NYC Birders Looking for Owls

A great-horned owl that visited Central Park last year

Bird biologist Robert DeCandido is leading tours in New York City this week to spot owls–eastern screech owls in Central Park and great horned owls in the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx.

The winter is a good time to see owls because the leaves are gone, making it harder for them to hide, and they fly out at dusk, which is late afternoon.

Last Sunday birders counted 59 species of birds in Central Park on the first day of NYC Audubon’s annual Christmas Bird Count. (The count goes on until Jan. 5, so you can still play and there’s an organized count in the Bronx on Dec. 26.) Birding Bob notes that “Our group added three species that no one else saw (Winter Wren; Peregrine Falcon and just before 9am, an Orange-crowned Warbler).”

DeCandido and his companion Debs took amazing pictures recently of an immature sharp-shinned hawk and a female Ring-necked Duck on the Reservoir.

Check out Birding Bob’s tours Where to See Wildlife in the Northeast

Wednesday, December 22nd (OWLS): 4pm – NYBG in the Bronx – Meet at 4pm at the Main Gate (opposite the MetroNorth Train Station) – $5. OWLS! We will head to a location to watch the fly out of the Great Horned Owls for the evening. Since dusk is about 4:45pm, we should be done by 5:30pm or so. NYBG is open for free all day. Trains leave Grand Central at about 20 minutes past

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Feds Overlook Wildlife Watchers Again in New Conservation Panel


Sarah Palin – Caribou Hunt,courtesy  Grizzly Bay by way of Kinship Circle.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar created a new panel for citizens to tell the federal government what to do about conservation and wildlife. But, instead of having the Wildlife Hunting and Heritage Council include the growing portion of Americans who just want to watch animals, not gun them down, he geared it to the dwindling minority of hunters.

More Americans have fun watching wildlife than shooting it (71 million wildlife watchers versus 12.5 million hunters), according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Hunters already have advocates in the NRA. State wildlife a encourage hunting. The Pittman Robertson Act makes sure of that. As any NRA member can tell you, there’s a 10-11% tax on guns that supports wildlife and conservation. That tax makes the agency beholden to hunters. Seven states have commissions that specifically require hunters or anglers, the HSUS says.

What NRA members won’t tell you is that the tax is on all guns, not just those used in hunting. The NRA tells members that the tax is on “sporting arms” Which weapons does the NRA consider sporting? Pretty much all of them. (I think it’s their effort to get hunters–by far the most respectable and respectful gun contingent–in on the government-fearing bandwagon.) The tax on pistols and revolvers is 10%. What percent of handguns do you suppose are used for hunting? Very few. But the portion of the gun market that buys for self protection, crime or militia purposes doesn’t have a strong lobby. Hunters

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