Saturday, October 10, 2009
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Saturday, September 19, 2009
Not a great picture, but fun to try and spot the fat, little hummingbird! With his tongue sticking out! Bittersweet time of year, when they're fattening up for their migration. They're slowing down and sitting still so it's a great opportunity to take pics. But it also means these summertime jewels will be leaving soon, and that really means the end of summer for me. And then I'll wait for their return next year...
Monday, September 7, 2009
Friday, August 28, 2009
Sunday, August 16, 2009
Thursday, August 13, 2009
Rare tropical birdskins similar to a selection stolen from the from the Natural History Museum's ornithological collection at Tring, Hertfordshire Photo: PA
Priceless tropical birds stolen from Natural History Museum
Thieves have stolen a priceless collection of tropical birds from the Natural History Museum collection in Tring, Hertfordshire. Curators said almost 300 brightly-coloured specimens were taken, some of which are more than a century old, and which are a priceless part of the world's ornithological heritage.
Detectives said the artefacts may have been stolen to order for a collector or for their valuable plumage. They fear the irreplaceable birds may be ripped apart for use as fishing lures, in dressmaking or costume jewellery. Detective Inspector Fraser Wylie, who is leading the inquiry, said the birds were clearly deliberately targeted, possibly by an expert. He said: ''This is a very unusual crime and we are keen to recover the bird skins, which are part of our national heritage.
''Some of these may be irreplaceable and have been part of our UK heritage for years. People have studied these for generations. ''We are appealing for anyone who may have seen any suspicious activity around the museum at the time of the break-in. Also, we would ask any collectors of such specimens to keep a watchful eye out in case they are offered anything resembling them.''
Professor Richard Lane, director of science at the Natural History Museum, said his staff were extremely upset by the theft. He said the birds play a key role in studying the history of their species and may prove impossible to replace. Prof Lane added: ''It is quite hard for us to express just how tragic this is to members of the museum. This is the nation's collection. These birds are extremely scarce: they are scarce in collections and even more scarce in the wild. Our utmost priority is working with the police to return these specimens to the national collections so that they can be used by future generations of scientists.''
Humans never cease to amaze me with their inability to just "be good." These skins are not only valuable to the folks at the Hertfordshire Museum - they are valuable to all of us and deserve to be respected. Just shameful.
Friday, August 7, 2009
Thursday, July 16, 2009
See the Bigger Picture - The Contest: "See the Bigger Picture" Photo Contest Details: At Airbus they believe that biodiversity is a major issue with an endangered future. Protecting biodiversity is everyone's responsibility, from individuals and families to big companies and organisations. That's why at Airbus they are supporting The Green Wave project, which is making people smarter about the complex variety of life on Earth and helping us to build a more sustainable future. To celebrate the amazingly varied world around us They're asking you to grab your camera and show the world what biodiversity means to you by entering the "See the Bigger Picture" photo contest.
The contest is open to all kids around the world. In the US and Canada, it is open to 6 to 14 year-olds. In the rest of the world, it is open to kids aged between 6 and 16. Submit one colour image that you think captures the spirit or idea of biodiversity. It could be a favourite tree or a plant, an animal or an insect, even a whole ecosystem (from your own back yard to somewhere you've visited on vacation) — your image should show people why biodiversity is a good thing that we should try to preserve.
The submitted photographs should: *Show an understanding of biodiversity *Be of a good quality *Be original and creative
How to enter: Digital images as labelled jpegs files or mail-in submissions, including image on CD Begins: June 5, 2009Final submissions: September 8, 2009
Monday, July 6, 2009
Monday, June 22, 2009
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
The North American Bird Phenology Program (BPP) has continued to grow in office and online participants as well as cards scanned and transcriptions completed online. I am very proud to announce our current progress:
· Migration Cards Scanned in the BPP Office: 272,766
· Migration Cards Currently Available Online: 124,424
· Migration Cards Transcribed Online: 135,584
· Number of Online Transcribers: 1,329
To see a full list of the species that have been scanned in the office and how many cards have been scanned of that species, please visit: http://www.pwrc.usgs.gov/bpp/DataAndStats.cfm.
The BPP team: Kevin Laurent, computer expert, and Kinard Boone, website designer, and Eric Tuner volunteer programmer, are continuing to make additions and revisions to both the data entry process and website. Please see below to check out what we are working on and email me at email@example.com with suggestions!
The Frequently Asked Questions page has recently been updated. Please look for changes and email me with any further suggestions.
What you can expect to see soon:
· Participants can choose which species or which locations he/she would like to transcribe.
· Updated website coming soon with new homepage layout and additional content
In an effort to showcase some of the hardworking online participants from around the world, I would like to ask you all to send in photos of you transcribing migration cards. Please email along with the picture, along with your name and location. A handful of the photos will be selected and highlighted on the “Featured Photos” webpage.
In some exciting news, the BPP will be featured in the July/August issue of Audubon Magazine which is expected be released at the end of June. Pick up a copy!
Thank you to the office volunteers who take time each week to scan migration cards! It has become a challenge to keep up with the feverish pace of the online transcribers and I appreciate their dedication to keeping everything running smoothly. We are, however, always in need of additional office volunteers. If you are in the Maryland/Washington D.C. area, and would like to help, please contact the BPP Office.
Please contact me if you have any questions or comments and don’t forget to check out the BPP website for more information.
Sunday, June 14, 2009
Saturday, June 13, 2009
Watch live video from Bluebird Box Nest Cam on Justin.tvCheck it out! The first egg (of this second nesting) was laid on June 7th. It looks like there will be only 4 eggs in this nesting.
Check this one out from Denise Robeson in Lincoln, Nebraska:
"The dove thought it was an ideal location, apparently (right next to a lantern, you'll notice)! In my opinion, this bird's feathers are so smooth and perfect you almost can't tell the bird is "real" (not stuffed, or fake...)....but she is! She was also indifferent to my presence....caring less that I was inches away from her, taking pictures. If only all my avian subjects were so helpful! (Barn swallow mothers dive bomb me, when I even approach their nests of babies...!) I think the location of the Baker's Rack nest is especially funny, since Baker's racks are often found in kitchens, with cookbooks on them (for instance). Ms. Mourning Dove decided to cook up a little recipe of her own (for babies)!"
Friday, June 12, 2009
Tonight you have some great options for activities:
7pm-11pm. Call 370-8053 for information.
7:30-9 pm. All ages Call 862-8539 to register.
Thursday, June 11, 2009
Very exciting - though all of my new sightings are exciting for me - We had 4 Pileated woodpeckers just twenty feet behind the house! Clearly, two must have been juveniles along with two adults. I was unable to get all four in one pic and :::again::: the pictures leave something to be desired, but here they are, and we were pretty hyped seeing them together. Naturally, they did not visit my feeder - as many of our customers know: Pam's Pileateds never visit the feeder, sure they are around, but they never eat what we offer. We have left our woods very natural - when trees fall we do not pull them out; so, they have lots of dead wood to peck around on for bugs.
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
Friday, June 5, 2009
Anyway, I found plans for the "sparrow spooker" online at www.sialis.org/sparrowspooker.htm and decided to try it. Everything I read was very positive, but I was still skeptical. I put it together according the "design #4" (basically because I had everything I needed just laying around the house), checked the nest yesterday (2 eggs), placed it according to the info online and waited to see what happened.
I hadn't seen either bluebird go anywhere near the box after I installed the spooker (although I wasn't watching it constantly), but when I checked this morning, mom had laid a 3rd egg !! She slipped inside while I wasn't looking, obviously.
As I watched the box (with spooker flying in the wind) this morning, I shot this photo of mom inside the box - it obviously didn't bother her at all !! What a relief !! I'll keep you posted as to how well it actually keeps other birds away.
Why would a raccoon be carrying around chipmunk? Oh, my, grab the camera!! She is carrying a baby raccoon!! Quick, Hurry! She was hauling her bulk as quickly as possible to the back of the sunroom. Then, up the corner of the house to the roof she went with her babe.
You see, we have this little roof over our front door. The roof is attached to the house just below the eve of the home proper. What this does is create a little space - just the perfect size for a critter, like a raccoon, to have a dry, safe place to have her young. We believe that they have been using this space for a good many years.
What must have happened is this. The baby fell off the porch roof, and momma shot down to the ground to retrieve her baby. Then the only way back up is to run around the house, go up the corner to the roof of the sunroom, climb from the roof of the sunroom to the roof of the house, go over the top of the house and drop down onto the roof of the porch. I can't wait for these little guys to make it back down here on their own - the pups are always so cute and frolicky.
Thursday, June 4, 2009
Can you ID my mystery turtle??
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
Tuesday, June 2, 2009
So, Kent states, "Martins!" and we both flip around to look at the gourd system that is very strategically placed on the edge of the back parking lot, between our store, Wild Birds Unlimited, and Las Palmas Mexican Restaurant. There they were, in and out of the gourds - so I ran and grabbed the camera. Lucky for me, one of them came back and posed at the top of the pole. I promise, this is not a "decoy martin."
I am very hopeful that they will return, and decide to nest with us. There are several successful colonies in the area, so although we are SO close to the mall, we may have a chance at helping these wonderful birds out. We will keep our fingers crossed through June - as there is still a chance for a new colony to start that late.
There are many things that people do not understand about these birds - ideas that have been perpetuated by some less than ethical, or simply misinformed, folks. If you want the real poop on these guys visit the Purple Martin Conservation Association site. We really like good science, and try to keep with that information.
Sunday, May 31, 2009
I had not anticipated that I would find any fodder for this blogging enterprise, but expect things when you least expect it. I did see three things that I have never seen before - So, add these to my Life List. LOL!!
We generally carry a phone with us when we walk, just in case there is an emergency, so that is what I had to use to take these pictures - please excuse the poor quality.
I am sure that most of you have seen this before, but for me it was a first... Baby Donkey. He was very cute hanging out with his momma.
Then we saw this VERY weird bug. I will have to check one of my insect field guides for this one. It was easily four inches long and pretty quick moving. The dogs were curious, but I was not likely to let them sniff. It's abdomen looked like it had pincers, as did its' head. Strange to the "n"th degree. Anyone able to keep me from looking this one up? Know what it is?Then finally, there was this wonderful patch of literally thousands of little mushrooms. They were growing under a huge Tulip Poplar. There was no way to capture the immensity of the patch - it was one of those things that you just have to remember.
Saturday, May 30, 2009
So, while we were picking - or rather, while Kent was picking, and I was playing with the dogs (remember, using ladder :::grin:::) - I noted several great birds competing with him for the sweet treats. In the hour that we were down there I saw a Gray Catbird, a juvenile Red-bellied Woodpecker, Downey Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker, Bluebird, Chickadee and Scarlet Tanager!! WOW!
Friday, May 29, 2009
I had a nice surprise this morning when the Mom and Dad bluebird showed up at the window feeder with all the kids! Man....! They look healthy! Must be that WBU mealworm diet I put them on!
I had 5 birds fledge, but only see the 4 now. I'm getting ready for the second nest ..(hopefully). I have installed the camera in the top of the box and will put it online when (if) they begin to build again.
I enjoy your blog. You have a lot going on in your neck of the woods!
Be sure to check out Spike's website: http://www.bluebirdlovers.com. I am sure that we will be seeing some great action out of his website!
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
This is not an uncommon occurance, and I receive many calls and emails from folks that see this when they open their box for monitoring.
Early in the season, Mardy called and said that there was a Chickadee that had taken over occupancy of the box that we put up specifically for the Bluebirds. As usual, I asked her to please allow the Chickadees to continue their nesting and then, after she removes the spent nest, perhaps the Bluebirds would come and try again. Several days later, I received another call with the information that the Bluebirds were now there, having decided to use the nest, and they were "fighting" for the right to use this box.
It seemed all was well, as several days later, there was laid one egg. Yea, it seemed that the Bluebirds would prevail and have their nest.... Never speak too soon when trying to determine what will happen in nature. By this time, the House Wrens had arrived in the area, and they had a different idea for that nest box. It is now clear that the Wrens have prevailed.
When the Wrens have finished, Mardy may remove all the nesting material and then possibly get a nesting pair of Bluebirds to take up residency again. Lucky for us, Bluebirds will nest several times during the season.
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Thank you so much for educating me about Bluebirds.
I bought several bags of dried meal worms and put them in my feeder.
Mama Bluebird found them right away and is feeding them to her three baby Bluebirds (yum!).
I am sure she is very grateful to WBU!
What a great Picture! The mealworms that she is feeding are an easy substitute for the live mealworms that many people feed their bluebirds. The dried variety are reliably available; whereas, the live mealworms may be difficult to acquire during the heat of the summer.
Sunday, May 24, 2009
and Papa Bluebird chowing down. It is my sincerest hope to catch more visitors in this hot spot - AND I don't have to drive all the way to LBL to enjoy the diversity of bird life... too cool.
Saturday, May 23, 2009
Driving home from the Franklin Wild Birds Unlimited store, I stopped at a light right there in Grassland, and there were a good dozen Black Vultures fighting over the carcass of a White-tailed deer that must have met his demise last night trying to cross Hillsboro Rd. Very sad, but... The Vultures knew what their job was, and got right to work cleaning up.
Note their nearly featherless heads - this helps them stay clean when sticking their heads into carrion when feeding. Black Vultures are often more aggressive than Turkey Vultures and may take over a cadaver that the Turkey Vultures have located and chase them away from it. Unlike Turkey Vultures which have a keen sense of smell, Black Vultures can find carrion only by sight--or by following the Turkey Vultures.
Back to my interest in Names, and common Names: The scientific name comes from korax, the Greek word for raven; gyps, which means a vulture; and from the Latin word atratus, meaning to be clothed in black, as in mourning. The Black Vulture has also been known as a Carrion Crow, Black Buzzard, and Jim Crow.
Saturday, May 16, 2009
Wow...looks like my bluebirds are about to leave the box (I estimate that they will fledge in the next couple of days). Mom and Dad are still busy feeding, but these little guys look like they are ready to take on the world for themselves. It's been a lot of fun !!
Thursday, May 14, 2009
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
Volunteers can assist researchers to better understand historic and current life cycles of plants and animals, by participating in phenology.
There are six million personal observations about bird migrations written down on note cards and stored away in vintage government file cabinets. Collected as part of the North American Bird Phenology Program (BPP), the observations reflect ninety years of data on the migration paths and distribution of birds across North America for a better than ninety year period.
A Window into Climate Change
Researchers have come to recognize the value of the BPP data as a cornerstone in study of climate change and its effects on birds. The most immediate problem scientists have now is transcribing the data into a database that will be useful for research and they are looking for the public’s help.
In a press release announcing renewed interest in the historic data, Coordinator of the North American Bird Phenology Program at the USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center says, "These cards, once transcribed, will provide over 90 years of data, an unprecedented amount of information describing bird distributions, migration timing, and migration pathways and how they are changing. There is no other program that has the same historical depth of information that can help us understand the effect that global climate change has on bird populations across the country. When combined with current information, scientists will better understand how birds are responding to climate change and how to develop tools to help manage that change, especially for at-risk species."
The effort to document the historic movement of birds in North America was started by Wells W. Cooke in 1880 to better understand and expand the knowledge of their migrations. Renowned naturist C. Hart Merriam expanded the program throughout the United States and Canada through the use of volunteer observers. There were 3,000 volunteers working within the program during the late 1880s and the Federal government kept the program active until 1970. Scientific interest in the bird migration records caused the program to be reopened in 2008.
Researchers describe the collection of observation cards as a treasure trove of natural history. Concerned USGS employees kept track of the card’s locations while the program was extinguished. Fortunately they survived the period of disinterest with no apparent harm. Participants in the BPP recorded bird names, location and dates of arrival, departure and peaks of abundance. The cards often bear personal remarks about a significant sighting or event.
Get involved today!
I have been transcribing cards off and on since March, and I must say, it is VERY interesting to think about all these volunteers, from Boy Scouts, to Park Rangers, to Citizen Scientists like us, all putting pen to paper to note what they were seeing. As technology changes there is always the need to bring the old data into the next century. I would hate for these folks' work to be in vain.
Sunday, May 10, 2009
Saturday, May 9, 2009
I was mowing our lawn...mostly because it finally was NOT raining, and I had a sneaky suspicion that my hubby would have to work late... Anyhoo- as I was attempting to mow around one of our bushes, I suddenly saw a flash of yellow after pulling the mower backwards. I stopped the mower to check out what had caught my eye. This tiny baby Box turtle was the result! I'm so glad I didn't injure it- he/she was just too cute for words! I placed him in the forest just behind our house. I figure any baby turtle that survives a lawn mower should be able to make it in the wild just fine. :)