Recovery: Prairie Reprise

Nature Conservancy - Science

America has plowed, developed and otherwise destroyed or degraded vast expanses of native prairie. For generations prairies were seen as deficient in their lack of trees and dangerous in their flammability. Sterling Morton was so distressed by the paucity of trees that in 1870 he called forth “a grand army of husbandmen … to battle against the timberless prairies.” At least we’re no longer anti-prairie. But prairie vegetation evolved with grazing.

Bison Good, Cattle Bad? A Prairie Ecologist’s Perspective

Nature Conservancy - Science

By Chris Helzer , prairie ecologist. Among some prairie enthusiasts, there seems to be a perception that plains bison are magical creatures that live in complete harmony with the prairie. Cattle, on the other hand, are evil creatures that seek and destroy wildflowers, removing them from prairies forever. They also stomp all over prairies, trampling plants and birds to death and causing cascades of soil erosion and water pollution.


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WPAs: America’s Duck Factories

10,000 Birds

The Prairie Pothole Region of the United States—about 100,000 square miles of the northern Great Plains—is characterized by depressions or basins created retreating glaciers. The potholes and associated grasslands create North America’s most productive habitat for breeding waterfowl, making it an area of global significance for Mallards , Northern Pintails , Blue-winged Teals , Gadwalls , Northern Shovelers , and others. Photos: Prairie Potholes at Kulm WMD in North Dakota (USFWS).

Zumwalt Prairie: Mountain Lions, Mountain Quail & More

Nature Conservancy - Science

A black bear stands amongst the expansive grasslands and canyons of Zumwalt Prairie Preserve. The Zumwalt Prairie of northeastern Oregon is one of those spectacular places where the large herds still roam, where big predators still stalk, where you never know what you might see on a hike. The Zumwalt Prairie is the largest remaining Palouse grassland in North America. You can view more Zumwalt Prairie photos on Flickr.

Cavity Nesting Birds of North America and Their Babies!

10,000 Birds

Now the only falcon that regularly nests in natural cavities is the smallest and most common falcon in North America, the American Kestrel ( Falco sparverius ). The majority of our owls in North America also nest in cavities and I want to wrap this up with a few of my favorites, starting with the Barn Owl ( Tyto alba ).

Back Battle on the Booming Grounds

10,000 Birds

The Greater Prairie Chicken , once common throughout North America, has undergone rapid population decline, mostly due to habitat loss. The tallgrass prairie that once blanketed the Midwest has been almost completely converted to cropland, leaving Tympanuchus cupido painfully vulnerable. The Greater Prairie Chicken’s story seems to be a tragic one, but Timothy Barksdale sees something compelling in it. Birds prairie chickens prairies video

2011 168

Climate Change and the Future of Bison

Nature Conservancy - Science

Due to efforts to restore bison in North America, The Nature Conservancy has been instrumental in helping predict the future of bison. Approximately 500,000 bison and 100 million cattle graze grasslands in North America. That’s where the Conservancy’s work to restore bison across North America has been critical. The climate of Tallgrass Prairie Preserve in Oklahoma is 17°F hotter than at Cross Ranch in North Dakota.

Platte River Sandhill Cranes: Enjoying North America’s Greatest Bird Spectacle

Nature Conservancy - Science

As Chris Helzer of the Prairie Ecologist blog writes, “For those of us living and working on the Central Platte River in Nebraska, the birds that signify spring’s arrival are much bigger than robins.”. This year’s program includes additional excursions to see prairie chickens on their spring display grounds (known as “leks”) and crane viewing by trolley. More than 500,000 sandhill cranes gather along Nebraska’s Platte River each spring. Photo: © Chris Helzer/TNC.

Spring’s Top 10 Wildlife Spectacles

Nature Conservancy - Science

Six species of prairie grouse – greater and lesser prairie chickens , greater and Gunnison sage grouse , and sharp-tailed grouse – display in flat, open areas, offering excellent viewing. North America has a great diversity of ground squirrels and other members of the squirrel family: 66 species including tree squirrels, flying squirrels, chipmunks, marmots and prairie dogs. The Conservancy has bison on a dozen preserves across many prairie states.

State of North America’s Birds Report Released to Commemorate Centennial of the First Migratory Bird Treaty

Nature Conservancy - Science

protecting birds and other wildlife, connecting all of North America in its efforts to protect our shared species. In this Migratory Bird Treaty Centennial year, the three countries united once again to produce a “ State of North America’s Birds ” report — a groundbreaking collaboration to evaluate bird populations in habitat types across the continent. The vast majority of our continent’s pre-settlement prairie has been converted to agriculture and residential development.

Awesome Birding at Aripo Savannah

10,000 Birds

Aripo Savannah, one of the last and largest natural savannahs in Trinidad, offers rich wet prairie that is home to an array of flora and fauna found nowhere else on the island. Trips aripo savannah Caribbean South America trinidadHave you ever enjoyed one of those brilliant birding expeditions, the outing where every target species takes its cue with machine precision?

2012 191

Birds on Posts or Birding North Dakota

10,000 Birds

I was on New Jersey Audubon’s Grand North Dakota birding tour this past July, driving along dirt roads through the prairies of western North Dakota. I wanted to see prairie birds and I wanted to experience a new state. We saw sparrows–a total of 14 species–and we saw many other great prairie birds, and we often saw them perched on posts. Sadly, very little tallgrass prairie, one of the three types of prairie in North Dakota, is left.

The Warbler Duo of Florida’s Mangroves

10,000 Birds

I always like to see the look of surprise on a visiting birder’s face when I tell them that the Prairie Warblers and Yellow Warblers in southern Florida are restricted to mangrove habitats. Although both species are widespread in North America as breeders in shrubby edge habitats, that is not the case in the southern half of the sunshine state (the more northerly race of Prairie Warbler is an uncommon breeder in the panhandle).

Adventures of a Louisiana Birder: One Year, Two Wings, Three Hundred Species–A Book Review

10,000 Birds

There are the state’s unique habitats–swamp forests, coastal prairies, oak cheniers, wetlands of fresh water and salt water. Marybeth and Lynn chase birds familiar and unfamiliar to me, a Northeastern birder, and I’m sure it will be the same for any reader in North America.

Green-tailed Towhee at the Inaugural Mountain Bird Festival

10,000 Birds

Up in Ashland we found them on the outskirts of Howard Prairie Lake. References: 1 Birds of North America Online. I had the pleasure of attending the first Mountain Bird Festival in Ashland Oregon recently and it was great! The Wildlife Conservation Stamp Project was one of the sponsors of the festival which was hosted by the Klamath Bird Observatory. One of the major draws to the festival was viewing the Great Gray Owl, but that is for another post altogether.

2014 201

Thank a Republican for Trying to Strip All Protections from Migratory Birds

10,000 Birds

First passed in 1918, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act is one of America’s original conservation laws. It protects familiar visitors like cardinals and chickadees; raptors such as bald eagles and prairie falcons, and, of course, the many ducks and other waterfowl that sportsmen treasure. This is not the first time that I have pointed out the perfidy of Republicans in United States government as it relates to birds or conservation.

2015 212

Blue-winged Teal at Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge

10,000 Birds

Blue-winged Teal breed over a large portion of North America but occur irregularly or at low densities in many portions of their range. The highest breeding densities occur in mixed-grass prairie and parklands of north-central U.S. and the prairie provinces of Canada, where the species is often the most abundant breeding duck 1. References: 1 Birds of North America Online.

Too Many Deer: A Bigger Threat to Eastern Forests than Climate Change

Nature Conservancy - Science

The Wall Street Journal then ran a story in November 2012 entitled America Gone Wild , noting the impact of overabundant deer. Declining woodland birds in North America: should we blame Bambi? Will environmental changes reinforce the impact of global warming on the prairie–forest border of central North America? Regional climate change adaptation strategies for biodiversity conservation in a midcontinental region of North America. America Gone Wild.

Solar Eclipse Expedition 2017

Nature Conservancy - Science

Where will you be on August 21, 2017 when the solar eclipse passes through North America? Eclipse 2017 stands out because the path of totality cuts a wide swath through the United States and all of North America will have views of a partial eclipse. Platte River Prairies. Showy evening primrose (Oenothera rhombipetala) in restored prairie at the Derr Tract of Platte River Prairies, Nebraska. Participants will then hike out to the prairie to enjoy the eclipse.

2017 68

The Rusty Squirrel-Hawk AKA Ferruginous Hawk

10,000 Birds

They inhabit the grasslands, shrub steppes, and deserts of western and central North America. I took a ride up to the Fall River Valley back in October and spotted both morphs in the large grasslands where we also usually see Rough-legged Hawks and Prairie Falcons. They are often seen on the ground since their prey consists mainly of rabbit, prairie dog and, you guessed it, ground squirrel. link] References: 1 Birds of North America Online , 2 Olendorff, R.

2012 162

What It Feels Like For a Ferret Watcher

10,000 Birds

Here’s a little sketch of what it’s like out there searching for one of North America’s rarest mammals: She looks like a cross between a Loch Ness Monster/kitten hybrid — a blunt fuzzy head, with small round ears and shining eyes in a black mask, atop a serpentine body equipped with an elongated neck and stubby little dark legs. We watch as she dashes across the short, sparse grass to the next prairie-dog burrow to the left.

2012 185

Swainson’s Hawks in Plumas County

10,000 Birds

Each autumn, nearly the entire breeding population of the Swainson’s Hawk migrates from the temperate zone of North America to wintering areas in South America. During my recent trip I also had the pleasure of spotting Rough-legged Hawks, Prairie Falcons, Northern Harriers and several Ferruginous Hawks ( Buteo regalis ). References: 1 Birds of North America Online.

2014 140

Introducing Bluebird Man

10,000 Birds

Wild Lens is currently producing a half-hour film about one man’s role in the successful recovery of North America’s bluebirds. Bluebird Man is about Alfred Larson, but you can be one of the film’s heroes by contributing to its production… There is something special about bluebirds, and it isn’t just because the world’s three species are only found in North America. Bluebird nest box near Prairie, Idaho.

2013 198

eBird and Urban Planning: City Green Spaces

10,000 Birds

In addition to being one of the largest cities in America, Chicago sits in the transition zone between the eastern deciduous forests and prairies of the Midwest.

2020 247

What is the National Bird of Aruba?

10,000 Birds

Burrowing Owls, whose range extends into Mexico, the United States, and South America, can live in varied habitats , including deserts and grasslands, golf courses and airports, agricultural fields and vacant lots. These owls use the tunnels of other species as their nesting burrows, and so can be found associated with ground squirrels, tortoises, and prairie dogs.

Flora and Fauna: Definition, Importance and Examples


96 percent of the terrestrial birds in North America rely upon insects for their diet [2]. Americas. The Psychotria elata , called hot lips because that is exactly what its red blossoms look like, grow in the tropical rainforests of Central and South America. Americas.

12 Examples of Keystone Species


Prairie dogs. What does the tiniest bird of Americas and the Australian marsupial have in common? Prairie dogs – the lifestyle influencers. Like the elephants in savanna, prairie dogs shape the face of prairie by affecting the plant composition and distribution of water in the landscape. Being herbivores, prairie dogs feed on grasses and they do an amazing job in trimming them down. Prairie dogs even alter the water cycle in dry conditions.

2018 72

Confounding the Starving Snowy Owl Irruption Theory

10,000 Birds

Scientists studying Snowies wintering on the prairies of Saskatchewan, Canada found both younger and older birds whose overall condition was generally pretty healthy, with few signs of starvation and even some weight gain during the winter months. ” It may be too early to speculate about how Snowy this winter may be in North America. Snowy Owl at Breezy Point photographed by Corey. Many North American birders have, over the last few years, received a rare treat.

2016 100

Experiencing New York’s High Line revision

Green Prophet

During a recent late summer visit to New York City, it was a pleasure to visit High Line and stroll along its long, winding route, interspersed with a multitude of trees, shrubs and prairie grassland plant species, many of which are nearly extinct in their native locales. The various grasses, shrubs and other greenery planted there were indigenous to American prairies in states as far east as Ohio.

Reintroduction Program Succeeding For Black-Footed Ferret

Eco Friendly Daily

For many decades the black-footed ferret was believed to be extinct in its native habitat of North America. The ferret was released near a prairie dog colony as prairie dogs compose the majority of their diet. Black-footed ferrets dwindled in numbers in the 1900s as the prairie dog population across the country declined. The decline of the prairie dogs have been largely attributed to human actions, such as hunting and poisoning the prairie dogs.

What is the State Bird of Colorado?

10,000 Birds

Lark Buntings are prairie birds, and breed in open meadow, sagebrush, and plains. According to a project run by Colorado State University , “Grassland bird species have experienced the largest population declines of any terrestrial avian group in the past four decades in North America.” Colorado is unique in many respects, so it comes as no surprise that its residents went in a different direction when selecting their state bird.

Are There Squirrels In Hawaii

Conservation Hawaii

Europes grey squirrels originated in North America where they are known as eastern gray squirrels. Squirrel Is Waiting For Me To Leave Squirrel Animals Beautiful Prairie Dog. No wonder so many people have beachside weddings here.

Aim Small, Bird Small

10,000 Birds

Hundreds of thousands of us have enjoyed the incredible programs and birding opportunities at some of North America’s largest, longest-running birding festivals. If my caller had said “I want to see ducks, or sparrows, or grassland birds&# I would have suggested another event to him—the Potholes & Prairie Birding Festival in Carrington, North Dakota which is held in June each year.

2011 130

The Why of Ferrets

10,000 Birds

The species was extinct, a vanished part of the vanishing prairie — and not for the first time. John Bachmann headed west to gather material for Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America. Sorry for banging on about black-footed ferrets, but here’s a bit on why this trip was so special to me: Forty years ago the black-footed ferret was a bit more like the Loch Ness Monster than it is today. You couldn’t see it.

2012 195

I and the Bird: What is a Vulture?

10,000 Birds

Sure, they may not have the raw power of a Peregrine Falcon or the agility of a Northern Goshawk , but wager there isn’t a birder out there who hasn’t taken a long look at the Turkey Vulture , an incredibly common species across North America, and wondered at the skill it takes to hang, teetering in the air , without flapping for what seems like and probably is hours at a time. Turkey Vulture Wing Tagging – Charlotte Wasylik, Prairie Birder.

2013 191

I don't even have time to read this morning

Environmental Economics

Recommended reading ( Inching Toward Energy Independence in America ): Across the country, the oil and gas industry is vastly increasing production, reversing two decades of decline. Using new technology and spurred by rising oil prices since the mid-2000s, the industry is extracting millions of barrels more a week, from the deepest waters of the Gulf of Mexico to the prairies of North Dakota.

2012 122

The Incredible Shrinking Bison, an Unexpected Impact of Climate Change

Nature Conservancy - Science

As the climate warms, bison in North America are likely to shrink , as documented in research published by Joseph Craine and colleagues. Bison Bellows and Bones: Student-Scientists on the Prairie. Two or three major bison migrations once occurred on North America’s grasslands, on a scale that is difficult to comprehend today. Memorial Preserve in South Dakota and the warmer Konza Prairie Biological Station in Kansas.

How to Know the Birds: The Art and Adventure of Birding – A Book Review

10,000 Birds

How to Know the Birds talks about 200 commonly found birds in North America (including one extinct bird, the Passenger Pigeon) in 200 brief essays, each exactly one page long. John Schmitt, who illustrated Raptors of Mexico and Central America amongst many other books and magazine articles. “Get a field guide!” ” That’s what novice birders are told, over and over.

2019 125

The Giving Birders: Are They Out There?

10,000 Birds

Private property holders with prairie/agricultural land can potentially make a big difference in maintaining and recovering populations of many of these charismatic species. Aside from being one of our best-looking birds, Golden-winged Warblers are one of North America’s most imperiled warblers. Mountain Plover and many other grassland birds have populations in steep decline.

2013 173

The Winter of our Discontent

10,000 Birds

But soon they’ll all depart, perhaps the Peregrines already have, racing Winter’s advance, waiting her out in South America before that biological imperative pushes them back home to the cliffs of Arctic Bay. Until the snow piling up tells them they’re better off in the stubble fields of the prairies and the mid-west. It’s snowing back home. That’s not unusual this time of the year, nor is it guaranteed that this will be the snow that stays.

2012 190

What It’s Like to Be a Bird: A Review of the New Sibley Book

10,000 Birds

The emphasis is on everyday birds seen in North America, though some of the more exotic and local species are thrown in for the color and romance of it all–Atlantic Puffin, Roseate Spoonbill, the poor extinct Heath Hen.

2020 219

It’s Raining Blood and Feathers: Catching the Spring Raptor Show

Nature Conservancy - Science

In North America, right now they have nests filled with hungry young. Peregrine falcon in Colorado, United States, North America. But the rodent’s nightmare is a birder’s paradise: Prairie falcons, golden eagles , ferruginous hawks, red-tailed hawks, northern harriers, American kestrels and various owls can all be spotted in a spring outing. On one outing, I watched a prairie falcon swoop in and snag a ground squirrel, only to be quickly chased by a harrier and two ravens.

2017 87

The Toxic Waters of the Tar Sands Industry

Sierra Club Compass

North America''s biggest corporations, as the biggest consumers of oil, need to sit up and pay attention. Speaking at the session were Sierra Club''s Future Fleet & Electric Vehicles Initiative Director Gina Coplon-Newfield; Environmental Defence Canada''s National Program Manager Hannah McKinnon; and Sierra Club Canada''s Prairie Chapter Climate & Energy Campaigner Crystal Lameman, who is a member the Beaver Lake Cree Nation directly impacted by the tar sands industry.