For 33 years it has been my honor and privilege to write for Audubon magazine – often taking controversial stances on behalf of wildlife. Like you, I am passionate about protecting birds. In my recent op-ed in the Orlando Sentinel, I let my passion get the best of me, calling into question the scientific credibility of Audubon and squandering some of my own.!--/end tags-->
Models painted as birds flock Audubon president David Yarnold. Photo by Diane Bondareff/Invision for The National Audubon Society/AP Images
UPDATE 1/24/13: Kenn Kaufman weighs in with his bird IDs.
At a gala last week, Audubon celebrated two exceptional conservationists. And models were painted as birds. But which species were they supposed to be? Click through to leave your suggestion in the Comments section. Tomorrow, esteemed bird expert Kenn Kaufman will share his thoughts, and then we’ll reveal the actual species. Flock to it!!--/end tags-->
The 113th Audubon Christmas Bird Count started this past Friday and runs through January 5, 2013. We get some awesome data about birds from the CBC, but we know not everyone can participate in a count. Maybe you’ll be at grandma’s while your local group counts. Or perhaps relatives will be visiting and you simply can’t slip away.
No matter why the CBC may elude you, we’ve got another way to participate: Send support to the on-the-ground citizen scientists. Here we profile four CBC circles, one from each flyway. Cheer them on as they tally.
Photo: Georgi Baird!--/end tags-->
Converted barn at the Audubon Center at Bent of the River. Photo: © Rob Johnson
Yesterday staff members of the Audubon Center at Bent of the River in Southbury, Connecticut, took part in the Christmas Bird Count, as they do every year. But this year, it was nearly impossible to concentrate on the birds. The day before, unimaginable horror struck when gunman Adam Lanza killed 26 people—including 20 children—at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, about five miles from the center, a 700-acre sanctuary with 15 miles of trails that has long been a peaceful retreat for the local community.
“Today is the Christmas Bird Count, and we’re all out there stumbling around, shaken because we know these kids, these are our kids,” says Leslie Kane, director of the center, which offers a nature summer camp and educational programs during the school year for several communities in western Connecticut. “Ken Elkins, my educator, called me up and said ‘I’m sitting in my car, trying to count birds, and I can’t stop staring up the road, to the hill where the school is.”!--/end tags-->
With Christmas just around the corner, and Hanukah underway, many of us are scrambling to buy presents for our loved ones. If there’s someone in your life who is passionate about wildlife or conservation, consider a symbolic adoption. Whether you’re looking for a gift for a birder, ocean lover, or outdoors enthusiast, here are options for nearly every eco interest.!--/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-->
Hurricane Sandy Update From the Field: Audubon Connecticut Assesses Nesting Habitat and Reflects On an Important Success Story
The sanderlings were frantically feeding along the Connecticut shore as the tide went out. Photograph courtesy of Audubon Alliance for Coastal Waterbirds
Audubon Connecticut director of bird Conservation Patrick Comins provides a firsthand account about how Hurricane Sandy affected the state’s beach habitat.!--/end tags-->
A sooty tern. Photo: Duncan Wright, USFWS
After a dramatic event such as Hurricane Sandy, there is a tendency to want to engineer a solution to prevent a repeat occurrence. We need to be mindful that coastal habitats—barrier islands, estuaries, and more are inherently dynamic, shaped by wind, tides, and yes, storms.!--/end tags-->