Posts Tagged ‘birds’

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.

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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Hands down, this is the most personal post I’ve ever written for the Pacific Northwest Birds blog. I’ve been thinking of telling my story for quite some time, and now…with October being Breast Cancer Awareness Month…here we go!

If you’re wondering what kind of connection October, breast cancer, and birds could possibly have to each other, look no further than yours truly. I was diagnosed in August of 2011 with HER2+/ER-/PR- invasive ductal carcinoma, stage 3b. It had already gone to my lymph nodes, which is what put me so close to a stage 4.

This was followed by just over five months of chemo, which was followed by a double mastectomy, which was followed by several weeks of radiation therapy, which was followed – over the next two years – by about 12 more surgeries, the most recent (and last…finally) being two weeks ago. Sadly, about a month after starting chemo, I lost my wonderful dad to complications from a heart attack. The same week we lost him, I almost lost my own fight, and was hospitalized with a white blood cell count of almost zero. (The chemo that was zapping the tumors almost took me out, too.)

Saying that it was a very rough time seems to be putting it lightly. But it’s amazing – and this is something I discovered for myself while in the trenches – how much strength we can find inside ourselves when we really have to. I knew instinctively going in that whether or not I won this battle depended in large part on my attitude and outlook. That doesn’t discount everything my wonderful team of doctors did for me, but the will to live is a real thing.

Besides my attitude, it helped immensely to remember that God has the final word, not the doctors, and that I didn’t have an expiration date stamped on my forehead. In fact, I never asked my oncologist how much time he thought I had with this particular cancer, because I didn’t want a time frame stuck in my mind.

But what does my breast cancer diagnosis have to do with birds and this blog? Everything. One of my favorite movies, Secretariat, also has one of my favorite quotes: “Work is good for grief.” That’s true. After chemo, I was still deeply grieving for my dad, and had my remaining treatments and surgeries looming large on the horizon. I wanted something tangible that I could focus on. I’d heard many success and business coaches say to do what you love (in fact, you may have heard the well-known quote, “Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life”), so I asked myself what that meant for me: What was it I liked to do? What was my hobby?

Coming up with that answer was easy: Birding.

I loved watching, feeding, and learning about birds…wild, native species, that is. (I’ve always felt bad for birds kept in cages.) And so, in March of 2012, right around the time of my mastectomy, Pacific Northwest Birds was born. It has grown by leaps and bounds since then…and hopefully will even more now that I’m done with my surgeries…and I am thoroughly enjoying writing about the beautiful birds of the Pacific Northwest and getting to know you all. Thank you, everyone, for being a part of this!

One memory that really sticks out to me from 2012 is the Indian summer we had. I spent quite a few days sitting outside that October, soaking up the sun for as long as it lasted, writing in my journal, and listening to and watching the birds in the trees and at my feeders. What a time of inner healing that was, to be able to sit and connect with nature as I was also healing on the outside. Now, more than three years since my diagnosis, it’s wonderful to look back and see how far I’ve come.

I’m a survivor: I fought like a girl and am here to tell the tale. Knowing how many women are fighting now or have even lost their fight, that isn’t something I say lightly. I am grateful beyond words that I am able to sit here and write about it. I am grateful, in fact, for each breath I take.

So with it being October, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, it’s a great time to give to breast cancer research or to help out in another way. If you have a favorite breast cancer-related charity to give to, please do. On the other hand, if you don’t know where to give, I highly recommend giving to Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, one of the top-rated cancer centers in the U.S. and also where I received my care. You may give of your finances, your time, or by donating Christmas gifts, books, magazines, healthy snacks, and more. Check out this link for more information: SCCA: How to help.

And, of course, there’s the old standby of simply paying it forward. We were greatly helped (“greatly” is an understatement) in many ways during my cancer treatments by caring family, friends, and complete strangers, and now I’m in the pay-it-forward mode, too. Imagine what a great world this would be if we all did that a little more often.

This post would not be complete without a reminder to get yourself checked, too — and I’m not just speaking to the girls here. Breast cancer isn’t just a women’s disease, as men can also be diagnosed with it. Recent statistics I’ve seen say one in eight women will get breast cancer during their lifetime. With men it’s much lower, about one in 1,000, but high enough to warrant getting that checkup.

Thanks for reading and for allowing me to temporarily steer away from our usual fare here on the blog. I appreciate the opportunity to share my story…which is also Pacific Northwest Birds’ story…with all of you. Has focusing on birds (or another aspect of nature) helped you through a hard time, too? If so, please share your story in the comments below, on Facebook, or on Twitter.


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!

Roger Tory Peterson, ornithologist, naturalist, and illustrator, 1908-1996

Roger Tory Peterson, ornithologist, naturalist and illustrator, 1908-1996

Roger Tory Peterson, born on August 28, 1908, in Jamestown, New York, and would have been 105 years old today. He died on July 28, 1996, one month shy of his 88th birthday. Born to immigrant parents — his father was Swedish and his mother was German, he grew up in New York, where he developed a love for birds and nature at a young age.

He was first published in 1925 at the tender age of 17. The publication was a magazine called Bird-lore, in which he wrote about his sightings of a Carolina Wren and a titmouse.

Thankfully for the birding world, not only did Peterson keep writing, but he also drew and painted the birds he saw. In 1934, his book, Guide to the Birds, was published and — as the first modern field guide of its kind — was instrumental in starting many nature lovers on the path to being true birders. Today, the Peterson Field Guide series consists of 53 volumes, and over 7 million have been sold.

This American Robin is just one of many beautiful illustrations painted by Peterson in his lifetime.

This American Robin is just one of many beautiful illustrations painted by Peterson in his lifetime.

To read more about Roger Tory Peterson, I highly recommend you click on this link, which will take you to a very interesting bio about him on the Roger Tory Peterson Institute of Natural History website.

Happy Birthday, Roger! Thank you for sharing your love of all things birds, your passion for nature and the environment, and your incredible talent with us. Your contributions will never be forgotten.

See everything by and about Roger Tory Peterson on Amazon.

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!

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