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Happy New Year! I thought I’d send a little feathered beauty your way and some thought-provoking quotes to start off your 2015.
On why you should bird more in 2015:
“Looking at birds really takes away sadness in a lot of us,” said a woman featured in Jeffrey Kimball’s film (The Central Park Effect), a breast-cancer sufferer who ushers fellow birders on ambling tours of the park.
“It was one of the rare times in an adult’s life when the world suddenly seems more magical rather than less,” says writer Jonathan Franzen, a self-proclaimed “born-again bird watcher,” of the first time he went birding.
On why you should take a child outside often this year:
“If a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder, he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement, and mystery of the world we live in.”
― Rachel Carson
On why you should watch less TV this year:
“There are some who can live without wild things and some who cannot. For us in the minority the opportunity to see geese is more important than television” …Aldo Leopold (Sand County Almanac)
“Maybe it’s time we put down the remote control and go someplace remote where we aren’t in control.”
On why you should strive to give back to nature this year:
“In every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks.” -John Muir
“In all of nature there is something of the marvelous.” -Aristotle
“I speak for the trees, for the trees have no tongues.” – The Lorax
“It is in the wild places, where the edge of the earth meets the corners of the sky, the human spirit is fed.” ~Art Wolfe
“If future generations are to remember us with gratitude rather than contempt, we must leave them a glimpse of the world as it was in the beginning, not just after we got through with it.” -President Lyndon B. Johnson
Tread lightly this year, get outside, go birding, learn all you can about nature and be a participant in conservation!
There’s a lot going on in the woods,
A couple of weeks ago, we got up close and personal with the somewhat unfortunate looking (and terrible smelling!) Turkey Vulture babies of Rushton Farm. The two vulture babies were born this spring in a nice little cave of vegetation near the bird banding shelter. On June 23rd when the babies were about 36 days old, they unwillingly met visiting Turkey Vulture banders from Hawk Mountain who are studying vulture movements and ecology…
Read more about our Turkey Vultures’ big day and see more juicy pictures from Adrian Binn’s blog, Notes from the Wildside.
I also wanted to share the following announcement from our master bander, Doris Mcgovern, in case you want to get in on more baby vulture action:
“Vulture banders from Hawk Mountain’s Acopian Center will be at Delaware County Community College on Wed. morning, July 20th to place colored numbered tags on two Black Vulture chicks. Although the exact time has not been set (+/- 10:30ish) and parking is limited, we invite you to the tagging process and to learn more about vultures from the experts. When you indicate that you will be attending, parking instructions will be sent.
Following the tagging at DCCC the banders will move to Smedly Park on Baltimore Pike in Media where they will tag two Turkey Vulture chicks. We expect that time to be around noon if the start time is 10:30 as expected.. Parking is not a problem at Smedley. Send positive replys to mcgovern@eskimo,.com so that we can judge the size of the crowd and supply parking instructions if needed.
For a preview, please see http://bcdc-pa.blogspot.com/2011/06/tagging-turkey-vultures.html“
They may not be the most beautiful of creatures, but vultures are fascinating birds and a very important part of our ecosystem; without them there would be a lot more dead things decomposing everywhere!
Cute baby bird blog coming soon…
Looking for a refreshing little book to bring with you to the beach this summer? Particularly one full of lovely poems that provoke quiet contemplation while you soak in the warm sun, listen to the calming waves, and of course, observe the charismatic gulls and other shorebirds?
If so, I suggest you put in an order for “Never a Note Forfeit”, a chapbook with a heavy bird influence by our very own beloved poet, Catherine Staples. The book is hot off the press as July 1 (today!) is its scheduled publication date, according to Seven Kitchens Press. The book is Number 8 in the Keystone Chapbook Series and co-winner of the 2010 Keystone Chapbook Prize.
Now if you are like me, you may be wondering, “what the heck is a chapbook?” I wikipedia-ed it and learned that ‘chapbook’ is a term that was developed in the 19th century for a pocket sized booklet of political and religious tracts, nursery rhymes, poetry, folk tales, children’s literature, or almanacs. They were aimed at buyers without formal libraries and, in a time when paper was expensive, often ended up as wrapping paper or bum fodder (toilet paper). The term, chapbook, is now used to denote publications of up to about 40 pages, usually poetry bound with some form of saddle stitch. With the recent popularity of blogs, short collections of poetry published online are frequently referred to as “online chapbooks.”
“Never a Note Forfeit” is a timeless treasury of Cathy’s beautiful poetry, which often has strong ties to birds, from the title on. Even the cover of the book has bird-like wings pictured. “The title, Never a Note Forfeit, refers to red-winged blackbirds—those incessant singers, never quitting their songs even as you flush them,” says Cathy. Her passion for birds and eye for their beauty was evident as she helped the Junior Birders create their own avian poetry last month during the PA Young Birders meeting at Rushton Woods Preserve. Cathy is very introspective and in touch with her “sense of wonder”, with a gift of observing great detail with great emotion, which is the stuff of all great poets! Below is a blurb I found on one of our old blog posts from last fall. It is her elegant reaction to the banding she had witnessed that day and a good sample of her vibrant writing:
“The white-throated sparrow of my New England childhood: a sing of yellow on either side of his head, just a lick of brightness that like his song is a heartening, steady thrum in the turning wood….
…Lisa Kiziuk deftly lifts him from the mist net; he’s hardly tangled, it’s as if he’s been here before. (And he has, “sixty-nine” reads the imprint on his ankle band; last October he was caught and banded in the Rushton woods.) He’s an easy keeper, not to be compared with that fussing welter of feathers above him, small chickadee who has roiled about so that each curled foot is a welter of black mesh. I can’t imagine there’s anything to do but cut the net. But then Lisa strokes his leg lengthwise, the way you might straighten a dog’s foreleg before removing a thorn, and with one steady stroke the claw releases its tenacious grip. Square by square the mist net untwists. Lisa closes the angle of the perfectly hinged wing, slips one loop, then another, past shoulder and wingtip. One quarter turn of the wrist, and he’s unencumbered. The chickadee rests in the cradle of her palm, head caught in the vee of forefinger and ring finger. He peers up from under the loft of his punk black head, undeterred. Given a millimeter of wiggle room, he’ll do it again: pinch a fold Lisa’s forefinger, feisty as a pirate on his way up the rigging—cutlass between his teeth—before he’s eased down into the white fog, slip-purse of a bird bag and carried away to the bird-banding table.”
Catherine Staples grew up in Dover, Massachusetts and still spends part of each summer on Cape Cod. Her poems have appeared in Prairie Schooner, The Southern Review, Third Coast, Commonweal, The Michigan Quarterly Review, and others. She was selected by Amy Clampitt for the University of Pennsylvania’s William Carlos Williams Award and is the recipient of two APR Distinguished Poets’ Residencies. She teaches in the Honors program at Villanova University.
Go to Seven Kitchens Press to read a sample of her poetry, and go to Cathy’s Seven Kitchens book page to order a copy of “Never a Note Forfeit“. There you will find Paypal information and a mailing address to order by check. I encourage you to share this news with friends you know of who like birds and poetry too!
Stay tuned for our next post… You’ll get up close and personal with the bird
babies of Rushton! We are up to our ears in babies! How many new little birds have you noticed in your yard? Look (and listen) for them this weekend while you are out celebrating the 4th and enjoying the fresh air! I worked at a wildlife rehabilitation clinic called Centre Wildlife Care by State College, and the 4th of July was always the busiest baby day (mammals and birds) because that’s when everyone was outside happening upon orphaned babies and bringing them in. Of course, sometimes the baby birds people bring in to wildlife rehab centers are not orphaned at all. It is news to many people that birds leave the nest before they can fly…Mama and Papa are usually nearby feeding them out of the nest for days until they finally fly on their own. For this reason, it is usually better to leave those flightless “orphans” alone.
Happy 4th of July !
Our Junior Birding Club, which is a division of PA Young Birders, had its first ever monthly meeting this past April and is now going strong! I believe we are succeeding in transforming our small dedicated group of about a dozen children into future birders and conservationists who will lead their cohort in environmental action.
In fact, one child at this month’s June meeting boldly announced that he wants to be a “bird watcher scientist” when he grows up.
During April’s meeting, the young birders learned all about migration and mapped out the travel routes of some specific birds that visit Rushton, like the Scarlet Tanager. They also learned how to use binoculars that were generously
provided by Adrian Binns (A Senior Tour Leader for Wildside Nature Tours) and raced through a high energy obstacle course intended to simulate the trials and tribulations of migrating birds. The children had so much fun migrating through the obstacles that we couldn’t stop them! They did the loop over and over again until they finally ran out of steam and said, “Man! Migrating is hard!” Needless to say, the children had a much better appreciation of the migrant birds they saw at the banding station during the May meeting.
This month’s meeting, entitled “Birds and Words,” was a poetry workshop with special guests, Cathy Staples, who is a Villanova poetry professor and her daughter, Natalie, who is following in her mother’s footsteps and studying English and literature. The evening was a smashing success! It began with dynamic Adrian Binns leading another spectacular bird walk through the fields and hedgerows of Rushton Farm. The children peeked inside several nest boxes which exposed them to the many faces of nature. In the first box we found tragedy (2 dead tree swallows); the second held hope (an empty nest from which bluebirds had fledged); the last held promise in the four newly laid brown eggs of a house wren.
The children also had the chance to feel the soft down feathers of an adorable baby blue jay, which we borrowed from a free standing nest hidden in the woods. After returning the baby safely with his siblings, we hunkered down in the banding lodge where Cathy’s enthusiasm and poetic expertise inspired the kids to create lovely poems based on the nature they had experienced during the walk. As Cathy began the workshop proclaiming, we can all be poets if only we allow ourselves to sense the world around us and bring forth the emotions within. Cathy’s loyal assistant, Natalie, helped the children translate their thoughts into words on the page. A big thanks to Adrian, Cathy, and Natalie as it would not have been as magical without them!
The following is a compilation of verses I selected from all of the children’s poetry from Wednesday evening:Come Close
by the PA Young Birders of Rushton Woods PreserveHither Bald eagle, Come Close, Remember what mother earth says to you: Drink your tea, says the towhee, Look for the blue jays sing, Taste the berries, Enjoy. Come hither, come hither, come hither, The catbird sounds like a race car starting, Find nests with little chicks and moms feeding the chicks, Birds like the warmth of your hand, Study the blue jay’s dark feathers, Feels like cotton. Everything around you will always be with you, You see this all when you come close…
And since we are on the topic of poetry and birds, I thought I would share a poem I wrote about a little House finch who is now in House finch heaven. I had the wonderful fortune of taking care of him during my time working at an environmental center for a year in central PA. This special finch was one of the education animals, as he was not fit to be released into the wild. Birdley was his name and he was totally blind after having survived the house finch eye disease called mycoplasmal conjunctivitis. Despite his terrible handicap, Birdley still happily serenaded everyone at the nature center every day of his 11 years of life. He was an inspiration to all and a reminder that each day is a gift to be lived joyously and with hope, no matter how dark our circumstances may be.
by Blake H. GollA tiny , unpretentious bird at first sight. Save for the vibrant vermilion of his face, chest, and rump, His unkempt feathers are an unimpressive umber, His feet are like that of an old gnarled tree, And the space where his left eye once dwelled, Is now an ugly reminder of his tragedy. But though his world is dark, He casts a joyous light, As far as his voice can reach. When he opens his heart in song, A reverent hush falls over the firmament itself. His song is an intricate flamboyance of golden notes strung together as elegantly as pearls, Light airy chirps bounce up and down as jubilantly as a child on a swing, Rich warbles cascade from the depths of his body, as pure as the mountain spring bubbling freely from the earth’s soul. I doubt my ears will ever hear, A melody of bird or man, That eclipses the rapturous divinity, Of Birdley’s unforgettable song.
Remember we all have poetry hidden within! I encourage you to bring a notepad with you the next time you spend a meditative moment outside in nature. You never know what might show up on paper when you give your thoughts a pencil.~Blake
Friends of Rushton Banding,
You read in Lisa’s message that on 11/11 we captured a Saw-whet Owl banded in 2009 about 20 miles west of Boston. We were thrilled.
Better yet, today I got word from the Bird Banding Lab that our Saw-whet Owl # 0494-81914 banded on 11/9 had been recaptured, but they didn’t tell me the Who? What? When? Where? How?
This afternoon I checked the owl banders’ Listserve and saw a message requesting data on owl # 0494-81914. That’s our Rushton’s owl!!! The Who? was Scott Weidensaul, owl bander extraordinaire. The Where? was Small Valley, one of Scott’s three banding stations near Schuylkill Haven, PA, 60 miles northwest of Rushton. The When? was 11/14/10.
Scott encouraged the creation of our owl banding station when Lisa volunteered at Hidden Valley in the 2009 season.
Owl # 0494-81914 was released from a Rushton bander’s grip at 9:45 pm on 11/9. By 11/14 it had traveled 60 miles northwest, rather than south, to be captured at Small Valley. We know that Saw-whets wander as they migrate, but why was our first recovered owl not traveling in the usual southward direction as winter approaches? These are the observations and questions that make banding so interesting. Effort and careful data collection are required to record and understand the movements of these little owls. Spurred on by your interest Rushton will continue to collect and share data with the national Saw-whet study network, Project Owlnet, for a fuller understanding of their movement during migration.
Lisa, Lou, Bonnie and I will see Scott on Thursday night at the Delaware Valley Ornithological Club’s annual banquet where we’ll raise a glass together in a toast to owl # 0494 81914. We have banded 89 owls, a record for the Delaware Valley. We will attempt to reach 100. Raise a glass and wish us and our owls well.
See you in the woods,
Doris McGovernMedia, PA