There are many reasons to love birding. It keeps your mind and senses active. Listening, observing, then trying to decide what bird you are watching are great exercises for the brain. It creates learning challenges for the visual, the sounds, and the memory of birds you know, to come up with a bird’s identification.
There is also a sense of anticipation and excitement in a day of birding. One is always looking for a new or unusual sighting that gives birding the feeling of a treasure hunt. At times there are surprising discoveries! One year on the Eugene Christmas Bird Count, Dave Bontrager identified a rare Falcated Duck on a pond near Coburg. It was a cold, wet, windy day but he persisted in watching this bird riding the whitecaps on the pond, until he was certain of its identity. Way to go Dave!
Bird watching also takes us out of our own headspace and into the world of the birds. Observing their behaviors and feeding strategies, watching them bathe and preen as they interact with each other, delighting in their lovely feathers and songs; all these offer us yet another aspect of the birding adventure.
Conserving biodiversity is a big challenge, but there is much we can do. Populations suffer from habitat loss and fragmentation, the wildlife trade, invasive species, and disease. These are exacerbated by climate change, as animals shift range, search for food, and crowd into smaller habitats. And all of these factors work together to stress populations, increase the chances of human encroachment into wildlife habitat, and provide the fuel for the next pandemic.
A concerted effort on the part of people cooperating to enact solutions is long overdue. But is cooperation possible? These are stressful times—the pandemic, the economy, politics, wildfires, and the state of the environment—just to name a few things. During times of stress, it’s easy for people to be less tolerant and less cooperative, for us to withdraw or just not want to bother. But we would do well in these difficult times to draw on the better aspects of human nature, our capacity to be generous, compassionate, and cooperative.
Of Ravens, Wolves and People
LCAS and the Eugene Natural History Society are cosponsoring a Zoom program by John Marzluff "Of Ravens, Wolves and People."
John Marzluff is a professor of wildlife science at the University of Washington (Go Dawgs). His talk will report on the travels of ravens as they forage among wolves, pumas, and people.
He has studied how humans affect birds through habitat fragmentation and increased urbanization, as well as the challenges of conserving birds on islands. Currently he is focusing on the habits of common ravens in Yellowstone National Park. Some ravens in the park commute long distances to exploit human and canine hunters, agricultural subsidies, sewage ponds, and dumps. Travels of 60 miles per day are not unusual. Others beg at picnic grounds and pullouts. One rings a bell for roast beef at the home of a tavern waitress.
He has written or co-written six books about birds, most focusing on his favorites, the crows and ravens. While his work has focused primarily on corvids (ravens, crows, and jays), he has also worked with falcons and hawks throughout the world. Conversely, he is interested in all the ways that birds affect people. How, for instance, birds influence art or language.
Polyglottal Passerines – Mimicry Is Not Just for Mockingbirds
While birding at Finley National Wildlife Refuge in his teens, Rich Hoyer heard the most amazing thing – a Purple Finch incorporating sounds of a California Scrub-Jay in its jumbled song. He thought he had discovered something new, since such behavior wasn’t mentioned in any field guide. Since then he’s been fascinated and intrigued by mimicry in birds, collecting personal observations and recordings of the phenomenon. In this audiovisual presentation, Rich Hoyer will present examples of mimicry in songbirds from throughout the Americas and share his enthusiasm for this curious and often entertaining behavior.
Born and raised in Oregon, Rich Hoyer earned bachelor’s degrees in German and Zoology at Oregon State University. Following a few years as an itinerant biologist and summer guide on Saint Paul Island, Alaska, he moved to Tucson, Arizona and has been working as a professional birding tour leader for WINGS for the past 23 years.
November Zoom program meeting is now available here: Ultimate Africa: Tanzania & Uganda https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iha62Xtv4pI
October Zoom program meeting available here: All Tied Up in Knots: Seven Years with Calidris canutus https://youtu.be/hNOoonhbb2o
September Zoom program meeting Dead Trees: Why We Need Them https://youtu.be/efbd2V_KJAI
The 2020 Eugene Christmas Bird Count (ECBC) will happen, but it will be different! Our 79th Count will occur on Sunday, January 3, 2021.
Because of COVID-19, only experienced bird enthusiasts are invited to take part in the Cottage Grove CBC on Saturday, January 2, 2021. Social distancing and masking are required
Last year the weather was very nice for the ECBC with just a little rain at end of the day. 162 people were in the field all day and combined with the 81 Home Counters saw 123 species.