Saturday, November 26, 2011

Bald Eagles' restoration occurred only because of wise federal scientists and politicians who listened to them

We saw 10 Bald Eagles and perhaps as many as 15, including
white-headed adults and younger birds, during the Arkansas Audubon
Society field trip to Maysville November 19. They were listed an
Endangered Species because by the 1950s widespread nesting failures
due mainly to impacts of agricultural chemicals, especially DDT, had
caused near total nest failure in Arkansas and throughout the lower 48
states. Their comeback is one of our proudest achievements.

At their great size and prestigious status as national bird, Bald
Eagles are poster children for the the Endangered Species Act and
public will productively at work through government. It is because of
the ESA we still have eagles throughout Arkansas. Because of ESA,
Whooping Cranes did not go extinct. I saw 6 of them in central
Oklahoma during fall migration two years ago.

It has become hugely fashionable to condemn anything public or
governmental. Watching debates among Republicans, it appears they hold
common contempt for government, even though they have little in common
about their religious faith or life experiences. It was private,
corporate interests that caused the near extinction of Bald Eagles. It
was we citizens acting through our government who said we wouldn't
accept extinction. I'm not saying here that a Republican president
might not act responsibly when it comes to endangered species, but it
is now difficult to see one in this political climate defending the
ESA and the Bald Eagles it saved. This is just an observation: I don't
mean it as an endorsement of Democrats.

I find it difficult to look at Bald Eagles on a field trip and realize
many people of national stature, any one of whom could wind as
president, express contempt for regulatory laws like the Endangered
Species Act. On a field trip Thanksgiving Day we saw eagles everywhere
we stopped: two adults in a nest tree at Sequoyah NWR and a nest below
Tenkiller dam, both in eastern Oklahoma (and both areas are government
projects). These are things for which I give thanks for sure. I
consider it dangerous to deliberately ignore or conveniently forget
why it is that we can now find eagles so easily. There is a reason for
it, and you don't have to be a genius or a loud-mouthed radio or TV
talker to grasp it.

I am looking for government, private corporations, and small
businesses to recognize that we voters and American citizens are OF
the earth, not THE reason for the earth. The earth is not privately
and solely OURS. I would like the current president and the wanna-bes
to step up and let us know he or she will not sacrifice every piece of
life's puzzle on the altar of political purity and ideology convenient
for the moment. Meanwhile, I'm enjoying our national bird, in the
field, and thankful that citizens, through government, have made it

JOSEPH C. NEAL in Fayetteville, Arkansas
"I loaf and invite my soul..." -- Walt Whitman

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Joe Neal's invitation to a slide show on birds and the release of IN THE PROVINCE of BIRD, a memoir from western Arkansas by Neal, with a few words from Louise Mann

  Hey Neighbors...Fayetteville's favorite birder, Joe Neal has written another book. He will present it with a slide show at Nightbird Books. If you've not attended one of Joe's presentations you are in for a treat. His knowledge and dry sense of humor will keep you chuckling and learning  at the same time. He'll also have information about the annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count.  So, come have a cup of hot chocolate and enjoy the birds!   Louise Mann    Joe's note below....


Nightbird Books in Fayetteville,
Friday December 9    7:00 PM
       Y'ALL ARE INVITED to a field trip to Nightbird Books in Fayetteville, Fri. night, Dec. 9, at 7 PM.

The occasion is the  release by Half Acre Press of IN THE PROVINCE OF BIRDS, A MEMOIR FROM  WESTERN ARKANSAS by Joe Neal.

      Yellow-billed Loons and lesser relatives, the World's Champion Hoot Owler, Birds and Baptists,
etchings and Africans, the bigtime woodpecker business, raising Ariel midst migration fall-out: this is the stuff of my PROVINCE and these new essays.

      When I stand to deliver the PROVINCE slide show December  9, it will be a field trip, though in Nightbird it will be warm and foody, rather than rainy, cold and windy as on so many Northwest Arkansas Audubon Society field trips. The program includes hither-to-for unseen selections from my much-coveted collection of yard flamingos, wooden chickens, and junk cars as well as a few birds rare and not-so-rare.

       Since an independent, local bookstore is such a great asset -- and because my publisher is way, way out on the limb in bringing this book out -- PROVINCE will be available for a price similar to an all-you-can-eat catfish dinner (includes drink, tip extra). As in the case of all our field trips, you do not have to be a member to come. ALL are welcome, with or without investing in PROVINCE. And finally, as they say in trash collection, "Satisfaction guaranteed or DOUBLE your garbage back."

JOSEPH C. NEAL in Fayetteville, Arkansas
"I loaf and invite my soul..." -- Walt Whitman

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Windy Maysville on November 19, 2011, exciting to Joe Neal and Audubon Arkansans

Rose Ann Barnhill showed up at my house in Fayetteville yesterday
morning at 6:40, but not before a stop at Rick's Bakery for cake
donuts (2 flavors) and a sticky bun. It proved just the fuel needed
along a mid-day country lane southwest of Maysville. Kim Smith has
referred to such food as starch bombs, and for good reason. This was
the start of the Maysville, former Beatie Prairie, field trip, part of
the Arkansas Audubon Society meeting in Rogers this weekend.

Have I said VERY WINDY yet? At times you could barely stand. Maysville
is just north of the broad valley of Spavinaw Creek, and a strong
south wind creates considerable updrafting of air. So one of the first
birds we see is a Bald Eagle, hanging in the breeze, no flaps. Then
two Red-tailed Hawks with an American kestrel chasing. At one point we
have meadowlarks in front. The birds flush, kind of, just dangling in
the wind. Used to Arctic breezery, White-crowned Sparrows loaf in
thickets and on the ground, earth calm, a great place to sing. Five or
six of singing flocks include Harris's Sparrows, to our delight.

Mitchell Pruitt is with us and we are hoping, really hoping, that one
of those White-crowned flocks will produce an American Tree Sparrow.
This would be species number 300 for his year of great quest.
Maysville is the stage and we are in a play. Mitchell has the lead, we
are the Greek chorus. We start working the White-crowned flocks, but
no tree sparrow. Then comes a cell call from Chesney Prairie Natural
Area, where Joan Reynolds and Jacque Brown are leading another AAS
meeting field trip. An interesting owl has flushed from a big cedar. A
Long-eared Owl, as some think? For Mitchell THIS would be 300, so off
he goes, with one-third of the Maysville field trip. Further west on
Loux road, we are birding in Carol Loux's yard with Carol, and nicely
protected from the wind -- protected enough to clearly hear the chuck
chucks of Western Meadowlarks on the lawn. Now comes another cell
call. The owl can't be relocated, but 300 is an American Tree Sparrow!
At Chesney! It's windy there, too, but wind has no chance in the face
of desire.

I have yet to share four Bald Eagles in one tree -- huge birds once
nearly extinct in the Lower 48 and saved by the intelligence,
outcries, and resolution of just such people as on today's many
Arkansas Audubon Society field trips. We are the young and
precociously nimble, the old and slowed, and whatever our place in
life, whatever bone or muscle that works or doesn't work, we have a
full tank of desire pushing us into the old prairie field -- damn
those 30 MPH winds, full speed ahead -- looking for a tiny sparrow (in
this case, Lapland Longspurs) in vast short, waving green. There,
there! Horned Larks, black masks between waving tiny blades.

JOSEPH C. NEAL in Fayetteville, Arkansas
"I loaf and invite my soul..." -- Walt Whitman

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Did you feel the earthquake in Fayetteville at 10:50 or shortly thereafter Saturday, October 5, 2011?

Christmas bird count set for December 18, 2011

The Fayetteville CBC will be conducted on Sunday December 18, 2011. We  
go on Sunday, not to avoid church, but to avoid heavy traffic  
associated with Saturdays. The count will be conducted as in the past  
few years, and we will tally up at the end of the day at Doug James  
and Liz Adam's place, as usual. Party leaders please organize your  
groups and everyone please contact your party leaders and start  
finding all the good rare birds!
JOSEPH C. NEAL in Fayetteville, Arkansas
"I loaf and invite my soul..." -- Walt Whitman

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Whooping Cranes need your HELP now

Whooping Cranes

Help Save Whooping Cranes

Help stop a dirty tar sands oil pipeline from being built through crucial habitat for endangered whooping cranes.


News Feed
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Sensitive forests, lakes and estuaries threatened by Senator Rand Paul's pro-smog and pro-soot attack the the Clean Air Act.
Meet Marjorie Ziegler, Dedicated to Hawaii's Ecosystems
This month's featured voice for wildlife is passionate about protecting the wildlife and ecosystems of Hawaii.
Read more news on: Climate, Water, Wildlife, Education

A kettle of Franklin's gulls and bald eagles: The Halloween 2011 report from Joe Neal with Don Nelms aboard

Don Nelms and I went for big birds today in former prairies of western
Benton County. We saw 7-9 Bald Eagles in what is still opening stages
of their migration. An immaculate adult, white-black-white, soared
among 25 vultures (mostly Turkey) at the SWEPCO plant. At Maysville 4
(2 adults, 2 subadults) stood in a pasture along State Line Road. We
began seeing Franklin's Gulls along highway 12 west of Gentry:
graceful, buoyant, white with snappy black trim, floating in the high
blue. I was thrilled to see the first 7 soaring over a pasture and
assumed then I'd had my day. As we turned north on 43, we had 15 right
over us. In the distance a compact spiraling white cloud COULD have
been 100 more--desire and distance play the cello of imagination. A
few gulls, plus vultures and a Red-tailed Hawk, surfed updrafts
created by a south breeze and rising warm air above Spavinaw Creek
bluffs. Then sky turned all gull on the old Beatie Prairie
chicken-farm country south of Maysville. In a very rough square mile
or so I came up with a variety of counts; maybe "around 200" is
reasonable. I have seen a kettle of 200 Franklin's Gulls in northwest
Arkansas in past migrations, but always at distance, and briefly.
Today, Don and I were in the middle, gulls wheeling back-and-forth
eyelevel over a big weedy soybean field. What were they after? There
are warm days when the sun is just right and you see shiny wings of
millions of insects. We didn't have that light, but as Franklin's
Gulls are fond of chironmids (midges), they must have seen them or
something like them in the migration hunger. For our part, Don and I
soon had the option of the Maysville HandiStop into which, after
eagles and gulls, we wheeled.
JOSEPH C. NEAL in Fayetteville, Arkansas
"I loaf and invite my soul..." -- Walt Whitman