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Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Birding With Cub Scouts

This past Saturday I took two dozen cub scouts and parents birding at Peace Valley Nature Center in Doylestown. The kids had to find 10 species for their scout requirement, and we started off packed into the bird blind. In the 45 minutes we were there, almost everyone got to see at least 10 species, including American Goldfinch, Northern Cardinal, Mourning Dove, Red-winged Blackbirds, Common Grackles, Brown-headed Cowbirds, Downy Woodpecker, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Gray Catbird, Blue Jay, House Finch, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, and Tufted Titmouse.

Then we walked down to the bridge at the end of Lake Galena and found another 10 species or so...including great looks at Great Blue Heron, Green Heron, Mallard, Barn Swallow, Bank Swallow and flyby Turkey Vulture, Cooper's Hawk, and Red-tailed Hawk.

The kids had a good time, as did the adults. I don't think most kids these days get to see this many birds in their entire time growing up, unless they can get someone to show them around. Hopefully the kids will go back and see more with their parents, or pay closer attention wherever they go. You never know what will happen when you open someone's eyes to nature. At the very least, they had a good time, learned a little about the world they live in, and found something interesting that didn't have a computer chip in it. Not bad for a morning of birding. I also had all three of my kids there, and it was a reminder that I need to take them out more as well.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

This and That

Saw a nice female Wild Turkey on the bypass access road on my way into work early one morning this week. Otherwise, pretty quiet. An American Robin is nesting in a tree outside my office. I could hear baby Blue-gray Gnatcatchers calling from another tree during lunch today.

While birds have been fairly quiet here in PA, I've been having good bird conservation discussions at work...but have been struck recently by the irony of spending all day in meetings or at a computer, creating strategies and programs to save birds--talking about birds all day--but not actually seeing many birds or being in regular contact with them.

For me, and many others, the primal experience of watching and interacting with birds is the most important and valuable experience. However, seeing birds doesn't save them and doesn't protect their habitat. My work, while not always placing me in close contact with birds (though often closer than if I was working in an office park cubicle), actually helps save birds and their habitats. That in itself is also enjoyable. But not as much as being with the birds themselves!

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Goose on the Loose

The past few days, a Barnacle Goose has been hanging out at a pond in a housing community a few miles north of my work. I stopped by on my way home from the office yesterday, and the goose was easily seen in company with two Canada Goose. Unlike the bird at Peace Valley this past winter, this bird clearly had a magenta plastic aviary band on its right its an obvious escape and uncountable by ABA birding rules.

Despite its origins, a neat little goose. Easy to see why someone would want to own one. Harder to imagine how anyone could let one get away.
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