Friday, May 15, 2009

Watching The Migrant Birds

I love to travel but it is a hassle. Making reservations, packing, finding people to take care of our two dogs, airlines, gas prices.......

However, compared to what migratory birds go through, human travel is easy. True, birds don't need passports or visas. There are no walls, airline screenings or guards for birds. The cliche, "they are as free as bird" is apt here.

However, sometimes their flight is disrupted by storms and are killed by the thousands. Other times migratory birds are thwarted by habitat loss decimating whole populations. Window collisions are deadly for the flapping travelers. The list of deadly obstacles includes global climate change, pollution, telephone and guy wires, hunting, and so on. With all the danger and long distances these birds travel, it amazes how most survive the trek.

Many people aren't aware of what trials migratory birds endure. So many folks don't know anything about migratory birds nor have any idea what makes them so important to the planet's ecology.
Thanks to the "visionaries" who knew it was important to raise awareness about the plight of migratory birds, International Migratory Bird Day was born. The Smithsonian Migratory Bird Ctr. and the US Fish and Wildlife Service, set aside a special time for these remarkable creatures. The day is called, International Migratory Bird Day (IMBD for the US, Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean Islands and Central America. Other countries around the world celebrate migratory birds with World Migration Day.

Now, IMBD isn't an actual "day" per se. With the view that every day should be not only for birds but for all living things, IMBD or WMD can be celebrated all year round depending on when the birds are migrating in any given area. However, in much of North America, it is usually celebrated in May because many birds are migrating at that time.

There are festivals, fairs, birding events, rallies, picnics, hikes and bird counts this week-end. Take a look what is near you. Almost all the events are free and everyone is welcome no matter what your "birding IQ" is. We must all stand together for change. Afterall, many of the things that kills birds will eventually kill us too.

If you are in the NW suburbs of Chicago, there will be two events Prairie Woods Audubon is involved with. There is the Lake Arlington IMBD and Crabtree Nature Ctr. Check the PWA website calendar for details! We'd love to see you.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

On The Brink Of Extinction

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) released a frightening report called, the Red List. However, the study had some good news for the future of some bird species threatened with extinction, reporting habitat conservation measures do and can work. BirdLife International conducted the research. The group discovered 1,227 species or 12% of birds might be wiped off the face of our blue planet.

The Red List records a whopping 192 bird species as Critically Endangered. The grim news is happening on every single continent, according to, Jeremy "Jez" Bird who is the Global Species Programme Officer for BirdLife.

For example, the Gorgeted Puffleg (pictured above) was only discovered by researchers in 2005 and is now on the Critically Endangered category.

Is there any hope? Some species such as the gorgeous Lear's Macaw is slowing gaining some ground with conservation measures. The goal to ensure the bird populations of the world are safe from habitat destruction, logging, pollution, illegal poaching and climate change is not impossible. Like the canary in the coal mine, if the birds disappear, our future is very dark indeed.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

PWA Blogging Away


The reason for a Prairie Woods Audubon blog is we've become a very very busy organization. In the past two years we've gone from perhaps one or two activities/events per month to up to 6 activities per month in the spring, summer and fall.
One reason for the heightened activity is our Board. Through the efforts of our passionate Board Members, our presence in the community is being felt in the suburbs of the Chicago area.
Another reason for the activity is the perception that caring about the planet is good again. Children are regularly engaging in environmental projects, workplaces are organizing recycling projects, seniors are working as environmental stewards for the next generation, and so on.

There is so much hope yet, our work is far from over. This blog will post announcements of our activities, news items, activism, fund raising news, birding, vacation tips, gardening, contests, veggie recipes, photos from our members......well, you'll have to check in everyday for many surprises too!

Thank you for stopping by,

Louie Vassmer, Pres. PWA