Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thanksgiving Day Parade

Watch out Macy's, we have the real deal for our virtual Hagerman NWR Thanksgiving Parade! Who needs inflatables??  Enjoy

Leading off, a pair of White-tail fawns, by Bob Brown

Followed overhead by  a large flock of winter visitors, Snow and Ross's Geese, by Carl Hill

Next up a high-stepping Roadrunner, by Jesus Moreno

And swooping around the corner, some late-flying American White Pelicans by Win Goddard

We mustn't overlook  the  Armadillo dancer straight from Texas, by Mike Keck

Now let's pan the watching crowd, camera man!

Back to the parade, here comes Parade Marshal,  King Bob, by Mike Chiles

Listen to the choristers led by Bill Hurst's  Northern Mockingbird

And not to be left out - they're what it's all about for some folks, the Wild Turkey, by Rick Cantu

Speaking of turkey, it's time to tend ours, and our parade is just ending, somewhat slowly as our last float or Turtle, by Susie Krominga,  seems to have stopped moving!

Happy Thanksgiving to all, from the Friends of Hagerman NWR

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Snow Geese, Ross's Geese and - Sparrows

Snow or Ross's??

By Jack Chiles 

Now that the geese are arriving at Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge and considering that most of the geese will be white geese, I would like to assist those of you who have problems telling the geese apart. There are two species of white geese at the refuge, Snow Geese and Ross's Geese. At first glance, they look very similar but upon closer examination you will see some distinct differences. Looking at the geese in the photo, the front right-most goose is a Snow Goose and the goose immediately to its left is a Ross's Goose. Comparing the two, notice the larger size of the Snow Goose, longer neck, less rounded head, longer bill and the dark "grinning patch" on the bill. In turn the Ross's Goose is smaller in size, has a shorter neck, more rounded head and a stubby bill. For me the really defining characteristic that separates the two is a more vertical demarcation between the feathering of the head and the base of the bill of the Ross's. Both of these species occur in a dark phase (the dark birds in the photo). The dark phase is much more common in the Snow Goose than in the Ross's. The dark phase is sometimes referred to as Blue Goose. Take time studying these two species and you will soon be amazed at how easy it is to tell them apart. 

Geese at HNWR by Jack Chiles

Now that you know your geese, find out your Sparrow  IQ!

On Saturday, November 14, Dr. Wayne Meyer will speak on Sparrows at Hagerman NWR.  The HNWR Bird Check List shows more than 20 species of Sparrows, Towhees and Allies.  Let’s see how familiar you are with some of these!  (Questions derived from Cornell Lab of Ornithology All About Birds and the Sibley Guide to Birds)

1.             1.  House Sparrows aren’t related to other North American sparrows.

             True       False

 2.    The _ _ _ _ _ - _ _ _ _ _ _ _  Sparrow is a large sparrow with a small pale pink or yellow bill and a long tail and very bold black-and-white stripes on the head.
 3.    The Sparrow with the black eyestripe, the white crown and supercilium, the yellow lores, the white throat bordered by a black whisker, or malar stripe is.  (Choose one)
Song Sparrow              White-throated Sparrow           Harris’s Sparrow
 4.    If you see a rich russet-and-gray sparrow with bold streaks converging in a central breast spot on its white chest, in an open, shrubby, or wet area, it is probably a (Choose one).
Song Sparrow              Vesper Sparrow           Harris Sparrow
  5.     The _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ Sparrow takes its name not only from its diet but also from its insect-like song.
  6.     The striking Harris's Sparrow breeds along the edge of boreal forest and tundra in north-central Canada and spends the winter in South America.
True     False
   7.     Dark-eyed Juncos are Sparrows.
True     False
     8.      Sparrows are exclusively seed-eaters.
      True     False
     9.      A white breast with a bold central spot and distinctive outer white tail feathers is: (Choose one)
Lark Bunting    Savannah Sparrow      Lark Sparrow
10.  A small sparrow with a reddish crown, a gray breast and dark eyeline is (Choose one)
Chipping Sparrow        Lincoln’s Sparrow        Field Sparrow

Answers:  1. True; 2. White-crowned; 3. White-throated Sparrow; 4. Song; 5. Grasshopper; 6. False; 7. True; 8. False 9. Lark Sparrow; 10. Chipping Sparrow

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Strengthening and Restoring Latinos’ Historic Connection to the Land

This week's post is from the USFWS.

By Dan Ashe
Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

The history of the United States, and the relationship of its people to the land, cannot be told without recognizing the influence and contributions of men and women of Hispanic descent. In the decades to come, the descendants of the Hispanics and Latinos who settled much of our nation will play an even greater role in shaping its future as citizens and leaders.

That’s why the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service [was] proud to recognize Hispanic Heritage Month in October by honoring the historic contributions of Hispanics and Latinos to the United States – and by working to forge and strengthen the connection Americans of Hispanic and Latino descent have with their natural heritage.

I signed a Memorandum of Understanding on October 2 on behalf of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service with the League of United Latin American Citizens, (LULAC), the nation’s oldest Latino advocacy group. Together, we will work to increase participation by Latino families and kids in fishing and other outdoor recreation, and engage Latinos in monarch butterfly conservation.

This new partnership is more than just a piece of paper – it’s a shared statement of our values, and an expression of our joint determination to strengthen the relationship of the Latino community in the United States to its natural heritage. Most of all, it is a recognition of the historic role of Latinos in protecting and preserving the land, water and wildlife of our nation – and in shaping our economic and cultural identity.

And what a heritage it is! A century before the 1607 founding of the first English Colony at Jamestown in Virginia, Spanish and Portuguese adventurers began exploring North America – ranging as far as Greenland and across the American West to California. In the centuries to come, Hispanics settled much of the American West and intermarried with the Native Americans who lived there. They also settled in Florida, founding what is now the oldest continuously occupied European-established settlement in North America – St. Augustine.

From the Californios of Alta California, to the Hispanos of New Mexico and Tejanos of Texas, to the Borinquén of Puerto Rico, Latinos have a historic and cultural connection that in many cases predates that of the descendants of those who sailed on the Mayflower. These pioneers built acequias – communal irrigation systems – to sustain agriculture, and to maintain the delicate balance with the wildlife in their surroundings. They fished and hunted across the West, and introduced the horse to North America, forever changing the culture of Plains Indians.

Wildlife is also woven into Latino culture.  The coquí has been a cultural symbol of Puerto Rican history for centuries. Monarch butterflies, which migrate between Mexico and the U.S., have a historic connection to pre-Hispanic times. The monarch’s migration was historically connected to the harvesting of maíz and celebrations of the Dia de los Muertos (the Day of the Dead). Today, organizations like HECHO - Hispanics Enjoying Camping Hunting and Outdoors  are leading efforts to increase the participation of Latinos in outdoor recreation.

In the 21st Century, increasing urbanization is making it harder and harder for Americans of all backgrounds and cultures to spend time in nature. This increasing disconnection has profound implications for the future health and well-being of millions of Americans, including members of the Latino community. And it threatens the progress we’ve made as a nation to protect and sustain our natural heritage for future generations.

Latinos represent a vibrant and growing segment of the U.S. population. In the future, they will have an enormous influence on the decisions we make as a society regarding the future allocation and management of natural resources, including wildlife. We want to make sure that we welcome Latino families and kids to the National Wildlife Refuge System, and that they can connect with nature no matter where they live. The health and well-being of these children will benefit immeasurably from the experiences they have in the natural world, away from the noise and distraction of modern life.

We also want to help Latino children explore careers in wildlife conservation – and to recruit young adults from the Latino community to join the Fish and Wildlife Service. We’re working to create a professional workforce for the future that reflects our nation’s growing diversity – one that can help Americans of all backgrounds connect with nature. As part of this partnership, the Service will participate in LULAC’s Federal Training Institute, which will help identify and connect promising young people with career development opportunities and job openings in our agency.

Together, we will strengthen the historic bond Latinos have with the land and wildlife of our nation – and in doing so, strengthen our ability to carry out our agency’s mission and sustain our shared natural heritage for all Americans.