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Prime Places to Partake in Audubon’s Annual Christmas Bird Count
By Ariel Gans
Looking for something to tweet about? Spend part of the holiday season helping the National Audubon Society complete its 118th annual Christmas Bird Count. From Dec. 14 to Jan. 5, join tens of thousands of bird-lovers across the Western Hemisphere as they help add to the longest-running wildlife census in the world. Your tallies contribute to a large pool of information that helps ornithologists and conservationists protect native birds and their environments. It's a tradition that welcomes all to participate, and we've found five places where you can find your fowl.
The Magic Hedge: Illinois
Spend a brisk day scouring the Chicago North Side for elusive snowy owls and lapland longspurs. Tucked behind Montrose Beach on Lake Michigan, the Magic Hedge famously harbors hundreds of shorebirds and songbirds as they migrate each spring and fall—but still boasts a sizable winter population. If the hedge gets old, you could always walk northeast to Fish Hook Pier, where you can scan the shoreline and open water for waterfowl. Pro tip: It pays to be an early bird at this site—lots of friendly fanatics flock here in the morning. You might want to ask them to help you scout out any particularly rare species on your list.
Bayou Sauvage National Wildlife Refuge: Louisiana
This 24,000-acre gem lies entirely within the city limits of New Orleans, making it the nation's largest urban wildlife refuge. Surrounded on three sides by water, the sanctuary offers a great chance to see waders, ducks, rails and raptors. Route 90 will take you straight to the bayou's best birding spots: the main visitors' area (on the left) and the marsh observation deck (on the right). For an inside view of the trail, I suggest you launch a boat from the Madera Marsh unit.
Garden Canyon: Arizona
Swoop into the world-renowned eco-crossroads of the Sierra Vista for a one-of-a-kind birding experience. Spot Cassin's and Botteri's sparrows in the canyon's grassy fields or journey to the central picnic area, where a small stream draws in birds like the sharp-shinned hawks, which chase slow-flying elegant trogons among the trees. With five life zones within five miles, these sky islands comprise a lush hotspot of sought-after species such as the spotted owl. Come back in the spring when the towering deciduous forest in the lower canyon fills with migrating tanagers, warblers and grosbeaks. For your convenience, Tucson Audubon provides a list of specialty birds in the area.
Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge: Florida
This site is eminently driveable. Cruise down Black Point Wildlife Drive—its seven-mile, one-way, self-guided auto loop takes you through both fresh- and saltwater marshes. The drive offers several stops, each of which is described in a brochure—available at the drive's entrance or at the visitor information center—featuring wading birds, shorebirds, raptors, waterfowl, alligators, river otters and even bobcats. If you go in the winter, keep an eye out for bird feeders that attract brilliantly colored painted buntings.
Klamath Basin: Oregon
Our final destination has christened itself "home of the best birding in the West"—and rightly so. Klamath Basin has the highest concentration of wintering bald eagles in the lower 48 states, and throughout the year hosts 80 percent of Pacific Flyway birds. Observers can marvel at the density and diversity of birds that congregate throughout more than 45 bird-viewing sites—one of which attracts 50 to 100 bald eagles during the peak mid-winter season. View mountains, deserts, Crater Lake, lava beds, geothermal areas, horst and graben formations as you explore Klamath's deep and shallow water marshes/wetlands, coniferous forests, juniper woodlands, oak chaparral, sagebrush grasslands, grassy meadows and rocky cliffs. Plus, visitors can combine their birding experience with the multitude of other recreational opportunities in the area, such as hiking, skiing, fishing, paddling, snowshoeing, camping and dog-sledding.
Reposted with permission from our media associate SIERRA Magazine.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Pam Radtke Russell in New Orleans
Local TV weather forecasters have become foot soldiers in the war against climate misinformation. Over the past decade, a growing number of meteorologists and weathercasters have begun addressing the climate crisis either as part of their weather forecasts, or in separate, independent news reports to help their viewers understand what is happening and why it is important.
While airlines only serve bottled drinking water directly to customers, they use the plane's water for coffee and tea, and passengers can drink the tap water. Aitor Diago / Getty Images
You might want to think twice before washing your hands in an airplane bathroom.
By Allegra Kirkland, Jeremy Deaton, Molly Taft, Mina Lee and Josh Landis
Climate change is already here. It's not something that can simply be ignored by cable news or dismissed by sitting U.S. senators in a Twitter joke. Nor is it a fantastical scenario like The Day After Tomorrow or 2012 that starts with a single crack in the Arctic ice shelf or earthquake tearing through Los Angeles, and results, a few weeks or years later, in the end of life on Earth as we know it.
Air pollution particles that a pregnant woman inhales have the potential to travel through the lungs and breach the fetal side of the placenta, indicating that unborn babies are exposed to black carbon from motor vehicles and fuel burning, according to a study published in the journal Nature Communications.
Teen activist Greta Thunberg delivered a talking-to to members of Congress Tuesday during a meeting of the Senate Climate Change Task Force after politicians praised her and other youth activists for their efforts and asked their advice on how to fight climate change.
The University of California system will dump all of its investments from fossil fuels, as the Associated Press reported. The university system controls over $84 billion between its pension fund and its endowment. However, the announcement about its investments is not aimed to please activists.