Thursday, May 30, 2013

Raising Money for Bird Conservation - Maine Birder Bands

When the USFWS announces that there are more than 22 million "away-from-home" wildlife watchers in the country - ten million more than there are hunters - the calls for a change in the structure of how federal funding for conservation is directed are becoming harder to ignore.  But just what that change will look like - whether it's a conservation stamp or Administrative directives to wildlife agencies or (slimmest of slim possibilities) federal legislation directing a new or rechanneled source of revenue - is still up for debate, and will take a long time to resolve. 

In the meantime, though, some states have taken the initiative.  A few months ago I received my fifth annual Maine Birder Band.  The program was started by the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife to establish a dedicated revenue stream to protect Maine's birds, bird habitat and access for birders.

The idea is simple.  For $20 the state will send you a colorful metal band (like a bird's leg band) to attach to your binocular strap.  If you lose your binoculars, the good citizen who finds them can call the number on the band, and the state can contact you to let you know they're found.  Everyone wins - the state gets money for bird-related conservation, I get some security for my binoculars and a conversation starter when I'm standing at some feeder with a stranger waiting for the vagrant to show back up.

The Maine Birder Band website lists Kennebunk Plains (best place in Maine to find Upland Sandpipers), Brownfield Bog (ditto for Yellow-throated Vireo) and Messalonskee Lake (ditto for Black Tern and Sandhill Cranes) among the locations where funds have been deployed - and I couldn't be happier.  There isn't much in the way of hunting at these locations, and they could easily be overlooked by a game-oriented wildlife agency.  So, kudos for the Great State of Maine, and get your birder band today.

Birds at Large: Dos Equis

I don't always fly with geese, but when I do, they're Barnacle Geese.

whole commercial here.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Visions of Birding's Unchanged Past and Unrealized Future

I had the opportunity tonight to riffle through some old copies of Audubon magazine tonight, and I especially enjoyed the old advertisements. Birding always seems to be an underdog, on the cusp of mainstream acceptance - "one of the fastest growing activities!" they say - and so it was nice to see these old magazines and remember that this is a hobby with a full-bodied history.

The magazine I was looking at was from 1960, and featured a beautiful cover design (and the black-and-white photo was apt for the Gray Jay on the cover):


There were a couple of ads that I liked because they're still products that birders buy all the time. The problem of keeping squirrels off feeders will never go away, though I don't know how much I'd want my bird feeders making loud buzzing noises all the time...

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Kirtland's Warbler outside Grayling, MI

Kirtland's Warbler

Kirtland's Warbler

Friday, May 10, 2013

Wish Me Luck

Warbler's Way Motel - Grayling, MI

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