Sandhill Crane, photo by Dwayne Longenbaugh
Don’t let that holiday turkey be the only bird your family encounters this Thanksgiving. Go for a hike. A post-feast nature walk can be as much a family tradition as cranberry sauce and stuffing. While burning off calories, you can enjoy the fresh air and see some wildlife. There are plenty of places to go. Visit one of Audubon’s 48 centers laced with trails. Or choose a National Wildlife Refuge. The Refuge System encompasses 150 million acres, and there is at least one refuge in every state. Many of them are Important Bird Areas. The following 16 National Wildlife Refuge walks are family-friendly and relatively short. Each one offers a chance to see many birds and other wildlife in late November.!--/end tags-->
Nearly two years ago, on New Year’s Eve two whales washed up on the shore of New Zealand and died. Government conservation workers identified them as Gray’s beaked whales, which commonly wash ashore, took skin samples, buried them, and left them alone—completely unaware that they’d actually been handling two of the world’s most mysterious mammals.
When researchers from the University of Auckland sequenced DNA from the samples a few months later, they found something much more exciting than expected. The specimens were the first evidence found since 1986 of the spade-toothed beaked whale.!--/end tags-->
Central Park Conservancy
Thousands of trees never stood a chance against hurricane Sandy’s merciless winds that blasted the Northeast last week. And when those trees faltered, they fell with crushing force. Uprooted, splintered, and draped over houses and utility wires, downed trees continue to be a reminder of the unprecedented super storm that pounded the region. In Central Park alone, an estimated 650 trees toppled, including a 160-year-old pin oak.!--/end tags-->
In a meeting on Thursday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced that the State Department is getting serious about fighting the illegal wildlife trade, which has become increasingly enmeshed with organized crime and rogue military groups. She announced that she was asking the Central Intelligence Agency to investigate the effects of the illegal wildlife trade on U.S. security interests.!--/end tags-->
Audubon and ESRI offer an intimate look at what it’s like to be a piping plover with their interactive map story, Beating the Odds: A Year in the Life of a Piping Plover.
Piping plovers have the right idea: This time of year, they’re on sandy southern beaches. To reach their topical destinations, the six-inch birds face a 2,000-mile odyssey, fighting storms like Hurricane Sandy in the air and perils on the ground, from predators to development to off-road vehicles. But don’t take my word for it—see for yourself in Audubon's interactive map.!--/end tags-->
Photo: Chris Toombes
UPDATE: We've narrowed it down to these three toadally awesome entries!
Every week we post a funny animal photo that's begging for a caption. Click "Read more" to add your suggestion in the Comments section by 11:59pm (Eastern time) on Sunday. On Monday we'll choose our three favorite captions and list them under the image.!--/end tags-->
Photograph courtesy of sxc.hu
As floodwaters poured into New York City’s tunnels and subways, rodents that make their homes in the holes and crevices underground found themselves inundated, a result of Hurricane Sandy that may have more effectively eliminated the pests than years of poisoning.!--/end tags-->
A state constitutional amendment would give Arizona sovereign authority over the Grand Canyon (above) and 19 other national park units.
UPDATE: Of the five measures, four were defeated. Click through for the results.
After a record-spending campaign season, Election Day is finally here. While much of the national focus will be on the Presidential race and which party will end up controlling the Senate, voters in several states are voting on measures that are of interest to any environmentalist. Here’s a look at five of these, which could affect everything from foods lining grocery store shelves, to iconic landmarks, to renewable energy development.!--/end tags-->
Walker Golder. Photo: John Huba
North Carolina was at the southern limit of Sandy’s reach, but her wrath was still felt on the beaches as far south as Cape Fear, says Walker Golder, deputy state director of Audubon North Carolina. The storm surge overwashed the barrier islands and flooded low-lying areas, and in places it flattened dunes, uprooted vegetation, and scoured the beach. "More than 150 species of birds use the immediate coastline of North Carolina during October and most—probably all—felt the effects of Sandy," says Golder, who shares his perspective on how Sandy and other hurricanes affect birds, their habitat, and people.!--/end tags-->
Midwestern gardeners who aim to create native landscapes that provide important habitat to birds and other wildlife have a valuable new resource: “The Midwestern Native Garden, Native Alternatives to Nonnative Flowers and Plants, an illustrated Guide,” by Charlotte Adelman and Bernard L. Schwartz (Ohio University Press). In writing the book, the authors considered several of the major challenges faced by gardeners who want to grow natives. First, which plants are not native to a region? Second, what are alternative plants that are just as stunning and similarly capable of thriving in a garden that might otherwise be crowded with nonnative ornamentals.