Have you seen the cover of the January 2018 National Geographic magazine? The feature article this month is Why Birds Matter by Jonathan Franzen and as you probably can imagine the pictures alone are intriguing, but once you delve into the pages his story takes over with the simple message that birds live in every natural environment on Earth and monitoring birds can tell you just about everything you need to know about the health of habitats. Add the restorative aspects of birdwatching to stunning photographs and you have an article worth reading!
Thomas Lovejoy, Biologist and Godfather of Biodiversity said, “If you take care of birds, you take care of most of the environmental problems in the world”.
In 2018 people all across the planet will be celebrating birds and marking the centennial of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, the most powerful and important bird-protection law ever passed. Huntsville Botanical Garden (HBG) and other nature lovers around the world join fellow birders from the National Audubon Society, National Geographic, Birdlife International, and the Cornel Lab of Ornithology in this yearlong celebration.
HBG’s Year of the Bird will kick off with Birds and Brews, Friday, January 26, 6:00-8:00 pm in the Carriage House. Join local craniacs from the International Crane Foundation (ICF), meet members of the Tennessee Valley Audubon Society, and raise a glass to our avian friends while enjoying an evening filled with brews from Old Black Bear brewery in Madison, Domino’s Pizza and live music by the PMB band! Test your avian knowledge with bird trivia and learn a few new facts about the endangered Whopping Crane too. Door and game prizes!
On Saturday, February 17, from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, we have four incredible presentations lined up that you don’t want to miss! The birding symposium will include live bird demonstrations, a virtual tour of the Lewis Birding Trail, and a chance to participate in the Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) in the Garden!
What is the Great Backyard Bird Count all about? The GBBC is an annual four-day Citizen Science event that engages bird watchers of all ages in counting birds to create a real-time snapshot of where the birds are across the continent. Bird populations are dynamic, and always in flux. The Great Backyard Bird Count for Winter Bird Migration is a way to gather observations of many birds in one fell swoop. This research is important to birds’ populations, their ranges, and which species are experiencing diseases. Plus, it’s easy! Come join the Garden on Saturday, February 17, to tally the number of birds you see! The Great Backyard Bird Count is sponsored in part by Wild Birds Unlimited, the Cornel Lab of Ornithology and the Audubon Society.
Winter days provide pleasant opportunities for viewing migrating birds in the Garden. Many bird species, some in large flocks of 30 to 200 birds, enter the Garden’s natural environment along the Lewis Birding Trail throughout the day. Species that have found refuge in the Garden for feeding and watering include Cedar Waxwings, American Robins, House Finches, European Starlings, Red-wing Blackbirds, American Goldfinches, Pine Siskins, Mourning Doves, and Common Grackles. Other avian visitors in smaller groups included Eastern Bluebirds, Ruby-crowned and Golden-crowned Kinglets, Dark-eyed Juncos, White-throated Sparrows, Yellow-rumped Warblers and Carolina Chickadees, and Belted Kingfisher. The Garden provides a serene winter birding experience.
Stay tuned for more bird related programs and events throughout 2018, The Year of the Bird!