Friday, August 30, 2013

upcoming hawkwatch dates at Forest Beach Migratory Preserve

Dates are not set yet; but will be chosen based on appropriate weather conditions. E-mail me if you want to be notified (wpmueller1947@gmail.com). A few additional nighthawk watches will also be held (for example, one tomorrow night, at 6:40 to 8:00 pm).

Thursday, August 29, 2013

count Chimney Swifts in September!

Photo by Ryan Brady
Chimney Swift Count
    2013


 Help count Chimney Swifts this September! Count on any clear evening (or several) in September.

Here's how to count in three easy steps.
1. Look for likely chimneys (ones that are uncapped and brick, so the swifts can cling to the interior; tall chimneys, such as those on schools, churches, or factories, are especially good, but smaller home chimneys can be, too), and watch to see where swifts are feeding and congregating.

2. Pick one or more nights from early August in northern Wisconsin through early to late September in southern Wisconsin.  Check the form below for the information we'd like you to collect. Observe the roost starting about 30 minutes before sunset until 10 minutes after the last swift enters the chimney (often when it's so dark it's hard to see anymore). Count (or estimate) the number of swifts as they enter the chimney. It’s useful to count in groups of 5 or 10 when they enter most quickly.

3. Enter your data into eBird (preferred - see instructions below) OR fill out the form below (also available at http://madisonaudubon.org/audubon/Swifts/SwiftReportForm2013WIStemplate.doc) completely as soon as your count is done. For either method, please send data via email or mail to Bill Mueller, Western Great Lakes Bird & Bat Observatory, wpmueller1947@gmail.com, or 1242 S. 45th Street, Milwaukee, WI 53214. Bill will compile the results for Wisconsin. If you have any questions, please email or call Bill at (414) 698-9108.

For those in the Green Bay area, send to Nancy Nabak, nnabak@sbcglobal.net, (920) 468-8991.
For those in the Madison area, send to Sandy Schwab, sschwab49@gmail.com, (608) 658-4139.

eBird data entry. See Quick Start Guide at: http://help.ebird.org/customer/portal/articles/973977-ebird-quick-start-guide. When prompted for location, map your site to a community and an exact address or point. Include, in the Chimney Swift comments section, general weather conditions, time when the first and last swifts entered the roost, what type of building it is (residence, school, church, business, etc.).

[Example: Date Sat Aug 11,  2012 7:42 PM Location "Swifts - Lake Mills - 400 N. Main St., Jefferson County, Wisconsin, US". Number "155 Chimney Swifts". Comments "75; partly cloudy; S 5 mph. The first swift went down small chimney at back of old church at 8:05. The last 2 went down at 8:30. A few were still flying, but went elsewhere."]

Report Form
Date of Observation:

Time of Observation:  Start:                           End:

Number of Observers (total):
Number of Observers below the age of 18:
The sit is a great way to get youth interested in bird watching and conservation.

Number of Chimney Swifts entering roost:
Actual count or estimate?  (circle one)

Roost Location Information (Exact location is needed to map sites and for use in follow-up counts).
Name of Building:
Street:                                                              City:                             Zip Code:

What type of building /structure  were the birds using:  (circle one)
School                          Hospital                        Church             Apartment
Business                       Swift Tower                 Residence                     Hollow Tree

Weather Conditions at roost (General terms – temperature; clear, partly cloudy, rain; windy):


Your Name (please print):
Email address:
Phone # if preferred:

Any other comments/notes:



Thank you for participating in our Chimney Swift Count.

Are you interested in participating in future counts of Chimney Swifts?
____Yes, please contact me for future Chimney Swift counts!

To learn more about Chimney Swifts, please visit
http://mn.audubon.org/chimney-swift-conservation (Audubon Minnesota program) http://www.chimneyswifts.org/ (Driftwood Wildlife Association) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GTdlPFsN2m4 (YouTube video of swifts entering the Cherokee Middle School in Madison)
http://dnr.wi.gov/news/Weekly/Article_Lookup.asp?id=2647 (July 30, 2013 Wisconsin Chimney Swift Working Group/WDNR press release)

Monday, August 26, 2013

Nighthawk watch; Aug 26, 2013 - Forest Beach Migratory Preserve

Tonight's nighthawk watch at Forest Beach Migratory Preserve in Ozaukee County was certainly a success. Rebecca Sher's wonderful panorama photograph above gives you an idea of the beautiful evening scene, but the numbers of birds tell the other important part of the story. 584 Common Nighthawks, and an amazing 1,674 Cedar Waxwings were the highlights.

Here are our evening totals:
Forest Beach Migratory Preserve (OWLT), Ozaukee, US-WI
Aug 26, 2013 6:35 PM - 8:08 PM
Protocol: Area
60.0 ac
28 species

Wood Duck  3
Green Heron  5
Red-tailed Hawk  1
Virginia Rail  1
Sandhill Crane  2
Killdeer  1
Herring Gull  6
Mourning Dove  8
Great Horned Owl  1
Barred Owl  1
Common Nighthawk  584     7 observers counted varying flock sizes on this evening with good movement of nighthawks.
Chimney Swift  5
Downy Woodpecker  1
Blue Jay  11
American Crow  17
Tree Swallow  5
Barn Swallow  11
House Wren  6
American Robin  8
Gray Catbird  1
Cedar Waxwing  1674     Many flocks varying in size from 3 to over 100 individuals, all moving south.
Clay-colored Sparrow  1
Song Sparrow  3
Red-winged Blackbird  12
Eastern Meadowlark  2
Common Grackle  13
House Finch  1
American Goldfinch  32

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Northern Bobwhite info

Some weeks ago, a series of posts on the Wisconsin Birding Facebook group discussed bobwhite numbers, conservation, "countability", and other concerns. Here are some follow-up sets of information:

NBCI State of the Bobwhite 2012 report, here.

NBCI news, here.

Farm Service Agency Northern Bob-
white Quail Habitat Initiative, here
 NRCS Bobwhite Restoration Project, here.
The  following quote "Across their range, Northern Bobwhite populations declined by 65.8 percent (from 58,857,000 to 20,141,000 birds) from 1980 to 1999", comes from the Central Hardwoods Joint Venture webpage, here.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

BirdLife International news - survey results and much more

A new survey, "on how to best promote evidence-based bird conservation, launched in June by BirdLife International and the University of Cambridge", has produced results summarized here. "The results suggest a range of options to promote the use of knowledge resources that can inform conservation decisions around the world based on evidence, such as the bird synopsis journal, Conservation Evidence, and BirdLife’s State of the World’s Birds. "

Other recent BirdLife news can be found here.

However, most valuable is the download of  the 704-page recently published synopsis “Bird conservation: global evidence for the effects of interventions.” It is available to be downloaded as PDF ("recently updated to include a dynamic Table of contents").

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

copy of the Birding Community E-Bulletin for August 2013

THE BIRDING COMMUNITY E-BULLETIN
            August 2013


This Birding Community E-bulletin is being 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:
 www.zeiss.com/SPORTS

[]

You can access an archive of past E-bulletins on the website of the National Wildlife Refuge Association (NWRA):
http://refugeassociation.org/news/birding-bulletin/


RARITY FOCUS

The rarity focus for this month is further proof that you just never know what can turn up when you’re looking for birds.

To illustrate this point, on 7 July, Matt Daw, a member of the Bureau of Reclamation's Southwestern Willow Flycatcher survey team, was birding at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge near the Marsh Overlook Trail when an apparent Rufous-necked Wood-Rail simply walked through the viewfinder of his cameral while he was getting video of a cooperative Least Bittern. Go figure!

The Rufous-necked Wood-Rail is a bird often found in coastal mangroves from Mexico southward, into Central and South America. The closest this species normally occurs to the United States is in Sinaloa, on the Pacific coast of Mexico.

Until Daw’s fortuitous discovery, this species had never been see in the United States.

You can watch Matt Daw's original video of the Least Bittern and see for yourself the Rufous-necked Wood-Rail walking into the background. Daw was so startled that he turned off the camera after a few seconds:
www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=4445940767046&set=o.444762565584392&type=2&theater

From the moment of Daw’s discovery the event became a birding phenomenon. Birders near and far came to Bosque to see this bird, and fortunately hundreds were rewarded. Visiting birders stationed themselves by an opening in the willows, on the boardwalk, or anywhere in the general vicinity of the original sightings. The Rufous-necked Wood-Rail sometimes worked the muddy shore on the west side of the pond, and occasionally would come out even further. Early or late in the day seemed to be provide the best viewing, although some days the rail was active even in the mid-afternoon.

The bird and some of the birders were even featured on TV, radio, and in the newspapers. The refuge staff was wonderfully accommodating, and the town of nearby Socorro clearly noticed the boost in traffic and increased occupancy at local motels and restaurants. It was a win-win situation.

Amazingly, this same refuge hosted another phenomenal first-record bird in November 2008 when a Sungrebe appeared there. It was reported in the December 2008 E-bulletin:
http://refugeassociation.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/sbc-dec08.pdf

Fortunately, the Rufous-necked Wood-Rail was far more cooperative and stayed longer than the 2008 Sungrebe did. The wood-rail was last reported on 19 July. At that time, evaporating water in the pond area may have caused the bird to move on.

To view photos by Matt Baumann from the day of Matt Daw's discovery see:
www.flickr.com/photos/abqjaeger/9233545179/in/photostream/

For an AP-wire story that appeared in the LAS CRUCES SUN-NEWS, see:
www.lcsun-news.com/las_cruces-news/ci_23711507/wayward-tropical-bird-sparks-birding-frenzy-bosque-del

To see national coverage of this amazing avian occurrence on CBS News, see:
www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=50151777n



STATE OF THE BIRDS 2013: PRIVATE LANDS

In early July, the latest annual federal "State of the Birds Report" was released. This report focuses on private lands, with the understanding that these lands and their landowners are essential to the conservation of the country's birds

Private landowners, individuals, families, organizations, and corporations - including two million ranchers and farmers and about 10 million woodland owners - manage 1.43 billion acres, or roughly 60 percent of the land area of the U.S.

This report presents valuable insights into the management consequences of private ownership for wetlands, grasslands, arid lands, forests, coasts, and islands. The opportunities for improving private lands conservation are presented, along with recommendations in the Farm Bill, the Land and Water Conservation Fund, as well an array of easements, land trusts, and crucial and creative public-private partnerships.

Particularly important sections include those on private forests, rangeland, and riceland, as well as the coverage on Farm Bill benefits and proposals (e.g., sodsaver).

For a downloadable copy of this insightful 47-page report, see here:
www.stateofthebirds.org


CANADIAN LOON WARNING

The Canadian Lakes Loon Survey for 1981-2012 revealed some disturbing trends for the Common Loon. Currently, Common Loons are successfully producing enough chicks to maintain a stable population, but research shows that their reproductive success has declined significantly since 1992. If this current rate of decline continues, Common Loon numbers are expected to begin decreasing within two decades.

Mercury and acid precipitation are the suspected culprits. Other problem sources were also examined, including lead (in the past, a major concern), shoreline development, human disturbance, botulism, and even old-age among loons.

But in a summary released by Bird Studies Canada, mercury and acid precipitation were deemed to be the main problems affecting lake health and the impairment of loon reproductive success. Unfortunately, the burning of fossil fuels (e.g., in vehicles and at coal-fired power plants) produces mercury and acid emissions. Once these pollutants make their way into lake waters, they enter the food chain where loons are then exposed to the substances, which eventually leads to reproductive problems.

"We are approaching the tipping point. Annual reproductive success may soon drop below the minimum level required for these birds to sustain their numbers," said Bird Studies Canada scientist Dr. Doug Tozer, the lead author of the recent report. "Because 95% of the world's Common Loons breed in our country, Canadians have a critical role to play in monitoring and conserving loon populations."

High mercury levels result in loons moving slower. Adults with high mercury levels spend less time collecting food for chicks and defending breeding territories. Loon chicks have compromised immune systems, and they become less able to avoid predators. Also, on lakes with high acidity, fish are less abundant, with the result that loons produce fewer young.

These findings were based on three decades of research by Bird Studies Canada scientists and an army of volunteers. Over 3,000 citizen scientists contributed their time, data, and support to make this research possible.

More detailed analysis can be found in the paper, "Common Loon Reproductive Success in Canada," recently published in AVIAN CONSERVATION & ECOLOGY, found here:
www.ace-eco.org/vol8/iss1/art1/


IBA NEWS: PRESSURES IN THE DR

In December we ran a quick review of a new bird finding guide for the Dominican Republic, RUTA BARRANCOLI, by Steven C. Latta and Kate J. Wallace (2012, National Aviary):
http://refugeassociation.org/?p=6732/#book

Now there is news from the Dominican Republic that the Sierra de Bahoruco, an Important Bird Area (IBA) in that country is currently under increasing threat.

The area has long been suffering due to burning for charcoal production and illegal agricultural practices, and in mid-July a dry forest area on its northern foothills an area formally protected as Loma Charco Azul Biological Reserve, is starting to be cleared to make way for an agricultural settlement. This is occurring despite the fact that the area is supposed to be protected as a Biological Reserve.

The Dominican Agrarian Institute has approved this activity, and about 260 acres are slated for immediate destruction. Multiple species are at risk. The Loma Charco Azul Biological Reserve, which falls under the larger Jaragua-Bahoruco-Enriquillo Biosphere Reserve which has been ratified by UNESCO, is habitat for the endangered Bay-breasted Cuckoo (Coccyzus rufigularis), an endemic species with a very limited distribution in Hispaniola.

You can get more details on this threat and actions being taken here:
http://tinyurl.com/BahorucoIBA

For additional information about IBA programs worldwide, including those across the U.S., check the National Audubon Society's Important Bird Area program web site at:
www.audubon.org/bird/iba/


CRUSHING APPROPRIATIONS BILL PROPOSED IN THE HOUSE

Just when it seems that things can’t possibly get any worse in Congress for natural resource and bird conservation – e.g., see last month's Farm Bill coverage in the E-bulletin ( http://refugeassociation.org/?p=7787/#farm) – activities in the U.S. House surprise us yet again.

Last month, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies presented its proposed budget for natural resources on the federal level, which turns out to be one of the most astounding budget proposals impacting bird conservation in living memory.

If enacted, the proposed funding and riders would:
   Eliminate all funding for conservation easements and land acquisition under the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), a program established in 1965 that uses a portion of royalties from offshore drilling to support federal land acquisition and to support state and local conservation;
   Eliminate all funding for the State Wildlife Grants Program (SWG), which helps states keep species from becoming endangered;
   Eliminate all funding for the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA), which funds wetland restoration to benefit wetland birds and other wildlife;
   Eliminate all funding for Landscape Conservation Cooperatives (LCCs) that are forums for federal, state, tribes, organizations, and groups to work together to support conservation;
   Eliminate all funding for the Neotropical Migratory Birds Conservation Fund that promotes projects for the conservation of Neotropical migratory birds;
   Cut overall funding for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service by 27% (and if the 27% cut is evenly distributed to all Service programs, the Refuge System will fall from $502.8 million in FY10 to $331.2 million in FY14, a 34% cut in four years);
   Cut National Park funding more than $115 million below the dollar amount for operations that was in place before the sequester that forced a roughly 5 percent across-the-board cut on the Park Service.

"It's unprecedented," said Paul Schmidt, Chief Conservation Officer for Ducks Unlimited, commenting particularly on NAWCA. "They've had some ups and downs, but never that low. You can't get lower than zero." The North American Wetlands Conservation Act typically leverages $3 or $4 for every federal dollar to promote the restoration and acquisition of wetlands.

One former House Appropriations Committee staffer said he recalled only one time when Congress provided LWCF funding only for agency staff to complete existing projects and land exchanges. He said Congress had never zeroed-out the program entirely.

By his count, Congressman Jim Moran (D-VA) said that the moves eliminate funding for 20 programs while boosting funding for oil and gas development and offering regulatory relief to "the polluters, the grazers [and] the snowmobilers."

According to a list compiled by Moran's office, other programs proposed to be cut are diverse, including Forest Service planning, U.S. EPA brownfields, and Native American memorial programs.

While this subcommittee made these dismal proposals, the full Appropriations Committee suspended action on the last day of July, just before the summer recess. So, the Interior bill will not be reconsidered until September, if at all.

On the slightly positive side, some observers suggest that the predicted differences in overall funding levels between the House and Senate indicate that Congress might again pass a continuing resolution (CR), keeping the government funded at current levels in these areas.

In any case, birds and natural resources continue to suffer, and relief is not in sight.


TENNESSEE CRANES AGAIN

In February and October 2011, , we reported on a crane-hunting controversy in Tennessee:
http://refugeassociation.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/sbc-feb11.pdf
   and
http://refugeassociation.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/octsbc11.pdf

The upshot of that discussion was that for a number of reasons, Tennessee decided to delay a decision for two years. Now that time is up, and the issue has come up again. The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) is soliciting comments.

Sandhill Cranes had practically disappeared in the southeastern U.S. by the 1930s, but they have been steadily increasing since then, especially in the last two decades. Still, there is disagreement over exactly how many migratory cranes currently exist in the East. Additionally, the slow reproduction rate of Sandhill Cranes (breeding after 5-7 years with only one in three nests producing a chick that survives to fall migration) raises concerns over a replacement rate within the context of a possible hunting season in Tennessee.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing a potential 60-day Sandhill Crane season (December-January), with 775 permits available (3 birds per permit). The Sandhill Crane hunting-zone would be restricted to the southeastern portion of the state where most of the birds migrate. This would make Sandhill Cranes a brand new game species for the state.

At the same time, for 22 years the state-run Hiwassee Wildlife Refuge (at the confluence of the Hiwassee River and Tennessee River) has hosted a very successful annual Sandhill Crane Festival- an event which draws thousands of visitors annually – to showcase the thousands of Sandhills that overwinter there. (Some birders may remember that a rare Hooded Crane, a vagrant from Asia, showed up among the Sandhill Cranes there in early 2012). This refuge is included in the zone currently proposed for a hunting season. Although no hunting will occur on the refuge property itself, hunt clubs abut the refuge and no buffer zones around the refuge are being considered for the cranes in the proposal.

A number of important questions arise if one wishes to manage for this new-found regional resource:
  Is the population of Sandhill Cranes currently sustainable in the East?
  Is there any need to limit or reduce their numbers?
  Is this a Tennessee resource or a regional resource?
  Will cranes harvested in Tennessee come from states where the species is considered endangered, threatened, or of special concern (e.g., originating in Ohio or Indiana)?
  How does one measure and compare the social and economic impact of outdoor activities such as hunting and wildlife-watching?

The answers to these and other important questions should be evaluated in Tennessee this month. Some of these issues were summarized in early July in the CHATANOOGA TIMES FREE PRESS:
www.timesfreepress.com/news/2013/jul/09/sandhill-crane-hunt-to-be-considered-again/

Details on submitting comments to TWRA, due 10 August, can be found here:
http://news.tn.gov/node/10960


THE LATEST MIGRATORY BIRD HUNTING AND CONSERVATION STAMP

The most recent Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp (often called the Duck Stamp and increasingly called the Migratory Bird Stamp) was released at the end of June. The new Federal stamp painted by Robert Steiner of California features a beautiful male Common Goldeneye and costs $15.

Stamp dollars go into the Migratory Bird Conservation Fund which is used to acquire wetland and grassland habitat for the National Wildlife Refuge System. It not only helps ducks; shorebirds, long-legged waders, raptors, and songbirds also benefit from stamp investment. Stamp acquisition-dollars supports other animals (charismatic or not), too, as well as plants, and improved water quality.

Notably, among the refuges that have been acquired thru Stamp/MBCF dollars is Bosque del Apache NWR in central New Mexico. This is the refuge where this month's rarity, the Rufous-necked Wood-Rail, thrilled visiting birders. This refuge is 57,331 acres in size, of which 56,850 acres were acquired through Stamp/MBCF dollars, or 99.2 percent of the refuge!

To find out more about this year's stamp and how to support the stamp, see the sites for the Federal Duck Stamp Office and the Friends of the Migratory Bird/Duck Stamp, found here:
www.fws.gov/duckstamps/
and here:
www.friendsofthestamp.org/

Of notable interest last month was the action of Carl Zeiss Sports Optics, the sponsor of this E-bulletin, in relation to the stamp. The company announced that as part of its "Field Days," from 19 July though 11 September, it would offer a free Federal Duck Stamp and holder to anyone who bought one of the company’s "Conquest HD" binoculars.

Mike Jensen, President of Carl Zeiss Sports Optics, said "Zeiss wanted to offer a tangible benefit to our customers and one that has a lasting effect. The Federal Duck Stamp program has been called one of the most effective conservation programs ever initiated. 'Field Days' is our way of supporting wetlands habitat conservation and encouraging people to visit the National Wildlife Refuge System."

More details on the consumer mail-in rebate can be found here:
http://sportsoptics.zeiss.com/nature/en_us/experience/promotion.html


ACCESS MATTERS: STAMP AGAIN

Access to birding locations is of increasing importance, and it's good to remember that anyone holding a valid Migratory Bird Stamp can use it for free admission to any National Wildlife Refuges that may charge for entry. A new valid stamp is good until next July.


TIP OF THE MONTH: IT'S SIMPLE

Our birding tip of the month is simple, just re-read the previous two items under the story of the new stamp and the short item on birder access!

Buy and proudly display the new Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp to show that you care about preserving and sharing birds, wildlife, and wild places.

If you need further motivation, just refer to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's "Eight Great Reasons to Love the New Migratory Bird Stamp":
http://blog.allaboutbirds.org/2013/06/28/eight-great-reasons-to-love-the-new-migratory-bird-stamp/


BOOK NOTES: CROSSLEY RAPTORS

When his first guide, THE CROSSLEY ID GUIDE: EASTERN BIRDS, was published by Princeton University Press in the spring of 2011, Richard Crossley discovered that a number of experienced birders were simply scratching their heads. The approach was so novel, that many birders didn’t know how to react to the 640 photographic scenes each featuring superimposed individual bird photos. With the images placed as they were at various angles in such a non-traditional way in habitat backgrounds, the impression was shocking to some readers at first.

Others found it a breakthrough and a unique way to present bird identification to the public.

Skeptics may back away from their earlier opinions with the release of the most recent book in the Crossley series. THE CROSSLEY ID GUIDE: RAPTORS, which came out in April uses extensive contributions from raptor experts Brian Sullivan and Jerry Liguori, and is certain to turn some heads.

Crossley's initial approach of jamming lots of photos onto a page seems to work more effectively in this book than in his first guide, and that's no surprise. Such a book, devoted as it is entirely to one family group, especially one that consists of large birds in open spaces, auger well for the Crossley approach. The broad panoramic plates help the birder to assimilate details of size and shape while at the same time reducing any obsession over fine feather details. This is not unlike real field experiences.

The second half of the book –the species accounts – are well done, packed with fine details, even though some seem a bit uneven with their opening paragraphs. Though the panoramic photos in the first part of the book are inviting, some of the species accounts are a bit disappointing, especially when they don't elaborate on non-ID issues, such as habitat or the associated diet of each species. But it is, after all, an ID guide…

And just for fun, this new guide can really challenge you through 15 "mystery plates." Moreover, it's an ID guide that will encourage you to keep turning pages, tempting you to ID the birds at a glance, and then learn much more.


REMOVING BARRED OWLS TO SAVE SPOTTED OWLS

There are bird-protection issues that never seem to go away, and the continuing concern for the Spotted Owl is just such an issue.

We have written about this species a number of times, including in March of 2011 when we described the concept of helping Spotted Owls by "removing" Barred Owls from their habitat. See our third article here:
http://refugeassociation.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/sbc-mar11.pdf

Barred Owls began working their way across the Great Plains in the early 1900s, moving westward accompanying human expansion. By the 1970s, the species had spread to the West Coast, where their numbers have multiplied and come into conflict with Spotted Owls. Barred Owls are bigger and more aggressive than the Spotted Owls.

In late July, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced its plans to proceed with efforts to "remove" Barred Owls from four test areas in the Pacific Northwest and monitor the subsequent impact on the Spotted Owls in those areas. Basically, it's killing one owl species to save another. Robin Brown, a federal wildlife biologist, says that in some areas, Barred Owls outnumber Spotted Owls 5 to 1, and killing them might be the only way to put number back into balance.

The agency's preferred course of action calls for removing 3,603 Barred Owls in parts of Oregon, Washington, and Northern California over the next four years. The USFWS will issue a final decision later this month.

For more on the options and controversy see this story in the LOS ANGELES TIMES:
www.latimes.com/news/nation/nationnow/la-na-nn-feds-seek-to-kill-barred-owls-20130723,0,6854548.story
     and this story from the PBS NEW HOUR:
www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/2013/07/shooting-one-owl-to-save-another.html


BARN OWLS AT SFO MARRIOTT

There may be some controversy over the above owl story, but we end with an upbeat story on another species of owl, the Barn Owl, that has for the second year nested at a Marriott Hotel near the San Francisco Airport. While breeding season for Barn Owls typically starts in March or early April, breeding can occur at any time of year, especially when there is an ample food source.

The airport nesting pair has recently been raising four owlets on the balcony of room 1141 at the San Francisco Airport Marriott Waterfront, hotel officials recently announced.

Marriott officials try to keep room 1141 on the Concierge Level vacant, but when the hotel is sold out and room 1141 is needed, the hotel asks guests to be respectful of the owls.

Moreover, in celebration of the nesting Barn Owls, children staying at the hotel are offered a complimentary stuffed owl toy, as are any guests staying in room 1141. The hotel's Director of Operations, Dean Waziry says, "I never get tired of looking at them… we love having them at our hotel."

For more on this fascinating Barn Owl event, see the National Wildlife Federation blog by Beth Pratt:
http://blog.nwf.org/2013/07/san-francisco-airport-marriott-gives-a-hoot-for-barn-owls/


- - - - - - - - -
You can access all the past E-bulletins on the National Wildlife Refuge Association (NWRA) website:
http://refugeassociation.org/news/birding-bulletin/
           
If you wish to distribute or reproduce all or parts of any of the monthly Birding Community E-bulletins, 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 any friends or co-workers who want to get onto the monthly E-bulletin mailing list, have them contact either:
           
            Wayne R. Petersen, Director
            Massachusetts Important Bird Areas (IBA) Program
            Mass Audubon
            781/259-2178
             wpetersen@massaudubon.org
                        or
            Paul J. Baicich
            Great Birding Projects 
            410/992-9736
             paul.baicich@verizon.net