Buildings, landmarks and monuments are turning off lights to prevent fatal impacts as birds set off on spring migration.
Published April 10, 2021Updated April 12, 2021
Dozens of American cities are being transformed this spring, enveloped in darkness as the lights that usually brighten up their skylines are turned off at night to prevent birds from fatal impacts during their annual migrations.
Each year, an estimated 365 million to one billion birds die by smacking into reflective or transparent windows in deadly cases of mistaken identity, believing the glass to be unimpeded sky.
“These birds are dying right in front of their eyes,” said Connie Sanchez, the bird-friendly buildings program manager for the National Audubon Society, which for two decades has asked cities to dim their lights from about mid-March through May, and again in the fall, under its Lights Out initiative.
Since late last year, at least six cities have joined forces with the 35 other places where the society, local organizations, ornithology experts and some of the nation’s largest companies have been helping birds navigate in urban centers. The efforts are gaining ground in cities including Chicago, Houston and New York City, which are among the top 10 in the United States for light pollution.
Cities from Dallas to Philadelphia take part.
The timing of the lights-out campaign varies based on location. In Texas, whose coastal lands are the first that birds encounter after they cross the Gulf of Mexico, buildings will go dark in Dallas from mid-March through May. In Fort Worth, at least 11 of the city’s most prominent buildings will dim their lights from midnight to 6 a.m. through May 31.
In Jacksonville, Fla., where migration started in mid-March, building owners and managers are examining data from volunteers who walk the city, collecting carcasses and documenting where birds have fallen.
Buildings in Philadelphia have also joined the nationwide effort, a step that experts hope will help to avoid a repeat of the deaths of more than 1,000 birds last October, an event reported by The Philadelphia Inquirer as one of the largest such avian fatalities in decades.
Finding dead birds, and what killed them.
Bird populations are already imperiled by climate change, habitat loss and cats. Turning lights out at night can mitigate one more risk to their lives, experts say.
But before a city knows if a lights-out campaign will work, it first has to know how many birds it might help. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology has used radar data to identify abnormal bird densities. In some cities, the approach is old-fashioned shoe leather.
Three days a week, at about 7 a.m., volunteers hit the streets of Jacksonville, Fla., peering into shrubs or searching the bases of the city’s tallest buildings. In the week of March 14, they found two warblers and a dove. The tiny bodies were put into bags and handed over to the zoo for analysis.
Then the business of forensics begins. As in any cause of death investigation, clues must be extracted from their surroundings. In the case of birds, the only certainties are flight, gravity and thin air.
Moments after a fatal impact, birds plummet to sidewalks, drop onto high-rise ledges inaccessible to the public, or sink into bushes on private land until discovered there inexplicably dead, throwing the possible answers to the who, what, when and where of their deaths into disarray.
Sometimes, stunned by the impact, they keep flying before they fall, making the place of their original blow difficult to trace. Often, cleaning crews sweep up carcasses before the volunteers can document them.
Mike Taylor, a curator at the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens, who works with the volunteers, said cats will also get to the birds. “We don’t know if they caught the bird, or just took advantage of this free meal that fell to the ground in front of them,” he said.
Last October in Philadelphia, an estimated 1,000 to 1,500 birds in one night flew into buildings in a radius of just over three blocks of Center City, possibly because of a low ceiling of bad weather that interfered with migrating birds from Canada, Maine, New York and elsewhere toward Central and South America, The Inquirer reported.
After the event, Audubon Mid-Atlantic, the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, the Delaware Valley Ornithological Club and two other local Audubon chapters formed a coalition to tackle the problem.
The response has been “extremely robust” among the city’s iconic properties, said Kristine A. Kiphorn, the executive director of the Building Owners and Managers Association in Philadelphia. Comcast, One and Two Liberty Place and the Wells Fargo Center are among the 30 buildings that have so far signed up to go dark this spring.
“We feel it makes ethical, ecological and economic sense,” she said.
Flip a switch, save a life.
Bird strikes against buildings have been recorded for decades in Philadelphia. The first recorded window kills date back to the 1890s, when City Hall was lit up, said Nate Rice, the ornithology collection manager at Drexel’s Academy of Natural Sciences. Dr. Rice said the academy’s database now has 823 specimens that have been identified as window strikes in Philadelphia.
“If we can generalize, say, ‘Let’s keep lights out or at a minimum during peak migration time,’ this can have an impact on wild bird populations,” he said.
Modern architecture has accelerated the problem as sky-piercing, reflective structures are illuminated at night.
Birds use stellar navigation, and twinkling lights, especially on overcast nights, can confuse them, leading them to fly in circles instead of proceeding along their route. Others drop exhausted to the ground, at risk of predators, cars or smacking into glass when they take wing again. Some crash into buildings if they see a plant in the window or a tree reflected in the glass.
Many buildings do more than flip a switch. Some use glass with patterns to help birds differentiate between open sky and a deadly, transparent wall.
And in St. Louis, exterior lights at the Gateway Arch landmark are turned off at night to avoid disorienting birds during migration in the first two weeks of May, when warblers and other birds fly from Canada to Central and South America.
With the help of volunteers who are canvassing for bird bodies, the local Audubon chapter is preparing to introduce a formal Lights Out program for the city.
“We wanted to see what areas of downtown are causing problems to birds,” Jean Favara, the vice president of conservation at the St. Louis Audubon Society, said. “I hope by 2024 we will have 30 to 34 buildings enrolled, and we can go from there.”
DENVER— The U.S. District Court of Colorado has ruled that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service violated the law by funding a Colorado Parks and Wildlife plan to kill hundreds of mountain lions and dozens of black bears without properly analyzing the risks to those animals’ populations and the rest of the environment.
In response to a lawsuit brought by conservation groups, the court ruled that the Service violated the National Environmental Policy Act by agreeing to fund the project using federal money without completing its own environmental analysis. Further, the court found the environmental analysis the Service tried to rely upon, completed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, did not adequately analyze the impacts of killing black bears and mountain lions under the plans.
“On behalf of the majority of Coloradans who support coexistence with native carnivores, WildEarth Guardians applauds the court for recognizing the substantial environmental impact that these killing ‘studies’ impose on native wildlife in the state,” said Lindsay Larris, wildlife program director at WildEarth Guardians. “These studies threatened local ecosystems by the extermination of entire populations of bears and lions in these regions, a fact that the Service completely ignored. We hope this ruling ensures that the Service will carefully consider all funding requests for wildlife ‘studies’ long into the future.”
The multi-year plans to kill black bears and mountain lions in the Piceance Basin and Upper Arkansas River areas of Colorado were intended to artificially boost the mule deer population for hunters, where habitat had been degraded by oil and gas drilling. But overwhelming scientific evidence shows that killing native carnivores does not boost prey populations. The killing plans were hatched and approved by Colorado Parks and Wildlife in 2016 and funded by the Service in 2017 despite overwhelming public opposition, and over the objection of leading conservation biologists’ voices.
“This ruling immediately halts the use of taxpayer dollars for the slaughter of Colorado’s mountain lions,” said Andrea Zaccardi, a senior attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity. “I’m so pleased that the court put a stop to this scientifically baseless study that needlessly targeted Colorado’s ecologically important, native carnivores.”
The court agreed that the Fish and Wildlife Service failed to consider the many substantial environmental harms that were likely to result from the plans, such as the harm to the local ecosystem caused by these killings and the suffering and deaths of orphaned cubs and kittens.
“Persecuting bears and mountain lions in this way is not only incredibly cruel to these highly-sentient, social beings who spend years raising their dependent young, but it is also environmentally destructive,” said Laura Smythe, a staff attorney with the Humane Society of the United States. “These inhumane wildlife killing plans left cubs orphaned, who likely died from starvation, dehydration, predation or exposure. Intensive trophy hunting and killing of mountain lions leads to increased conflicts with humans, pets and livestock. The federal government had no business funding this completely unnecessary state-sponsored slaughter.”
The Piceance Basin Plan has been completed but the Upper Arkansas River Plan is ongoing and will be halted as a result of this ruling.
Background: Started in 2017, the Upper Arkansas River Plan was approved to last nine years, during which time Colorado Parks and Wildlife would kill more than 50% of the mountain lion population in the area. Colorado expected the killing of up to 234 mountain lions would cost nearly $4 million, 75 percent of which would be federally funded with taxpayers’ money.
Mountain lions and black bears are critical to their native ecosystems. Mountain lion predation provides food for more bird and mammal scavengers than that of any other predator on the planet. Black bears’ diverse diet of fruits results in broad dispersion of seeds, and their foraging behavior creates disturbances that allow sunlight to reach plants below the forest canopy.
Spring migration, one of nature’s greatest annual journeys, is underway as billions of migratory birds leave their wintering grounds and head north toward seasonal food sources and favorite nesting spots.
But this high-endurance pilgrimage isn’t without danger. Outdoor cats, poorly placed communication towers, unforgiving and — to birds — invisible glass surfaces, and pesticide-laced plants all await. Add to that an ongoing crisis of habitat loss and it’s no mystery why so many birds fail to reach their destinations during spring migration.
The good news is that all of us can take steps to make migration a little safer. Even better, many of these activities are simple, free, and require only a few minutes. To get started, have a look at our staff’s top 10 suggestions — and find the solutions that work for you.
10. Paint a Window Warning
“Hundreds of millions of birds in the U.S. die from hitting glass every year – almost half of those on home windows. Luckily, there are many ways to make your windows safe for birds. One of my favorite methods is applying tempera paint to the outside surface of glass. Tempera is nontoxic, cheap, easy to use (and remove) and amazingly long lasting — even in rain. If you’re short on time, using a sponge is a good way to make a quick pattern. With a little more effort, you can create spring-themed designs or even small works of art depicting your favorite birds; either will help prevent collisions. Remember: Whatever kind of design you use, make sure your lines are no more than two inches apart to help smaller birds avoid collisions.”
Chris Sheppard – Bird Collisions Campaign Director
9. Support the Laws that Migratory Birds Can’t Live Without
“The Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) is one of the most important pieces of legislation affecting birds in the U.S. But a new government position asserts that the MBTA does not address unintentional harm that industrial activities cause to birds, effectively letting business off the hook. This move will have a negative impact on bird populations and hurt bird conservation, but that’s not all. It also puts our public heritage as the owners and stewards of our nation’s birds at risk. You can help protect this important law by signing ABC’s online petition.”
David Wiedenfeld – Senior Conservation Scientist
8. Protect Birds from Cats
“Cats are lovable pets, but they’re also instinctive predators. One cat alone may kill up to 55 birds each year. It all adds up! So keep your cat on a leash or in an enclosure to protect migratory birds (and keep your cat safe, too). Don’t have a cat? You can still support bird-friendly practices in your community by encouraging the passage of local ordinances mandating responsible pet ownership. Learn more about other simple actions you can take to protect birds on our Cats Indoors page.”
Grant Sizemore – Director of Invasive Species Programs
7. Make Your Yard a Bird Paradise For Spring Migration
“I’ve packed my quarter-acre lot in suburban Maryland with dozens of the same native plant species you might see in nearby woods. There’s a “mini meadow” of asters, goldenrods, and native grasses and a tiny woodland of native viburnums, hollies, and other berry-producing shrubs that birds love. But the most important way I support my local birdlife is by learning to love insects. Even seed-eating birds can’t live without insects, since their nestlings need protein-rich caterpillars to thrive. My yard is a “pesticide-free zone” and I prioritize plants that support the most insect species, using Douglas Tallamy’s research on plant-insect interactions as a guide. Some of them, like wild cherry , feed more than 450 species of moths and butterflies in the mid-Atlantic region.”
Clare Nielsen – Vice President of Communications
6. Communicate with Communication Tower Owners
“Roughly 7 million birds die every year in North America from collisions with communication towers. Many of these deaths are caused by towers’ steady burning lights, which attract birds. The simple solution is to use flashing lights as they pose little danger to birds. But sometimes owners need to hear from concerned citizens before making the switch. Giving them a nudge is now easier with the release of the new SongbirdSaver app. The app identifies potentially dangerous communication towers near you and provides contact information for their owners. And because SongbirdSaver can pinpoint towers along common migration routes, spring is a great time to get started.”
Steve Holmer – Vice President of Policy
5. Stamp Your Approval on Spring Migration
“I purchase a Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp, or “Duck Stamp,” every year to support conservation funding and support bird conservation. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 98 cents of every dollar spent purchasing Federal Duck Stamps is used to acquire and protect habitat or purchase conservation easements. These efforts support not just migratory waterfowl, but other migratory birds as well.”
Conor Marshall – Associate, Communications, Policy and Operations
4. Keep Your Woods Wild
“You can provide habitat for birds during spring migration by letting things around the house get a little messy. I have a wooded backyard, so I try to leave it as natural as possible. I let the understory grow and pull invasive plants such as Japanese stiltgrass and garlic mustard. I leave logs and fallen branches in place to shelter insects and other small critters that birds feed on. When larger trees break or fall, I leave them be — as long as they’re not hanging over the roof. This gives snag-nesting migrants like Great Crested Flycatcher places to nest — as along with year-round residents like Eastern Screech-owl and Downy, Hairy, Pileated, and Red-bellied Woodpeckers — and is a nice source of grubs and other bird food.”
Gemma Radko – Communications and Media Manager
3. Give Beach-nesting Birds a Break
“As temperatures rise, many of us begin heading to the beach. And we’re not alone: this is a critical time for several migratory species — I’m thinking of Black Skimmers, Snowy Plovers and Least Terns — that lay their eggs in the sand and are particularly vulnerable. One of the biggest challenges they face are unleashed dogs. Our team in the Gulf Coast region team has seen loose dogs eat eggs and take chicks. This is a big problem considering that nearly all of these birds have declining populations. The obvious solution is to leash dogs. As our team likes to say, ‘Bird-friendly beaches have dogs on leashes!’”
Kacy L. Ray – Gulf Conservation Program Manager
2. Fuel a Hungry Hummingbird
“Put out those hummingbird feeders during spring migration — the hummers are arriving. Be sure to use a mixture of four parts water to one part sugar. And do without the dye: Red dyes serve no purpose. Most hummingbird feeders already have enough color on them to attract hummingbirds, and, even worse, these dyes contain petroleum that may be harmful to hummingbirds. Don’t forget to change the mixture often to be sure it’s fresh and safe for those super-charged flying jewels.”
EJ Williams – Vice President, Migratory Birds & Habitats
1. Inspire a Future Bird Conservationist
“I have younger nieces and nephews in Wisconsin, and when I visit them during spring migration, I like to make sure they get outside, where I can introduce them to birds: Mr. Blue Jay. Mr. Cardinal, Mrs. Common Yellowthroat. Introducing birds to kids at a young age can instill a desire to explore the natural world. And that’s only one benefit. It also helps children bond with wildlife and develop an environmental ethic that will, hopefully, remain with them for the rest of their lives. I’m hoping one of my nieces or nephews will be the John Muir of 2030!”
Every 15 minutes, an elephant is killed for its tusks. The entire wild species could go extinct as early as 2025. The ivory market is to blame.
President Obama has a plan. But there are loopholes. Currently, California ivory dealers can still legally sell elephant ivory because of one loophole: intentional mislabeling. Elephant ivory is being passed off as wooly mammoth, cow bone, etc.
The United States and California matter.
After China, the United States is the second largest ivory consumer.
After New York, California — particularly Los Angeles and San Francisco — has the second largest ivory market in the country. California also facilities the international export of ivory.
According to a Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) press release, http://www.nrdc.org/media/2015/150107a.asp investigations revealed that there are 100 ivory vendors and the Bay Area sells 1,200 ivory items.And this isn’t exactly legal ivory.
Los Angeles’ ivory:
— Between 77 – 90 percent of the ivory seen was likely illegal under California law
— Between 47 – 60 percent could have been illegal under federal law
San Francisco’s ivory:
— Roughly 80 percent of the ivory was likely illegal under California law
— 52 percent could have been illegal under federal law
But there’s a way to close the loophole.
San Diego’s Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins has proposed Assembly Bill 96 — the bill would ban all sales of material resembling ivory animals, including: elephants, wooly mammoths, wart hogs and whales. Atkins believes we can save thousands of elephants (and endangered rhinos, for that matter) by closing this loophole and closing the ivory market in California for good.
Completely devoid of ethics, wildlife killing contests are organized events in which participants compete for prizes by attempting to kill the most animals over a certain time period. It’s a disgusting practice in which the winners are rewarded for piling up the most or biggest animals or even killing the most different kinds of species. This rule would only ban contests for coyotes specifically and would not change general hunting laws.
They also send the message that animals, like coyotes, are disposable, killing them only for fun is OK and life is cheap. These wildlife killing contests disrupt natural processes and may also put threatened or endangered species in peril. Clearly, they have no place in 21st century humane, science-based wildlife management.
The good news is that seven states—Washington, Arizona, New Mexico, California, Vermont, Massachusetts, and Colorado—have already banned or severely restricted coyote killing contests. Now we have an opportunity to end these killing competitions in Oregon.
Excluding seldom-seen vagrant species, eight New World oriole species occur in the United States (see list below). Thanks to their distinctive orange-and-black or yellow-and-black plumage, orioles are fairly easy to identify. And because they inhabit large portions of the country — and occasionally visit feeders — many Americans are familiar with these colorful birds.
Despite their relative abundance, most North American orioles are in decline, some steeply. The Baltimore Oriole, for example, has experienced a 42-percent population decline in the last 50 years; the Audubon’s Oriole has been added to Partners in Flight’s (PIF’s) Yellow Watch List (an indicator of conservation concern); and the Altamira Oriole, which numbers fewer than 500 in Texas, has been listed as “threatened” in the state by the Texas Organization for Endangered Species.
The alphabetical list below includes all orioles, both migratory and resident, that breed regularly in the continental United States. The PIF population and conservation data we use is exclusive to the United States and Canada. (Note that only three listed species reach Canada: Baltimore, Bullock’s, and Orchard.) As a result, population estimates shown here do not reflect total numbers for orioles with parts of their breeding ranges in Mexico and Central America. We have included one exotic species on our list, the Spot-breasted Oriole, which has been established in the U.S. for more than 70 years, and we have omitted several vagrant species that rarely visit.
U.S. Population Estimate: <500 Population Trend: Unknown Habitat: Dry forest and brush near Rio Grande Threats: Habitat loss Note: Although most of the Altamira Oriole’s range lies south of the U.S. border, it can be found in the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas. The Texas Organization for Endangered Species lists the species as “threatened” within the state; however, the Altamira Oriole is still considered common in the southern parts of its range.
U.S. Population Estimate: <5,000 Population Trend: Overall trend unknown; decreasing in the U.S. Habitat: Dry forest and brush Threats: Brood parasitism, habitat loss and fragmentation Note: Formerly known as the Black-headed Oriole, Audubon’s Oriole is the only oriole species in the New World to sport a black hood with a yellow or orange back. Conservation concerns have led PIF to add Audubon’s Oriole to its Yellow Watch List.
U.S./Canada Population Estimate: 12,000,000 Population Trend: Decreasing Habitat: Open eastern deciduous forest Threats: Habitat loss Note: Like most oriole species, Baltimore Orioles build hanging nests by weaving an assortment of fibers, including hairs and grasses. The nests, which take one to two weeks to construct, are lined with feathers and downy fibers. Baltimore Oriole populations have decreased by 42 percent over the last 50 years.
U.S./Canada Population Estimate: 6,500,000 Population Trend: Decreasing Habitat: Open western deciduous forest Threats: Habitat loss, possibly pesticide use Note: Bullock’s Oriole enjoy a varied diet, including insects, fruit, and even nectar from agaves and other flowers. They can occasionally be found sipping from hummingbird feeders. Populations of the Bullock’s Oriole have decreased 22 percent over the last 50 years.
U.S. Population Estimate: 350,000 Population Trend: Increasing Habitat: Open woods and brush Threats: Localized brood parasitism by Brown-headed and Bronzed CowbirdsNote: Hooded Orioles, which tend to nest in palm trees, have expanded their range northward, following the introduction of ornamental palms in residential areas. They can now be found as far north as Arcata, California.
U.S./Canada Population Estimate: 10,000,000 Population Trend: Decreasing Habitat: Open woods and brush Threats: Habitat loss, brood parasitism Note: The smallest of North American orioles, Orchard Orioles have a noted tolerance for other birds. In areas of favored habitat, multiple Orchard Oriole pairs will sometimes nest in a single tree. They are also known to nest in close proximity to Baltimore Orioles, American Robins, and Chipping Sparrows, among others. Orchard Oriole populations have decreased 23 percent over the last 50 years.
U.S. Population Estimate: 1,600,000 Population Trend: Decreasing Habitat: Varied open, arid habitats Threats: Habitat loss and fragmentation Note: Although most birds avoid eating Monarch butterflies due to toxins ingested by the milkweed-eating insects, Scott’s Oriole and several other bird species have learned to prey upon them by eating the abdomens of less-noxious individuals. Populations of the Scott’s Oriole have decreased by 29 percent over the last 50 years.
U.S. Population Estimate: Unknown Population Trend: Increasing Habitat: Lushly planted suburban areas in South Florida Threats: Severe winter freezes, habitat loss and fragmentationNote: Native to southern Mexico and Central America, Spot-breasted Orioles were introduced in the U.S. more than 70 years ago. The birds are now found in areas between Miami and West Palm Beach. They nest in human-altered landscapes with an abundance of flowering and fruiting ornamental trees and shrubs, including suburban yards and golf courses.
Moments ago, New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham signed into law a bill banning traps, snares, and poisons on public lands across New Mexico.
The new law—called “Roxy’s Law” in honor of a dog who was strangled to death in a neck snare on public lands in 2018—will save untold numbers of native wildlife, including bobcats, swift foxes, badgers, beavers, ermine, coyotes, and Mexican gray wolves. It also will protect recreationists and our companion animals from cruel and indiscriminate traps, snares, and poisons on public lands across the Land of Enchantment.
This monumental victory for wildlife and public lands would not have been possible without you! You wrote letters, made phone calls, shared action alerts with your friends and networks, and generously supported our campaign. Thank you!
We also want to thank all of our partner organizations in the TrapFree New Mexico coalition who have collaborated with us for years to ensure that the cruel decimation of wildlife populations via traps, snares, and poisons ceases on public lands.
A few weeks ago, when Roxy’s Law passed the New Mexico Legislature, the National Trappers Association said this on social media: “The trappers of New Mexico are on the brink of losing trapping. They are doing so because their opponents started the process 10 years ago and have been relentless. This is a 365 day a year conquest for them.”
While “conquest” is a word I would reserve to describe the infinite killing of native wildlife for private profit, the rest rings true.
Thousands and thousands of Guardians like you have been working relentlessly for years to make public lands safer, to protect native wildlife, to better society’s relationship with wildness and nature, and to erase the paradigm of killing wildlife for fun and money.
So, join me in celebrating today’s huge milestone for wildlife and public lands, and rest assured that working together—and with your generous support—we will have more victories like this to celebrate in the near future.
Chuck-will’s-widow belongs to a family of birds with the folk name “goatsuckers.” The family name, Caprimulgidae, literally means “milker of goats” and is based on an ancient belief that the birds milked goats with their enormous mouths each night.
In reality, the birds’ attraction to livestock was likely due to the presence of insects. Chuck-will’s-widow forages at dusk and dawn, silently swooping over the ground in search of prey. Specialized feathers known as rictal bristles help funnel insects into the bird’s mouth, which is so large that they may occasionally swallow small birds and bats as well!
The “chuck” is the largest nightjar in North America and is almost entirely nocturnal. During the day, the birds roost along tree branches or on the ground, where their beautifully mottled brown plumage provides perfect camouflage against dried leaves and tree bark.
Chuck-will’s-widow and chicks by Dick-Snell
Chuck-will’s-widows do not build nests, instead laying their eggs on the ground among dead leaves, pine needles, or on bare dirt. Incubating adults are almost invisible against the forest floor and only flush off their nests when closely approached.
Since they have a highly insectivorous diet, Chuck-will’s-widows are impacted by pesticide use. They are sometimes killed by cars when they land on roads at night to pick up grit. Habitat loss on both breeding and wintering grounds is also a continual threat.
This nightjar winters in lowland forests throughout the Caribbean, Mexico, and Central America, where it shares habitat with Wood Thrush, Kentucky and Prothonotary warblers, and Painted Bunting. Chuck-will’s-widow is benefiting from ABC’s efforts to “bring back the birds” in these areas, with our focus on conserving geographically linked habitats both north and south.
Whale and dolphin watching tours are a fantastic alternative to seeing captive dolphins under inhumane conditions in marine parks and dolphinariums. When responsibly conducted, eco-tours play a huge role in inspiring people to love and cherish wild dolphins, and in turn be inspired to help protect them. The benefits of responsible marine mammal-based ecotourism span from a better appreciation of the marine wildlife to supporting local economies, especially in developing countries in where whale and dolphin watching tours present an alternative to hunting or capturing dolphins.
It is vital to find a responsible tour operator that minimally impacts dolphins and whales, so that both you and the animals can have the best encounter. Below are tips to having the best encounters with wildlife, and letting the wildlife have the best encounter with you!
Wild orcas swimming free in Monterey Bay, California | Photo by Tracie Sugo
How do I find a responsible ecotour operator?
Responsible operators stick to local whale watching guidelines, are led by knowledgable captains and naturalists, notify the appropriate authorities when a whale is in distress and set an example of how to maneuver around marine mammals for other boaters. Oftentimes these aspects are evident on operator’s websites, or reviews of their tours posted online.
The trip should be about education, not sensation. Always remember to let whales and dolphins decide what happens; never force an interaction and keep a respectful distance appropriate for each species. Some dolphins willingly approach to surf in the pressure wave created by the bow on the front of the boat (also called “bow riding”); larger whales typically travel or forage at a distance but may occasionally approach or “mug” a vessel.
Humpback whale breaches off the coast of California | Photo by Tracie Sugo
What are some red flags to look for?
Responsible operators would never overcrowd a marine mammal; if there are too many boats around a whale or a pod of dolphins, they must be left alone. Having too many vessels around may make it difficult for the animals to travel, forage or rest; it is best not to interfere with their natural behavior.
Responsible operators would also never approach marine mammals head on, or at high speeds. Baleen whales, such as humpback, blue, minke, gray and fin whales do not have echolocation like dolphins and toothed whales do. This makes it difficult for them to anticipate a boat and put them in danger of being spooked, or worse, in danger of collision. High speeds and irresponsible driving can also potentially disturb hunting or resting pods of dolphins.
Lastly, responsible operators would never chase or harass marine mammals. If whales or dolphins do not want to be watched, they will swim away. In these cases, it is best to leave them to go as they please. Chasing them would make them expend unnecessary energy; for migrating whales who fast for long periods of time, this is quite harmful.
Is it possible to watch wild whales and dolphins from land?
In some parts of the world and during the right time of year, it is possible to see wild cetaceans from shore. Some populations either have a permanent coastal range, or come very close to land during their migration.
The growing trend for land-based whale watching is taking off big time in South Africa, Hawaii, Scotland and Norway. With zero impact on the animals, land-based whale watching is the least invasive way to watch marine wildlife. It’s also the best method for anyone who suffers from sea sickness.
The west coast of the United States has many great spots to watch gray whales as they migrate near shore from Alaska to Mexico and back again. Many areas of the world are also home to coastal populations of bottlenose dolphins that can be seen from beaches as they surf and play in breaking waves. There are many great places around the world to watch dolphins and whales from land, particularly with species that have a very coastal range.
Gray whale breach near the California coast | Photo by Tracie Sugo
Is swimming with wild dolphins a responsible alternative to captivity?
Wild spotted and bottlenose dolphins together in the Bahamas. Credit: DolphinProject.com
For some, swimming with wild dolphins can be a very attractive alternative to visiting a captive facility, but extra caution and consideration is necessary. A tour should never guarantee or promote that you can swim with dolphins, or make any physical contact with them. In fact, touching or pursuing a dolphin in the water can be considered “harassment”, which is illegal under US federal law.
In order to guarantee wild dolphin interactions, some operators have been known to feed wild pods to encourage interaction, which can be harmful to their independence, upset their digestion and health, or encourage them to approach other boats and increase the risk of a strike. Any tours that offer fish food or feeding opportunities should be avoided.
In some areas such as Hawaii, there are additional concerns that boats and tourists are disrupting sleeping pods of dolphins, which can reduce birth rates and cause additional stress. Ask a tour operator if they follow federal or local guidelines to prevent disruptions to sensitive species.
Finally, every operator should have rules of conduct and safety information regarding potential encounters of wild dolphins by swimmers. Those rules should be designed to discourage contact and protect the dolphins from unwanted interference. Wild dolphins are exactly that – wild, and they should be respected as such. Just as you would not approach a wild lion to pet it, you should treat all encounters with wild marine mammals with caution, for your safety and theirs.
Some dolphins are curious and may approach a swimmer or diver in the water, but it should always be their decision to initiate contact as well as end that encounter.
Keep in Mind Whales and Dolphins are Wild Animals
The ocean is a wild environment; we are visitors and we must respect the residents. Wildlife viewing is not always people watching wildlife; oftentimes it’s also wildlife watching people. It can bring people to tears when they make eye contact with a dolphin or whale during a close approach.
Chances are that people will always want to see dolphins and whales, and where they choose to spend their money makes a big difference. It is important to support responsible dolphin and whale watching tours because the alternative is to watch them in captivity, where cetaceans are known to suffer. As more and more people become aware of the problems of captivity, they may choose to see them wild and with that in mind, we must not overcrowd or harass marine mammals but watch them in a responsible and sustainable way. Marine mammal-based tourism, if conducted properly, can not only work, but it can work well for both people and mammals.
Marine mammals’ welfare should always remain the most important aspect of these eco-tours because, without these animals, there will be no ecotourism at all! Let’s help inspire more people to care about dolphins and help ecotourism stay responsible!
Wild common dolphin looks towards people on a whale watching boat | Photo by Tracie Sugo
In Canada, people have a three-day weekend to look forward to since Sunday is Easter and Good Friday is an official government holiday.
Queue evil leftist government.
However, if you live in Canada and you’re thinking about visiting family or friends outside of the country, even if you want to visit the United States, the head honcho Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, at an insane level, really doesn’t want you to leave the country. And the prime minister is not shy about wanting everyone to know that he is the country’s top tyrant.
On Monday night, Trudeau took to social media to push the idea of canceling any and all plans to travel outside the country for Easter weekend. He suggested that Canadians find other ways to connect with family and friends, maybe virtually touching loved ones for the second Easter in a row will be good for them.
As for any Canadians who would be stupid enough or selfish enough to go against Trudeau’s draconian “suggestions,” he reminded them of just how severe the punishment will be and how unpleasant his government can make you feel under the rules of when the stupid who left Canadian soil try to return home.
“Now is not the time to travel. If you have plans to head somewhere for the long weekend, cancel them. There are other, safer ways for you to connect with your family and friends. For those who need to travel, take note of the measures that are in place when you return to Canada:”
Now is not the time to travel. If you have plans to head somewhere for the long weekend, cancel them. There are other, safer ways for you to connect with your family and friends. For those who need to travel, take note of the measures that are in place when you return to Canada:
According to Narcity, an online media company based in Toronto, Ontario with offices in Montreal, Quebec, the travel rules were established back in January and they create all kinds of obstacles that one must surmount when trying to come home after traveling. In other words, the Trudeau government has made the process the punishment.
The prime minister was only more than happy to remind the great unwashed peasants of the government directives as an incentive to stay put.
“If you’re flying back into the country, you’ll need to show a negative PCR test result before you board the plane. When you land, you’ll need to take another PCR test. You’ll then have to wait at an approved hotel, and at your own expense, for your results to come back.”
Not just any hotel, a “government-approved” one and at your expense.
So, he is telling the people who elected him to office that it’s going to cost them a lot of money just to get back to their homes. And if their PCR tests come back negative then they will be given permission to “head home” and finish up their mandatory two-week quarantine. Isn’t that so nice of them?
Trudeau reminded Canadians that these draconian measures are not optional. If your PCR test comes back positive, you will be remanded to a “designated government facility.”
“If your results come back negative for COVID-19, you’ll be able to head home and finish your mandatory quarantine there. If your test results come back positive, you’ll need to immediately quarantine in designated government facilities. This is not optional.”
If your results come back negative for COVID-19, you’ll be able to head home and finish your mandatory quarantine there. If your test results come back positive, you’ll need to immediately quarantine in designated government facilities. This is not optional.
And if you’re Canadian and you think you’re going to bypass the highly trained border guards and their little dogs by driving a vehicle over the border instead of flying in, then you better think again missy. Travelers in that scenario must show a negative PCR test that was done within 72 hours of arriving at the border before they are even allowed to reenter the country. But then they have to go into a mandatory quarantine and take another test done, showing a negative result before they can leave quarantine.
“If you’re returning through our land border, you’ll need to show a negative PCR test result that was taken within the past 72 hours. On top of that, you’ll have to take a PCR test when you arrive – and you’ll have to take another one toward the end of your 14-day quarantine.”
If you are Canadian and this stuff bothers you, I think this is the time to remind you that your country voted for this. You guys voted Trudeau in as prime minister. It’s like in America in certain cities where the people there cry out that they are being oppressed, but you can’t call it oppression if you keep voting for it and they keep voting for it. Will Canada keep making the same mistake by electing left-wing tyrants?
So, if you came home from abroad and want to start your day again with a double-double and jelly-filled dutchie, you’d better comply and get through your quarantine, because it’s good for you whether you like it or not.
“These border measures are some of the strongest in the world – and they’re in place to keep you, your loved ones, and your community safe. For more information on what you can expect when you return to Canada and how you can get prepared, click here: travel.gc.ca/travel-covid”
These border measures are some of the strongest in the world – and they’re in place to keep you, your loved ones, and your community safe. For more information on what you can expect when you return to Canada and how you can get prepared, click here: https://t.co/7sYIgkMm3U
Four draconian wolf killing bills are incredibly close to becoming law in Montana. The bills would allow trappers to snare wolves, extend the wolf trapping season, place a bounty on wolves, and allow every individual with a wolf hunting or trapping license to kill an unlimited number of wolves, allow the use of bait while hunting or trapping wolves, permit the hunting of wolves at night on private land with the use of artificial lights or night vision scopes.
Whether you’re a Montana resident or a Montana visitor who values wolves in the wild, please sign this petition urging Montana Governor Greg Gianforte—who violated state hunting regulations when he trapped and shot a collared wolf near Yellowstone National Park in February—to veto these backward, disgraceful, and outrageous bills.
Five elephants, including a calf, have reportedly been killed in the fires started by UK soldiers in Kenya
The fires continued to rage over 8,000 acres of the Lolldaiga training area
The fire reportedly started when troops cooking a meal on a camping stove accidentally set light to dry grass
Five elephants, including a calf, have reportedly been killed in fires started by UK soldiers in Kenya, prompting an investigation by the British Army.
Officials confirmed the probe last night as the most recent of the fires continued to rage over 8,000 acres of the Lolldaiga training area.
All military exercises have been suspended while an emergency operation to put out the huge blaze continues.
Hundreds of UK troops are being deployed to fight the fire, beating back the flames on the dry scrubland. Huge blaze: The fire seen beyond military vehicles in the 8,000 acres of the Lolldaiga training area, near Nanyuki, Kenya
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Last night British and Kenyan army helicopters were pouring hundreds of tons of water on to the blaze. UK military vehicles were on standby to evacuate those living nearby.
Four adult elephants are feared to have perished in the flames on Wednesday night. They were trapped inside an area surrounded by electric fencing, which had been erected to prevent them wandering into area where British troops practice warfighting, according to local reports.
Defence chiefs are investigating the cause of the fire, which reportedly started on Wednesday when troops cooking a meal on a camping stove accidentally set light to dry grass.
The fire spread quickly but no British soldiers were injured, according to official defence sources.
A baby elephant is said to have been killed in a separate fire on a military training area in Kenya last week.African elephants similar to those who have reportedly died A British solder posted on Snapchat about a fire
In this incident Royal Military Police officers apparently set off a flare in a bid to disperse a herd of elephants. But the flare is said to have set light to a bush, trapping a calf.
The Ministry of Defence declined to comment on the reported deaths of the elephants. More than 1,000 British troops are currently taking part in military exercises in Kenya. Some have vented their frustration about the fires on social media.
One soldier wrote in a message sent via social media site Snapchat: ‘Two months in Kenya later and we’ve only got eight days left. Been good, caused a fire, killed an elephant and feel terrible about it but hey-ho, when in Rome.’ This post is believed to refer to last week’s inferno rather than the fire which is still ablaze.
The Ministry of Defence said last night: ‘We can confirm there has been a fire during a UK-led exercise in Kenya and that investigations are ongoing.
‘All personnel have been accounted for and now our priority is to urgently assist the local community if they have been impacted. We are putting our resources into containing the fire and are working closely with the Kenyan authorities to manage the situation.
‘The exercise has been paused while conditions on the ground can be fully assessed.’ It comes as both species of the African elephant were yesterday classed as endangered for the first time, according a ‘red list’ of at-risk animals by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
Most British troops on exercise in Kenya are from the 2nd Battalion, the Mercian Regiment (2 Mercs). Last week Army chiefs announced it will be axed as part of the Government’s Integrated Review of defence and security.
There are 230 military personnel permanently based in Kenya to train visiting UK troops and Kenyan forces. Most are part of the British Army Training Unit Kenya (BATUK).
I am demanding that Botswana reinstates their ban on elephant hunting. Botswana is a conservation hub and has been a beautiful success story. The elephant population in Botswana ranges form 130,000 to 160,00, the most in Africa. Botswana is home to 1/3 of the decreasing elephant population. Mokgweetsi Masisi, the president, has just lifted the ban on elephant hunting today on May 23rd 2019. This will result in large elephant culls and decrease the population quickly and quietly. We need to call for action, and be the voice elephants don’t have. Elephants are animals capable of grief and love and they mourn like humans. We cannot be the generation that lets these magnificent, prehistoric creatures, go extinct in front of our eyes. PLEASE SIGN! Every voice counts.
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katia goldberg needs your help with “Mokgweetsi Masisi: GET BOTSWANA TO REINSTATE THE BAN ON ELEPHANT HUNTING!”. Join katia and 17,164 supporters today.
The latest assessments by the IUCN highlights a broadscale decline in African elephant numbers across the continent. The number of African forest elephants fell by more than 86% over a period of 31 years, while the population of African savanna elephants decreased by at least 60% over the last 50 years, according to the assessments.
According to the Department of Wildlife and National Parks, the hunting season is scheduled to begin on April 6th in Botswana, which has the largest elephant population in the world, estimated at 130,000. One hundred hunting licenses are to be issued, including 187 that were issued during last year’s season.
Despite PresidentMokgweetsi Masisi lifting Botswana’s hunting ban last year, many animals were thankfully spared due to strict travel restrictions from COVID-19. Now that restrictions are being lifted, the government wants to resume “business as usual” to continue their cruel, archaic, and outdated industry.
In February, WANreported on the controversial auction of 170 wild elephants in Namibia, where elephant populations are estimated to be only 24,000. It is sickening that these countries continue to auction off endangered species as they inch closer to extinction. We must take action and speak out to stop these atrocities from continuing.
Please call the office of the President of Botswana to urge him to reinstate the ban on hunting at +267 365 0837 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Contact the Botswana Democratic Party at+267 395 2564
Introduced by Sen. Jennifer Boysko and Delegate Kaye Kory, the new law prohibits the sale of cosmetics tested on animals after Jan. 1, 2022.
Virginia joins California, Nevada, and Illinois, while a larger effort to ban these products federally continues to gain bipartisan support. Animal testing involves cruel and inhumane procedures, such as dripping shampoo into rabbits’ eyes although the animals don’t have tear ducts to wash out the irritating product, and feeding mice enough of a cosmetic until they die to determine a “lethal dose.”
Cosmetic animal testing started during the 1940s as the only “realistic” technology for testing makeup on human skin, but experts now consider it ineffective and outdated, CBS 19 reported. Some research bodies– including the Center for Contemporary Sciences (CCS) — are shifting completely away from animal testing due to both the cruelty involved and the problematic differences between animal and human genetic makeups.
“Greater than 90 percent of drugs and vaccines fail in human clinical trials, despite showing signs of safety and efficacy in animal and traditional laboratory tests,” said CCS’s Director of Science and Technology Jarrod Bailey. “We, therefore, need, urgently, to shift the focus of biomedical research and testing away from animals and towards hi-tech, cutting-edge human-based methods.”
Unfortunately, there are exceptions to the ban, including pharmaceutical products that are cosmetic in nature but are officially classified as drugs — serving as a reminder that there is a lot more work to do to end animal testing.
Nevertheless, this new law marks a tremendous step forward in the fight against animal cruelty.
Lemons and limes have endless uses, not just for eating or flavoring! People store lemons and limes in a few different kind of ways. I have the perfect lemon and lime storage hack that will help keep your lemons fresh and wrinkle-free! Let me show you how to store lemon and lime for 3 months!!!
Buying the Perfect Lemon/Lime
Lemons and limes are definitely a kitchen grocery staple. They are used for so many different delicious dishes and so much more. So, buying the perfect lemons and limes is important because it affects flavor and longevity.
What to look for when buying lemons or limes
should have no bruising
shouldn’t be spongy or very soft
no moldy areas
no bumpy or wrinkly skin
larger lemons or limes are usually sweeter
look for ones with thinner skin since they are juicier and should be smooth
it should be a little firm but give a little when you press it; not rock-hard
should be a little heavy for their size
Best Way To Store Lemons and Lime
There is more than one way to store lemons and limes. I’m going to give you an idea of the most popular, beginning with my own way of storing lemon and lime for 3 monhts! But before I delve into the details of how to store lemons and limes for 3 months, let’s talk a little about cleaning them. Before storage, you should ensure that you’ve appropriately cleaned them. Lots of citrus fruits have a layer of wax on the outside, either naturally or sprayed on.
You should wash your hands with soap and warm water before handling lemons or limes. You can wash them in two ways. First, you can put them into a bowl with a drop of dishwashing soap and fill the bowl half way with water. Then, you start scrubbing them with a fruit brush one by one and put them under running water. Finally, you can put them in a strainer to dry or dry them with a hand towel. The second way is simply to soak them in water and vinegar for a few minutes and then scrub them with your hands under cool running water one by one. One process is a little longer and maybe a bit more tedious while one is simple and quick. Your choice!
How To Store Lemons
Lemon Storage: I store my lemons and limes in a bowl submerged in water in my fridge! It’s the perfect way to store lemons because it ensures they stay wrinkle-free and fresher. They can last up to three months stored this way in your fridge. A lot longer than other lemon and lime storage hacks!
This is a great way since most storage methods ask that you don’t pile lemons on top of each other to avoid bruising or squishing. In water, they basically float around or at least don’t have their weight bearing down on each other even if they were touching.
The water in the bowl also helps in replenishing the moisture that gets lost over time from the lemons. When lemons lose moisture they start to mold or rot. So, not only does it preserve them but it helps keep them juicy!
Other Lemon and Lime Storage Methods
Devote a compartment or drawer just for lemons and store by placing them next to each other. If it’s not in the fridge, make sure it’s an airy space. Lasts about 7 to 10 days.
Store in an airtight container or closed plastic bag in room temperature with the air sucked out. You can remove air from the plastic bag by placing a straw in the side of the bag and sucking out the air before closing. Lasts nearly a month.
You can seal them the same way as mentioned above and place in your fridge but they won’t last as long! In an airtight container or plastic bag in the fridge, they would last about two weeks.
Uses for Lemons and Limes outside of cooking
Now that you know my secret for storing lemon and lime for 3 months, you can buy a little extra lemons and keep them stored for their oh so many uses! Sure we love the zest of citrus in many different dishes we eat, but lemons are much more versatile than just for flavoring foods.
Use lemon and limes to:
wash your hands to remove grease or oil or to kill bacteria
scrub greasy pots and pans to get them clean and shiny again
cut them up and put them with water in a bowl and microwave; use the lemon water to clean walls or countertops
use lemon juice on the stains of white linens and let them dry in the sun for a bleach-type affect
add lemon juice to vinegar to make a cleaning spray used to clean nearly anything, especially as a glass cleaner
How Long Does Lemon Last
Lemons should last about a week if you store them on the counter top and a few days longer in the pastry! If you transfer them to the refrigerator, you can expect them to last about 3-4 weeks. Now, if you take the extra step and seal the lemons tightly, they can last for about 5 weeks.
March 27, 2021 — Midwestern Pet Foods of Evansville, Indiana is recalling multiple brands of dog and cat food because they have the potential to be contaminated with disease-causing Salmonella bacteria.
Recalled products include specific lots of CanineX, Earthborn Holistic, Venture, Unrefined, Sportmix Wholesomes, Pro Pac, Pro Pac Ultimates, Sportstrail, Sportmix and Meridian produced at its production facility in Monmouth, Illinois.
Recalled Dog and Cat Food with Lot Numbers
Salmonella can affect animals eating the products and there is risk to humans from handling contaminated pet products, especially if they have not thoroughly washed their hands after having contact with the products or any surfaces exposed to these products.
Healthy people infected with Salmonella should monitor themselves for some or all of the following symptoms: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, abdominal cramping and fever.
Rarely, Salmonella can result in more serious ailments, including arterial infections, endocarditis, arthritis, muscle pain, eye irritation, and urinary tract symptoms.
Consumers exhibiting these signs after having contact with this product should contact their healthcare providers.
Pets with Salmonella infections may be lethargic and have diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, fever, and vomiting.
Some pets will have only decreased appetite, fever and abdominal pain.
Infected but otherwise healthy pets can be carriers and infect other animals or humans.
If your pet has consumed the recalled product and has these symptoms, please contact your veterinarian.
No human or pet illnesses have been reported to date.
Where Were the Products Sold?
Products were distributed to retail store nationwide and to online retailers.
Lot code information may be found on the back of the bags with the following format: “EXP AUG/02/22/M1/L#”
This recall covers only certain products manufactured at Midwestern Pet Foods Monmouth, Illinois facility.
The unique Monmouth Facility identifier is located in the date code as an “M”.
What Caused the Recall?
The recall was as the result of a routine sampling program by the company which revealed that the finished products may contain the bacteria.
What to Do?
Retailers and distributors should immediately pull recalled lots from their inventory and shelves.
Do not sell or donate the recalled products.
Retailers are encouraged to contact consumers that have purchased the recalled products if the means to do so exists.
Do not feed the recalled products to pets or any other animals.
Destroy the food in a way that children, pets and wildlife cannot access them.
Wash and sanitize pet food bowls, cups and storage containers.
Always ensure you wash and sanitize your hands after handling recalled food or any utensils that come in contact with recalled food.
For more information, contact Midwestern Pet Foods Consumer Affairs at email@example.com. Or call 800-474-4163, ext 455, from 8 AM to 5 PM CT, Monday through Friday.
This voluntary recall is being conducted in cooperation with the US Food and Drug Administration. All other Midwestern Pet Foods products are unaffected by this recall.
338,125 SUPPORTERS 340,000 GOAL Gray wolves will be thrust back onto the brink of extinction if the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Fish and Wildlife Service’s proposition is allowed to stand.
The Department intends to delist gray wolves in the contiguous 48 states from the Endangered Species Act, removing the crucial protections they currently have under the law.
This political move jeopardizes wolves nationwide and would pave the way for trophy hunting of wolves in states where the ESA currently protects them, such as Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Oregon. Further, it hinders the possibility of wolves returning to other states where there is suitable habitat.
The last time wolves in Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin lost federal ESA protections, nearly 1,500 of them were killed in just three seasons — many were pups. This proposed rule is scientifically unsound and politically motivated. Will you sit by while another species goes extinct?
We need your voice to oppose this misguided proposal. Without opposition, legislators will push this through and put the nation’s gray wolf population at critical risk.
Please join the fight using the form below, and tell the Department of the Interior’s Fish and Wildlife Service that you oppose their proposal to delist gray wolves from the ESA.read petition letter ▾Subject: Please keep gray wolves listed under the ESA
Dear U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,
I oppose the proposed rule to delist gray wolves in the contiguous 48 states from the Endangered Species Act. Removing ESA protections now would jeopardize the fragile recovery that wolves have only just begun after having been hunted to near-extinction. It would also expose imperiled populations to the horrors of trophy hunting and trapping.
NAME: Setophaga petechia POPULATION: 92 million TREND: Stable HABITAT: Breeds in wet woods, thickets, and riparian areas; winters in open woodlands, on farms and gardens with scattered trees, and in mangrove forests
Yellow Warbler range map by NatureServe
The Yellow Warbler is the most widespread American wood-warbler. It nests from Alaska to northern South America (including the Galapágos Islands), and in parts of the Caribbean as well, and winters as far south as Peru.
Tail tip to forehead, this is also the yellowest North American warbler, even more so than the Prothonotary or Blue-winged. Cinnamon breast streaks embellish the male’s gleaming plumage.
Seet: Cowbird Alert!
One of the Yellow Warbler’s calls, a repeated seet, serves specifically as a Brown-headed Cowbird alert. When a female hears another bird make this call, she rushes back to her nest to prevent the cowbird, a notorious nest parasite, from laying eggs there.
Another superlative associated with the Yellow Warbler is the species’ incredible diversity: 37 subspecies are recognized, divided among four groups. Subspecies vary mostly in plumage color and pattern.
The Yellow Warbler nests throughout most of Canada, Alaska, and at least two-thirds of the area covered by the lower 48 U.S. states. Long-distance migrants, few if any of these birds remain north of the Mexican border in winter.
Several resident, or nonmigratory, groups are found in Mexico, Central America, South America, and the Caribbean. A resident subspecies even inhabits the Galápagos Islands off Ecuador’s Pacific coast. Males in nonmigratory populations have varying amounts of chestnut color on their heads, from just the cap to most of the bird’s head, as is the case with “Mangrove” Yellow Warblers.
For years, some ornithologists split the migratory and resident populations into two species, Setophaga aestiva and S. petechia. All now fall under the latter name.
Male Yellow Warbler feeding female on nest. Photo by Ivan Kuzmin, Shutterstock
Coffee Berry Protector
The Yellow Warbler feeds mainly on insects and spiders, gleaning them from shrubs and tree branches or sallying out from a perch to grab winged insects mid-air. This diminutive hunter sometimes hovers while seeking prey that might be hiding on the undersides of leaves. Like many other migratory songbirds, the Yellow Warbler adds fruit to its diet in winter.
Winter or summer, this warbler provides valuable pest control: One study, conducted on Costa Rican wintering grounds, showed that the Yellow Warbler and other insectivorous birds ate large quantities of invasive coffee berry borer beetles, helping reduce infestations on coffee plantations in that country by 50 percent.
A Clutch Performance
A male Yellow Warbler quickly claims a territory on the breeding grounds, chasing off intruding males. He courts prospective mates through incessant singing. In fact, one Yellow Warbler may sing more than 3,000 times in a day to attract a female! Once paired, the male attends his mate closely as she builds her nest, wary for other males, which often invade established territories and attempt to mate with resident females.
Like many other birds such as the Kirtland’s Warbler and Wood Thrush, the Yellow Warbler is frequently parasitized by Brown-headed Cowbirds. This problem is especially common in fragmented habitats, which provide easier access for female cowbirds to lay their eggs in host birds’ nests. But the Yellow Warbler fights back. It seems to recognize the foreign eggs, and often builds a new nest, covering over a cowbird-parasitized clutch with new nesting material. If the cowbird returns and re-lays, the warbler covers them again — sometimes resulting in nests with up to six tiers!
Females build and maintain the cup-shaped nests, incubate the eggs, and brood the hatchlings. Meanwhile, male Yellow Warblers aggressively guard nest sites and bring food to females sitting on eggs or young. Both sexes share chick-rearing duties: After the nestlings fledge, some may follow the mother, while the rest remain with the father.
Warblers on the Landscape
Although still numerous, Yellow Warblers are threatened by habitat loss, chiefly destruction of riparian habitats, and the overuse of pesticides. One subspecies, the Barbados Yellow Warbler, has been listed under the Endangered Species Act since 1970.
ABC’s work helps to conserve the Yellow Warbler and other migratory birds across their full annual life-cycle through its BirdScapes approach to conservation. Several BirdScapes in the southwestern United States protect riparian areas for the Endangered western subspecies of the Yellow-billed Cuckoo that also shelter the Yellow Warbler and other birds.
Preheat the grill or grill pan over medium heat. Brush both sides of the zucchini slices with the oil and sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Grill until tender and slightly browned, about 4 minutes per side.
Spread 1/4 cup of the hummus over each piece of bread. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of pine nuts on top. Top with 3 slices of zucchini, 2 pieces of red pepper, 1/2 cup of the spinach, a few sliced onions, and 1 tablespoon of the mint. Roll each of them up and cut in half on a diagonal.
Excellent Source of: Copper, Fiber, Folate, Iron, Magnesium, Manganese, Phosphorus, Thiamin, Vitamin A, Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, Protein
Good Source of: Niacin, Potassium, Riboflavin, Vitamin K, Zinc
“He that takes truth for his guide, and duty for his end, may safely trust to God’s providence to lead him aright.” - Blaise Pascal. "There is but one straight course, and that is to seek truth and pursue it steadily" – George Washington letter to Edmund Randolph — 1795. We live in a “post-truth” world. According to the dictionary, “post-truth” means, “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.” Simply put, we now live in a culture that seems to value experience and emotion more than truth. Truth will never go away no matter how hard one might wish. Going beyond the MSM idealogical opinion/bias and their low information tabloid reality show news with a distractional superficial focus on entertainment, sensationalism, emotionalism and activist reporting – this blogs goal is to, in some small way, put a plug in the broken dam of truth and save as many as possible from the consequences—temporal and eternal. "The further a society drifts from truth, the more it will hate those who speak it." – George Orwell “There are two ways to be fooled. One is to believe what isn’t true; the other is to refuse to believe what is true.” ― Soren Kierkegaard