There are almost as many reasons for watching birds as there are birders. Whether you are a backyard birder content to fill the feeders and occasionally glance out the window to see who’s flitting about or a hardcore lister, traveling the globe to tick off as many lifers as possible, there’s no denying the attraction of these amazing creatures.
For the past four years — five years total, if you count the magical, muddy, mystery tour in Louisiana back in 2002 — the devout, the convinced, the skeptical and the curious have slogged and paddled across the swamps of the Southeast in search of “Elvis.” That’s the code name given the ivory-billed woodpecker by searchers in Arkansas in 2004. Feeling constrained by the foot-sucking muck and the capricious currents of bayous, sloughs and slow southern rivers, searchers decided to take the high road during this year’s quixotic quest for the elusive Elvis.
My brother and I conducted our annual Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) at Black Bayou Lake National Wildlife Refuge in Monroe, La., last Friday, Feb. 15. While we didn’t set any records, we had a good count. We bested last year’s total of 57 species by three and because of mechanical problems — a dead battery — we didn’t make it to the piney woods.
And I’m Loosiana bound — you do know it was named after Louis, not Louise?
Winter birding is often slow going. There is no chorus of rowdy and randy males singing lustily, and weather conditions can often be harsh. However, winter birding has its on set of rewards.
There she was when I got up around 6:30 this morning, the buttons from her blue jeans shining radiantly just above the southern horizon, Venus was dazzling. Below and to the left of Venus like a poodle on a leash was Jupiter.
It’s nine o’clock and my 6-year-old is snug in her bed and sound asleep even though she’s been told it will likely snow this evening. I, on the other hand, am pacing back and forth in front of the large windows in the living area with an outside light on — waiting for the first flake to show.
The Carolina Field Birders (CFB) conducted their sixth annual Christmas Bird Count this past Saturday (12/29.) The annual CBC count is sponsored by the National Audubon Society and is the longest running ornithological database in the world. Initiated 108 years ago, the CBC is now international in scope with more than 1,800 official 15-mile diameter circles and more than 50,000 participants worldwide.
Citizens of Washington County, hundreds of thousands of migrating waterfowl and Navy pilots who would have been put in harm’s way received a Congressional Christmas gift when the fiscal year 2008 National Defense Authorization Bill de-authorized construction of an Outlying Landing Field in Washington County next to Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge in eastern North Carolina.
I know, I know, it’s not Jan. 1 yet. But that’s just a date on a calendar. This year, Dec. 23 is the beginning of the new year. Dec. 22 is the winter solstice — the longest night of the year. Starting Sunday, Dec. 23, the days will be getting longer.