Rene EbersoleAudubon Features Editor Rene Ebersole edits and writes articles on birds, wildlife, habitats, gardening, lifestyles, and travel. In her journalistic pursuits, she has waded through swamps inhabited by alligators, witnessed a 200-pound bear getting a root canal, and donned scuba gear to wrestle with octopuses. Rene lives in New York’s scenic Hudson Valley.
Rene Ebersole's blog
“Take only photos and leave only footprints,” may become the new credo in Botswana, a premier safari destination that has also been popular among big game hunters. The Texas-sized nation has announced plans to ban trophy hunting in public areas amid concerns about sharply declining wildlife populations. “The shooting of wild game for sport and trophies is no longer compatible with our commitment to preserve local fauna,” said Botswana’s environment ministry in a statement.
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-->
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-->
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.
Angry about Kashi cereal's "natural labeling?" Truth is, the company isn't doing anything unique. Plenty of other food brands promote their products as "natural." That's because there are no rules or laws to prevent such consumer confusion. We help decode the labels on the foods you eat.
I was saving the pigeon for last—such a common bird, yet so intriguing. And indeed, the Rock Pigeon was my finale on April 1st, Day 92 of the Bird-A-Day Challenge, a game played every year by birders from around the country who are trying to see and count one “new” bird each day. There are dozens of participants still going and it’s possible that at least one of them, if not more, will make it the whole year long.
It’s always helpful when a bird that you’re trying to identify shouts its name from the forest. Fee-bee, the Eastern phoebe said on Day 78, followed by its trademark tail wag. But you can’t count on other birds to be so obliging. Many of the ones I’ve seen or heard during this year’s Bird-A-Day challenge proved to be a test for which I needed some tutors—fellow birders who have been honing their skills for a lot longer than me.
If you haven’t heard about it before, the Bird-A-Day Challenge is a game played every year by birders from around the country. The objective of the contest is to count how many days in a row you can find a “new” bird. (New equals recorded for the first time on your list.) The rules are: Never repeat a species, nor go a day without seeing a different one. If you do, you are out of the challenge.!--/end tags-->
Another week has passed and there are still a few common birds left to count before I hit my goal of lasting 80 days in this year’s Bird-A-Day Challenge. Once again this game has offered a chance to do a few things that some of us seldom take the time to do. Stop, look, and listen. It’s that simple. Taking a spare moment from our busy lives to scan the landscape and listen to the subtle sounds all around. How many of us remember to do that daily? I know I don’t.!--/end tags-->
With temperatures reaching as high as 70 degrees in the New York City area this week and the days getting longer, many birds have been warming up their vocal chords. This morning they were in full chorus. Thankfully those crooners are helping me hang on just a little while longer in the Bird-A-Day Challenge.!--/end tags-->
A snowy owl. I finally got to see a snowy owl. It took an hour and a half long car ride and a frigid, gusty walk across the top of a dam, but there she was sitting a short distance down the rocky slope. As many of you already know, this was a record year for snowy owl sightings (read more about that here), but it was my first chance to see one this winter. What a treat—and only two days after seeing my first rufous hummingbird.
Unfortunately, this streak won’t likely continue.!--/end tags-->