BirdSense:  A Podcast by Bird Watcher’s Digest
Land Conservation in British Columbia

Land Conservation in British Columbia

September 23, 2021

Conservation work occurs in part by acquisition of highly biodiverse habitat. Nature Trust of British Columbia (NTBC), a nonprofit land conservation organization, is celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2021, as well as its remarkable contributions to preserving British Columbia’s most critical habitat for vulnerable wildlife. As Canada’s westernmost province, and contiguous with Alaska, Idaho, and Washington, British Columbia’s landmass serves as a stopover and breeding grounds along the migratory Pacific Flyway. To date, NTBC has bought more than 500 properties of private, ecologically important land, totaling 178,000 acres.

NTBC also supports affiliate programs such as Pacific Birds, a habitat joint venture between government agencies, First Nations, private landowners, and businesses in both the US and Canada to benefit birds, other wildlife, and people. Chief executive officer Dr. Jasper Lament discusses with host Kelly Ball the connection between the United States and Canada in preserving shared migratory habitat for birds, and how programs like the North American Wetlands Conservation Act enable conservation on an international scale. As Dr. Lament puts it, “Do what you can, where you can.”

You can join and learn more about NTBC at the FREE 50th Anniversary Virtual Gala on Friday, October 6, starting at 4 p.m. eastern time.

Click here to learn more about the annual Brant Wildlife Festival celebrated every March.

Do you have a question for Dr. Lament? He’s happy to answer! Contact him via Instagram @drjasperlament today.

This episode is sponsored by Nature Trust of British Columbia.

FLAP: Creating a Collective Front to Prevent Bird Window Collisions

FLAP: Creating a Collective Front to Prevent Bird Window Collisions

August 26, 2021

It is estimated that one billion (yes, that’s one billion) birds—primarily neotropical migratory songbirds—collide with windows across North America annually. In the late 1980s, Canadian Michael Mesure began collecting and documenting birds that had collided with the windows of downtown office buildings in his native Toronto. This effort inspired him to devote himself to raising awareness of window collisions, and in 1993, he co-founded FLAP, or Fatal Light Awareness Program. Editor of Bird Watcher’s Digest, Dawn Hewitt, interviews Michael, who serves as FLAP’s executive director, to learn why birds collide with windows; how North America’s topography is essentially a giant migratory corridor; and what every person who cares about birds can do during a community science event called Global Bird Rescue (September 27–October 3, 2021) to document window strikes around the world.  

Are you interested in taking action to help migratory birds from colliding with windows?  

  • Register at globalbirdrescue.org to participate in the 2021 Global Bird Rescue Week.  
  • Visit birdsafe.ca to assess the threat rating of your home’s windows to birds.  
  • For products to retrofit existing windows with the goal of reducing window collisions, consult Flap.org and Birdsafe.ca

This episode is sponsored by FLAP.

Virginia Beach: A Premier Birding Destination!

Virginia Beach: A Premier Birding Destination!

June 25, 2021

Nestled in the southeastern corner of Virginia, Virginia Beach is a premier destination for birding and assorted outdoor adventures. Host Kelly Ball chats with Kelli Norman, director of tourism & sales at Visit Virginia Beach, about the three types of beaches—Chesapeake Bay; Atlantic Ocean; and Sandbridge—that make this a unique and birdy locale. Then Brandon Holland, secretary of Virginia Beach’s Audubon chapter, breaks down the area’s target bird species and shares his pick for the ideal time to bird Virginia Beach. Brandon encourages anybody who might like a birdy beach break during winter to consider attending the Winter Wildlife Festival, scheduled for January 28-30, 2022. To help visitors plan a trip packed with year-round outdoor adventure opportunities, check out Virginia Beach’s Get Outdoors Pass. This mobile-exclusive passport is a collection of curated attractions, tour operators, rentals, and more, offering deals and discounts to redeem during your visit. This episode is sponsored by Visit Virginia Beach.

BirdBuddy: A State-of-the-art Feedercam

BirdBuddy: A State-of-the-art Feedercam

May 7, 2021

A camera that messages you when there’s an unusual bird at your feeder, identifies it for you, shows it to you, and asks if you want to photograph it? That’s the BirdBuddy! It uses artificial intelligence to recognize birds, knows the “regulars,” and texts you if it thinks there’s a visitor you don’t want to miss! The Bird Buddy was crowdfunded by more than 30,000 backers! Although this product is in production and not yet commercially available, it is destined to be a must-have by backyard birding addicts! In this episode, Dawn Hewitt, editor of Bird Watcher’s Digest, discusses this revolutionary feedercam with BirdBuddy’s co-creator Franci Zidar. This episode is sponsored by BirdBuddy.

Photography Tips from a Tamron Image Master

Photography Tips from a Tamron Image Master

April 23, 2021

Are you a birder who has always wanted to take up photography? Perhaps you’re already a bird photographer and interested in learning more about high-quality, affordable, mirrorless camera and DSLR camera lenses. Maybe with warbler season kicking into gear, you’d like a few tips to make photography more enjoyable.

If this describes you (and even if it doesn’t!), be sure to check out this conversation with Tamron Image Master, lifelong birder, and owner of Bear Woods Photography, David Akoubian. He shares with Kelly Ball, Bird Watcher’s Digest’s advertising sales director, his experiences from 40-plus years of birding photography; his recommendations for the best all-around lens to use when shooting bird photos; and tips for becoming an ace bird photographer. David even turned his yard into a certified wildlife sanctuary, and he describes how that has allowed him to study birds on the regular. This episode is sponsored by Tamron.

Gem of a Birding Hotspot: Indiana Dunes

Gem of a Birding Hotspot: Indiana Dunes

April 8, 2021

Did you know that the birthplace of ecology is Indiana? It’s true! The science of ecology was first described in good old Indiana—thanks in part to the spectacular forested sand dunes along the southern shore of Lake Michigan. In 2019, Indiana Dunes became the 61st national park.

In this installment of BirdSense, Kelly Ball, advertising sales director at Bird Watcher’s Digest, discusses this gem and its 15,000 acres of birding turf with Brad Bumgardner, executive director of Indiana Audubon, and Indiana Dunes National Park superintendent Paul Labovitz. In 2014, Paul posed the fateful question, “Why don’t we put on an event for birding?” In 2015, the Indiana Dunes Birding Festival was born!

This year’s event, May 13–16, will be a hybrid of in-person and virtual options. If you are interested in potentially getting 200 bird species in four days, check out this episode! Sponsored by the Indiana Dunes Birding Festival.

Did you know? Redstart Birding will be the optics retail sponsor for the 2021 Indiana Dunes Birding Festival. Attendees will be eligible for a one-time 5% discount on a purchase, PLUS Redstart Birding will donate 5% back to Indiana Dunes Birding Festival Stewardship Fund on all purchases made during the event.

Bird Conservation Efforts with the Gulf Coast Bird Observatory

Bird Conservation Efforts with the Gulf Coast Bird Observatory

March 26, 2021

Located in Lake Jackson, Texas, Gulf Coast Bird Observatory (GCBO) was established almost 25 years ago by a few different conservation groups and two oil companies. GCBO’s mission is simple yet daunting: to protect the birds and their habitats around the Gulf of Mexico and beyond.

Through education, long-term conservation studies, and awarding grants for conservation-focused land acquisition projects in all Gulf Coast states from Florida to Texas, GCBO is doing tremendous work on behalf of the millions of birds that inhabit or pass through the migration pathways along the Gulf of Mexico. Kelly Ball, advertising sales director, had the good fortune recently to chat about all of this and more with GCBO’s education and outreach manager, Celeste Silling. You won't want to miss this conversation—plus Celeste shares details about GCBO’s upcoming virtual Bird Bash this May! Sponsored by the Gulf Coast Bird Observatory.

DID YOU KNOW? Redstart Birding will be the optics retail sponsor for GCBO’s 2021 Bird Bash, May 15–16. Attendees will be eligible for a one-time 5% discount on a purchase, PLUS Redstart Birding will donate 5% back to GCBO on all purchases made during the event. Click here to register for the Bird Bash.

Black Soldier Fly Larvae: A Bird-Feeding Gamechanger

Black Soldier Fly Larvae: A Bird-Feeding Gamechanger

February 25, 2021

Would you like to fill your backyard bird feeders with a superior energy source that results in stronger eggshells during nesting season and healthier feathers? In 2007, Enterra was formed to find new, sustainable protein sources for animal feed and to address the surge in food waste. Its products harness the nutritional power of insects to create sustainable and healthy animal feed and pet food. 

Advertising sales director Kelly Ball recently met with Enterra’s chief technology officer, Andrew Vickerson, to discuss how black solider fly larvae as animal feed is not only healthier for animals, but more sustainable for the planet than conventional protein-based food sources: They naturally “upcycle” nutrients from organic matter; they’re ethically manufactured in North America rather than overseas; and raising insects vs. traditional livestock produces much less greenhouse gas.

Overall, black solider fly larvae are an efficient, low-impact nutritional source compared to resource-intensive alternatives like poultry, beef, pork, fishmeal, soymeal, and coconut and palm kernel oils. Kelly also chats with Tom Goldsborough, an avid birder who recently conducted a survey of his backyard feeders to determine whether songbirds preferred black soldier fly larvae over mealworms (spoiler alert: the black soldier flies prevail!).

This episode is sponsored by Enterra.

If you would like to be considered for participation in a grubs vs mealworms preference study, please contact marketing@enterra.com or visit us at https://enterra.com/wild-bird/.

An Interview with Bob Dolgan

An Interview with Bob Dolgan

January 29, 2021

BobDolganhas an impressive resume. He is a writer, filmmaker, and consultant. He’s also a board member of the Chicago Ornithological Society, and writes a twice-weekly newsletter,This Week in Birding. He is founder of Turnstone Strategies, and his writing has appeared in the Chicago Tribune, the Cleveland Plain Dealerthe Chicago Readerthe Richmond Times-Dispatch and the St. Louis Post Dispatch. He still finds time to serve as co-compiler for the Lisle-Arboretum Christmas Bird Count Wendy Clark, BWD’s publisher, talked with Bob recently about the documentary he directed, Monty and Rose, a film about Chicago’s piping plovers. Join Bob and Wendy as they discuss this beautiful film and the successful conservation effort that made downtown Chicago passionate about piping plovers and the urban bird habitat the plovers—and Chicagoans—call home.  

Birding Big Bend, Texas

Birding Big Bend, Texas

December 11, 2020

As owner/operator of Big Bend Birding & Photo Tours, Lee Hoy focuses his time on helping others enjoy the beauty of the Big Bend National Park region and is a freelance photographer when time permits. His passion is helping others find that special bird, or teaching them to capture spectacular images while they are visiting Big Bend National Park and the surrounding areas. Lee is an award-winning photographer whose images have been published in Texas Parks & Wildlife magazine, Texas Highways, Bird Watcher’s Digest, and elsewhere.

Wendy Clark had the privilege of chatting with Lee recently about all things Big Bend, Texas—a hotspot that should be on every birder’s bucket list! Along with being incredibly engaging and exciting to talk to, Lee is “Mr. Big Bend,” and knows more about birding and guiding in this remote region than just about anyone on the planet. Sponsored by Visit Big Bend, Texas

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