra Swan.

Important Bird Areas recognized in Maryland-DC

* Assateague Island, Worcester County.
* Belt Woods, Prince George’s County.
* Blackwater-Fishing Bay Marshes, Dorchester County.
* Central Chesapeake Islands, Somerset & Dorchester Counties.
* Chapman Forest, Charles County.
* Cranesville Swamp, Garrett County.
* Deal Island, Somerset County.
* Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge, Kent County.
* Finzel Swamp, Garrett County.
* Fort Smallwood, City of Baltimore.
* Hart-Miller Island, Baltimore County.
* Jug Bay, Anne Arundel & Prince George’s Counties.
* Maryland Coastal Bays, Worcester County.
* Wolf Swamp, Garrett County.

For a site to be included, it must, during at least some part of the year, contain critical habitat that supports (1) a significant population of an endangered or threatened species such as Piping Plover, Red-cockaded Woodpecker, or Kirtland’s Warbler; (2) a significant population of a Watch List species such as Black Rail, Cerulean Warbler, or Henslow’s Sparrow; (3) a significant population of a species with a limited range, such as Tricolored Blackbird, Yellow-billed Magpie, or Brown-capped Rosy-Finch; or (4) a significantly large concentration of breeding, migrating or wintering birds, including waterfowl, seabirds, wading birds, raptors or landbirds.

The IBA program is not just to recognize the sites, but to mobilize resources needed to protect them. An IBA designation is an important first step in raising awareness among the public, and among land managers, to the importance of each site and its value to bird conservation.

D.C Audubon hopes to win the IBA designation somewhere inside the District for sometime in the not so distant future.

* Info on IBAs
* National Important Bird Area Map