Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Friday, January 23, 2009
Many of former President Bush's late-term regulations were unable to be halted by this decision, however, including a major degradation of the Endangered Species Act. Bush and his administration have also opened the path for oil shale development to begin in Western states, for more oil rigs to be placed off our coasts, and for oil and gas drilling near our country's National Parks. Stopping these things will not be as easy, and President Obama has a tall task over the next months and years if he wishes to please environmentalists who expect these decisions to be revoked.
While the current administration has only been in office a few days, many are expecting Obama to quickly begin to turn the country's environmental policies in a new direction. It appears that this has begun, but the newly inaugurated president will have to continue to move forward in the coming days and weeks.
Please continue to write local, state, and federal officials and urge them to act on behalf of our wildlife and the natural world.
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
In every season there are a few birds that decide to show up in New Jersey that are not the usual annual visitors. Winter is no different, and this year in the state we have plenty of rarities to chase around. Last year brought Bohemian Waxwings and a Townsend’s Solitaire from the west, along with the more common rarities, whatever that may mean. This winter has been quite a treat so far, delivering a Eurasian (or Common) Teal to the Meadowlands once again, Rough-Legged Hawks throughout the state, more Pine Siskins than you can shake a stick at, and of course a handful of Snow Owls from Liberty State Park and the Meadowlands down through Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge and Stone Harbor.
Photograph by Rick Leche © 2007
One of the most popular rarities this winter has been the Green-Tailed Towhee down in Collingswood, NJ. This small passerine exemplifies the term rarity here in the Garden State, as this bird represents only the seventh NJ record of the bird (and the first since 1985!). It has been frequenting a feeder and thankfully the home-owners have been kind enough to allow birders to visit their yard to observe the Towhee. Still, people should act as courteous as possible as well as remain aware of the bird’s state. Disturbing wildlife should not be a part of birding or other wildlife-viewing.
White-Winged Crossbills have been spotted in numerous places as well, along with their northern neighbors the Common Redpoll. While a small group of Sandhill Cranes usually visits the state in winter, a pair has shown up in Franklin Township and due to their miniscule numbers in the state these two have been quite popular as well. They have been scared off multiple times, however, so people should try to remain in their cars and use the vehicles as blinds to help them observe the birds.
Photograph by C.A. Mullhaupt © 2008
A Northern Shrike has once again shown up at the Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, and plenty of people have gotten good views. These songbirds are vicious, and this particular individual has already been seen tearing apart a sparrow. They are known to cache prey for later consumption, hanging them on wires, spines, or sharp branches. Blood will often leave a spattering of red on their breast feathers.
Photograph by Rick Leche © 2007
The water, of course, is also a great place to search for rare birds. Thick-Billed Murre was just spotted off the coast of NJ, and other winter rarities have been popping up every few days. Inland, both Eared Grebe and Horned Grebe have been sighted. Winter plumage can be a bit trickier than breeding plumages, but a careful and patient eye can discern between different types of gulls, grebes, and so on.
Photograph by Ananda Debnath © 2005
Photograph by Len Blumin © 2008
Good birding, everyone!
Friday, January 9, 2009
Since the precocious little ducklings feed on their own, the paternal figures rarely stick around to help out. The young follow their mother around but don't need a great amount of care other than the occasional warning or protection from potential predators. Thanks to this family dynamic, male ducks can wander as they please and are often quite promiscuous. Often they will mate with multiple females during a single breeding season, and if they come across a female from a sister species...well, that's fair game too. It isn't entirely common but if you look closely chances are you'll eventually spot a few hybrids. Sometimes it isn't so easy to identify them. It could be a difference in bill or speculum coloration. Other times, however, it quickly becomes apparent that you have a hybrid on your hands. This was the case with the individual pictured below, a mallard x black duck hybrid seen while birding the Meadowlands last week. In this instance one can assume that a male mallard has mated with a female black duck, causing some green coloration in the head feathers.