Wednesday, April 03, 2013
As you can tell by the title, this entry is going to have three parts. I’d like to start in the middle – because that’s just how I am – I do things my own way.
SPRING! It certainly has sprung on the Refuge lately. Chorus frogs are “chorusing.” Filaree is blooming, and multitudes of migratory birds are amassing across the wetlands. Some recent returnees are: Long-billed curlews, Franklin’s gulls and Cliff swallows! But, I’m not going to name them all, instead I will just say, GET OUT THERE AND SEEM THEM YOURSELVES! It is amazing.
Now, back to the beginning. I would like to mention something I’ve been thinking about lately – a subject that is near and dear to my heart – that is Citizen Science and the value of a rarity.
First, if you don’t know, there are many, amazing citizen science projects out there for everyone to get involved in. For birders, bug lovers, plant fans, etc. And participating is a huge help – more than you know – to science and scientists around the world. From counting and reporting birds and nesting times, to watching lightning bugs or charting plant bloom times, there is something for every interest and age out there. Some of my favorites (being a birder) are eBird, NestWatch and the Great Backyard BirdCount! And that brings up my second point. The value of spotting, and even more so – reporting, a rare bird is beyond words. Over the past year, Colusa National Wildlife Refuge in California has hosted a very rare Asian bird, a Falcated duck. This bird has attracted thousands of birders from all over the country for the chance to see it on their home turf. These birders in turn have created hundreds of thousands of dollars in community revenue for local businesses and conservation concerns – especially for the Refuge. But just think – what if the first birders to spot it had not entered their sighting in eBird, or had not posted it on an internet website or listserv? Think of the effects this would have on that Refuge, the local economy especially of now filled hotels and diners, etc. That one duck brought national attention to wildlife conservation and the need for habitat protection, duck stamps, water quality control and on and on. The effects ripple through almost everything – and all from a report of one lonely and beautiful little duck.
So – I urge you – if you already don’t, to keep records of what you see when you’re outside. Report it to eBird or Bugguide or BudBurst. It DOES make a huge difference and takes very little time.
And finally, I just wanted to let everyone know, that come April 19, I will be moving on to a new career with the National Audubon Society in Texas. It has been a joy working here at Bear River MBR and writing this blog. I hope you have enjoyed reading it. Stay tuned for blog posts by new writers from the Refuge staff and volunteers . . . and as always, I wish you HAPPY BIRDING!