Bird Conservation Topics and Links

TCBC SPECIAL PROJECT: For the third consecutive year, TCBC is supporting a very worthwhile project by the Institute for Bird Populations (IBP). This research program, known as MoSI (Monitoreo de Sobrevivencia Invernal), monitors winter survival of neotropical migrants. Take a look here and see some of the results and the pictures of the good folks at work at the field station that TCBC helps to support in El Salvador. More information on the MoSI program can be found on the MoSI and MAWS Programs web page.

State of the Birds Report: The first ever comprehensive report on the state of the bird populations in the U.S. was released on March 19, 2009 by Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar. Using data collected over the past 40 years, it shows that one-third of the nation's bird species are endangered. It also offers numerous examples of where habitat restoration and conservation have reversed previous declines, especially among waterfowl species. The full report may be found on the State of the Birds web page.
Anyone can participate in the Cornell Lab's recently launched CamClikr.  Not only will you see fascinating in-the-nest bird behavior but you will also help Cornell Lab sort the many thousands of photographs they are accumulating, once their Beta version is fully functional. Check it out!

According to the National Audubon Society, Breeding Bird Surveys from 1947 through the 1970s have revealed that the yellow-billed cuckoo and yellow-throated vireo -- as well as the northern parula, black-and-white warbler, Kentucky warbler,and hooded warbler -- are disappearing. Six other migrant song birds -- Eastern wood-pewees, Acadian flycatchers, wood thrushes, red-eyed vireos, ovenbirds, and scarlet tanagers -- have declined by more than 50 percent. The take home message for many of us living in urban and suburban settings is that we are altering the environment by destroying nesting and foraging habitat and by introduction of cats that are not kept indoors. (Perhaps the city fathers and mothers of Brevard could see their way to requiring some justification, in the form of permitting, before a perfectly healthy tree is cut down. Perhaps as well they could approve an ordinance that would require the owners of house cats to restrain their pets from roaming outside at will where they are such excellent predators on songbirds and other wildlife.)  See more of the story at the audubon web site.

There will always be plenty of native predators on songbirds such as this Western Rat Snake* (Scotophis obsoletus) captured for us here by Camille Ziegler. We can continue to live in peace with these natives and encourage more responsible stewardship by our human neighbors. *formerly known as black rat snake (Pantherophis obsoleta)

Speaking of county records and other noteworthy factoids:
Transylvania County enjoys the distinction of having the most pairs of nesting Peregrine Falcons of any county in NC! The four pairs currently followed by Chris Kelly, Mountain Wildlife Diversity Biologist at the NC Wildlife Resources Commission (and a number of ardent hawkwatchers), use sites at Devil's Courthouse, Panthertail Mountain, Looking Glass and Dunn's Rock.

Photo courtesy of Wayne Forsythe.

Photos that follow are of the Looking Glass Rock eyrie, courtesy of Chris Kelly.  She states that "Pluton type rocks (big, round granite domes) don't usually have good ledges. Looking Glass is a pluton, but happens to have one really good ledge. The birds nest on this ledge every year, whereas at sites with many good ledges (such as Whitesides), they move around on the cliff face from one year to the next."  Locals also enjoy watching the Peregirnes each year at Devil's Courthouse along the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Speaking of falcons, hawks, harriers, etc., the annual fall hawk migration is often lively here! A nearby locale to observe this event is Caesar's Head State Park. New volunteer hawk watchers are always welcome, so if you are interested in volunteering, check in at the Caesar's Head ranger station starting in the first week of September. Check out national efforts at the Hawk Migration Association.

Drinking shade coffee is for the birds. Thanks to the good folks at the Brevard-Davidson River Presbyterian Church on Main Street in Brevard you can purchase fair Trade coffee and tea at very reasonable prices. Purchased via grower co-ops through Ten Thousand Villages your purchase brings more money to the grower at the local level and encourages the use of sustainable agriculture. Traditional shade-grown coffee requires much less fertilizer, water, pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides than coffee grown in sunny fields in a monoculture and is much easier on the existing flora and fauna. This benefits birds in numerous ways. You can do well while doing good with this great coffee and tea!
Links to other sites of interest:

The annual Transylvania County  Christmas Bird Count is part of the Audubon Society's long term commitment to the study of avian population trends.

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology at Cornell University provides a treasure trove of information for birders of all levels.

Carolina Birds provides a nice listing of various Carolina bird clubs. Further information about birding throughout North Carolina can be found at the Carolina Bird Club main site.