St. Louis was colder than I expected. Of course, most of the eastern
U.S. was colder than normal the day I happened to be there, last Friday, April 11th. I was visiting in order to give a presentation for St. Louis Audubon’s annual meeting that night but I was fortunate to have some time for birding beforehand. The St. Louis Audubon president, Torrey Berger and treasurer, David Roglesâ€”both excellent birders and ardent conservationistsâ€”spent the morning and early afternoon showing me around.
It was windy and raw and the great Mississippi and Missouri Rivers were running fast and high but we saw some great birds and I learned much about the kinds of conservation work going on in the area. Tens of millions of dollars are required here to restore some of the habitat along this great river system that was lost over the 200 years since Louis and Clark started here on their grand expedition to explore the western U.S. I couldn’t help but think of the contrast with Canada’s great river system, the Mackenzie, the longest remaining virtually undammed river system in the Northern Hemisphere.
In the area known as “The Confluence” where the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers join north of St. Louis, we birded an incredible area called the Riverlands that the Army Corp of Engineers is working with partners including St. Louis Audubon to restore. There were great clouds of hundreds of White Pelicans (20,000+ breed in the Boreal), perhaps a dozen dainty Bonaparte’s Gulls (95% breed in Boreal), a few Horned Grebes and Bufflehead (both with more than 75% in Boreal), and Northern Shovelers everywhere (36% in Boreal). Despite the wind we found a few migrating landbirds as well including a handful (4-5) of Rusty Blackbirds (85% in Boreal), Ruby-crowned Kinglets (68% in Boreal), Yellow-rumped Warblers (63% in Boreal), and Brown Creepers (15% in Boreal).
Later that night at the St. Louis Audubon annual meeting I got to see how this amazing all-volunteer group is putting conservation into action. The group had raised $20,000 for a bird conservation project in southern Mexico where many of our Boreal birds spend the winter, had put up another $20,000 for bird habitat restoration work at the Riverlands project near St. Louis, and had presented 60 programs to classrooms totaling 3,000 kids in the area.
And now this particular evening St. Louis Audubon and organizer extraordinaire
Mitch Leachman, had transformed the room where the annual meeting and dinner was being held into a Boreal Bird haven. There were posters providing background and education about Boreal birds and the issues they face and photos showing familiar Boreal birds that winter or migrate through St. Louis with opportunities for people to “adopt” a Boreal bird to raise funds for their conservation.
Thank you St. Louis Audubon!
If you would like to help Boreal birds yourself, sign the Save Our Boreal Birds petition at www.saveourborealbirds.org AND even if you have already signed it, send it along to family and friends and to listserves so we can have over 10,000 signatures by International Migratory Bird Day in May.
On Friday, April 18th at 8:30 PM Eastern time, Maine Public Television’s Maine Watch with Jennifer Rooks will be airing a segment on how to “buy for birds” that should include discussions of Boreal birds and products that are good and bad for Boreal birds. I was able to take Jennifer out birding last week to see some Boreal birds and then we went to a grocery store to look at products that impact birds. After the 18th the show should be available for free downloading and podcasting at: http://www.mpbn.net/mainewatch/index.html