Showing posts from August, 2008

Strikingly Beautiful Birds - Scissor tailed Flycatcher

Today, I would like to call your attention to a very beautiful bird that can make your day if you are lucky enough to see it. One neighborhood I lived in down in Houston I used to see this bird on the wire from time to time - what a treat! It is said that this bird forms late summer, pre-migratory roosts of up to a 1,000 birds in the flock. Now, that would be a spectacular sight indeed!

If you are in one of the seven states that this bird is found in, definitely keep your eyes open, check the wires - it can be seen from your car.

Protector of Rare Birds

There was an interesting article in the local paper recently about a consultant named Brian Bub who works as an avian ecologist here in the Upper Midwest. He provides project support for utilities and wind energy development clients by ensuring that projects follow state and federal protection laws. He is a field biologist whose services include:
Assessing habitat suitability for rare birdsDesigning and implementing bird survey studiesEliminating risks to birdsDeveloping mitigation measures to avoid or minimize potential impacts.Brian states that "the most rewarding aspect of my job is educating clients about birds and their habitats, as well as cooperating with the regulatory agencies to find solutions for avoiding and minimizing impacts to birds and other wildlife." With the advent of wind farms as a source of energy I am very gratified to learn of some measure of sensitivity to birds. Any efforts to mitigate or minimize impacts to birds while achieving energy related goals…

Aldo Leopold's Legacy - Restoration Ecology

On June 17, 1934 Aldo Leopold spoke at the dedication of the University of Wisconsin Arboretum. He stood in the midst of, what was at that time, two square miles of derelict farmland on the outskirts of Madison, Wisconsin. Leopold's vision was embodied in the words of his speech:
"Our idea, in a nutshell, is to reconstruct, primarily for the use of the university, a sample of original Wisconsin - a sample of what Dane county looked like when our ancestors arrived here in the 1840s."To realize their vision, Leopold and botanist John Curtis gathered plants from remnants of the native prairie, and carefully nurtured their growth at the Arboretum site. With the realization of their vision, the Arboretum became the site of something that once seemed impossible - the restoration of a native ecosystem destroyed by man. Thus, the Arboretum became the birthplace of the discipline of restoration ecology. You can still see the prairies planted by Leopold and Curtis to this day.


A Wondrous Whooping Crane Sighting

For most of my birding life if you wanted to see a Whooping Crane (and of course add it to your Life List) you had to make a pilgrimage down to Aransas National Wildlife Refuge in Texas. In the mid 1980s, I did indeed make the trip along the Texas coast to Rockport to see the bird. From there, I took a boat trip that took us as close as we dared to a feeding adult crane. It was definitely quite a sight, but it was not like a typical life lister where the "thrill of the chase" comes into play. But I knew this was the only way for me to see the bird so I accepted things as they were.

Fast forward about two decades and much like the tumbling down of the Berlin Wall, the seemingly unchangeable has changed. Thanks to the folks at the International Crane Foundation in Baraboo, Wisconsin it is now possible to see a Whooping Crane in the wild at some place other than Aransas. I was fortunate to have this experience in August, 2006.

It all started with a post on the Wisconsin BirdNet l…