Swarovski Optik
Swarovski Contact Archives Subscribe Home
Tamu Press
Friends of the Stamp
Noah's 2015 World Big Year eBird Summary
In 2015, Noah Strycker undertook the "biggest year ever" for birding: traveling through 41 countries as he encountered 6,042 species of birds in a single calendar year—surpassing the previous record by more than 1,500 species.

Milestone Achieved for Lesser Prairie-Chicken with Wind Energy Partnership
The Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA) has finalized the first new wind energy development under the Lesser Prairie-Chicken Range-wide Conservation Plan. The Bluestem Wind Energy project in western Oklahoma will be operated by Exelon Corporation, which recently purchased the project from Renewable Energy System (RES) Americas Inc.
1.7 Million Wildlife Habitat Acres Impacted in '15
In 2015,Pheasants Forever, Inc., including its quail division, Quail Forever, worked with more than 35,000 individual landowners and its chapter affiliates completed more than 12,700 wildlife habitat projects, which combined to improve habitat for pheasants, quail and other wildlife on more than 1.7 million acres.

Forest Service Releases Findings on the Effects of Drought
The U.S. Forest Service has released a new report, Effects of Drought on Forests and Rangelands in the United States: A Comprehensive Science Synthesis, that provides a national assessment of peer-reviewed scientific research on the impacts of drought on U.S. forests and rangelands.

Pueblo Eagle Days Feb. 5-7
Colorado Parks and Wildlife's 2016 "Eagle Days" festival features eagle-viewing opportunities, hands-on activities for youngsters, live bird programs, native American dancers and educational presentations by raptor experts.

New Bird Education Videos Take Flight
Bird TV ("Bird Teaching Video") is a web-based educational resource created and hosted by the Wisconsin Society for Ornithology (WSO) for use by schools, nature centers, bird clubs, and community members free of charge.
Collecting Field Data on Local Birds with Elementary Students
Green Teacher, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping educators, inside and outside of schools, promote environmental awareness through their quarterly magazine, is providing a series of six free webinars throughout the 2016 winter/spring, including "Collecting Field Data on Local Birds with Elementary Students."

Virginia Society of Ornithology's Annual Meeting in Roanoke
Register now for a chance to win a morning of birding with Pete Dunne at the Virginia Society of Ornithology's annual meeting April 29 to May 1.
Acadia Birding Festival, June 2-5
Experience the birding wonders of Maine, from boreal to ocean – warblers, puffins, and more - around Acadia National Park and beyond, at the Acadia Birding Festival, June 2-5.
Port Aransas, Tex. Celebrates 20th Anniversary Whooping Crane Festival
The Port Aransas Chamber of Commerce/Tourist Bureau showcases its rare and famous winter neighbors, the Whooping Cranes, at the 20th Anniversary Whooping Crane Festival Feb. 25-28, 2016.
Join the Fun at Apopka Wildlife Festival & Birdapalooza
Join friends and neighbors for free birding tours, live entertainment, exhibitors and much more at the fourth annual Birdapalooza, a celebration of the rich diversity of birds and wildlife on the shores of Lake Apopka, one of Florida's largest lakes on Feb. 6.

Four Positions Available at eBird
There are currently four positions open to join the eBird technical team: a Principal Web Service Developer and a Web Service Developer, a Data Service Developer-Administrator, and a DevOps Engineer.

Cornell Spring Field Ornithology Course Goes Online
The annual Spring Field Ornithology course is celebrating its 40th anniversary by reaching out to those who cannot take the course in person at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in Ithaca, N.Y., and for the first time lectures will be available online to anyone, anywhere.

Celestron Hummingbird ED Micro Spotting Scopes
The Celestron Hummingbird Micro Spotting Scope has the distinctive qualities of real hummingbirds, they are both quick, highly mobile, and can travel long distances with ease.

Mass Audubon Birders Meeting Mar. 13
Mass Audubon's 24th Annual Birders Meeting will be held at UMass/Boston, Sunday, March 13, with a program focusing on seabirds and their remarkable characteristics, adaptations, behaviors, and varied forms and functions.

'Gonzo Ornithologist,' Vern Laux, 60
E. Vernon "Vern" Laux of Nantucket, Mass., a beloved self-taught birder widely known on Martha's Vineyard, died Jan. 21 from complications related to esophageal cancer. He was 60.

Bird Feeding Chart from Watching Backyard Birds
This month, Watching Backyard Birds, a bimonthly magazine from the publishers of Bird Watcher's Digest, is offering an at-a-glance bird-feeding chart and backyard bird list with paid subscriptions.
Visitors from the North - NH Wildlife Journal
Read about unexpected arrivals that can add mystery and excitement to winter birdwatching and meet some of our avian visitors from the north in the January/February 2016 issue of New Hampshire Wildlife Journal.

A Bird, Not a Fruit: 
Antillean Mango
The Antillean Mango hummingbird is found only in the West Indies, where it's common on the island of Hispaniola shared by Haiti and the Dominican Republic (DR).
Hydroelectric Dam Demolition Helps American Dippers
Recent research examined the effect that removing a dam had on the movement of salmon in the Elwha River in northeast Washington state, as well as how the change affected the ecosystem of a bird species: the American dipper (Cinclus mexicanus).

Zeiss Sponsors NJ Audubon's Young Birder's Program
ZEISS continues to serve as the lead sponsor of New Jersey Audubon's Young Birder Program, which helps increase environmental literacy and STEM learning among the State's children by using birds and bird watching as the springboard for engagement.

Nebraska Bald Eagles Set Nesting Record in 2015
In 2015, a record 118 active bald eagle nests were documented in Nebraska by the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission and its partners.
Mass Audubon Names David Moon New Director At Joppa Flats
Mass Audubon has appointed David Moon as the new director of its Joppa Flats Education Center in Newburyport. Moon succeeds Bill Gette, who is retiring after 20 years with the respected conservation organization.

FWS Announces Coast Wetlands Conservation Grants
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe has announced over $20 million will be provided to 28 projects in 12 coastal states to protect, restore or enhance more than 10,000 acres of coastal wetlands and adjacent upland habitats under the National Coastal Wetlands Conservation Grant Program.

The Birding Wire Photo Gallery

"With leaves gone from the trees, it's been easier to spot birds in the backyard," writes Birding Wire reader Ken Dunwoody of Marietta, Ga. "This Red-shouldered Hawk was keeping a close eye on the open area behind our house, standing on one leg for an extended period." Gear: Nikon D7000 camera, Nikkor 70-300mm 4.5/5.6 lens, aperture 5.6, shutter 1,500, ISO 1600.


Birding Wire readers, if you have a favorite or interesting bird and nature shot, we'd love to share it with thousands of our subscribers. Please send submissions to birdingwire@gmail.com, and be sure to include details about the location, species and technical data.

Birds and Battalions
Editor's note: The following feature was provided to The Birding Wire by Craig Springer and Lesli Gray, external affairs for the Southwest District of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. -JRA

Managing for healthy native bird habitat on Fort Hood is an essential task for a terrain that regularly accommodates a high volume of military exercises. Gil Eckrich
War transformed the nature of farmlands of central Texas. What had been a checker-spotted landscape interspersed with mosaics of oak-juniper woodlands turned into a busy Camp Hood during World War II. The Soldiers from central Texas would end up in Europe to help bring the war against Germany to a close. The temporary military camp later became the permanent Fort Hood, the largest U.S. Army facility in the nation encompassing over 218,000 acres and supporting more than 371,000 people including some 50,000 well-trained Soldiers.

Today, the sounds of live weapons fire from helicopters, the roar of mechanized combat vehicles, the clomp of metal-tracked tanks rumbling like massive bulldozers with cannons cruising over the terrain are all common sights and sounds at Fort Hood.

And as of late, so are two songbirds: the golden-cheeked warbler and the black-capped vireo. In seemingly incongruent fashion, the wispy songs of these two federally endangered birds embalm the springtime air of Fort Hood.

The showy golden-cheeked warbler has been considered endangered since 1990. Scientific research and conservation work on Ft. Hood has improved its lot. USFWS
The golden-cheeked warbler wears a splash of yellow on its head like the panache of an officer of old. It draws attention to itself. It's a shard of sunshine glommed to the bird's head. As showy as it is, the golden-cheeked warbler has other notoriety. It's been listed as endangered since 1990. The bird is a true native Texan, with its breeding range entirely within the Lone Star State, including Fort Hood. Habitat loss through conversion of natural areas to parking lots and housing subdivisions, urbanization in general, caused the bird's numbers to decline. Having a fair amount of habitat on a military installation has been a benison for the bird.

When the warblers return from their wintertime haunts in Mexico and Central America, nesting habitat at Fort Hood welcomes them home. The number of birds on the fort are on the rise, and it's not been by accident.

The warbler was discovered on Fort Hood lands in the 1950s and biologists seeing the conservation need, recommended to the fort's commanding general in 1970 that blocks of land be set aside for the bird. The Army abided.

In the 1980s, another bird species came into view. Surveys by scientists revealed that the black-capped vireo was declining in the northern part of its summertime breeding range, which included Fort Hood.

Goggle-eyed, the black-capped vireo builds distinctive cup nests in small stands of trees characteristic of central Texas – and Fort Hood. Conservation work and scientific research has put its population numbers on an upward trend all the while military readiness goes undiminished. Gil Eckrich
Though not as showy as the warbler, the vireo suffers for many of the same reasons. But add nest parasitism into the mix as well; brown-headed cowbirds which make no natural effort to build a nest and raise their own offspring let other bird species do it for them, including the vireo. And that has aggravated the matter for the vireo. The black-capped vireo is adorned with its namesake black "cap" and what looks like white spectacles bridging its face. They sing an emphatic song perched in shrubby oak mottes where they build intricate hanging cup nests fastened with spider silk. They eat bugs and spiders gleaned from leaves and tree branches sometimes deftly hovering while doing so.

The vireo was listed as endangered in 1987. Two years later, surveys of the bird revealed 143 males living on Fort Hood. Their number grew and in the 1990s the population on Fort Hood was too large to accurately assess. A new method of measuring bird numbers came into use about 2005; it revealed an upward trend with an estimated 7,500 male black-capped vireos living on Fort Hood by 2014. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), recognizing these accomplishments, greatly appreciated the unexpected conservation partnership with Fort Hood.

The golden-cheeked warbler has seen similar rises as well. Just this past year, biologists predicted there were 7,382 male warblers on the fort. Indeed, Fort Hood is home to the largest known population of these warblers and vireos. This is particularly noteworthy considering that most of the vireo's summer range and all of the warbler's summer range exists in Texas, where 97 percent of land ownership is in private hands.

Fort Hood has been a willing and eager partner in conservation of these rare birds for almost a quarter century. "Our goal has always been to make the endangered species at Fort Hood invisible to the Soldier training on the installation. Now, with the help of the Service, the next version of the training maps does exactly that," said Tim Buchanan, Fort Hood's Chief of Natural and Cultural Resources.

Soldiers train near a trap on Ft. Hood that is used to reduce nest parasitism on warblers and vireos by brown-headed cowbirds. Gil Eckrich
The fort additionally opened itself to scientists from academia and government agencies to conduct research. Thanks to Fort Hood's cooperative approach, the science available to advance conservation efforts for the warbler and vireo, as well as many other species found at Fort Hood, has flourished. For instance the use of miniature video cameras to monitor vireo nests revealed that Texas rat snakes are significant predators of vireos on the nest—something previously unknown to science. Research on the birds benefits the Army too; they've learned that the natural habitats used by these species are necessary to sustain lands used for training Soldiers. Tanks and artillery fire are hard on the land. Managing for healthy native habitat on the fort is an essential task for terrain that regularly accommodates a high volume of military exercises.

"The Service greatly values our partnership with Fort Hood. They have gone above and beyond to work with us and to address the conservation needs of the golden-cheeked warbler and black-capped vireo," said Omar Bocanegra, Service biologist. "Thanks to the cooperative relationship between the Service and Fort Hood, we have greatly enhanced the information on both species. They've clearly demonstrated that it is possible to successfully manage endangered species and military preparedness."

Army staff has taken ownership in managing the fort not only for national defense but for wildlife and natural resources as well. As a result of more than two decades of research and conservation work at Fort Hood on the vireo and warbler, the base operates without most of the training restrictions that had previously been in place. Fort Hood's efforts have helped the Service meet—and by some measures, exceed—its population recovery goals for both bird species. Most importantly, Fort Hood has demonstrated that natural resources entrusted to the Department of Defense's care are not only sustained, but can be improved, all while ensuring that military training and testing are uncompromised. Fort Hood serves as a model for other military installations across the country, clearly demonstrating that national defense and conservation are not mutually exclusive.

Feb. 3 - Feb. 6
Feb. 5 - Feb. 7
Pueblo Eagle Days
Pueblo, Colo.
Feb. 6
Apopka Wildlife Festival & Birdapalooza
Magnolia Park, Apopka, Fla.
Feb. 11 - Feb. 14
Winter Wings Festival
Klamath Falls, Ore.
Feb. 12 - Feb. 16
Feb. 13
Florida Scrub Jay Festival
Osprey, Fla.
Feb. 20
Feb. 25 - Feb. 27
11th Annual Eagle Expo
Morgan City, La.
Feb. 25 - Feb. 28
Mar. 3 - Mar. 6
San Diego Bird Festival
San Diego, Calif.
Mar. 17 - Mar. 20
Outdoor Fest
Florida Keys National Wildlife Refuges Complex
Copyright © 2016 The Birding Wire. All Rights Reserved.