Purple Martin Festivals and Fans

Cape May lighthouse and birdhouse / By Vilseskogen

If you live in the eastern U.S. chances are there’s now a purple martin festival or fan club nearby–or will be soon. Watching and attracting America’s largest and most co-dependent swallow has become a big pastime and $30 million business. About a million Americans have put up housing for purple martins, says Louise Chambers, the Education Outreach Director for the Purple Martin Conservation Association. Purple martins are a special species because east of the rockies–where most of the country’s 11 million martins nest–they depend on people for 95% of their housing says, chambers. The martins (Progne subis) The martins are tame and tolerant of their human fans because they understand their special status, writes James R. Hill, III, the association’s founder: “The Purple Martin is one of the few birds in the entire world that was never persecuted or hunted by man, instead it was nurtured and loved by him.” Some people do try to chase the martins away–and decades ago even killed them mistaking them for starlings, Chambers says. In 2007, the last year figures are available, the USDA’s Wildlife Services, the federal agency for killing what’s considered nuisance wildlife, chased away 625,720 purple martins, mostly in Mississippi and Kentucky, and killed five. By now most Americans think of martins as something to enjoy, not shoo away. About 125,000 Americans a year try to because what martin lovers adorably call landlords: they put the distinctive white houses or gourds. A recent

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10 States Celebrate King Weekend With Bald Eagle Watches

This weekend 10 states have eagle-watching festivities over King Weekend. And that doesn’t count three more states (OR, NY, NJ) that have eagles right over a river on their border. The recent cold spell seems to be pushing eagles further south. Northern states are reporting slow seasons while those in Alabama and Kentucky are having strong years.

Where are the Eagle Viewing Spots Around the Country?See the Full Calendar of Eagle-Viewing Events for 2010

Dates State And where is that? Peak Number of Eagles Details Jan 8-Feb 7 AL Lake Guntersville SP The area gets more than 100, but tours see about 15-35 Eagle Awareness Weekends offer accessible viewing spots to see where eagles nest and hunt. Eagle experts (some with live birds) give talks inside the lodge, too. Mid Jan-Feb CA-OR Lower Klamath Basin on the CA-OR Border 500 The Lower Kalmath Basin National Wildlife Refuge gets up to 500 bald eagles each winter. According to the refuge, the birds arrive in November but the best viewing is in January and February along the Tule Lake and Lower Klamath auto tours.

Lower Klamath is the country’s first waterfowl refuge. Over a million birds visit for the winter, including white pelicans, Pintail, gadwall, and canvasback ducks. You may also see Sandhill Cranes and antelope.

You can make a reservation to use one of their photography blinds. Jan 16 – 17 IA Keokuk, IA’s Dam 19, near the intersection of IA, IL and MO

Try Main Street or 4th

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20 States Host Bald Eagle Festivals; Six This Weekend. Is There A Bald Eagle Near You?

See the full 2010 Eagle Calendar

In January and February rivers freeze and bald eagles have to come down from Canada to visit us. To capitalize on the event, Audubon clubs and parks around the country hold Bald Eagle Days or Festivals to give people a chance to see our national bird in places they haven’t been seen in generations. Within a couple hours of New York, Boston, Chicago and Dallas, you can see eagles.

Twenty states have bald eagle festivals, although two have cancelled this year because of the recession. The Upper Skagit Eagle Festival in WA and the CT Eagle Festival won’t be held this year. The eagles still show up, you just don’t get the luxury treatment, which usually entails scopes and hot chocolate. CT Audubon even still has $40 boat tours.

Current Eagle Festivals: AL, AK, AR, CO, ID, IL, IN, IA, KY, MD, NJ, NY, OK, PA, TN, TX, UT and WI

We’ve got six bald eagle events this weekend. We don’t just have a national bald eagle day because they show up at different times around the country. The peak for eagle days is the first weekend in February, with 11 states having eagle-watching events.

See the 2010 Calendar of Eagle EventsWhere to See Eagles Yearound

To see more animals go to animaltourism.com

Destination Wildlife: Another Must-Have Book for Wildlife Watchers

Literary agent Pamela Brodowsky people who travel to see animals will want have to dream about travel adventures. Destination Wildlife: An international site-by-site guide to the best places to experience endangered, rare and fascinating animals an their habitats gives you places and animals to aspire to see around the globe.

The book is exactly what you’d want to have on hand through a cold winter weekend when you’re dreaming about where you could travel next year. You’ll need some other books to get into the specifics of travel to all those destinations, but this is a nice way to browse your options. Written with the National Wildlife Federation, you can be pretty sure these are ways to see animals that aren’t going to hurt or exploit them.

Brodowsky is extremely diplomatic in describing the one place in the book I’d question: the wild horses of Assateague and Chincoteague. She describes the roundup of horses, some of which will be sold, adding “Depending on your personal preference, you might want to join or avoid the pony-swim crowd.” Fair enough, but I’d go further and say that many people who love wild horses would be disturbed by the round-up–especially since the horses are managed so differently on each side of the Maryland-Virginia border. The Maryland folks use the Humane Society’s birth control procedures (and allow dogs); the Virginian manage the herd to sell off horses every year to support their fire department (and ban dogs from the island, even inside

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Masses of Bassets and Poodles This Weekend

September is a perfect time to put on a silly dog event. Now that the weather has cooled, we have two great events this weekend: a basset hound waddle in Illinois and a poodle party in New Hampshire.

In Illinois this weekend, we’ve got a nice basset hound waddle. Around the country basset breed rescue groups raise money to save dogs by having parades. Typically, a rescue group –in this case Guardian Angel Basset Rescue–gloms onto a small town parade–here it’s Dwight, IL’s Harvest Days. The bassets quickly become the star of the show–even though they are uniquely ill-suited to parading, what with their sloth, girth and enthusiasm for saying hi to everyone. You can absolutely go basset-less, have a great time and say hi to as many bassets as you want.

I’ve gone to the Dwight Waddle, riding on the basset coattails of my sister’s goofy dog Bacon. You’ll see a sea of bassets; they hope for 1,000 this year. And they have plenty of hounds up for adoption. My sister is going and I hope she falls in love with one. Next week the Calgary Basset Rescue Network (see their Facebook fan page) has its fourth annual waddle .

On the east coast, Crabapple Downs‘ 60-acre Poodle Farm has its annual Poodle Party weekend. You don’t have to have a poodle bred here, but they do want you to have a poodle. It’s their ninth year and they’ve got a dog dancing class this year. I

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