Photo: Mike Fernandez/Audubon
A couple years ago we linked to a story about urban murals and now, progress:
Greater Sage-Grouse by George Boorujy
Location: 3920 Broadway, New York, NY 10032
The Audubon Mural Project is a collaboration between the National Audubon Society and Gitler &_____ Gallery to create murals of climate-threatened birds throughout John James Audubon’s old Harlem‐based neighborhood in New York City.
Pinyon Jay by Mary Lacy
Location: 3668 Broadway, New York, NY 10032
The project is inspired by the legacy of the great American bird artist and pioneering ornithologist and is energized by Audubon’s groundbreaking report “Survival By Degrees.” Audubon’s scientists have found that climate change will threaten at least half of all North American birds with extinction, and that no bird will escape the impacts of climate-change-related hazards like increased wildfire and sea-level rise. The project commissions artists to paint murals to call attention to this problem, and it has been widely covered in the media, including The New York Times.
On the website where Audubon features these murals you can click through to see the individual stories of each, including lots of interesting species information:
Clockwise from top left: Black-and-white Warbler, Scarlet Tanager, John James Audubon, depiction of Russell Lee’s 1941 photo of Chicago, Magnolia Warbler, James Lancaster’s hand, and Tree Swallow. Photo: Mike Fernandez/Audubon
Location: 1883, 1885, and 1887 Amsterdam, New York, NY 10032 Continue reading
A hairstreak butterflies in a Florida backyard. Photo © Bill Spitzer / TNC Photo Contest 2019
If you are fortunate enough to have a yard of your own, consider this suggestion by Charles Fergus:
By itself, a plain grass lawn is stark and visually unappealing—which is why most homeowners add shrubs, flower beds, and specimen trees. Today, there’s a new movement afoot known as natural landscaping: using native trees, shrubs, and low plants to add textural diversity to a yard while attracting and benefiting wildlife.
Research has shown that seeing wildlife around your home—hearing birds sing, glimpsing brightly colored butterflies and dragonflies, seeing a garter snake slither into a stone wall— makes life more enjoyable.
Many of us have a visceral need to be in touch with wild creatures and to acknowledge that we ourselves are part of nature, even if we live in suburbs and other settings where housing is dense. Continue reading
These owls have adoring human neighbors. Their burrow is dug on the lawn of a couple who, along with their grandson, delight in seeing the birds nest year after year on the property; they even intentionally leave one of their cars parked outside the garage, to offer the tiny owls shade. This year the owl pair had six chicks, five of which survived to fledge. Photo: Karine Aigner
Thanks to Audubon’s great team for this story of urban adaptation:
Locals and researchers are working to keep Marco Island hospitable to the birds, which are declining across the state, as development devours the vacant lots where they make their homes.
Biologist Allison Smith’s car serves as a mobile workspace for monitoring owls on Marco. She temporarily transfers birds she captures to the back, where she weighs, measures, and bands them before returning them to their burrows. Photo: Karine Aigner
Fate would not smile kindly on the six feathered inches of furious resignation splayed belly up in the left hand of Allison Smith. Wings slightly spread, the young Florida Burrowing Owl’s penny-wide green eyes remained unblinking at the indignity of such a position. Intent on banding and measuring the chick before taking a blood sample from an under-wing vein, Smith couldn’t foresee its future.
Neither could volunteer Jean Hall. She was helping Smith, a graduate student in wildlife ecology at the University of Florida, band several offspring from the same family as part of Owl Watch, a community-scientist research collaboration funded by Audubon of the Western Everglades.
The Gulf Coast barrier island of Marco, a 7,700-acre dry-land dollop of one-time mangroves lying in turquoise and azure waters south of Naples, is now thick with houses, condominiums, strip malls, resort hotels, marinas, and golf courses, along with 18,000 year-round residents. The population swells to some 40,000 each winter. Continue reading
Wood Storks nesting in the Everglades. Photo: Mac Stone
Thanks to By Andy McGlashen, the Associate Editor of Audubon Magazine, for this bright spot on the horizon, a signal that long shot comebacks are possible:
An official report says that South Florida’s wading birds had an even better 2018 than we thought.
A year ago, Everglades scientists and environmentalists were ecstatic about what looked like a blockbuster breeding season for South Florida’s wading birds. Turns out, it was far better than those early estimates indicated. New data show that the region hosted its biggest colonies of waders in more than 80 years, offering a flashback to the historical Everglades and a glimpse of how the ecosystem again could look once restored.
All told, wading birds built 138,834 nests throughout South Florida, with 122,571 of them in the Everglades, according to an annual report released last week by the South Florida Water Management District. That’s about three and a half times the average for the past 10 years, making it the strongest nesting season since before the region’s hydrology was transformed with engineering projects that made development possible but also contributed to steep declines in wading bird numbers. Continue reading
From left: Judith Mirembe, Kimberly Kaufman, Leticia de Mello Bueno, Molly Adams. Photos, from left: Esther Ruth Mbabazi, Camilla Cerea/Audubon, Jayme Gershen, Eva Deitch
It would never have occurred to me to think about this, but I am fine with the surprise:
For decades female birders have been the silent majority. Now they’re starting their own movements to transform a privileged culture.
On the surface, birding might seem like neutral ground—an activity that any curious, nature-loving person can enjoy, regardless of age or gender. Go on a hike with your local ornithological club and at least half the attendees will be women. Circle the marsh with your binoculars and you’ll probably see a woman doing the same.
But female birders don’t always feel comfortable in the field, even with the rising awareness around #MeToo. Many of us keep on despite frequent put-downs and hostility, enduring dismissive comments about our knowledge and in the worst cases, sexual harassment. I’ve had men touch my hips to correct my perfectly fine birding stance. A ranger at a national wildlife refuge winked and told me about his “big, loaded gun.” My friends have been propositioned in parks and stalked by drivers along country roads. Not even a 16-year-old can bird in peace without commenters attacking her abilities and life list.
Like most matters of importance, women have been integral to birding from the get-go. Female ornithologists drew attention to avifauna in the late 1800s, and suffragists helped the movement take off in the early 1900s. Today, 42 percent of U.S. birders identify as women. Personally, female birders have run my world ever since I picked up a field guide in college. My ornithology professor was a woman. My boss at Audubon is a woman, as are most of my colleagues throughout the office. My birding circle is mainly members of the Feminist Bird Club.
And yet men have the loudest voices and the most power in the industry. The closer you get to the top of the birding, conservation, and academic ranks, the more the gender balance tips. At Audubon, for instance, the executive staff is 75 percent male, and the organization has never had a female president in its 114 years. This pattern persists industry wide. Men hold the highest positions at the American Birding Association, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, and the American Bird Conservancy. They dominate bookshelves, festivals, competitions, and gear and travel ads. They build their reputations and livelihoods around the practice and reap the greatest profits…
And the feature immediately after continues the theme with the first of five substories:
The Phoebes, a female-centric birding group formed by members of the Tropical Audubon Society. Photo: Jayme Gershen
Birding for Solidarity: The Phoebes
Eight women decided they had enough of the sport’s competitiveness, so they created a community to lift their sisters up. Continue reading
It’s been 5 years since we first began highlighting the Great Backyard Bird Count, a citizen science collaboration between the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, the Audubon Society and Bird Studies Canada. Since then, we’ve participated in 3 countries, on 2 continents, primarily in birding hotspots such as the Periyar Tiger Reserve in Kerala, India, a special corridor of avian biodiversity in the foothills of Poas Volcano in Costa Rica, and Baja California Sur, Mexico.
The data that is collected by thousands of individual birders for eBird has long range benefits for monitoring both the health and range of particular species, as well as the state of the planet as species have to adapt to changing climate.
The map above indicates the locations from which checklists have been submitted (each gray dot represents a list, and the larger yellow dots are a moment frozen in time when a list has just been submitted. I highly recommend clicking on the image to view the site and watch the “lists” pop through the map!) Initially the GBBC only took place in North America, and birders worldwide rejoiced when it was expanded into a global event. (We were in India at the time, so I kid you not.) Continue reading
A swallow-tailed kite and 12 other birds painted by Lunar New Year.
Tricolored Heron by Federico Massa a.k.a. iena cruz. Photo: Mila Tenaglia
Murals with birds always capture our attention; we cannot resist linking to such initiatives when they are cleverly conceived, elegantly executed, and perfectly placed. Enjoy this epic series, a fitting tribute to the National Audubon Society:
Photo: Mike Fernandez/Audubon
The Audubon Mural Project is a collaboration between the National Audubon Society and Gitler & Gallery to create murals of climate-threatened birds throughout John James Audubon’s old Harlem‐based neighborhood in New York City. The project is inspired by the legacy of the great American bird artist and pioneering ornithologist and is energized by Audubon’s groundbreaking Birds and Climate Change Report, which reveals at least half of all North American birds are threatened by a warming climate. The project commissions artists to paint murals of each of the report’s 314 species, and has been widely covered in the media, including most recently by The New York Times.
Thanks to the Editorial Board of the New York Times for reminding us of this:
Louise Jones, with her husband, Gabe, working on a mural of an evening grosbeak. Credit Photographs by Karsten Moran for The New York Times
In his final years, John James Audubon, the celebrated 19th-century painter of bird life, lived in rustic uptown Manhattan in a house by the Hudson where some of his final paintings were of urban rats that caught his eye. Continue reading
You probably cannot do much better, if you are just getting interested in birdwatching, than to have a primer like this one. The author, in the pantheon of ornithology according to the birdwatchers I know, spends half an hour sharing some of the basics in this podcast:
This week’s Please Explain is all about birdwatching. We chat with ornithologist David Allen Sibley, a leading expert in the field. Sibley is the author of The Sibley Guide to Birds, a reference work and field guide for the birds found in the North American region. He offers details and illustrations of 810 species of birds, with information about identification, life history, vocalizations, and geographic distribution. According to the Audubon Society, “There are 47 million birdwatchers. But there is only one David Sibley.”
In the final minutes Mr. Sibley answers a question that has been of interest to the staff of Chan Chich Lodge in recent months. Do bird feeders have any adverse effect on the birds they attract? In short, no. So today we returned the hummingbird feeders to their longstanding perches on the dining room deck. Birds, staff, and guests are all happy with this decision.
This podcast serves as a good reminder of an opportunity we are inviting birdwatchers of all skill levels to join us for. We have already posted about it here, and earlier here as well. Come join the fun!
We love this amazing poster from Pop Chart Lab as much as the link to find it. The site’s zoom function gets you closer to the fantastic detail.
Take a look!
Perhaps our most ambitious taxonomical undertaking yet, this is your field guide to the birds of North America! The product of over 400 hours of intricate illustration work by our talented team of artists, this unabridged aviary features over 740 fair-feathered friends drawn to scale and sorted by species, covering the continent’s avifauna (both native and introduced, as designated by the National Audubon Society and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology) from common sparrows, jays, and owls to rarer birds such as the Greater Sage-Grouse, the California Condor, and the Whooping Crane. An ornithological opus like no other, this classificatory treasure is perfect for amateur and eagle-eyed birdwatchers alike. Continue reading
This article published by Audubon (click their banner below to go there) continues to provide fresh illumination on the basics of eBird; also on why we have made eBird central to our birding activities for guests in recent years, and why Chan Chich Lodge is collaborating with the Lab of Ornithology this Global Big Day event .
Since its launch in 2002, eBird has revolutionized the way birders worldwide report and share their observations. A joint project by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Audubon, eBird is a free online program that allows birders to track their sightings, while other birders watch and search in real-time. Articles have been written about eBird with mind-bending titles like, “eBird Changed My Life” and “The Agony and Ecstasy of Surrendering to eBird.” In a front-page science headline in 2013, The New York Times called it “Crowdsourcing, for the Birds,” and concluded that eBird is “a revelation for scientists” and gives birders “a new sense of purpose.” Continue reading
When guests of Chan Chich Lodge told me last evening about their local Audubon Center in Connecticut (USA), my first thought was a memory of the Audubon Center in my hometown, also in Connecticut, and how essential it was to the decisions I made to do what I do today.
Then they mentioned Bird Tales, and I had never heard of anything like this before, but it made so much sense to me I thought I should excerpt the description here and point it out to the many bird-centric visitors to our platform here (click the image to the left to go to the website of the Center that created the program):
…Initially working with four facilities operated by Transcon Corporation, our Audubon Center Bent of the River Education Program Manager, Ken Elkins, incorporated Audubon at Home environmental principles into the goals of these facilities to improve the quality of life for their residents. Continue reading
Thanks to Audubon, as always, for taking us somewhere else, if only for a moment. Forget the events around you long enough to click the banner above; consider the native foliage you might plant when weather permits: Continue reading
Cinnamon Hummingbird (Amazilia rutila) Sierra El Tuito, Jalisco, Mexico 21/01/2008 © Glen Tepke
The Chan Chich team was recently host to Christmas Bird Count participants from the Belize Audubon Society. Assisted by the Chan Chich guides, the team of ten birders tallied a total of 185 species over a 2-day period. Among the most notable species, was the addition of the Cinnamon Hummingbird, which is the furthest inland record in the country. This tiny coastal hummingbird has been steadily expanding its range inland, but this time it reached Laguna Verde, the natural, spring-fed lake within the Chan Chich conservation area. Continue reading
Seth’s work at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, with the Celebrate Urban Birds initiative helped us all get a close look at citizen science in action. Past Christmas counts since then have been an annual tradition in these pages. Thanks to Lisa Feldcamp for a note on this topic with her post Give Kids the Gift of Birding on The Nature Conservancy’s website Cool Green Science:
The annual Christmas Bird Count is one of birding’s most cherished traditions. This year, consider introducing the count to a child. There’s no better time to get a youngster started in birding.
“When I was a kid in a large family of eight kids in Upstate New York, my parents told us we could do anything that cost less than $5; baseball, boy scouts, or birding,” says Tom Rusert of Sonoma Birding. “I joined Junior Audubon with my brothers, not realizing it would be a life sport to enjoy forever. It really is no different than any other sport.” Continue reading
Bald Eagle and Great Blue Herons. Photo: Bonnie Block/Audubon Photography Awards
Readers of this site have come to expect an avian presence – daily in the form of our Bird of the Day posts, as well as frequently in our applause of many citizen science programs.
We send out a hearty applause to the 2016 Audubon Photography Award winners – especially the youth and amateur contributors. We’ve posted a few of the fabulous shots here, but be sure to follow this link for the entire set and the details and story behind each shot.
Osprey. Photo: Dick Dickinson/Audubon Photography Awards
Participants: More than 1,700
Images entered: Nearly 7,000
Categories: Amateur, Professional, Fine Art, Youth
Entrants from: 50 states, 6 provinces, District of Columbia Continue reading
We like the Audubon Society, the publications they produce, and of course, the artist himself. Over the last half decade, a new CEO for the Society has rewritten their strategic plan and seen overwhelming success in involvement of all sorts. Elsa Wenzel interviewed this CEO, David Yarnold, for GreenBiz:
The Audubon Society appears to be doing everything right in social media and marketing. It’s got apps, maps, a buzz on social media, an engaging website and a funny blog. It’s hip to crowdsourcing and citizen science: In just one weekend, 163,000 of its volunteers recorded on smartphones their sightings of more than 5,000 bird species. Audubon said its digital platforms reach a million people, a staggering climb from just 35,000 a couple of years ago.
Much credit for this goes to David Yarnold, CEO and president. He joined Audubon in 2010 after a long career in journalism at the Pulitzer-winning San Jose Mercury News, and a stint as president at the Environmental Defense Fund.
Our interest in birds shouldn’t come as a surprise to readers of these pages. With contributors Seth and Justin on a Smithsonian Expedition in search of the Golden Swallow, over 3 years of our Bird of the Day feature from many talented photographers, and a plethora of posts about the subject, we assume it’s obvious.
Prior to 2013 the Great Backyard Bird Count focussed on North America, but that year it went global and the results were amazing! Continue reading
We first shared news of this fascinating species’ strange movements late last year, and since then the unusual Bubo scandiacus behavior has only been more eye-catching.
Last week, the New York Times reported that the Boston area is “seeing the largest number of snowy owls ever recorded,” and that birdwatchers had even spotted a Snowy Owl in Bermuda. See the excerpt from John Schwartz’s article below:
Norman Smith releasing a snowy owl in Duxbury, Mass., that had recently been captured at Logan airport in Boston. Photo by Gretchen Ertl for The New York Times
“This year’s been bizarre,” said Dan Haas, a birder in Maryland. “The numbers have been unprecedented. Historic.”
No one is sure why so many snowies are showing up in so many places — whether it can be attributed to more food in their Arctic habitats than usual, or climate change at the top of the world. “Think about the canary in the coal mine,” said Henry Tepper, the president of Mass Audubon, “you think about the snowy owl in the Arctic.” Continue reading