Showing posts from September, 2008

Saving Beautiful Birds

If you are like me, on those occasions when you see cranes, you find yourself staring at them in a state where time seems to stand still. Cranes are among the planet's most stunning birds, with their beautiful plumage and elegant grace. They have been the subject of prehistoric cave paintings, revealing that they have enthralled humankind for thousands of years. The International Crane Foundation, located in Baraboo, Wisconsin, fittingly only a few miles from the place where Aldo Leopold worked on his environmental classic A Sand County Almanac, is working to save these beautiful birds.
George Archibald and Ron Sauey started the foundation in 1973 after they met at Cornell University. It is located in Baraboo because Sauey's family is from there and they offered the two space in a horse barn on their property for their work. Since then, the foundation has moved to a larger nearby 95 acre area.
The foundation's facility, the only place in the world where all 15 species of cra…

Kingbird Highway Revisited

Lately I have been conducting encore readings of some booksthat I love, and with regard to birding, one that falls into this category is Kingbird Highway: The Biggest Year in the Life of an Extreme Birder by Kenn Kaufman. This book is a marvelous birding adventure, the story of a "Big Year" quest by a teenager following his heart. It is filled with birding stories and the people he meets along the way. Nowadays Kaufman could regale the online birding community for months on end with a blog filled with these stories. And as a harbinger of things to come, he says early on in the book, "My sole intention was to learn about birds, but on the way I also learned some things about the world."
The book hooked me in right away as in at the outset he talks about when going someplace new, the first thing he thinks about is the birds he could possibly see. I can very much relate to that. Kenn Kaufman is from my generation, indeed we are the same age, so I can also identify wit…

Birds in Art Exhibition

There is a noteworthy art exhibition, running from now through Nov. 9, 2008, that celebrates the great beauty and diversity of birds. Since its inception in 1976, this exhibition, entitled Birds in Art, has earned a reputation as one of the world's most premiere wildlife art shows. It has become the flagship show for the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum in Wausau, Wisconsin.

This year the works of 112 artists from 14 countries including Japan, Sweden, South Africa, and France are represented in the show. Along with the art, the museum also features talks, events, and interactive activities for children.

With at least 1000 entries by more than 600 artists, competition is fierce. The art selection process, conducted by a national panel of judges spans several months.

The diversity of art is impressive, ranging from watercolors to oils to intricate drawings, and sculptures of brass, marble and wood. Says exhibiting sculptor, Don Rambadt, "What's so exciting about this show is ge…

Locating Rare Birds Using eBird

It can be interesting and exciting for a birder to know about the locations of rare birds in their area or in an area they will soon be visiting. the terrific website, eBird (link in sidebar at left) has developed a couple of mechanisms, both focused around Google based resources linked up to the eBird database, for locating rare birds and they are today's topic.

First is a Google map based system labeled Jack Siler's eBird Rarity Map on the website home page. Clicking this link takes you to a Google based map with all of the little "pins" that indicate a rare bird sighting in North America. If you see a sighting in an area that interests you, you can mouseover the pin and see the species name. Then you can click on the sighting and get more details (shown in the image above - a Gray tailed Tattler).
A second mechanism for locating rare birds is a "Rare Birds Google Gadget" that you download and install. This software allows the rare bird sightings of your ch…