On the third Saturday in May, Wildlands Day is held at Wildcat Hills State Recreation Area. More than a hundred people attended this year’s event to enjoy the abundance of plants and wildlife in the hills of western Nebraska. Educator Maggie Vinson writes about the day and makes a great case for attending the seventh incarnation of the event in 2014.
Every spring, more than a half-million Sandhill Cranes migrate through central Nebraska, where they stopover and spend a few weeks feeding in and along the North Platte River and surrounding land. Since 1971, the Rivers and Wildlife Celebration has been an annual event timed with this great bird migration.
On a recent cold and snowy Friday, students from St. Agnes Catholic School in Scottsbluff spent an afternoon on an indoor camping trip. Educator Maggie Vinson writes about the wintry day where the outdoors were brought inside for students.
Twenty fourth-graders, grouped in teams of 3 and 4, hold their hands above their buzzers as biologist Andrew Pierson reads the question. He scans the 20 pairs of eyes watching him, letting the anticipation build, and finishes the question. Hands hit buzzers, bells ring and a light comes on to indicate which team was first. Answers fly, and the points for the correct one are tallied for the winning team. Just another day, just another PEEP program.
What a great banding season at Barr Lake State Park! It seems like only yesterday that bird bander Meredith McBurney and educator Emily Snode kicked off the season in August, banding 50 birds with only four of our 21 nets open. In retrospect, this proved to be an omen of the sensational fall migration that was to come.
Earlier this year, I started working with a landowner who controls more than 160 acres and 3,300 feet of riparian area along the Dolores River in the heart of the Paradox Valley in western Colorado. As a novel approach to restoration monitoring on her property, I suggested we emulate the BioBlitz strategy to establish a baseline inventory of the property.
Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory has been running bird banding stations in the Nebraska panhandle for the past four years at Chadron State Park and five years at Wildcat Hills State Recreation Area. We set up nets in the same locations year after year in order to study the local and migratory bird populations and to provide up-close and personal looks at birds to schoolchildren and members of the general public. This year, all is well at the Wildcat Hills station, but things were looking very grim for Chadron State Park at the beginning of the banding season.
Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory’s Bald Eagle Watch Coordinator Cindi Kelly reports the nest we monitor about a mile from Ted’s Place northwest of Fort Collins, Colo., has survived the High Park fire so far. At one point flames were .9 miles from the nest.
More than 100 guests gathered at the bird banding station at Chatfield State Park on the evening of May 4 for the opening of a new pavilion that will serve as an outdoor classroom where school groups and others can enjoy seeing and hearing about birds, banding and conservation.