Duck hunt: Ellen (Katie Chang), Timmy (Alex Wolff), David (Kodi Smit-McPhee) and Peter (Michael Chen) search for an extinct bird.
I’ve always thought ducks were pretty great. They’re beautiful birds big enough to see a good amount of detail. They tend to stay in one place long enough to offer a really satisfying look, sometimes with the naked eye. And often many species congregate together—on open water.
So when I heard that Rob Meyer and Luke Matheny’s new film “A Birder’s Guide to Everything” was about four high schoolers chasing a long-forgotten duck, I was pretty stoked. After seeing the movie Monday, I can say wholeheartedly that it didn’t disappoint.!--/end tags-->
Next time you loan a book from your public library, consider checking out some seeds, too. Yes, you read that right. More than two-dozen libraries across the country, including 15 in California, now let patrons borrow DIY plants along with copies of The Great Gatsby and Moby Dick. As NPR’s The Salt reported last week, this new offering could be a way to entice more people into the brick-and-mortar book buildings. Plus, it fosters community and makes accessible all different types of seeds.!--/end tags-->
A Northern mockingbird at the Christmas Bird Count in Central Park. (Photo by Debra Kriensky)
On Sunday I went to Central Park for my first Christmas Bird Count (this year marks the 113th year of Audubon’s nationwide survey). It was a dark morning with pinpricks of rain, and birders spread out around the park into seven sectors, ready to look among bare branches for signs of life and to listen for characteristic calls.!--/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-->
In each issue of Audubon, the editors review a mix of narrative nonfiction titles, as well as art books and children’s books about nature. For ease, we’ve compiled the dozens of fantastic works we reviewed in 2012 in one place, and we’ve added a few additional books that we covered exclusively online.!--/end tags-->
Photo: Courtesy of Laurence King Publishing
If someone gave me Bird Bingo (Laurence King Publishing, $29.95) as a gift, I could simply stare at it for enjoyment; I wouldn’t even need to play the game. That’s because it’s the most beautiful bingo I’ve ever seen. And it’s a great gift for bird lovers.!--/end tags-->
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-->
As a senior in high school, I’m constantly thinking about where I’ll go to college. What academic programs does each school offer? What extracurricular and study abroad options will I have? Then, of course, there’s the all-important question: What’s the food like? Because I’m interested in a sustainability- or conservation-related career (not sure quite what yet) and want to live a greener everyday life, I’m also concerned about how eco-friendly my school options are. So, I decided to see which colleges and universities have earned A’s where the environment is concerned. Here are a few of my favorites.!--/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.