Celebrating Birds

Restore Habitat Restore Birds is the theme of the 2015 International Migratory Bird Day Celebration. Check out activities in the greater Idaho Falls area at: http://www.nature-track.com/nature-blog.htmlIf you live in the Salt Lake area, there is an entire week dedicated to the event. Check out the activities at this website: www.greatsaltlakebirdfest.com/welcome.php.

Just in case you don’t know, May is Older Americans Month (yippee!), Jewish American Heritage Month, Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, Mental Health Awareness Month, National Physical Fitness and Sports Month and National Foster Care Month. I mention that because you may have not been aware that April was Cancer Control Month, National Donate Life Month, Prevent Child Abuse Month, National Sexual Assault Awareness Month and National Financial Literacy Month and you may have missed a chance to celebrate.

There are a total of 52 presidentially declared awareness days, 18 official weeks and a whopping 51 declared months. Most months are like April and May, serving as the focal period for numerous important events. Add to that family birthdays and anniversaries and the opportunities to party are nearly endless but remembering it all becomes problematic.

So, I hesitate to add to the burden we all face in trying to remember if Leif Erikson Day is held in May or October by stating that Saturday, May 9, is the official day celebrated as International Migratory Bird Day (IMBD) in the United States. I must further add to the confusion by pointing out that since songbird migration peaks in late May in Eastern Idaho, we choose to celebrate International Migratory Bird Day one week later, Saturday, May 16. Other locales may celebrate earlier or later depending on when migration peaks in their area. South of the border, the second Saturday of October is the official date.

Migration is celebrated internationally because birds don’t recognize political borders. A pintail duck may spend the winter in South America yet raise its brood in the Northwest Territories of Canada. Getting from winter to summer homes it passes over the countries of Central America and Mexico, crosses from four to six U.S. states and several Canadian provinces.

It is exciting to think that eastern Idaho plays a critical role in this multi-national event. While we do serve as breeding range for millions of birds, one of our most important roles is as part of a necklace of habitat pearls that long-distance migrants depend upon for rest and refueling. Without places like Market Lake WMA, Deer Parks WMA and Camas National Wildlife Refuge, getting from Central or South America to breeding grounds in the north would be impossible.

As far as I can determine, International Migratory Bird Day is not presidentially sanctioned. It was the brainchild of the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center and is now coordinated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. It celebrates its 20th anniversary this year.

Each year IMBD has a theme upon which events may center. This year the theme is: Restore Habitat, Restore Birds. That seems so simple as to be a no-brainer, but then last year organizers felt the need to elaborate on the obvious with a theme of, Why Birds Matter.

For the past several years, the local event has been held at the Ducks Unlimited Market Lake Ranch just north of Roberts. This year will be similar with guided birding tours, the Teton Raptor Center show, and a class for beginning birders. You can get more information at: http://www.nature-track.com/nature-blog.html.

Wildlife License Plates

Idaho Wildlife license plates provide essential funding that benefits the great diversity of native plants and wildlife that are not hunted, fished or trapped—over 10,000 species or 98% of Idaho’s species diversity. Game species that share the same habitats (such as elk, deer, antelope, sage-grouse, salmon, trout) also benefit from these specialty plates.

No state tax dollars are provided for wildlife diversity, conservation education and recreation programs. Neither are any revenues from the sale of hunting or fishing licenses spent on nongame species. Instead, these species depend on direct donations, federal grants, fundraising initiatives—and the Idaho Wildlife license plates.

Both my vehicles have Bluebird Plates. I prefer the bluebird because the nongame program gets 70 percent of the money from bluebird plates, but only 60 percent of the money from elk and trout plates - 10 percent of the money from elk plates supports wildlife disease monitoring and testing programs (to benefit the livestock industry) and 10 percent from cutthroat plates supports non-motorized boat access.

Incidentally, in 2014, the Idaho Legislature denied the Department of Fish and Game the ability to add new plates or even to change the name of the elk and cutthroat plates (very specific) to wildlife and fish plates, a move that would have allowed for changing images occasionally and generating more revenue. It would seem that they believe that we Idahoans don't want a well funded wildlife program.

I think it is time we let the Legislature know that Idahoan support wildlife funding and that we would like to see these generic plates come to fruition.

"WOW. What a phenomenal piece you wrote. You are amazing." Jennifer Jackson

That is embarrassing, but actually a fairly typical response to my nature essays. Since The Best of Nature is created from the very best of 16 years of these nature essays published weekly in the Idaho Falls Post Register (online readership 70,000), it is a fine read. It covers a wide variety of topics including humorous glimpses of nature, philosophy, natural history, and conservation. Readers praise the style, breadth of subject matter and my ability to communicate complex and emotional topics in a relaxed and understandable manner.

Everyone can find something to love in this book. From teenagers to octogenarians, from the coffee shop to the school room, these nature essays are widely read and enjoyed.

Some of the essays here are my personal favorites, others seemed to strike a chord with readers. Most have an important message or lesson that will resonate with you. They are written with a goal to simultaneously entertain and educate about the wonderful workings of nature. Some will make you laugh out loud and others will bring a tear to the eye and warm your heart.

Readers Write:

"You hit a home run with your article on, Big Questions in Nature. It should be required reading for everyone who has lost touch with nature...great job!" Joe Chapman

"We enjoyed your column, Bloom Where Planted. Some of the best writing yet. The Post Register is fortunate to have your weekly columns." Lou Griffin.

To read more and to order a copy, click here or get the Kindle version 


Copies are also available at:

Post Register

Island Park Builders Supply (upstairs)

Barnes and Noble in Idaho Falls

Harriman State Park, Island Park

Museum of Idaho

Valley Books, Jackson Wyoming

Avocet Corner Bookstore, Bear River National Wildlife Refuge, Brigham City, Utah

Craters of the Moon National Monument Bookstore, Arco, Idaho