Conservation


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I took a lunch break while trekking through the park the other day. I thought it would be fun to sit next to the pond and see whatever there was to see while I ate my granola bars. I wasn’t the only one with that idea – I shared my lunch break with this female Red-bellied Woodpecker (Melanerpes carolinus). She had her eye on something else to eat though…

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Eleven days ago, an offshore drilling operation near the Louisiana coast and the Mississippi River delta exploded, killing 11 people. The British Petroleum (BP) well began pouring millions of gallons of oil into the ocean waters and has been pouring steadily ever since. This oil spill has already cost human lives and – at this point in time – the environmental and economic toll is unknown. NOAA, BP, and government agencies have been working to contain the oil that is spreading far and wide, though the task is daunting. As of this writing, the oil is still spilling from the underwater well.

This catastrophe has gained the attention of a worldwide audience, and many people are asking what they can do to help. The oil spill is expected to injure and sicken wildlife, including sea birds, sharks and other fish, dolphins, and sea turtles. The International Bird Rescue Research Center (IBRRC) and Tri-State Bird Rescue & Research (Tri-State) have combined forces  and set up triage centers at locations in Louisiana and Alabama. They will bring their years of experience in helping oiled wildlife to the local animal rehabilitation centers to help them clean and treat as many animals as possible.

Dawn has donated dishwashing liquid in preparation for the feared, yet expected, inundation of oiled birds. Other oiled wildlife will be treated by facilities that are best equipped to handle a particular species.

Birder’s Lounge has previously started a fledgling Internet directory aimed at matching volunteers with the wildlife rehab organizations that need them, called NatureSquad. If you have ever wanted to help wildlife, now may be the time. Due to the nature of the spill, some tasks will require certain training. In the days to come, there will likely be plenty to do for those who lack special training, but not the will to help. The following list is the most comprehensive list of volunteer information I could put together at the time of this writing. As I learn of updates, or if you know of any relevant information I haven’t included, please contact me. I will keep a cumulative list at the NatureSquad site in addition to posting this article on both here and there.

  1. Tonic.com. http://www.tonic.com/article/rescuing-birds-on-the-louisiana-shore-deepwater-horizon-jay-holcomb/, posted May 1, 2010.

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Bird migration was the theme of my last post, hosting IATB #121. I just learned about the annual World Migratory Bird Day:

World Migratory Bird Day (WMBD) was initiated in 2006 and is a annual awareness-raising campaign highlighting the need for the protection of migratory birds and their habitats. On the second weekend each May, people around the world take action and organise public events such as bird festivals, education programmes and birdwatching excursions to celebrate World Migratory Bird Day.

Each year features a theme, and the theme for 2010, designed to tie-in with this Year of Biodiversity , is “Save migratory birds in crisis – every species counts!.”  This annual event asks nothing more than for people all around the world to learn, to care, and to show it. This sort of event seems to be aimed at letting our world’s policymakers know what “the people” think. I’m for that! (one of my favorite expressions)

Photo, courtesy of WMBD. Waved Albatross © Farmgirl

On this, we can be clear. In the United States, we have enacted the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Since it’s passing in 1918, enforcing the the Act has been a challenge all to itself. Even today, there are citizens who believe they must take legal action against our own governing bodies, to force them to adhere to the protections of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.1 Perhaps the simple – and probably fun –  act of showing up at a World Migratory Bird Day event in your area will remind your government that their responsibility is to uphold the laws. You have a chance to make it clear what “the people” care about.

I’ll close by saying that I’m the kind of person who would normally try to organize just sort of an event, but lately I’m having to admit when my “plate” is full. So instead of doing what my nature prompts me to do, I will be looking for an event in my area to simply attend. 🙂


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The New Year is fast approaching, and we all have ideas about what we want to change, start, or stop. New Year’s resolutions abound during this time of renewal and general cleaning of slates. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has sponsored an initiative called Countdown2010 – Save Biodiversity. The problem of dwindling biodiversity was identified years ago, and 2010 was set as the future date by which to attain the Target. And now…2010 is here!

I will be talking much more about this Initiative in the coming months of 2010. Countdown2010 has provided a list of Actions that individuals can take to contribute to this worldwide effort:

  1. Take public transportation, bike, walk, or carpool to work at least one day a week. Avoid air travel where possible.
  2. Buy food, preferably organic food—vegetables, fruits, dairy, eggs, and meat—from a farmer’s market at least one day a week.
  3. Eat sustainably harvested seafood and farmed fish that is herbivorous, like catfish, tilapia, and shellfish. Avoid farmed carnivorous fish like salmon and shrimp.
  4. Install at least one compact fluorescent light bulb in your home—it will save roughly 30 EUR in electricity and replacement bulb costs each year, and reduce carbon emissions by a ton every three years.
  5. Turn off lights in empty rooms.
  6. Lower the thermostat by at least 1 degree ° C in winter.
  7. Stop using herbicides and pesticides on your lawn.
  8. Only drink wines with natural cork stoppers.
  9. Tell everyone what you are doing to conserve biodiversity and ask them to join you. Support representatives who act for biodiversity.
  10. Above all, do not waste—reduce your consumption, buy only what you really need, and re-use and re-cycle whatever and whenever you can.

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About a year ago, I was inspired by Julie at Coffee and Conservation, to keep track of the coffee I purchased for a year. I purchase only shade-grown (no slashing forests), organic (no synthetic pesticides), and fair-trade (honest wage for honest work)- certified coffee beans from the fantastic roaster, Grounds for Change. For 2009, this is what we purchased:

Coffee Beans Pounds Dollars
Ethiopia Yirgachefee 5 $47.00
Espresso Blend 5 $42.00
Sumatra Telong 5 $42.00
Uganda Elgon AA 1 $12.00
Uganda Elgon AA 5 $42.00
New Guinea Yelia 5 $43.00
Ethiopia Yirgachefee 5 $47.00
Sumatra Telong 5 $47.00
Columbia Anzeas 5 $47.00
Ethiopia Yirgachefee 5 $47.00
Nicaragua Segovia 0.5 $8.00
Nicaragua Segovia 5 $47.00
Honduras Congolon 0.5 $8.00
Ethiopia Natural Sidamo 5 $47.00
Starbucks Gazebo Blend 1 $14.00
Annual Membership 0 $23.00
Total 58 $563.00
Cost per pound of beans $9.71

I popped over to Julie’s post that has a nifty little worksheet that calculates our cost per 6 oz cup of coffee at $0.40/cup. Use filtered tap water, and you’ve got a great cup of coffee for a reasonable price, plus your purchase will help send a message that consumers demand coffee with a conscience!