Today is International Migratory Bird Day. The event was created in 1993 and now is celebrated at more than 500 sites throughout the Western Hemisphere. I just read an online piece from the Jerusalem Post saying that Israel is marking the occasion too. The theme this year is 20 ways people can help protect and preserve birds every day.
We'll write more about those 20 ways in future posts, but I'll mention one that is near and dear to The Naturalist's Notebook: drinking bird-friendly coffee! The world's thirst for coffee has been steadily growing, and migratory bird habitat in Central and South America and the Caribbean has been devastated by clear-cutting for non-shade-growing coffee plantations. Ever since the Notebook opened we have sold bags of coffee certified as bird-friendly (that is, shade-grown and organic) by the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Institute. The coffee is a bit more expensive than the stuff sold in supermarkets, but it also tastes better and—far more important—helps birds!
Please stock up on bird-friendly coffee when you come to the Notebook this summer. And spend at least a little time today appreciating birds!
Another Big Event We're delighted to announce that acclaimed ornithologists and writers Jeff and Allison Wells will visit the Notebook on August 18 for a bird walk and talk and a book signing for their great new field guide, Maine's Favorite Birds. We'll be writing more about the Wellses and the event soon. Put it on your calendar!
Avian Action Hummingbirds and warblers are showing up here after their long migrations. We put up two hummingbird feeders yesterday and within minutes both had ruby-throated hummingbirds drinking from them. In addition we just saw a yellow warbler, wood thrushes and an ovenbird, among many others. Let us know what you've been seeing where you live.
Forgot to Ask...
Magical Moment Notebook friend and correspondent Kathy Weathers recently had a memorable experience off the California coast. She and her husband were on a 42-foot sailboat going from Marina del Ray to San Diego and back, and as Kathy writes:
"THE highlight was marine life sightings (pelicans, seals, sea lions, one sunfish, one gray whale) and watching dolphins hunt their prey. WOW! A mile-long line of common (I think) dolphins moving quickly into hunting formation to devour a school of fish. At one point, a group broke off to swim alongside the bow. I lay down on the bow, extending my arm. They were about three feet away, some turned to make eye contact, blew through their air holes, and dove again. About a half-mile from shore, three small birds (at different times) landed for a rest. We quickly scurried to offer fresh water and sesame seeds, but they seemed to want to just rest.
"We retrieved 20 mylar balloons [from the sea]. The first was a light blue star, the next said Happy Birthday"—coincidentally, Kathy's husband, Prent, was celebrating his birthday—"the next 10 were various colors tied together ... a bittersweet scavenger hunt for birthday wishes. I'd love to have those items banished the way plastic bags are in some communities." Thanks, Kathy!
The Tortoise Man
If you didn't see this NPR story when I posted it on our Facebook page, take the time to click on it now. It's about the inspiring 86-year-old man who is singlehandedly restoring the population of giant tortoises on one of the Seychelles islands. Click below: http://www.npr.org/blogs/krulwich/2012/05/11/152350238/120-giants-found-living-with-86-year-old-man
Answer to the Last Puzzler
A few of you came up with alternative answers to the riddle, "How do rabbits keep their hair neat?" One of you came up with "in a bun" (as in bun-ny) and another of your proposed "a hare net." The official answer is "a hare brush," but I'll take all three as correct.
Another riddle: What do you call a cow that has just given birth?