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Florida Audubon Purchases Important Bird Nesting Island in Lower Tampa Bay
Charles Lee, Manager of Florida Audubon Society's Sanctuary Program (FAS), announced the purchase this month of Terra Ceia Little Bird Key to protect the small mangrove-forested island that provides nesting habitat for 14 species.

'59 Illustrated National Parks' Celebrates NPS 100th Anniversary
Anderson Design Group is celebrating the 100th anniversary of the United States National Park Service in 2016 with the release of their 59 Illustrated National Parks, Celebrating 100 Years of Wilderness and Wonder coffee table book.

Parts of Missouri's Schell-Osage CA Closed for Grassland Restoration
The Missouri Department of Conservation is informing the public that portions of the Schell-Osage Conservation Area covering parts of Vernon and Saint Clair counties will be closed for public safety as contractors remove invasive trees from prairies and old fields as part of a grassland restoration project.
Habitat Improvements Bring Temporary Closure on Sevilleta Refuge (NM)
Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge in central New Mexico was recently awarded a competitive grant through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Cooperative Recovery Initiative, allowing for improvements to approximately 60 acres of wetlands and riparian habitat for a variety of endangered species and other wildlife.

NFWF, NRCS Support Ducks Unlimited Conservation in Louisiana
Ducks Unlimited received a $4-million award from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) and the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) through the Gulf Coast Conservation Grants Program to support wetland restoration on private lands in southern Louisiana.

Whooping Crane Festival T-Shirt Contest Call for Entries
The Port Aransas (Tex.) Chamber of Commerce and Tourist Bureau invites artists ages 18 and up to submit entry designs for the official 2016 Whooping Crane Festival T-Shirt.

Audubon New Mexico Expands Education Program
Across the state, as teachers, parents and students have been getting back in to the swing of school, Audubon New Mexico has been busy preparing for expanded environmental education programming that they will be delivering in Santa Fe, Albuquerque and Las Cruces during the 2015-2016 school year.

Contamination Found in Seabirds Near Georgia Superfund Site
A new study by researchers in Georgia published recently in Environmental Science: Processes and Impacts, found that contaminants from a Superfund site near Brunswick have spread much farther than previously thought.

Oconee Rivers Audubon Begin 2015-16 Event Season
The Oconee Rivers Audubon Society will launch its 2015-16 season with a reception and a special presentation about "The Wonderful World of Warblers" by research by scientist Dr. Richard Hall on Thursday, September 3, at UGA's Odum School of Ecology.

Progress in Effort to Protect Asian Vultures
BirdLife International reports that the Indian Ministry of Health has banned multi-dose vials of human formulations of diclofenac, which is believed responsible for the death of millions of Asia's vultures.

Obama Calls for Public-Private Investment in National Parks
President Obama has submitted a legislative proposal, the National Park Service Centennial Act, to Congress to better address critical maintenance and improvement projects in our national parks.

First Live-Streaming Views of Wild Condor Nests
Biologists have installed webcams in two California Condor nests located in the rugged terrain of Ventura and Monterey counties to enable the public to watch California Condor chicks and their parents for the first time.

Celestron TrailSeeker Binoculars Adds Spotting Scopes to the Family
View the natural world again for the first time when you are equipped with TrailSeeker optics from Celestron.

NWRA 2015 Refuge Photography Contest Opens Sept. 15
The National Wildlife Refuge Association invites you to show us your photographs of the habitats, wildlife and people that make our national wildlife refuges such incredible places.
Mass Audubon's 2015 Photo Contest Enters Final Month
Mass Audubon reminds shutterbugs that its annual statewide photo competition, Picture This: Your Great Outdoors, is accepting 2015-eligible entries only until September 30.

New Bahamas National Park Will Protect Atlantic Coast Birds
A new national park in the Bahamas – one of several created this week by the Bahamian government – will help ensure the survival of several at-risk Atlantic Coast shorebird species, including Piping Plovers and Red Knots.

Study Reveals Prothonotary Warbler 5,000-Mile Migration Path
New findings in a study by the National Audubon Society and Louisiana Bird Observatory (LABO) reveal the first-ever mapped migration of a Prothonotary Warbler, a species of conservation concern.

South American Specialty:
 Orinoco Goose
Though it's named for the mighty Orinoco River of Venezuela and Colombia, the longest river in South America, the Orinoco Goose is rarely seen afloat.

2015 Hawk Watch at Delaware's Cape Henlopen SP
This year's Hawk Watch begins Sept. 1 at Delaware Nature Society's Ashland Nature Center near Hockessin and at Cape Henlopen State Park near Lewes.
DU Dedicates Indiana Wetlands Program
Ducks Unlimited (DU) commemorated its Northeast Potholes Program and honored program supporters during a dedication ceremony Saturday, Aug. 29, at Eagle Marsh Nature Preserve.
29th Annual Delaware Coastal Cleanup Seeks Volunteers
The Delmarva Ornithological Society reminds members and interested parties that the 29th annual Delaware Coastal Cleanup will be held from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday, Sept. 19, 2015.

Ducks Unlimited Investing $1.5 Million in Wisconsin's Horicon Marsh
Horicon Marsh in southeastern Wisconsin, the largest freshwater cattail marsh in the nation, has renewed life thanks to a more than $1.5 million investment by Ducks Unlimited and generous local support.

The Birding Wire Photo Gallery

As migration begins for his beloved hummingbirds after another summer, Birding Wire Editor J.R. Absher accepts the arrival of September with bittersweet inevitability. However, his residence at Las Palomas, New Mexico was blessed with at least five species (and counting), including dozens of the beautiful and diminutive Calliope hummingbirds, North America's smallest bird species. Technical: Canon 7D with Canon EF 75-300 lens, ISO 500, f/11 @1/1000 sec.

All Birding Wire readers are encouraged to submit an image for consideration for The Birding Wire Photo Gallery. Please send your photo, along with an identification, description of the location and date, technical photo data to birdingwire@gmail.com.

Is Hemp The Birdseed of the Future?
(Special to The Birding Wire)

Perhaps. But, actually it's also the birdseed of the past.

In the winter of 1895-96, bird-feeding pioneer, Elizabeth B. Davenport of Brattleboro, Vermont, fed the birds at her window a unique high-oil seed: hemp. Full of fat, protein, and carbohydrates, hemp seed was widely available at the time at feed and grain stores. It was quickly adopted by early wild bird feeding proponents, and it became a main ingredient in their birdseed mixes.

Yes, hemp, Cannabis sativa, is also used as a recreational of medical drug, marijuana. Of course, there are huge differences between "industrial hemp" or "psychoactive hemp."

Still, by the 'teens of the last century, hemp had become a standard of bird feeding. "Hemp seed and Japanese millet are among the best seeds to offer the birds in winter," wrote Ernest Harold Baynes in Wild Bird Guests (1915). In The Bird Study Book (1917), T. Gilbert Pearson, president of the National Association of Audubon Societies, advocated using hemp seed, as well as cracked corn, wheat, rice, and sunflower seeds since they all could be "purchased readily in any town."

Of high nutritional value and easily acquired, hemp was simple to grow, too. A "Plant for the Birds" campaign by the Massachusetts Audubon Society in May 1917 included this advice: "Hemp is... easily raised in the ordinary backyard garden. It grows five or six feet tall in good soil, its fern-like foliage and graceful shape making it rather ornamental. The flowers are greenish plumy tufts at the branch tips. The seeds are numerous and much loved by birds."

And the praise went on for years. Discussing "satisfactory foods" for wild birds in the 1941 book, Audubon Guide to Attracting Birds, Roger Tory Peterson called hemp, a favorite with seed-eaters: "In a mixture of cracked corn and smaller seeds, hemp always goes first."

The problem was that a variety of hemp could be psychoactive, and that form was easily confused with industrial hemp. The passage of the federal Marijuana Tax Act in 1937 complicated things. And except for the short-lived USDA-promoted Hemp for Victory campaign of WWII - to provide cordage, rope, and cloth for the war effort - hemp slipped away as a birdseed of consequence in the U.S. The Controlled Substances Ace of 1970 didn't make things any easier.

Currently it is popular to categorize hemp as either "industrial hemp" or "psychoactive hemp," (the popular marijuana of today's media). Some strains of the plant can have almost none of the psychoactive chemical; others may possess an abundance of it. Industrial hemp usually has less than 0.3 to 1.0 percent THC (delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol).

Organized business groups and even state and federal agencies and lawmakers are considering ways to revive industrial hemp production in the U.S. There are also some sections of the most recent Farm Bill that make hemp exploration - even including bird seed use - possible. But the use of hemp as birdseed still has a way to go.

Today, Canada is the main supplier of hemp products to this country, with China and eastern European countries also in the mix.

The whole story is told in Wild Bird Feeding in America: Culture, Commerce, and Conservation.

Frankly, it's not that hemp fell out of favor with birds or with the bird-feeding public, but confusion and misunderstanding in the 20th century made it scarce in the marketplace. In his mid-1970s book, A Complete Guide to Bird Feeding, John Dennis mourned that hemp was no longer easy to find: "This is too bad, for hemp had all the virtues of sunflower and far less of the seed was taken up by hull."

Of course, the plant can still be found growing wild in ditches and odd corners of farms, surviving from World War II-era plantings. Hemp might still be destined to become the birdseed of the future, and millions of Americans who feed wild birds may once again be able to visit local stores to pick up bags of hemp seed marked "grown in the USA."


- Paul J. Baicich, writer, book author, consultant and seminar speaker from Maryland, is a co-author of Wild Bird Feeding in America: Culture, Commerce, and Conservation, available from Texas A&M University Press. (http://www.tamupress.com)

Sept. 10 - Sept. 13
2015 Midwest Birding Symposium
Bay City, Mich.
Sept. 10 - Sept. 14
Yampa Valley Crane Festival
Steamboat Springs, Colo.
Sept. 11 - Sept. 13
Hummingbird Migration celebration
Holly Springs, Miss.
Sept. 12
Feliciana Hummingbird Celebration
St. Francisville, La.
Sept. 12
Sept. 12
Sept. 13 - Sept. 20
Sept. 16 - Sept. 20
ABA's Olympic Peninsula Birding Rally
Port Angeles and Ocean Shores, Wash.
Sept. 17 - Sept. 20
Hummerbird Festival
Rockport, Tex.
Sept. 17 - Sept. 20
Pecos Bird Festival
Pecos, NM
Sept. 18 - Sept. 20
Cape Cod Bird Festival
Hyannis, Mass.
Sept. 24 - Sept. 26
Monterey Bay Birding Festival
Watsonville, Calif.
Sept. 24 - Sept. 30
Little St. Simons Island Fall Birding
Little St. Simons Island, Ga.
Sept. 26
Seatuck Birding Challenge
Islip, NY
Oct. 1 - Oct. 3
Oct. 1 - Oct. 4
Bird Festival at Fairchild Botanic Garden
Coral Gables, Fla.
Oct. 2 - Oct. 4
Oct. 2 - Oct. 4
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