Birding With OOS & Annual OOS Membership Meeting - December 6, 2014
A Morning of Winter Birding with OOS.
Free and open to the public.
We'll offer friendly birding guides at two fabulous winter birding locations: Wendy Park and E72nd Street. We will meet at 8:30 am and concentrate on gulls and waterfowl. Birders may visit one or both locations.
Eastbound traffic should exit at MLK and turn left. Pass under the highway and take the next left. Enter Lakefront Reservation and follow the road to the west end. Westbound traffic can exit at E72nd and turn right and follow the same directions for Lakefront Reservation.
We will have an afternoon Annual Membership Meeting open to OOS members only. Members follow the learn more link for details.
Learn More »
The OOS and Cincinnati Zoo Passenger Pigeon Symposium
provided birders from as far away as Toronto and Louisiana with a value-packed
itinerary for Labor Day weekend. On
Friday night's “Martinis with Martha”, funds were raised for the Zoo's
Conservation and Research of Endangered Wildlife (CREW) program while everyone
enjoyed the combined musical styling's of Bill Thompson, of The Rain Crows and John Kogge, of the Lonesome
Strangers from Oxford, Ohio. Chris McCullough gave origami
lessons and was assisted by a local Girl Scout Marci, as we folded our own passenger pigeon flock. Cincinnati's
Masterworks of Nature displayed beautiful bird themed works of art. Most exciting was an extensive opportunity to
visit with most of our guest speakers over informal drinks and semi-formal
Saturday morning author Joel Greenburg (A Feathered River
Across the Sky) led our line-up of speakers that included Jim McCormac, John
Ruthven, and Brian Jorg. Attendees had
options in the afternoon that included full zoo access, an advance look at the
newly refurbished 1914 aviary, or a behind the scenes tour of the Geiger Museum
featuring their collection of extinct bird specimens. After dinner several attendees went birding
with special access to Fernald Nature Preserve, where the water levels had been
managed especially to provide shorebird habitat for our visit. Many also visited the 3-story tall Ruthven's
mural downtown. On Sunday, we were
invited by Oxbow Inc. to bird their properties, with the group led by several
of our speakers.
As OOS board member Randy Rogers noted in his opening remarks, “I
believe that future historians will look at the human destruction of the
Passenger pigeon as not just an event significant to the history of a
particular culture or region, but an event that ranks with a relative few
events…as significant in the history of humanity.” Commemorating the extinction anniversary was
an important for OOS and the zoo, and our event successfully reflected on our
loss while generating a positive energy going forward in our appreciation of
birds and protecting species for the future.
Photo of Joel Greenberg viewing the Zoo's Passenger Pigeon exhibit, courtesy Randy Rogers.
Passenger Pigeons in Ohio
Historian Caleb Atwater observed in 1838 that passenger pigeons still passed through Ohio in huge numbers in the spring and fall, adding that "[f]ormerly the pigeons tarried here all summer, building their nests, and rearing their young, but the country is too well settled for them now; and so, like the trapper for beaver, and the hunter, they are off into the distant forests, where their food is abundant, and where there is none to disturb them in their lawful pursuits." Actually, large nesting colonies survived in a few spots in the state after the middle of the century, even though there were growing numbers of humans who continued to persecute them.
By 1882, Wheaton, born in 1840 and author of Report on the Birds of Ohio, observed it had become "much less abundant and irregular." Less than twenty years later its extinction in the wild was complete. Lawrence Hicks in 1935 summed up its former abundance in “immense numbers in every section of the state and presumably breeding generally, though usually locally and in very large colonies,” citing confirmed large nestings historically in rural Licking, Pickaway, Morrow, Huron, Wayne, Medina, Columbiana, Portage, Trumbull, Ashtabula, and Geauga counties.
Last Records of the Passenger Pigeon:
Still extant is a mounted specimen, now at the Ohio Historical Society in Columbus, collected in the state in 1900, thought for many years to have been the last pigeon verified in the wild. Martha, a pigeon kept at the Cincinnati Zoo until her death in 1914, is considered to have been the last of all her kind.
Learn More »
Looking for a birding festival this summer? Visit the Bird Watcher's Digest "Festival Finder"
page to have look for festivals around the country. This is a great way to get to find birds with local guides and field trips to hotspots in the area, and a fun way to get to know other birders too!
2014 CALENDAR OF EVENTS
We have an exciting line-up of field trips, speakers, conferences, and other state-wide birding and educational events scheduled in 2014. Some of these are still in the planning stages, so be sure to check back often for updates. Please check our calendar page for upcoming events
. We hope to see you there!
2014 CHRISTMAS COUNTS
Christmas Counts are coming in for 2014. From the drop-down menu go to Library then select Winter Counts to see a listing. Additions or corrections can be sent to Ned Keller and we'll update the list.
Monarch Waystation Program
The Monarch Watch Waystation Program is an excellent way to help create, protect and conserve habitat for the Monarch Butterfly. Citizen science projects are quite valuable in playing a part in the conservation of species in decline. By creating Monarch habitat, YOU can make a difference right in your own backyard, classroom or landscape restoration site!
Chip Taylor of Monarch Watch tells us that "Monarch Butterfly populations are declining due to loss of habitat. To assure a future for Monarchs, conservation and restoration of milkweed needs to become a national priority". Changing farming practices, roadside mowing and spraying along our roads and highways have eliminated much of the larval source of the Monarch Caterpillar-the Milkweed plant. Milkweed is easy to propagate and grown, and many varieties provide a nice specimen plant in a sunny or semi-sunny location. The entire family can enjoy looking for Monarch eggs and caterpillars. For more information on Monarch biology, where to purchase milkweed, how to certify your site to become a "Monarch Waystation", visit Monarch Watch at www.monarchwatch.org
Pesticide Use and Grassland Bird Decline
First Bees, Now Birds
From Pesticide Action Network North America
Prairie bird populations are falling in many Midwestern states, from ring-necked pheasants to horned larks to sparrows. Scientists now say insecticides are a primary culprit.
Minnesota birds are hardest hit with 12 species in decline, followed by Wisconsin with 11, and Illinois, Michigan, Montana, Nebraska and New York with nine affected species each.
The recent study looked at a range of possible causes of the population declines, including habitat loss which has long been considered a key driver of the problem.
Bird conservationists are “still concerned” about range management, urban development and loss of habitat, but are now focusing additional attention on the harmful impacts of pesticides. According to Cynthia Palmer, Manager of the Pesticides Program at American Bird Conservancy:
[This study] suggests that we also need to rein in the use of lethal pesticides in agriculture, and that we need to be especially careful about any new pesticides we introduce into these ecosystems such as the neonicotinoid insecticides.
Neonicotinoid use has increased dramatically in recent years, and as we've reported here before, many studies link this class of systemic pesticides with dramatic honey bee declines. American Bird Conservancy is expected to release a toxicological assessment of neonicotinoid impacts on birds and other organisms soon.
The current study was conducted by Dr. Pierre Mineau, a scientist recently retired from Environment Canada, along with Mélanie Whiteside of Health Canada. Using pesticide-use data from the 1980s and 1990s, the study focused on organophosphate insecticides such as diazinon and chlorpyrifos, as well as carbamates. According to Dr. Mineau:
What this study suggests is that we need to start paying a lot more attention to the use of pesticides if we want to reverse, halt or simply slow the very significant downward trend in grassland bird populations.