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« October 2008 | | December 2008 »

November 30, 2008

Christmas Bird Count

The 109th Christmas Bird Count is almost here. Audubon chapters will be conducting one day bird counts between Dec 14, 2008 and Jan 5, 2009. Birders will be searching parks, fields, wetlands, rivers, lakes and neighborhoods counting the species and numbers of birds seen. Beginning birders can participate along side experienced birders to provide valuable observations and information on the health or decline of bird species across the country.

The Christmas Bird Count is enjoyable, a opportunity to make new birding friends and an important contribution to scientific knowledge. The data are sent to the Laboratory of Ornithology at Cornell University. Contact your local Audubon Society Chapter to learn how to participate. If you want to access the historical record of all Christmas Bird Counts you can at www.audubon.org/bird/cbc/hr/index.html

November 17, 2008

Winter Birding

Thanksgiving is just around the corner and my thoughts are turning to winter birding trips. We are lucky here in the Pacific Northwest because our region is the winter destination for many birds from further north. We also get to see many birds that stop over here on their migrations south. Snowy Owls can be seen some winters here, always an abundance of wintering Bald Eagles and innumerable waterfowl. A good rain parka and windproof rain hat are as important as the spotting scope. I especially like a pair of knit gloves lined with "Windstopper" or other windproof material for my hands.

If warm weather birding is more to your liking the United States has fantastic winter birding in Texas, Arizona, New Mexico and Florida. Once the holidays are over the mid-winter blues hit some people. Whether you are an experienced birder or a new birder check out the web for Birding Festivals and Wildlife Refugees in the Southwest and Gulf states and plan a winter birding vacation for yourself.

November 09, 2008

The Raven

The subject of folklore and mythology, the common Raven is one of the most intelligent of birds. Known for their ability to solve problems and to imitate the sounds and behaviors of other birds they have fascinated people for ages. They eat many different kinds of foods, well almost anything some would say. They mate for life and mated pairs defend their territory. Producing one brood a year they can live 10 to 15 years in the wild and up to 40 years in captivity. While I was walking along the old, abandoned logging road that runs past our place I heard and then saw our resident pair of Ravens. They, like the deer under the apple trees in our yard every night, are our wild neighbors and are
important to us in many ways. I always thrill to see these Ravens flying through the woods.

Our local Audubon Society has a new permanent resident Raven at the wildlife care center, Aristophanes, Sadly Aristophanes, born last spring, was taken from his nest by people and thus being raised by humans he imprinted on them and lost his ability to be a wild bird. It is illegal to take wild birds like that and also Ravens do not make good pets. Attempts to place Aristophanes back with wild ravens failed and so he ended up as an educational bird at the Audubon Care Center for the rest of his life. When ever I see a raven in the woods or high in the cascade mountains I always marvel at what extraordinary creature they are. Bernd Heinrich has written several excellent books on ravens if you are curious to know more about them.

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