Saturday, January 7, 2017

The Birding Community e-bulletin for January 2017

The Birding Community E-bulletin is distributed to active and concerned birders, those dedicated to the joys of birding and the protection of birds and their habitats.
This issue is sponsored by the producers of superb quality birding binoculars and scopes, Carl Zeiss Sport Optics:
You can access an archive of past E-bulletins on the website of the National Wildlife Refuge Association (NWRA):

Red-flanked Bluetail is an Old-World species which breeds sparingly in eastern Finland and northwestern Russia, and from western Siberia to Sakhalin Island, the Kamchatka Peninsula, and south to Japan. The species winters in the Indian Subcontinent, the Himalayas, Taiwan, and northern Indochina.
As for North American occurrences, the species is casual in western Alaska, primarily in the western Aleutians. It has also been found a couple of times in California (e.g., SE Farrallon Island in 1989 and San Clemente Island in 2011). In 2013, one of these charming little Eurasian flycatchers was also found, at Queen's Park, New Westminster, in the Metro Vancouver area of British Columbia where it remained to delight many observers.
This species could potentially occur elsewhere on the mainland West Coast, such as Washington or Oregon, or again in California or British Columbia. But on 26 December, John Walter Hanna found one at Hell's Gate State Park, not far from Lewiston, Idaho. Yes, Idaho! Who could have imagined?
The bird was very active in brushy habitat at the bottom of a slope next to the river in the park, but it was sometimes difficult to obtain lengthy views of the bird. It would periodically disappear for five or more minutes, only to reappear, 100 feet away, but calling frequently. For an original photo, see here:
Not only did this Red-flanked Bluetail in Idaho remain through the end of the month, but on 29 December, another Red-flanked Bluetail was also identified in British Columbia, at Lazo Wildlife Park in Comox. (It was actually first seen on 22 December, but not identified until the 29th.) The bird remained through the end of the month.
Last month, we encouraged readers to be on the alert for strange and rare ducks. We even mentioned the short visit in late November of an immature Common Shelduck in Rivière Brochu, Gallix, Quebec, located on the north shore of the Gulf of St. Lawrence:
The possibility of a natural occurrence of this Old-World species in North America has been confounded by the chance of escapes from waterfowl collections, even though Common Shelducks are increasing across much of Europe, including Iceland. All early-winter records for this species in eastern Canada and New England suggest a need for careful re-evaluation.
With this in mind three Common Shelducks found feeding with American Black Ducks and Mallards in Saint John, New Brunswick, on 17 December were of some interest. The shelducks were found by Kelly Honeyman, Samantha Brewster and Jim Wilson during the local St. John Christmas Bird Count. These birds were found intermittently through the end of the month
The case for legitimately wild Common Shelducks is sounding more convincing. For more details (and a photo) on the three New Brunswick birds, see here:
And for readers wishing to see a thorough discussion of the question of origin in Common Shelducks in North America, see Brinkley, E.S. (2010. The changing seasons: Provenance. North American Birds 64:20-31).
On the opposite coast, in Humboldt County, California, another rare Old-World duck was discovered on 22 December. It was a Common Pochard, a rare visitor to Alaska, with a few previous records for California and Canada (Quebec). The Common Pochard also remained through the end of the month.
As we mentioned last month, there are plenty of "odd ducks" out there still to be found. Remember, this is still an ideal season to find them too, so keep your eyes open and keep looking!
At the request of the State of Tennessee, in early Decemberthe U.S. Department of the Interior agreed to designate almost 75,000 acres of mountain habitat along 569 miles of ridgeline as unsuitable for surface coal mining operations. This was the result of a decade of activity, during which time many citizens worked on a Tennessee petition to declare a 1,200-foot corridor (600 feet on each side of the ridgelines) in the North Cumberland Wildlife Management Area and Emory River Tract Conservation Easement as unsuitable for surface coal mining operations. The petitioned area originally encompassed about 67,326 acres.
The area is an important wildlife corridor, providing habitat for black bear, elk, and many songbirds, including Cerulean Warbler. It is also the region where much important Cerulean Warbler research has been done under contract with the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency.
"This is great news for the hunters, anglers, hikers, and birders who come, year after year, to enjoy this incredible place," said Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell. "I applaud the State for their forward-looking vision that will help strengthen the local economy and help protect a critical watershed."
The Office of Surface Mining and Reclamation Enforcement (OSMRE) at the Department of the Interior studied six possible options for the designation, including a "no-action" alternative that would deny the petition altogether. In fact, the option chosen was based on public comments and a robust evaluation, including improved aerial mapping technology that more accurately reflected the State's original objectives.
The designated area is part of the Cumberland Mountains Important Bird Area, an IBA of global significance because of its "assemblage of biome-restricted species," with special reference to Cerulean Warbler.
In the words of Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN), an opponent of mountaintop removal mining, "Secretary Jewell's decision to approve the State of Tennessee's petition... in Anderson, Campbell, Morgan and Scott counties as unsuitable for mining will help safeguard our state's mountains without affecting mining operations in other parts of these counties, or elsewhere in Tennessee. This means these ridgetop landscapes - and the rivers, streams and forests that surround them - can continue to bring millions of tourists and thousands of jobs to Tennessee."
The designation does not impact existing mining operations within the area, but it does constitute added de facto protection for the New and Emory Rivers running through the designated area that provide clean drinking water to thousands of Tennesseans.
For details on the Cumberland Mountains IBA, see here:
For additional information about worldwide IBA programs, including those in the U.S., check the National Audubon Society's Important Bird Area program web site at:
Outdoor recreation is a very large contributor to the American economy. It could be half a percent of the entire nation's economy. Hiking, canoeing, camping, birding, hunting, fishing, climbing, mountain biking, are all parts of the picture. Americans are buying all sorts of related equipment and also paying handsomely for the privilege of access to the outdoors. But how much, exactly, are they spending these days? How large is the "outdoor recreation economy"?
In 2005 and 2011 the Outdoor Industry Foundation commissioned studies to make some serious measurements. The results for the outdoor recreation economy were surprising. Up to an astounding $646 billion is attributed to annual consumer spending! While many of the industry's players accepted that number at face value, others insisted on better metrics and more tightly-run surveys.
What emerged was a congressional call for a piece of bipartisan legislation that passed both the House and Senate and was signed into law by President Obama on 8 December. The Outdoor Recreation Jobs and Economic Impact Act of 2016, or REC Act, directs the Department of Commerce to enter into a joint memorandum with the Department of Agriculture and the Department of the Interior to conduct an assessment and analysis of the outdoor recreation economy of the United States and the effects attributable to it on the overall U.S. economy. The data will be collected and analyzed through the highly-respected Bureau of Economic Analysis at the Department of Commerce.
Two multi-year phases in the project could produce tangible results by 2020.
"It's long overdue," says Bob Ratcliffe, the National Park Service's recreation chief. "We've never really understood how the outdoor recreation economy works. When you start talking about communities and states that have a high degree of outdoor recreation in their economy, it's important to understand it just as you would energy or trade or tariffs."
For more details, see here:

Lost Among the Birds by Neil Hayward (2016 Bloomsbury) chronicles in poignant detail the author's record-setting "Accidental Big Year" in 2013.  By finding 749 species in North America in one year, Neal Hayward successfully eclipsed the standing record of 748 species set in 1998.  However, unlike most of his predecessors in this near-Olympic birding endeavor, Hayward didn't initially plan to do a Big Year until well into 2013!  As the book's subtitle suggests, the author recounts "Accidentally Finding Myself in One Very Big Year."
Unlike similar Big Year-type accounts, this beautifully and sensitively written volume is not just about chasing birds - rather it's an autobiographical journey describing self-discovery, personal love, and a passion for birds seldom folded into one story.  Readers get to know and feel both the pathos of Hayward's inner journey, as well as the enjoyment of finding and pursuing some of the most exciting bird species on the continent.  His descriptions of exotic and often remote regions (many no doubt familiar to some readers) and the spectacular birds that inhabit them are worthy in their own right, but when Hayward's personal story is intimately bound with these avian pursuits, the end result is a thoroughly enjoyable read.
What good is a wildlife refuge, a park, a state or national forest full of birds and other wildlife if the public has a problem getting to the place? It is unrealistic to expect appreciation when access is a barrier.
There are many state and federal agencies addressing this question today, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is among them.
Over 100 National Wildlife Refuges are within 25 miles of large and medium-size cities. But the staff at the National Wildlife Refuge System is asking: "How many urban refuges are truly accessible to people who have physical, financial and other issues that might be barriers to getting into nature?  How can wildlife refuge staff work with others to provide those connections to increase visitation and better connect people to nature?" These are essential questions, intrinsic to the issue of real access and core to a new study launched for refuges.
The Urban Transportation Connections Study will be collecting transportation-related data for those 100+ refuges. That should allow the Refuge System to establish baseline information about the condition of transportation facilities.
The effort which is being coordinated with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has started with seven of the regional priority wildlife refuges:  Steigerwald Lake/Pierce in Washington, Santa Ana in Texas, Detroit River International Refuge in Michigan, Bayou Sauvage in Louisiana, Rocky Mountain Arsenal in Colorado, and Don Edwards San Francisco Bay Refuge.
Most of these seven are well-known localities for birdlife, and all support either "specialty" birds for their areas or certain species in impressive numbers.
The transportation study is expected to be completed by September 2017. Ultimately, it will summarize existing conditions, uncover gaps in transportation services and systems, and will recommend improvements to essential access.
You can find more details here:
In past January issues of the Birding Community E-Bulletin (e.g., 2009, 2010, and 2014) we have offered some modest suggestions for New Year's resolutions. Accordingly, we are offering some bird-oriented suggestions again for 2017.
What follows is a three-part, bird-oriented resolution for2017:
First, take the time to enjoy birds this year. This is a good idea whether you expect to spend time in your back yard, on local or national trips, or even abroad. Simply relax, enjoy yourself, and relish the wonder of birds. This is potentially the easiest part of our suggested three-part resolution.
Second, resolve to share the wonder of birds with others. Take others out and help them discover the amazing world of birds that has already inspired you. Introduce birds to your neighbor, a co-worker, a local teacher, a local office-holder, or a group of kids.
Finally, and this is particularly important, do something to secure the future for birds. It doesn't have to be a huge endeavor, but it should be directed at whatever local, regional, or international effort fits you best. You can help make a difference to protect birds, but it only happens if you make that initial deliberate effort.
Enjoy, share, protect. This is a winning formula for a successful resolution in 2017. Best of luck to you all!

You can access all the past E-bulletins on the National Wildlife Refuge Association (NWRA) website:
If you wish to distribute or reproduce all or parts of any Birding Community E-bulletin, we simply request that you mention the source of any material used. (Include a URL for the E-bulletin archives, if possible.)

If you have colleagues who might be interested in this month's E-bulletin, you can most efficiently forward the E-bulletin to them using the "Forward email" feature on the bottom of this page. This retains the clearest text and presentation formatting.

Also, if you have any friends or co-workers who want to get onto the monthly E-bulletin mailing list, they can also simply contact either:
            Wayne R. Petersen
            Director, Massachusetts Important Bird Areas (IBA) Program
            Mass Audubon
            Paul J. Baicich
            Great Birding Projects           
We never lend or sell our E-bulletin recipient list.

Friday, December 30, 2016

status of and monitoring of aerial insectivores in Ontario

Learn about what's happening with swifts and swallows in Ontario, and studies underway, by going to:

" Is the sky falling? Probably not, but the birds that spend their time up there are certainly telling us something is wrong. Swallows, swifts, and nightjars are "aerial insectivores" - birds that specialize on eating flying insects. They spend most of their time flying overhead. Over the last 40 years, aerial insectivores have undergone steeper declines than any other group of birds in Canada."

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Conservation Research at the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center

Go to the website of the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center to learn about the Conservation Research they are conducting:

Among other species, Wood Thrush is one of their areas of focus:
"Wood Thrush was once a common bird throughout North America, well-known for its beautiful flute-like song. Despite substantial conservation efforts, the charismatic species has steadily declined over the past 25 years. SMBC scientists are working to untangle which factors negatively impact wood thrush on public lands. Our scientists are helping the Department of Defense develop proactive management plans and hopefully mitigate wood thrush population declines."

Thursday, December 8, 2016

IUCN Red List - a mix of bad news and good news for endangered birds

"This year’s IUCN Red List update delivers a chilling warning about the plight faced by some of the world’s most popular cagebirds, with many much-loved species now being trapped and traded into near-extinction in the wild."

and some good news:

"The 2016 Red List also delivered some encouraging news from far-flung islands all across the globe.
Birds confined to just a single island or archipelago are some of the most at-risk species in the world, not only because their range is so small, but because they are often ill-equipped to face the threats of predators such as cats and rats when they are introduced to the island. For this reason, a big percentage of existing avian extinctions are island endemics.However, a deluge of downlistings in this year’s Red List shows that conservation work can help struggling island populations to rebound."

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

The Birding Community E-Bulletin - Dec 2016

The Birding Community E-Bulletin
The Birding Community E-bulletin is distributed to active and concerned birders, those dedicated to the joys of birding and the protection of birds and their habitats.
You can access an archive of past E-bulletins on the website of the National Wildlife Refuge Association (NWRA):

On 30 October, Raul Delgado photographed an Amazon Kingfisher at Zacate Creek in Laredo, Texas. Readers with a good memory may remember that the first North American record of Amazon Kingfisher was in 2010, also in Laredo. That female kingfisher stayed just over a week before disappearing in early February. It was the rarity of the month at the time:
Interestingly, the Amazon Kingfisher found at the end of October was at the same exact spot on Zacate Creek. Could she be the very same bird? Perhaps, if not most likely.
In any case, this year's Amazon Kingfisher remained for the entire month of November, mostly frequenting a stretch of the creek between the local dam and a water-treatment facility, delighting many observers throughout its prolonged stay. In fact, there were so many visitors that the City of Laredo erected a yellow-tape boundary barrier to keep bird watchers out of the immediate creek area.
Amazon Kingfishers normally ranges from Mexico (no closer than southern Tamaulipas) to Argentina and Uruguay. The Amazon Kingfisher is the largest "green" kingfisher in the Americas.
For a photo of the bird taken by Raul Delgado and to gain further details, see here:
On the subject of the possibility of repeat appearances by rare birds, there was also a male Common Scoter found and photographed at Siletz Bay National Wildlife Refuge in Lincoln County, Oregon, on 13 November. Later in the day, the bird moved to the Schooner Creek overlook in Taft in southern Lincoln City. For the rest of the month, the local Mo's Restaurant, the Siletz Bay mouth, and a nearby bridge became the best landmarks from which to locate this Old World rarity.
We mention this bird for two reasons. First, it was a major contender for our E-Bulletin rarity of the month, since it is only the second Common Scoter to ever be found in North America. And second, it was found only about 250 miles up the coast from where the first Common Scoter was found in 2015. See here for details on that original Crescent City, California, bird:
On the other side of the country, in Rivière Brochu, Gallix, Quebec, located on the north shore of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, an immature Common Shelduck was photographed on 25 November and refound in the area on 30 November. This species' status has long been confounded by the possibility of escapes from collections, but like some other Eurasian waterfowl (e.g., Pink-footed, Barnacle, and Graylag Geese), Common Shelduck is increasing in Europe, including Iceland. Recent early-winter records for eastern Canada and New England increasingly suggest a need for careful evaluation.
And finally, at Scituate Reservoir in Scituate, Plymouth County, Massachusetts, an unusual-looking dabbling duck was found on 23 November. It remained a few days, and it exhibited many characteristics of an Eastern Spot-billed Duck, including a strong facial pattern and a yellow-tipped dark bill. It was also paler in color than nearby female Mallards and it had white undertail coverts, which unfortunately pointed away from Eastern Spot-billed Duck.
The fact that Eastern Spot-billed Duck has only been seen in North America in Alaska, mainly in the Aleutians, added to the improbability of this species occurring in eastern North America. Of course, strange things have happened with waterfowl - note the story on Common Scoter, above - and the provenance of such birds should always be carefully considered.
The mystery duck had no apparent collection-band on its leg. Still, a quick search online showed that the closely related Indian Spot-billed Duck is sold to wildfowl collectors (with at least one supplier in New York). Perhaps an escape with some interbreeding with Mallard cannot be discounted.
One of the lessons here is that there are plenty of "odd ducks" out there still to be found, including hybrids and bona fide rarities. This is also and ideal season to discover them, so keep your eyes open and keep looking!
In October, we discussed the debate in Canada over designating an official Canadian bird:
Over the past two years, nearly 50,000 Canadians voted for their favorite species in the National Bird Project, an effort by Canadian Geographic, in partnership with Bird Studies Canada, to help select an appropriate avian emblem for Canada.

Once the voting results and thousands of comments were considered, the Royal Canadian Geographical Society made its official recommendation at its College of Fellows Annual Dinner on 16 November. A feature story about the national bird recommendation also appeared in the December 2016 issue of Canadian Geographic, and the final choice of Gray Jay appears on the cover of the magazine:
The Canadian Parliament might eventually address national-bird designation of Gray Jay, with an official bird for Canada being selected in 2017, Canada's sesquicentennial year.
If you simply glance at National Park Roads: A Legacy in the American Landscape by Timothy Davis (University of Virginia Press, 2016), you might think it's just another "coffee-table book" full of impressive photos of the scenic roads through our National Parks. While it is certainly a collection of beautiful historic photos, it is also much more.
Beyond the classic size, the pretty cover, and the assortment of captivating photos, this book offers a deep look into the surprising and unique quality and history of National Park roads, roads targeted at bringing the public to scenic and wonderful locations, but at the same time challenged by the obligation to preserve the character of these very same places.

A mixture of enthusiasm and apprehension has always been part of the reception of automobiles in National Parks, and this book carefully addresses this dichotomy. Instead of arguing for the primacy of a particular view, the book shows how road development responded to practical concerns, evolving technology, social practice, wilderness advocates, and cultural demands. Readers may also want to pay special attention to the "Golden Age" of National Park road-building, the period that stretched between the two World Wars, and uniquely punctuated by the work of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in the 1930s.
As we witness the closing of the National Park Service's centennial, this lovely book provides a healthy discussion about spreading the benefits of the outdoors in order to embrace a diverse American public. The book should serve as an important resource for years to come.
Although National Park Roads barely mentions birds, it is nonetheless a book full of important lessons for all Americans. Indeed, a read of this work is a verification of the old adage that you can't tell a book by its cover.
Our usual "Access Matters" feature this month consists of a simple suggestion: Re-read the "Book Note" above in light of the larger question of balancing preservation and access in natural areas! By that, we mean not only focusing on the National Parks featured in the Davis book, but also on National Wildlife Refuges, National Forests, BLM lands, and state and county parks and wildlife properties and their connection to providing quality outdoor experiences to an increasingly preoccupied American public.
Tim Davis posits this issue very well at the beginning of his book, and his comments can be expanded to consider access beyond the world of National Parks: "For many people, what they see from the road is the national park experience... but for some people, simply knowing roads are present compromises parks' ability to function as escapes from modern civilization."
Indeed, access matters, and how to deliver that access in a welcoming and instructive manner is an issue that should concern and involve anyone with an interest and a concern for our beautiful country and its many outdoor resources.
Since the previous two news items are related to roads in National Parks, it is appropriate to mention one such park that is an Important Bird Area (IBA) of continental significance. This park was actually highlighted in distressing national news toward the end of November.
The most-visited of our national parks is Great Smoky Mountains National Park, attracting more than 10 million visitors annually - about twice the number of the second most popular park. Most visitors see the park from its famous scenic highway, although many also hike on the 800 miles of park trails extending across the border between North Carolina and Tennessee.  The park covers over 800 square miles and is divided almost equally between these two states.
Parts of the Tennessee section of the park were subject to wildfires starting in late November. More than 17,000 people had to flee as the wildfires blazed through and around the park. The fires are said to have damaged or destroyed more than 1,600 homes and businesses, mostly around Gatlinburg, Tennessee. The tragic loss of human life went over a dozen, with more than 130 people injured. Over 11,300 acres in the park itself were burned in this, the most-visited national park in the country.
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is one of the largest protected areas in the eastern U.S., and approximately a fifth of the park comprises old-growth forest and represents the largest tract of old-growth forest in the southern Appalachians. The park supports 230 species of birds, with 110 species breeding in the park. This IBA supports among the highest diversity of breeding Neotropical migratory birds of any area in the U.S. It also likely holds the largest concentration of Northern Saw-whet Owls in the southeast, and the majority of the Black-capped Chickadees residing in the Blue Ridge. It is also one of the best sites in the southern Appalachians for Olive-sided Flycatchers. In short, the park holds substantial populations of listedWatchlist species and species of concern.
For more information on this IBA that s is located in both Tennessee and North Carolina, see the two web pages which describe the IBA in both states, respectively:
For additional information about worldwide IBA programs, including those in the U.S., check the National Audubon Society's Important Bird Area program web site at:
During the first two weeks of December, the 13th Conference of the Parties of the Convention on Biological Diversity (COP) will be meeting in Cancun, Mexico. The COP was signed in 1992 at the Rio Earth Summit - The UN Conference on Environment and Development. Today the COP has 196 Parties, ostensibly committed to the conservation of biological diversity, the sustainable use of its components, and the sharing of the related benefits. The U.S. is not a signatory, however.
The COP actions are focused on 20 targets, with goals developed for the member countries, including most of the other countries in the Western Hemisphere.  This information is contained in a 2010 Strategic Plan for Biodiversity (2011-2020).
To date, and with only four years remaining, participant nations have been far from successful in fulfilling their biological commitments. As spokespersons from BirdLife International have reminded us, agriculture in too many countries continues to poison habitats with heavy loads of pollutants, to contaminate rivers, and to kill insects that literally pollinate national culture; offshore fisheries are annually killing dozens of thousands of seabirds; and governments are spending millions of dollars in subsidies for unsustainable productions that destroy nature. It is no accident that a global conservation community feels less than encouraged by so many past promises that lack corresponding effective actions.
At the same time, the COP meeting will provide opportunities to discuss successes in the areas of bird-favorable production in such sectors as energy production, cattle breeding, fisheries, and sustainable agriculture. Fortunately, some participants are seriously working on less conversation and a lot more action.
You can read a summary of what is at stake from BirdLife International:
Yes, it's that time of year, and if you have not yet bought all your holiday gifts, it's a good time to consider some that are bird-and-nature oriented. With that in mind we have a few suggestions.
First, we suggest you consider any of the books mentioned in the past year in the E-bulletin under our "Book Notes" features. There should be something and a price for everyone:
Ecology and Conservation of North American Sea Ducks - a heavy-duty treatment edited by five experts
Better Birding - friendly skill-building by George L. Armistead and Brian L. Sullivan
Baby Birds - informative and ultra-cute by Julie Zickefoose,
The Kiskadee of Death - a birder-murder mystery by Jan Dunlop
Bird Families of the World: A Guide to the Spectacular Diversity of Birds - an elegant   compendium by David Winkler, Shawn Billerman, and Irby Lovette
Woodpeckers of North America - a handsome reference by Stephen A. Shunk
Listening to a Continent Sing: Birdsong by Bicycle from the Atlantic to the Pacific - a ten-week bicycle journey by Don Kroodsma
Cat Wars - investigating a cuddly killer by Peter Marra and Chris Santella
Field Guide to Birds of Northern Central America - a tight and informative guide by Jesse Fagan and Oliver Komar
National Park Roads - much more than a coffee-table book by Tim Davis
You might also consider buying a bird-feeder (along with accompanying quality seed) for that relative or neighbor just getting interested in birds.
Think about binoculars for some youngster in your life. We are suggesting a quality pair, not just compact binoculars, which have smaller objective lenses, and which are often dimmer and difficult to use when trying to locate a bird in the binoculars. And remember, you also don't have to break the bank to find good binoculars for youngsters these days.
Think about giving bags of bird-friendly coffee as gifts. Look around for triple-labeled brands, combining shade-grown, organic, and fair-traded features. The coffee tastes great, and it can start up great conversations about impacting bird conservation through regular shopping.
Consider a Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp - a "Duck Stamp" - to help build the Refuge System and to serve as a free pass for all NWRs that may charge for entry through June.
And, finally, in light of our next story.... Give an organizational gift membership, one dedicated to saving and appreciating America's wild birds, wildlife, and wild places. The list of such organizations is long enough for us to refrain from making particular suggestions. Readers should seek out the ones that match the message you wish to deliver.
Don't think you will get to finish reading the Birding Community E-bulletin without some reference to last month's Presidential election. No such luck!
After an extended and even brutal campaign, Donald Trump will soon become our 45th President of the United States. Ever since Election Day, the media has followed every Trump Twitter, every important visitation to the Trump Tower, and every piece of speculation about divisions in the internal Trump camp.
Top of the list, perhaps, has been the expected appointments for the incoming Administration. As of this writing, we have reports of intended cabinet and other related appointments for Treasury Secretary, Transportation Secretary, Health and Human Services Secretary, Commerce Secretary, Education Secretary, U.N. Ambassador, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Defense Secretary, CIA Director, Attorney General, National Security Advisor, White House Chief of Staff, and Chief Strategist.
Needless to say, these are very important posts for the country and for the incoming Administration. Regrettably the cabinet selections for positions that may be of particular significance and interest to readers of the Birding Community E-bulletin have yet to be released. These include the Secretary of the Interior, Secretary of Agriculture, and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator.
Not surprisingly leaders from conservation and environmental arenas are anxiously waiting for these selected appointments to be made, essentially waiting for "the other shoes to drop." 
The Secretary of the Interior is responsible for the protection of much of the nation's federal lands and waters (e.g., Refuges, National Parks, Monuments, and BLM), as well as the conservation of wildlife and plant species. Among other things, our next Secretary of the Interior could decide the fate of Obama-era rules that stop public land development; curb the exploration of oil, coal, and gas; and promote wind and solar power on public lands.
The Secretary of Agriculture oversees America's farming industry, inspects food quality, and provides income-based food assistance. The department helps develop vital land-oriented conservation on private farmlands, including long-term easements. Agriculture also has jurisdiction over our valued National Forests.
The Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, is responsible for issuing and overseeing environmental regulations, especially concerning clean air and water, a difficult job for any Administrator with an incoming President who has tentatively vowed to dismantle the agency "in almost every form."
These three key positions, of course require Senate confirmation, and everyone anticipates close scrutiny of individuals appointed to these posts.
Nature has the potential to bring the American people together, something desperately needed during these difficult days. There was a time when most environmental issues were not particularly divisive. In fact, they were not simply bi-partisan; they were almost non-partisan.
Fortunately, during his campaign, Mr. Trump at least stated that he would not support the larger GOP platform to sell off public lands, and that itself is hopeful. Moreover, if President-elect Trump is sincerely committed to bringing our nation together, as he stated in his election victory speech, then quality appointments to these particular positions will go a long way to achieving that desired unifying effect.


You can access all the past E-bulletins on the National Wildlife Refuge Association (NWRA) website:
If you wish to distribute or reproduce all or parts of any Birding Community E-bulletin, we simply request that you mention the source of any material used. (Include a URL for the E-bulletin archives, if possible.)

If you have colleagues who might be interested in this month's E-bulletin, you can most efficiently forward the E-bulletin to them using the "Forward email" feature on the bottom of this page. This retains the clearest text and presentation formatting.

Also, if you have any friends or co-workers who want to get onto the monthly E-bulletin mailing list, they can also simply contact either:
            Wayne R. Petersen
            Director, Massachusetts Important Bird Areas (IBA) Program
            Mass Audubon
            Paul J. Baicich
            Great Birding Projects           

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Friday, November 25, 2016

a practical thing you can do for birds

Go to  to learn more about Cornell's Yardmap program, and practical conservation in your back yard.

If you enter your zipcode, you'll get resources on native plants, plant hardiness information, a pollinator guide, connecting to local experts, and more.

I entered my own zipcode as an example: