13 February 2011

Peeks at Beaks

If you're on your computer and looking for a quick way to connect with nature, try visiting a "nature cam" Web site.

Nature cams are situated to give you glimpses into the lives of animals. Many of these cameras look into bird nests and let you follow the progress of the avian families that inhabit them.

Two such nest cams are the Eagle Cam at the Norfolk Botanical Garden in Virginia and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's Great Horned Owl Nestcam, which is located in Minnesota.

It's cool to check in with these birds on occasion, especially if you're needing to visit nature but can't get outside right away.

10 February 2011

Tips and Top Photos

Photography is a great way to connect with nature. It's like telling someone you'd like to get to know them. Then, after interacting with that person for a while, you realize you've got a great friend and some wonderful memories.

As it turns out, the National Wildlife Federation provides some tips for those hoping to capture their environment in photographs. Check out the tips here.

Also, each year, NWF holds a photo contest for professionals, amateurs, and children. The following video is a promotion for last year's contest, but it also contains some great tips. Plus, check out the bird in the YouTube still image. For those who don't recognize it, it's a cedar waxwing, which is one of my favorite birds. For me, the photo captures the character of these birds perfectly. (Waxwings always seem a little cavalier and irreverent--maybe it's the black masks.)

When the information for the 2011 NWF contest becomes available, I'll post it.

Now, get out there and shoot away.

09 February 2011

Wild Landmark

This month, the National Wildlife Federation is celebrating its 75th anniversary. February 3 marked the official day, and I wanted to acknowledge the milestone and NWF's impact on me.

I grew up reading the organization's kids' magazines (first Your Big Backyard and then Ranger Rick).  With nature all around me and a love of animals already in place, the magazines seemed a natural fit. I still remember learning how to make art out of cones and leaves.

For a long time, I didn't know NWF published the magazines. Then, as an adult, I started looking for environmental organizations to support and selected NWF as one of them. When I discovered that the organization was responsible for two of the publications that shaped my youth, I figured I had made a fitting choice.

Anyway, Happy Birthday, NWF. Thanks for helping articulate my relationship with the environment and for helping others explore their connections to it.

08 February 2011

Whales ♥ NY

And the feeling is mutual.

Today's story provides some good news about improving conditions along the East Coast and the opportunities for people to benefit from a connection with the environment.

The story, which comes from the New York Daily News, reports on the growing number of whales returning to the waters off New York. As the story notes, it looks like this return coincides with improving water conditions offshore. Watch the video below.

I found a lot of things to like about this story. First, although the video doesn't list the different species of whales that are visiting the Big Apple, the species include blue and fin whales. These are two of my favorite animals, and the blue is the largest living animal while the fin is the second largest.

Above all, the story spotlights the importance of people's relationship with the environment. Human actions led to the drop in water quality in the first place, and changes in behavior helped improve it. However, I am most struck by Tom Paladino's reaction to the whales' return. Clearly, he is excited to be so close to the animals, and this offers a glimpse into the positive impact a firmly established connection with the environment can have. In addition, the fact that he has been able to operate a whale-watching business indicates that a lot of people in New York share his feelings and the need to connect more with nature.

If this is happening in our largest city, perhaps we can all find ways of improving and strengthening our relationship with the environment. In return, the environment might help us rediscover a lot of things we've forgotten to miss.

07 February 2011

What's Green and Read All Over?

Well, I'm not actually sure about how much it's been read, but Cartriona MacGregor's Partnering with Nature: The Wild Path to Reconnecting with the Earth is certainly getting recognized for its greenness.

The book recently won the Social Change category at the Best Books 2010 Awards.

I have not yet read it, but the news article about the book's award caught my attention because it says Partnering with Nature explores the reasons, including health benefits, people should strengthen their relationship with the environment. The article also says the book provides a look at the ways people can achieve such a reconnection, including the development of an "eco-consciousness" and the use of new technologies.

Given that this blog has dedicated much time to similar ideas, I thought it might be a good idea to spotlight MacGregor's book. Check it out if you are looking for some reading.