Great Blue Heron

“A true conservationist is a man who knows that the world is not given by his fathers, but borrowed from his children.”

~John James Audubon (1785-1851), American scientist

(Quote Source: brainyquote.com)

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A great blue heron flies gracefully across a Minnesota lake as the sun dips lower into the horizon.

Rice Lake National Wildlife Refuge

“Whatever we are waiting for – peace of mind, contentment, grace, the inner awareness of simple abundance – it will surely come to us, but only when we are ready to receive it with an open and grateful heart.”

~ Sarah Ban Breathnach (1947- ), American author

(Quote Source: brainyquote.com)

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A swan flies over the wild rice beds of the Rice Lake National Wildlife Refuge located in McGregor, Minnesota.

To learn more about the refuge, please visit their website.

 

 

Learning

“Face it. We’re all ignorant. But there’s a big difference between not knowing anything about, say, astrophysics, and not knowing anything about the natural world we inhabit. The sad fact is, when it comes to nature, the average American is clueless about some very basic stuff.

For example, a recent poll taken at the National Zoo in Washington, DC, revealed that over 75% of their visitors did not know the purpose of pollination.”

~ Andy Wasowski, Native Gardens for Dry Climates

(Quote Source: October 24, 1997 interview as posted on loe.org.  See link at:  http://loe.org/shows/segments.html?programID=97-P13-00043&segmentID=6)

Honey-Bee-Sedum

(Honey bee on sedum plant)

I am grateful to people that blog.  I appreciate their courage and commitment to the sharing of ideas, experiences, creativity, research, and thoughts with the rest of the world.  I have learned so much in the last year.  Thank you!

 

Compassionate Viewpoint

“But, to love nature and to hate humanity is illogical. Humanity is part of the whole. To truly love the world is also to love human ingenuity and playfulness. Nature does not need to be cleansed of human artifacts to be beautiful or coherent. Yes, we should be less greedy, untidy, wasteful, and shortsighted. But let us not turn responsibility into self-hatred. Our biggest failing is, after all, lack of compassion for the world. Including ourselves.”

~ David George Haskell,  The Forest Unseen

(Quote Source: goodreads.com)

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I took this photo in 2014 of a ranch in Wyoming — a setting that seemed such a lovely representation of humans working with and for nature.

Please Don’t Pick the Trilliums

“God has sown his name on the heavens in glittering stars; but on earth he planteth His name by tender flowers.”

~ Jean Paul Richter, (1763-1825) German Romantic writer

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This lovely white flower with just three petals on a single stem is known as the Large-flowered Trillium (Trillium grandiflorum).  It can be found in the woodlands of Minnesota and I am lucky enough to have quite a few growing on my property.  Because picking even a part of the plant can kill the whole thing, trilliums are considered quite fragile.  In addition, this plant is slow to establish, taking years to flower.

Large-flowered trilliums are also sensitive to changes in their environment, so they can be good indicators of the health of a forest. Trillium populations have been on the decline, primarily because of soil disturbance, the loss of soil organic matter from non-native earthworms, buckthorn invasion, and overgrazing by deer.  Consequently, Minnesota and many other states have laws to restrict the collection of trilliums. In Minnesota it is illegal to remove trilliums from public land or another person’s property without the owner’s consent.

(Source: http://www.bwsr.state.mn.us/news/webnews/may2014/5.pdf)

eBird

“The Internet is becoming the town square for the global village of tomorrow.”

~ Bill Gates (1955- ) Co-founder of Microsoft

AS4A9706-1(Red-tailed hawk gliding over cornfields on a day in spring.)

As a nature-lover I am interested in supporting efforts that are beneficial to our natural world.  Recently I have spent some time acquainting myself with a site called eBird.   Sponsored by groups such as the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society, eBird is a real-time, online checklist program that has revolutionized the way that the birding community reports and accesses information about birds.

By joining the site you can:

  • Record the birds you see
  • Keep track of your bird lists
  • Explore dynamic maps and graphs
  • Share your sightings and join the eBird community
  • Contribute to science and conservation

The use of this global tool is absolutely free.  I’m having fun with it and encourage others with an interest in birds to explore this site as well.

Feed the Birds!

“Learning is not compulsory…neither is survival.”

~Dr. W. Edwards Deming (1900-1993) American scholar, statistician, and teacher

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(Pictured above are ducks migrating through my area: a male Ring-necked duck and four Hooded Mergansers.)

What is it about some birds that compel them to migrate?  Once they begin their journey, how do they know when it is time to stop?  How do they know when it is time to return?  Scientists continue to study and learn about this phenomenon!

Here are a few facts that I found interesting about bird migration:

  1.  At least 4,000 species of bird are regular migrants, which is about 40 percent of the total number of birds in the world. (Although this number will likely increase as we learn more about the habits of birds in tropical regions.)–Audubon.org.
  2. The Bar-tailed Godwit can fly for nearly 7,000 miles without stopping, making it the bird with the longest recorded non-stop flight.  During the eight-day journey, the bird doesn’t stop for food or rest–Audubon.org.
  3. Hawks, swifts, swallows and waterfowl migrate primarily during the day, while many songbirds migrate at night, in part to avoid the attention of migrating predators such as raptors. The cooler, calmer air at night also makes migration more efficient for many species, while those that migrate during the day most often take advantage of solar-heated thermal currents for easy soaring–birding.about.com.
  4. The ruby-throated hummingbird migrates from the Yucatan peninsula of Mexico to the southeastern United States every spring, a journey of 500-600 miles over the Caribbean Sea that takes 24 hours without a break–birding.about.com.
  5. Migrating birds face many threats along their journeys, including window collisions, confusing lights that disrupt navigation, hunting, habitat loss and predation. Juvenile birds are at greater risk because of their inexperience with migration – yet somehow, birds successfully migrate every year–birding.about.com.

So, consider putting out and keeping full a bird feeder and/or bird bath in the spring and the fall.  There are some tired and hungry birds traveling at these times of year!

Nature and Children

“If a child is to keep his inborn sense of wonder, he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement, and mystery of the world we live in.”

~Rachel Carson (American marine biologist and conservationist whose book, Silent Spring, and other writings are credited with advancing the global environmental movement.)

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Putting up a bird feeder with your children is an excellent way to nurture a love of nature within them — especially at this time of year!

Consider the Next Generation

“There is a delight in the hardy life of the open. There are no words that can tell the hidden spirit of the wilderness that can reveal its mystery, its melancholy and its charm. The nation behaves well if it treats the natural resources as assets which it must turn over to the next generation increased and not impaired in value. Conservation means development as much as it does protection.”

~ Theodore Roosevelt, President of the United States

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I took this photo in Theodore Roosevelt National Park in the fall of 2014.  If you are ever passing through North Dakota, I believe it is worth a visit!

Aging in Nature

Youth is the gift of nature, but age is a work of art.

~Stanislaw Jerzy Lec, (1909-1966) Polish poet

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All across the United States there are beautiful old structures that have withstood the elements of nature and the test of time. Even in their various states of decay such architecture still provides interest to the landscape, protection to local wildlife, and a reason for pause and reflection regarding man’s use of our planet’s natural resources throughout history.

Grateful for the Sighting

When I was a kid growing up in the 1960s, seeing a Bald Eagle in the wild was a rare thing indeed.  Yesterday I went outside to play with my dog and was treated to this beautiful sight!  A Bald Eagle was hunting over my neighborhood in the suburbs of Minneapolis.

Today I am grateful to all those caring folks whose commitment to conservation is so unwavering.  To watch this magnificent raptor glide and soar so gracefully across the sky was an awesome experience — one which I do not take for granted.  It is my heartfelt hope that this generation as well as those of the future continue to protect and celebrate the natural world which surrounds us.  I sure am thrilled with the results that have been achieved thus far.  Thanks so much!

Turkey Day is coming!

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Wild Turkeys are numerous and their populations have increased sharply since 1966, according to the North American Breeding Survey.  They live year-round in open forests with interspersed clearings in 49 states (excluding Alaska), parts of Mexico, and parts of southern Alberta, Ontario, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan, Canada.  In the early twentieth century people tried unsuccessfully to use farm turkeys for restoring wild populations, but in the late 1940s they began to successfully transplant wild-caught turkeys into suitable habitat.

No other game bird has responded so well to the efforts of game managers. The birds are popular among hunters; the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimates 21 percent of all U.S. hunters (about 2.5 million people) pursue turkey, making it the second most-sought game after deer. Their expanding populations have made it possible for hunting seasons to be put in place in all 49 states in their range. (Source: allaboutbirds.org)

Isn’t this a handsome group of turkeys just strolling down the road?

Future Generations

“If future generations are to remember us with gratitude rather than contempt, we must leave them more than the miracles of technology. We must leave them a glimpse of the world as it was in the beginning, not just after we got through with it.”

~ President Lyndon B. Johnson, upon signing the Wilderness Act of 1964

The Most Important Resource

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Other than cropping, I have not retouched this photo in any way.  When I first uploaded it to my computer I was astounded at just how blue the water appeared.  This shot is of a lake that I occasionally visit.  I took it in October.  Perhaps the cool fall weather and the angle of the sun has something to do this vibrant blue color?  I’m not sure, but I did love the result. I could sit on the shores of a lake for hours watching its movement, the change in the skies above it, the stages of the sun crossing it, and the animals and birds that live around it.  Living in the state with 10,000 lakes has certainly made me appreciative of lakes and the ecosystems they support.  Water is so precious to life.

In February of 2015, National Geographic magazine published a special issue focused on the subject of water.  I learned from this issue that the primary way all of us will experience climate change will be through the water cycle — droughts, floods, depleted rivers, shrinking reservoirs, dried-out soils, melting glaciers, loss of snowpack and overall shortages of water to grow our food and supply our cities.  I decided I wanted to make a positive difference, so I took a quiz that the magazine offered. I learned a few things about myself and hope to make some changes in my daily life to conserve water.  If you are interested in taking the quiz too, here is the link to it:

http://environment.nationalgeographic.com/environment/freshwater/change-the-course/water-footprint-calculator/

As always, I thank you for stopping by!

Birds Matter

“Birds are important because they keep systems in balance: they pollinate plants, disperse seeds, scavenge carcasses and recycle nutrients back into the earth. But they also feed our spirits, marking for us the passage of the seasons, moving us to create art and poetry, inspiring us to flight and reminding us that we are not only on, but of, this earth.”

~Melanie Driscoll, Director of bird conservation for the Gulf of Mexico and the Mississippi Flyway

White-Throated Sparrow
White-Throated Sparrow