Saturday, July 25, 2009

Joe Neal comments on birthday of Doug James

Today is the birthday of my friend, coauthor, teacher Douglas A. James. Born in Detroit, he was hired over the phone to teach at the UA-Fayetteville more than a half century ago. He told me recently he arrived in Arkansas for the first time on a bus, suitcase in hand, and lived in a boarding house on Arkansas Avenue in sight of Old Main. Who could have known the outcome of over 5 decades of research, teaching, field trips, experiments, and writing? He continues on all of these fronts, including regular scientific publications. In recent years he has made generous gifts to the Arkansas Audubon Society Trust and he continues as a member of the AAS Bird Records committee. Last fall he offered his prestige to help rebuild a faltering Northwest Arkansas Audubon Society which he had helped found two decades before.

Much of what we know about our state's avifauna is directly attributable to his life work as ecologist, teacher, and mentor. Beginning in the early 1950s, Doug and others compiled an extensive card file of bird records for the state, including the Ozarks. This file served as the basis for a summary of the occurrence of birds in Arkansas (1964). These records, plus Doug’s own research and that of his many students, formed the core of the book Arkansas Birds (1986). His former students populate natural resource management agencies in Arkansas and far beyond. There are legions of Arkansans who first discovered the joy of birding and an interest in all aspects of natural history on a Doug James field trip.

Other than his obvious and numerous academic achievements, Doug’s career is a unique & creative example of bringing together professionals and private citizens in positive efforts for environmental commonsense. Not the least of these was helping found and build the Ozark Society that played such a key role in the ultimately successful effort to stop dams on the Buffalo River and create a national park. Doug has always inspired students to learn their ecology and then to become involved in real world applications beneficial to birds and human society as well.

Happy birthday, Doug and may you see many many more!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Monday, July 6, 2009

Gray catbirds haunt ice-storm downed hackberry on edge of World Peace Wetland Prairie

Please click on images to enlarge view of photos from July 6, 2009.

Gray catbirds rule World Peace Wetland Prairie thickets

Please click on images to view gray catbirds in World Peace Wetland Prairie on July 6. 2009

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Joe Neal's new book now for sale

Please click on images to ENLARGE

Northwest Arkansas Audubon Society has published a new book, BIRDS in northwestern Arkansas, an ecological perspective. This venture is part of the ongoing re-launch of NWAAS. It narrates and summarizes a mass of
bird data from 9 counties in the NW corner of the state -- Breeding Bird Surveys, Christmas Bird Counts, records in Arkansas Audubon Society bird records database by many observers, Forest Service landbird point counts, field research by graduate students, etc. The book is $12.95 and is available at Nightbird Books in Fayetteville (205 W. Dickson). It is also available by mail by contacting our immediate past president, Joan Reynolds ( cost, 12.95 plus 3.00 postage. The book will also be available while they last (small press run) at society
functions, including the upcoming July 12 field trip to Chesney Prairie Natural Area -- bring the correct amount (if by check, make it out to NWAAS). Finally, if we sell 5 or more copies in one transaction, the price is $10 each (so get together & save more; this price would not include
postage, if the books are to be mailed). This is a not-for-profit venture. Hopefully, this will widen understanding of bird occurrences in this part of Arkansas and stimulate more birding!