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World Wildlife Day 2017

World Wildlife Day 2017

Great movements in human history often start because of the need to stand up to cruelty, unfairness, and governmental overreach. Have you noticed that good usually wins?

In the realm of nature, we have our movements, as well, that start for similar reasons: People with good hearts see others with not-so-good hearts mistreating birds, mammals, sea life, and habitats, and often using these creatures and exploited areas for their own selfish gain.

They didn’t stay silent, but got busy and started fights. Not violent fights, but good fights that have built momentum and are still going.

In 1896, for example, Harriet Hemenway and Mina Hall started the first Audubon Society chapter in Massachusetts because they were upset by the killing of birds for the millinery (hat making) industry. They held a series of teas in an effort to convince other women to stop buying hats decorated with the feathers of these birds. This movement gained momentum, and within two years, other Audubon chapters had sprung up. Harriet and Mina were good people who started a movement and spread the word that wildlife is not a commodity and should be protected. To this day, the Audubon Society still speaks on behalf of birds. (A recent example of Audubon’s activism is their recent fight against the cormorant slaughter on Oregon’s Sand Island.)

In 1918, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act was signed into law to prevent the willy-nilly, free-for-all use of wild birds, their feathers, their nests, and their eggs. (Click on the link to see what this law covers in its entirety.) Good people did that, setting into motion legislation that has protected birds for almost 100 years.

On December 20, 2013, the United Nations proclaimed March 3 to be World Wildlife Day as a way to draw attention, raise awareness, and hopefully encourage people to take action against habitat change and destruction, and the over-exploitation or illicit trafficking of fauna (wildlife) and flora (plants and trees), which is threatening, and even causing, the extinction of many species.

World Wildlife Day’s theme for 2017 is “Listen to the Young Voices,” and there are plenty of these voices to listen to: Did you know that over ¼ of the current world population is between the ages of 10-24? Many of these young people are very environmentally-focused and can teach us a thing or two. Likewise, we also have the opportunity — right now — to encourage the young people we know personally to respect wildlife and become its voices and protectors, not just on World Wildlife Day, but all through their growing-up years.

Sounds like a great movement to me. Click here to learn more about this year’s World Wildlife Day. http://www.wildlifeday.org/


Learn more about your backyard birds in Birds of the Pacific Northwest: How to Identify 25 of the Most Popular Backyard Birds. Get it for your Kindle (which you can also read on your PC, Mac, smartphone, or tablet with this free reading app), Nook, on Smashwords, or in the iTunes bookstore.

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Photo: Jon Sullivan, Commons.wikimedia.org

Photo: Jon Sullivan, Commons.wikimedia.org

As a family, we’ve spent most Independence Days here at home, barbecuing in the afternoon or evening and setting off fireworks after dark. Because we’re homebodies, we don’t usually see the aftermath of the fireworks except for the bits of burned cardboard left in our yard.

But there was that one time when our kids were younger…the one time we spent it at the home of friends instead of friends coming to our place…that opened my eyes regarding fireworks and their effect on our environment. Driving home that night, there was smoke everywhere. From one side of our town to the other, nothing but toxic smoke just hanging in the air.

While my eyes did begin to open that night, I must admit I didn’t immediately change my ways. I was still mostly “asleep” back then when it came to issues like protecting the world around us and the creatures who can’t speak for themselves. But it was a start, a gradual awakening that’s been continuing over the years. While my family will still be setting off some fireworks this year, it won’t be as big a show as it’s been in the past, and I’ll be putting my foot down on certain types (floating lanterns, for one).

Another thing I never considered in my earlier years, I’m so sorry to say, was the effect of the day’s loud noises on birds and other animals. But these days I do worry about wildlife on the 4th of July, one reason being that this is still “baby season.” Birds and other animals are still having young, and there are also many fledgling birds and young squirrels, raccoons, foxes, and cottontails (the list goes on) born in the spring for whom this scary day will be a first. I have to wonder how many young are separated from their parents before their time, orphaned because the loud booms cause them or their parents to scatter in fear.


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I’d like to offer some tips for making the 4th more wildlife-friendly, but let’s first talk about how it can harm them.

1. The loud booms startle birds and other animals who have already gone to sleep for the night. If you have pets, you probably do what I do and make sure they’re in a safe place inside your home where the noises won’t scare them too much. (You do keep your pets inside on the 4th, don’t you? More dogs run away and are lost on the 4th of July than any other day of the year.) I even put on the radio for my pets to mask the noise of the fireworks from around my neighborhood. It’s not possible, obviously, to protect wildlife from the noise or the smoke…or even a fire should an accident happen.

2. The extreme amount of litter left over from fireworks not only looks terrible, but it can also be mistaken for food. This especially concerns me regarding fireworks displays on lakes and ocean waterfronts. I go outside with a garbage bag in the early morning on July 5 to clean up our yard, but how do you clean up a body of water? You can’t. (Well, you could try, but you won’t come close to getting it all.) The litter either floats or sinks, and the smaller pieces can be easily mistaken for food by birds like ducks or cormorants or by the fish below.

3. Sky lanterns. I really don’t think I need to say more. Does anyone actually think these things are safe? I remember one year when I reluctantly let one of my kids let one go: I almost had a heart attack when it came close to landing in the neighbor’s tree. Thankfully, it rose higher, but almost settled onto other trees before being carried up, up, and away. (I watched it until the fire went out.) Not only are these lanterns extreme fire hazards, the resulting litter can also harm wildlife, pets, and farm animals. Please read this very important article from Balloons Blow: Sky Lanterns (Flaming Litter). A type of firework that’s let loose and out of sight into the sky with no knowledge of where it will end up is one of the worst, and is a very irresponsible way to celebrate anything. And as I just mentioned, I have been one of those irresponsible people.

Sky lanterns seem innocent but are extremely dangerous and unpredictable. Photo courtesy of Balloons Blow.

Sky lanterns seem innocent but are extremely dangerous and unpredictable. Photo courtesy of Balloons Blow.

Finally, here are some safer and more wildlife-friendly ways to celebrate the 4th:

1. Go to a public display instead of shooting off fireworks at home. Here in the Seattle area, many fireworks displays are done over water (mainly over Lake Washington and Lake Union), but if more people would attend these than set off their own (and many already do), I guess that’s at least something. Here are listings for 4th of July celebrations around the Pacific Northwest:

    Bellingham area (This article even lists clean-up events on July 5. Way to go, Bellingham!)

2. Stay home and keep a hose or two ready. And a fire extinguisher. Whether you’re setting off fireworks or your neighbors are, being ready to put out a wayward trajectory on your roof or a fire in your shrubbery or grass is just smart.

3. Don’t make homemade sparkler bombs. They’re powerful and unpredictable. You could also get in big trouble if you’re caught. This one really goes along with number 4:

4. Don’t set off M80s, cherry bombs, and the like. You may get lucky and not get hurt, or you may lose a hand. Or worse. (And please don’t let your kids hold roman candles while they’re going off. Do you really want your child holding the one that malfunctions and blows up in the tube?) Besides the possibility of harm or death coming to the humans who use bombs, or mortars stuffed in tubes, innocent bystanders – human and wildlife alike – are often harmed, as well.

5. Watch fireworks on TV. Not as much fun, I know, but it is safer and your pets will appreciate the company.

6. Pray for rain. Western Washington has gotten pretty waterlogged over the last several weeks, and for that I am grateful. If you’re in an area that hasn’t gotten much rain and is dryer than we are, pay particular attention to number 2, above.

Have a safe and fun 4th of July, however you choose to celebrate. Remember, please consider the effects your celebration will have on wildlife who live near you and trust your yard to be a safe place.

What ideas can you share for a safe-for-all Independence Day?


Learn more about your backyard birds in Birds of the Pacific Northwest: How to Identify 25 of the Most Popular Backyard Birds. Get it for your Kindle (which you can also read on your PC, Mac, smartphone, or tablet with this free reading app), Nook, on Smashwords, or in the iTunes bookstore.

Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!

This beautiful Short-eared Owl was a former patient at South Sound Critter Care. Photo by Curt Pliler.

This beautiful Short-eared Owl was a former patient at South Sound Critter Care. Photo by Curt Pliler.


If you’re a nature and wildife lover living in the Seattle area, I have to tell you about a can’t-miss event coming up on April 24th: the 4th annual Wild in Washington Wildlife Benefit Auction! This year, the auction is being held in Renton, Washington, and all proceeds will support the rehabilitation and release of injured and orphaned wildlife at South Sound Critter Care.

South Sound Critter Care is a wildlife rehabilitation center in Kent, Washington, where I’ve been volunteering since July of last year. While volunteering at a wildlife center can be hard work, I’ve learned it’s always rewarding. The best part, really, is knowing we’re helping animals who can’t help themselves, and providing a service for the caring people who bring them to us.

"Fancy" is South Sound Critter Care's education crow. Having been raised by the public, she was turned in to SSCC when she got loose. Fancy now visits school functions and other public events. In the photo above, she's taking in the sights and sounds at SSCC's volunteer appreciation event last January.

"Fancy" is South Sound Critter Care's education crow. Having been raised by the public, she was turned in to SSCC when she got loose. Fancy now visits school functions and other public events. In the photo above, she's taking in the sights and sounds at SSCC's volunteer appreciation event last January.

Wildlife rehabilitation centers are not-for-profits that rely on outside sources to continue caring for the animals that need help. The Wild in Washington auction is a big part of that funding for SSCC, and we really hope you’ll join us. It promises to be a fun afternoon complete with the live auction, silent auction, a delicious catered lunch (covered by the price of your ticket), and an all-around good time. If you’re in the Seattle area, or will be on Sunday, April 24, please come and help support what we’re doing for wildlife.

(On a personal note, I’d love for as many of you to come to the auction as possible because I’d love the chance to meet you and put faces to names! If you do purchase tickets for the auction, please let me know so I can be on the lookout for you.)

We have so many fun things that will be up for auction, ranging from wildlife artwork to themed baskets (Pilates membership and goodies, for example), to a getaway at Lake Cushman, to concert tickets. Yes…concert tickets. We’re talking Billy Joel…Earth, Wind, and Fire…Steve Miller Band…and ADELE. I happen to know the tickets to see Adele are for a couple of really good seats. As in, you just might make eye contact.

For more details, to see what’s up for auction (ahem…those two tickets to Adele’s sold out show…), and to purchase your tickets, click on this link: Wild in Washington Wildlife Benefit Auction.

Please consider this your personal invitation. I’m looking forward to meeting you there!


Learn more about your backyard birds in Birds of the Pacific Northwest: How to Identify 25 of the Most Popular Backyard Birds. Get it for your Kindle (which you can also read on your PC, Mac, smartphone, or tablet with this free reading app), Nook, on Smashwords, or in the iTunes bookstore.

Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and now Instagram!

Nestling Barn Owls, almost ready to fledge: Just one of the many bird species received at wildlife clinics every year. Photo: chdwckvnstrsslhm, Wikipedia

Nestling Barn Owls, almost ready to fledge: Just one of the many bird species received at wildlife clinics every year. Photo: chdwckvnstrsslhm, Wikipedia

Ah, summer: a few short months full of camping, swimming, barbecues, family vacations, and baby wildlife. Wait…baby wildlife? Yes, and plenty of it.

Summer is usually the busiest season for wildlife rehabilitators because of orphaned — or thought to be orphaned — birds and other wild animals. Rehabbers take in many baby birds, squirrels, raccoons, deer, and more at this time of the year.

If you found an injured or orphaned bird or mammal, would you know what to do with it or who to take it to? Because wildlife rehabilitators can be difficult to find online, and because time is of the essence when dealing with nestlings, orphans, or injured critters, I’ve created a convenient resource for you that lists many of these wonderful people and organizations in one place.

To cover as wide an area of the Pacific Northwest as possible, the rehabilitation clinics and individuals listed cover Alaska, British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Western Montana, and Northern California. I hope to cover more of Montana and California soon, and even include other western states.

Check out these listings by clicking the tab for injured wildlife above or going here: Injured or Orphaned Wildlife? or by going directly to the page for each area (the tab above also features a drop-down menu featuring each of these):

Alaska Wildlife Rehabilitators

British Columbia Wildlife Rehabilitators

Idaho Wildlife Rehabilitators

Northern California Wildlife Rehabilitators

Oregon Wildlife Rehabilitators

Washington Wildlife Rehabilitators

Western Montana Wildlife Rehabilitators

The lists are intended to be ever-growing and ever-changing. If you know of a clinic or licensed individual to add to any of the lists, or if a correction needs to be made, please email me using the link available on each page.

Further reading:

What To Do With a Baby Bird (via Audubon.org)

Handling Injured Birds (via Eastside Audubon)

Help! I Found a Baby Bird — What Do I Do? (via Infinite Spider)

Finally, please consider supporting a wildlife rehabilitator near you. Many need volunteers and donations, so do help out if you’re able.


Learn more about your backyard birds in Birds of the Pacific Northwest: How to Identify 25 of the Most Popular Backyard Birds. Get it for your Kindle (which you can also read on your PC, Mac, smartphone, or tablet with this free reading app), Nook, on Smashwords, or in the iTunes bookstore.

Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and now Instagram!

American Bittern by John James Audubon

American Bittern by John James Audubon

If you’re a fan of John James Audubon (1785-1851), you may also be familiar with his work, Audubon’s Birds of America, which contains beautiful watercolor illustrations of 435 North American birds. Audubon discovered 25 species himself, naming quite a few of them for people he knew (Bewick’s Wren, Swainson’s Hawk, Wilson’s Warbler, and more).

Audubon’s illustrations are made from hand-engraved plates and are now available at Audubon.com. Because the good folks at Audubon have made these available to us in their online library, we can now download a high-resolution version of each print for free. As a warning, these are huge files, which you might want to resize once you’ve downloaded them.

Having these illustrations at our fingertips is a really big deal. Personally, I feel like a kid who got locked in a toy store for the night and isn’t one bit upset about it. (Seriously. Don’t even call my parents, ’cause I’m staying!) The only negative about this is not knowing which ones to print first.

So, bird and nature lovers, do check out and enjoy these beautiful Audubon prints. You just might feel like you took a walk through the countryside with John J. himself.

You can also get Audubon’s Birds of America for your Kindle or Kindle app or by choosing one of these other hard cover or paperback editions.

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Learn more about your backyard birds in the newly revised and updated Birds of the Pacific Northwest: How to Identify 25 of the Most Popular Backyard Birds. Get it for your Kindle (which you can also read on your PC, Mac, smartphone, or tablet with this free reading app), Nook, on Smashwords, or in the iTunes bookstore.

Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook and Twitter!

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