We Love Birds Bulletin

Posts from Bexar Audubon Society
about birding and birders and conservation articles, books, programs, webinars, classes, and other newsworthy items.

July 29, 2020

August 4 is International
Owl Awareness Day

The 2020 Owl Awareness Day T-shirt

Owls are among the most iconic birds we encounter, and as part of International Owl Awareness Day next Tuesday, August 4th, you can share your interest in owls with others, while learning more about North American species. A great place to visit online to learn more about owls, their diversity, and ongoing research and conservation projects is the Owl Research Institute website.

For more than 30 years, the Owl Research Institute (ORI) has been conducting long-term research and population monitoring on many different owl species, working to understand their populations, movements, vulnerabilities, prey species, and the habitats they depend upon.

July 23, 2020

Interest in Birding Continues to Surge

Probably a reflection of the ever-increasing interest in birding overall, as well as an indication that more people have had more free time during the current worldwide pandemic, a recent New York Times article chronicled that “Birding has surged in popularity this year.” Likewise, more and more people have started reporting the birds they see using eBird, adding valuable information that help us understand birds more all the time.

Read the whole article HERE.

A Historic Vote to Celebrate!

While the history books may best remember 2020 as the year of a global pandemic, it also could well be remembered for the realization of a 50-year-old dream across the conservation community: securing full and dedicated funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund.

Today, in a 310-107 bipartisan vote, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Great American Outdoors Act, which will permanently fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund that uses a small portion of revenues from offshore oil drilling to protect important land, water and recreation areas that benefit all Americans. The bill passed out of the Senate last month with a sweeping 73-25 bipartisan vote. It now heads directly to the president’s desk for his signature, which is expected.

Read more from the Land Trust Alliance HERE.

July 16, 2020

Winged Wonders

Why Birds Have the Power to Lift Us Up

by Kenn Kaufman

This essay from the August issue of BirdWatching Magazine presents universal truths about birds and their ability to remind us of the enduring cycles of nature.

Read it in its entirety HERE.

North America Lost a Quarter of Its Birds in 50 Years - The Atlantic

Meet the Harvard Ornithology Professor Biking Across the Country

As a professor and curator of ornithology at Harvard University, Scott Edwards usually spends his summers immersed in conferences, museum collections, fieldwork, and laboratories. He stays busy investigating a wide array of species and subjects, including House Finch parasites, the evolution of flightless ratites, such as the Ostrich and Emu, and the role odor and genetics play in mate choice for Leach’s Storm Petrels.

But this year, when COVID-19 halted most scientific endeavors and closed campuses across the United States, Edwards decided to attempt his dream of cycling from the Atlantic to Pacific. Mapping an approximate route, south of the Great Lakes then due west, he planned to cruise along country roads and sleep at campgrounds, expecting both to be empty enough for social distancing.  Audubon magazine interviewed Edwards 10 days into his trip. Read more

July 1, 2020

Central Park Birder Christian Cooper
On Birding and Inclusion

Writer and editor Christian Cooper discusses his passion and tips for bird-watching, his experience #BirdingWhileBlack, and his advocacy work toward making birding more inclusive for people of color and the LGBTQ+ community. Chris currently serves on the Board of Directors for NYC Audubon and, on May 25, 2020, he experienced a racist confrontation while bird-watching in Central Park that inspired the creation of #BlackBirdersWeek.

Watch Christian’s interview here.

June 23, 2020

DIY: Save Birds from Window Strikes

Bexar Audubon doesn’t often endorse a product on this website. However, this time we are making an exception because this product appears to save birds’ lives in an affordable way.

Acopian BirdSavers, offers Zen Wind Curtains, a simple, elegant, aesthetically pleasing, and very effective way to prevent birds from flying into windows–an event that kills from 100 million to 1 billion birds in the U.S. every year. And they offer full FREE instructions so homeowners can be Do It Yourself Bird Savers!

Please watch this 98-second video on YouTube called “How to Stop the Thuds”, which will introduce you to Acopian BirdSavers. The more of these that are made and installed, the fewer birds will meet an untimely demise at our windows!

June 4, 2020

“Black Birders Week”
Promotes Diversity and Takes on Racism in the Outdoors

Audubon chapters want the outdoors and the joy of birds to be open to everyone. However, the legacy of racism and injustice in this country still exclude and endanger Black people in ways large and small every day. That means we need to listen carefully to our Black colleagues’ experiences and work hard to build a more just and inclusive world in everything we do.
Click here to learn more.

Listen to Drew Lanham’s Keynote Speech at the 2017 Audubon Convention in Utah

An author, ornithologist, and professor of ecology and conservation at Clemson University, Lanham spoke on the importance of inclusiveness and diversity in birding, among other themes.

Spotlight on Birds Facing Extinction

Spoon‐billed Sandpiper
Spoon-billed Sandpiper: Photo by Butterfly Hunter/Shutterstock

A newly released study paints a dire picture about the global extinction of wildlife. It says the extinction rate is likely much higher than previously thought and is eroding nature’s ability to provide vital services to people. The researchers found that 515 species of land vertebrates have populations of 1,000 or fewer individuals. Birds account for 65 percent of the total — 335 species. This article in BirdWatching magazine spotlights a handful of them.

June 3, 2020

Beach Birds Need Space This Summer

Least Tern coastal nests are often disturbed by beach-goers.  Share the Shore!
As beaches, islands, and sandbars attract people to our beautiful waterfronts, beach visitors and boaters can help make beaches safer for nesting birds by avoiding areas close to their nesting sites. In some locations, signs and fencing is installed that informs people about the presence of sensitive nesting birds and to give beach nesting birds their space. Shorebirds, skimmers, terns, plovers, oystercatchers, and other species are nesting now and need our help to improve their nesting success.
A Least Tern tends its chicks on their beach nest.

May 28, 2020

Is It Okay to Remove Cowbird Eggs
From Host Nests?

It can be tempting to interfere with these brood parasites. But there are many reasons—legal and behavioral—to leave tampering to the pros. Read more HERE.

Wednesday, May 27

National Audubon Response to
Central Park Incident

In response to an incident in Central Park’s Ramble that went viral on Twitter, the National Audubon Society issued the following statement:

“Black Americans often face terrible daily dangers in outdoor spaces, where they are subjected to unwarranted suspicion, confrontation, and violence,” said Audubon Senior VP for State Programs Rebeccah Sanders, who is white. “The outdoors – and the joy of birds – should be safe and welcoming for all people. That’s the reality Audubon and our partners are working hard to achieve. We unequivocally condemn racist sentiments, behavior, and systems that undermine the humanity, rights, and freedom of Black people. We are grateful Christian Cooper is safe. He takes great delight in sharing New York City’s birds with others and serves as a board member of the New York City Audubon Society, where he promotes conservation of New York City’s outdoor spaces and inclusion of all people.”

May 20, 2020

What to do if you find a
Baby Bird on the Ground

During the spring and summer, wildlife refuges, parks, zoos, and veterinary clinics across the country are presented with a problem. People working in their yards, walking on trails, or visiting other outdoor sites find a baby bird that cannot yet fly. It seems apparent that there are no adult birds tending to the youngster, so people immediately assume that the bird needs help. So they scoop up the bird, put it in a cardboard box, and bring it to the nearest facility they can think of to save the youngster. Sadly, this act of kindness probably does more harm than good. Bexar Audubon Society and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service want to help you be prepared and know how to handle this situation for the best possible results.

Click HERE for more information. Click HERE for a handy reference flowchart to help your know what to do.
Click HERE to contact the Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Emergency Hot Line in the San Antonio Area.


The Real James Bond:
A True Story of Identity Theft, Avian Intrigue, and Ian Fleming

The whole world knows that James Bond is 007, the fictional British spy. In real life, however, James Bond (1900-1989) was an ornithologist and an expert on the birds of the Caribbean. He wrote Birds of the West Indies, the definitive book on the subject. First published in 1936, it has been reprinted several times.

In the new biography, The Real James Bond: A True Story of Identity Theft, Avian Intrigue, and Ian Fleming, author Jim Wright tells the real Bond’s story, from his privileged yet tragic childhood to his early interest in birds to his travels throughout the West Indies. Readers also meet Ian Fleming, the novelist who appropriated Bond’s name for his iconic character, who many of us know wanted his Martinis “shaken, not stirred.”

Bird Love: The Family Life of Birds by Wenfei Tong

A stunningly illustrated look at the mating and parenting lives of the world’s birds

Bird Love looks at the extraordinary range of mating systems in the avian world, exploring all the stages from courtship and nest-building to protecting eggs and raising chicks. It delves into the reasons why some species, such as the Wattled Jacana, rely on males to do all the childcare, while others, such as cuckoos and honeyguides, dump their eggs in the nests of others to raise. For some birds, reciprocal promiscuity pays off: both male and female Dunnocks will rear the most chicks by mating with as many partners as possible. For others, long-term monogamy is the only way to ensure their offspring survive.

Wenfei Tong is an expert on the evolutionary biology and behavioral ecology of birds, but she is also a born naturalist, a talented writer, and a gifted photographer. Her love and enthusiasm for the subject is clear and infectious, and she has found a way to communicate a wealth of scholarship about the reproductive behavior of these charismatic animals to a broad audience.

Birdsong For the Curious Naturalist: Your Guide to Listening
by Donald Kroodsma

From a leading expert, Birdsong for the Curious Naturalist is a basic, how-to guide that teaches anyone—from beginner to advanced birder—how to listen. In understandable and appealing language, Kroodsma explains why and how birds sing, what various calls mean, and what to listen for from the birds around us. The descriptions are accompanied by color photos of the birds, as well as QR codes that link to an online collection of more than 700 recordings. With these resources, readers are prepared to recognize bird sounds and the birds that make them.

Kroodsma encourages readers to find the joy of birdsong and curiosity—to observe, listen intently, be curious, ask questions, and realize that many unanswered questions about birdsong don’t have to rely on scientists for answers but can be answered by any curious naturalist.

What it’s Like to be a Bird by David Allen Sibley

BirdWatching magazine recently interviewed field guide author and illustrator David Allen Sibley about his new large-format publication called “What It’s Like to be a Bird,” featuring more than 200 species and 330 illustrations, appealing to birders and non-birders alike. Read the interview here. Author Sibley says of his new work, “I always learn a lot about a subject when I work on a book, which makes me confident that I’m producing a book that other people will also learn from. My favorite part is when I can pull together bits of information from many different sources and present them in a unified way, connecting them across categories and making complex ideas understandable.” Sibley recently wrote a newspaper article based on this book that you can read here.

The Bird Way by Jennifer Ackerman

Jennifer Ackerman, author of the New York Times bestseller “The  Genius of Birds,” has a new book, “The Bird Way: A New Look at How Birds Talk, Work, Play, Parent, and Think.”  The book investigates the bird way of being and the recent scientific research that is dramatically shifting our understanding of birds, including how they live and how they think.

The CBS Morning show highlighted Jennifer Ackerman’s book on May 16 in a piece that also discussed how birdwatching is helping people in lock down rediscover nature from their own yards. The report was well done and worth a view HERE.

How Birds Work by Marianne Taylor

Learn the answers to all kinds of questions about bird behavior and characteristics in Marianne Taylor’s new book, “How Birds Work: An Illustrated Guide to the Wonders of Form and Function―from Bones to Beak.” From the publisher: “How Birds Work goes beyond the  typical field guide to show us not only what birds look like but why. Why do many owls have asymmetrical ear openings? (Hint: It helps them pinpoint prey; see page 40.) And why does the Grey Heron rest on one leg at a time? (Hint: Not because it’s tired; see page 66!) Birds boast a spectacular array of adaptations suited to their incredibly diverse diets and habitats. In this in-depth handbook, discover the ways they’re even more astounding than you know—inside and out.

May 15, 2020

International Crane Foundation
“From the Field” Webinar Series

Join International Crane Foundation (ICF) staff for their weekly live webinar series “From the Field” on Thursdays beginning at 11 a.m. Central Time. You can see the list of upcoming and past webinars in this series HERE. The webinar recordings are available online on the ICF YouTube Channel after the event.

We especially recommend that you watch the recent presentation by ICF Rich Beilfuss, President and CEO:

Cranes, Climate Change, and COVID-19: Lessons for Saving a Beloved Family of Birds, Ourselves, and Our World 

Understanding the serious threat of global warming to cranes and the wild places they depend on helps us better understand how our changing climate will affect people and wildlife on a global scale. The COVID-19 pandemic is teaching us that if we wait to see the full impact of a crisis before taking action, it is much more difficult and costly to stop it. 

May 13, 2020

Nature’s Best Hope

In this YouTube video, Dr. Doug Tallamy discusses simple steps that each of us can-and must-take to reverse declining biodiversity and will explain why we, ourselves, are nature’s best hope.

Click HERE to listen to this informative, inspirational talk.

Click HERE to order the book by the same name, which outlines Dr. Tallamy’s vision for a grassroots approach to conservation.

April 29, 2020

American Bird Conservancy
Webinar Series Now on YouTube

American Bird Conservancy (ABC) has made all of its recent webinars available on its YouTube Channel for all of us to access.

Click HERE to view the current series of six webinars on a variety of topics related to bird conservation, from preventing window strikes to enjoying birds from your window.