birds

Is Another Mass Extinction Imminent?

Candice Gaukel Andrews by Candice Gaukel Andrews | September 27th, 2012 | 2 Comments
topic: Green Living | tags: Anthony Barnosky, biodiversity, birds, climate change, conservation, conservation efforts, die-off, Eco Travel, endangered, endangered animals, endangered-species, environment, extinction, frogs, global-warming, habitat fragmentation, International Union for Conservation of Nature, invasive species, IUCN Red List, loss of habitat, nature, science, scientists, species extinction, Tigers, travel

Pronghorn in Yellowstone National Park

We could be on the brink of a mass extinction — the Earth’s sixth — according to a paper published last year in the journal Nature. First author Anthony Barnosky, an integrative biologist at the University of California at Berkeley, says Earth has experienced five mass extinctions during the past 540 million years, and another extinction could be around the corner. During each of the five previous events, three-quarters or more of the world’s animal species died out. One of the mass extinctions — which occurred 65 million years ago — ended the dinosaurs.

Some say, however, that this isn’t much cause for alarm. Species have always come and gone over long periods of time; and given the five mass extinctions we’ve already had, it’s a natural event. But will this sixth one be a “different animal”? 

Should the Use of Bird Apps Outdoors Be Banned?

Candice Gaukel Andrews by Candice Gaukel Andrews | August 23rd, 2012 | 8 Comments
topic: Eco Travel, Green Living, Green Tech | tags: bird life lists, bird recordings, bird watching, birding, birds, birdsong, bison, cell phones, Eco Travel, exercise, mobile apps, nature, noise pollution, smartphone apps, travel, wellness, whales, wildlife photography, Yellowstone National Park, Yosemite National Park

Magpie

It’s long been known that the undersea noise we create with our large machines — oil drilling equipment, ships and submarines — has a detrimental effect on whales, causing hearing damage and changes in feeding, mating and communication. And noise from snowmobiles has often been cited as the reason some species of animals in Yellowstone National Park are being stressed and pushed out of their preferred habitats, impacting their health and increasing mortality.

It turns out that our large machines, though, may not be our only cause for concern when it comes to outdoor noise pollution and its effects on the natural world. Our small, compact mobile phones — and the apps we put on them — have been shown to change the behavior of birds.

Will the noise we individuals are increasingly capable of imposing upon other species outdoors soon also have enough power to affect their ability to survive?

Are the Dubai Penguins Ambassadors of the Wild, or Agents of Profit?

Candice Gaukel Andrews by Candice Gaukel Andrews | June 18th, 2012 | 2 Comments
topic: Eco Travel, Green Living | tags: animal ambassadors, animals, Antarctica, big cats, birds, captive, captive wildlife, captivity, conservation, Dubai, Eco Travel, ecosystems, environment, Middle East, natural habitats, nature, penguins, pets, photography, threatened, threatened species, Tigers, travel, wild, wildlife

Penguin in Antarctica

In the hot, desert climate of Dubai on the Arabian Peninsula, 20 penguins are living in comfort, say the managers of Ski Dubai, the first indoor ski resort in the Middle East. The birds reside in a climate-controlled environment, receive the best veterinary care, and never have to worry about lurking predators.

When you visit Ski Dubai, you can pay to have a “penguin encounter,” where you’ll be able to play with and touch the penguins. Representatives of the resort say that these animals are “ambassadors,” teaching patrons about their wild counterparts and the need to conserve their threatened natural habitat, Antarctica.

But can animals that have been born and raised in captivity and habituated to humans in unnatural ways ever be true ambassadors for the natural world? Can they teach us anything about the wild or move us to care for the environments from which they are so distantly removed?

As Hunter Numbers Decline, How Will We Fund Wildlife Conservation?

Candice Gaukel Andrews by Candice Gaukel Andrews | February 1st, 2012 | 86 Comments
topic: Eco Travel, Green Living | tags: Aldo Leopold, American bison, bird watching, birds, conservation, conservation funding, Crex Meadows, deer, Eco Travel, elk, extinction, fees, fishing license, George Bird Grinnell, Gifford Pinchot, gray wolves, hunting license, money, nature, ruffed grouse, species extinction, sturgeon, Theodore Roosevelt, turkeys, wildlife management, wildlife viewing, Wisconsin, wolves, Yellowstone National Park

Whether you’re an avid sportsman or purely a wildlife-watcher, it’s a fact that the animals, birds and fish you endeavor to see are “paid for” mostly by hunters. Those who engage in hunting, fishing and trapping are the major contributors to conservation funds in almost every state. Surprisingly, the monies animal-viewers and birdwatchers donate to conservation efforts rarely add up to even a third or a half of what hunters put into department of natural resources funds — even though watchers greatly outnumber them.

In my own state of Wisconsin, deer-hunting licenses and permits generated $22.7 million in revenue for the department of natural resources in 2010. And in most years, an excise tax on hunting equipment provides an additional $10 million to the state for wildlife management — in one case, supplying $400,000 to study and prepare for the likely arrival of a deadly bat disease. The problem is, however, that the number of hunters — along with anglers and trappers — is declining. And it promises to keep decreasing as the population ages.

So as the economy tightens, causing state and federal budgets for wildlife conservation to continue to be cut, and if younger people are not taking up hunting and fishing, where will future environmental monies come from? 

Are You Willing to Lose Trees to Gain Views?

Candice Gaukel Andrews by Candice Gaukel Andrews | August 16th, 2011 | 6 Comments
topic: Eco Travel | tags: Ansel Adams, bats, birds, British Columbia, conservation, cutting trees, Eco Travel, ecology, El Capitan, environment, giant sequoias, Half Dome, John Muir, nature, protection, scenic views, Scenic Vista Management Plan, tourists, travel, trees, Tunnel View, visitors, waterfalls, wildlife, Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park

“These darn trees are in the way of my view of nature,” joked one of my guides on a trip to British Columbia a few years back. We had stopped during a hike on a forested esker and were trying to look through the woods to a lake far below. We couldn’t see it through the dense foliage. Of course, his comment made us all laugh. Little did we know then that such an absurd idea would years later — this fall, in fact — become a reality in Yosemite National Park.

Starting later this year, thousands of trees will be cut down in Yosemite to provide better views of the famous granite faces, such as El Capitán and Half Dome, and the breathtaking waterfalls, such as Bridalveil or Yosemite Falls, that ring the valley. But the sounds of lumberjacks and the sights of downed trees — felled only for the purpose of providing better photo ops — are somehow discomfiting in a national park, prompting some to ask, “Why must so many succumb to the saw?”

Night Lighting: Would You Choose Safety or the Stars?

Candice Gaukel Andrews by Candice Gaukel Andrews | July 20th, 2011 | 11 Comments
topic: Green Living | tags: artificial light, bats, bird migration, birds, crime statistics, dark sky, darkenss, environment, green, health, light at night, light pollution, migrating birds, migratory birds, national parks, nature, neighborhoods, night lights, night sky, night-light, nighttime, nocturnal animals, outdoor lighting, outdoors, safety, stars, street lamps, wildlife

Canada geese

The street you live on, your neighbor’s garage or even your own back porch probably has one: a light that goes on when it gets dark. Most likely, it was installed with the hope that it would make your neighborhood a safer place to live.

The conventional wisdom is that better outdoor lighting deters criminals — those who would do their dastardly deeds in the cover of darkness. But whether or not the facts bear that out, we do know that lighting up the night eradicates something else: the ability to see the stars in the night sky.

Should Human and Veterinary Medicine Be Combined Into One Field of Study?

Candice Gaukel Andrews by Candice Gaukel Andrews | March 18th, 2011 | 5 Comments
topic: Green Living | tags: air pollution, air quality, airports, animals, bedbugs, biomonitors, birds, blood samples, canary in the coal mine, carbon emissions, carbon monoxide, contaminants, doctors, dogs, environment, German honey bees, health care, heavy metals, honey, human health, infestation, Massachusetts, medical schools, methane, miners, monkeys, One Health Initiative, pharmaceuticals, Salem, science, species, toxic gases, toxins, veterinarians, veterniary medicine, West Nile virus, zoonotic diseases

Honey bee on a flower

The fictional Ace Ventura may be tops when it comes to pet detectives, but the real animal gumshoes may be of the nonhuman sort — at least when it comes to environmental issues. More and more, we are recognizing the incredible powers of observation and deduction our fellow creatures possess, and we are using them to help us uncover the “bad guys” in our air, homes and workplaces.

Is Going Green Just a Feel-Good Choice?

Candice Gaukel Andrews by Candice Gaukel Andrews | November 18th, 2010 | 5 Comments
topic: Eco Travel, Green Living | tags: automobiles, bats, bird deaths, birds, Canada geese, canoe, carbon emissions, cars, chemicals, climate change, CO2, eco-friendly, energy, environment, environmental toxins, environmentalist, fossil fuels, green, green building, greenwashing, Horicon National Wildlife Refuge, kayak, kayaking, landfills, LEED, LEED buildings, LEED certification, nature enthusiasts, nature photography, nature photos, photography, plastic, power grid, recreation, recycler, recycling, sandhill cranes, save the environment, skyscrapers, songbirds, toxins, transportation, travel, turbines, water sports, weather, wildlife, wind farms, wind power

Sandhill cranes

Buying a kayak qualifies as a “big purchase” for my family, and my husband and I recently took that huge step. Although we’ve had a canoe for a long time, this is our first acquisition of this type of silent-sports, aquatic craft.

Animal Memories: Should Wildlife Research Methods Be Changed?

Candice Gaukel Andrews by Candice Gaukel Andrews | June 30th, 2010 | 6 Comments
topic: Eco Travel | tags: africa, bird banding, birds, China, crows, dogs, elephant, Gay Bradshaw, India, memory, memory formation, poaching, post-traumatic stress disorder, stress, The Kerulos Center

African elephants
There’s a great story that my mom used to tell regarding her family’s dog. It involved her brother, who was at the time a young man just returning from three long years in the Pacific theater during World War II. When he stepped out of the car and onto the lawn, the dog walked up to greet him, took a good look and a sniff and then began to jump and dance around uncontrollably. She did that for about 30 minutes straight. When she finally settled down, it wasn’t two minutes before she got up and expressed her joy all over again. She repeated this 30-to-two-minute cycle for the remainder of the day.

Do You Trust “Citizen Science”?

Candice Gaukel Andrews by Candice Gaukel Andrews | May 13th, 2010 | 12 Comments
topic: Conscious Living News, Eco Travel, Green Living | tags: barred owls, birds, citizen science, Cornell, environment, fish, galaxies, grasslands, greater prairie chickens, ornithology, Oxford, research, Yale

Citizen science” isn’t the study of all of us who reside in the U.S., but rather a way of collecting information that has become popular in recent years. The phrase refers to volunteers who work as field assistants for scientific studies. In a time when school and natural resources department budgets are tight, using ordinary folks to gather and record wildlife and environmental observations can stretch research dollars by getting reams of data for no cost.