26 January 2013

Throwing a Line

Scientists have estimated that in the not-so-distant future, technology will exist that allows us to talk to dolphins, but it appears as though dolphins already understand us.

The video below shows a dolphin seemingly asking divers for help in untangling from a fishing line:

What is most remarkable is how the dolphin appears to know and trust that the divers can help it. First, it approaches them, and then, it positions itself to make removal of the line easier for the diver.

This example of the connection between people and other species may preview the type of interaction that we will have in the future. Interestingly, we are the ones having to develop the technology to understand dolphins while they seem to know us pretty well.

23 January 2013

Mom Knows Best

We're told to listen to our mothers, so it makes sense that we might turn to them for advice on experiencing the environment.

In a number of posts, I have focused on providing information to parents, and many of those tips have come from Debi Huang, the mom at Go Explore Nature. As part of her 31 Days of Backyard Nature Fun, she shared a link to a site called OutsideMom.com, which is run by another nature mom.

OutsideMom.com contains recipes, crafts, and tips for getting outside with little kids. I really like the recent entry about helping kids track animals in the snow.

Web sites like this add support to the idea that moms really do have all the answers.

20 January 2013

Bird of the World

Many birds are international, pretty much disregarding countries' borders, so it makes sense for bird-counting efforts to harness the power of the global community.

This year, the Great Backyard Bird Count and eBird are teaming up to do just that. As this announcement from the GBBC states, the count, which runs February 15-18, will contribute to the overall, worldwide findings for 2013.

Anyone can participate, and it's exciting that this year's event will connect the whole world. For more information, click here. Then, go out and make every bird count.

17 January 2013

More with Less

I suspect it's hard to find many journalists in kitchens: They apparently have an aversion to heat.

Within the last ten days, a series a disturbing reports have surfaced around environmental issues. First, as The New York Times reports, 2012 was the hottest year on record in the United States. Then, came the news that on a global scale, 2012 was one of the 10 hottest years ever. Together, these pieces of news suggest things are getting pretty warm in here. 

Now, we're learning how media are responding to the warming of the planet. Huffington Post explains that despite the hot temperatures, coverage of global warming declined in 2012. Also, we learn from Al Gore that The New York Times is disbanding its division that reports on environmental issues.

I find it astonishing and discouraging that news media are growing increasingly silent on the environment as massive environmental changes reshape this planet so alarmingly.

12 January 2013

Found and Never Lost

I made something once that doesn't exist anymore but that I'll never be without.

When I was a kid, in one of my issues of either Your Big Backyard or Ranger Rick, I found an activity for making a miniature naturescape by gluing things I discovered outside to a sheet of paper. Although the creation went into the garbage long ago, I can still see and feel the way the pine cones stuck to the paper, their scales fanning out like flowers.

The National Wildlife Federation, which publishes Ranger Rick, has now made its suggestions for children's nature activities available online. On its family fun page, the organization shares crafts (they use pine cones to make snowy owls), recipes, songs, contests, and outdoor activities. Near the bottom of the page, visitors can search the offerings by age, season, type, animal, and subject.

Resources like this make finding ways to create your own memorable experiences with the environment easy, so don't forget about it.

06 January 2013

Making a List

Lists aren't just for Santa Claus. With the start of the new year, it's a great time to begin a list of the birds you see.

Yesterday's BirdNote podcast talks about a woman who kept track of the 8,400+ bird species she saw in her lifetime. Although I can't compete with her list, two years ago, I started making my own bird lists using my Apple Keynote presentation application. I make lists for each season, for where I live, and for my home state of Washington. However, I only add to the lists after I get a picture of a bird. Once I have the photo and identify the species, I add a new slide to the presentation and include information about the date of the sighting and the specific place it occurred.

I enjoy keeping my bird lists and encourage you to try. You don't have to follow my photograph rule. Create your own way of doing it.

Now, make that list and check it often.

03 January 2013

The Best Idea

Olympic National Park
Documentary filmmaker Ken Burns called the national parks of the United States the country's best idea, so visiting those parks would probably be a pretty good notion too.

US-parks.com promotes and advocates for our parks, and the organization also provides a park locator to make finding the parks easy. You can also find a park by using the National Wildlife Federation's Nature Find, which I blogged about in 2011.

Our national and state parks are great places and create wonderful opportunities to connect with our environment. Use the tools above to make the idea of visiting them a reality now and in the future.

01 January 2013

New Feature for the New Year

When you get things the way you want them, it takes something special to make you want a change.

For 2013, my blog has a new feature, and I am very excited about it. It comes from one of my favorite sources of environmental information, and it focuses on a subject I love, birds.

Near the top on the right side of the site, you will now see a widget from BirdNote. It will update daily, and viewers of my blog can push the play button to hear the latest avian podcast. In addition, the widget contains a link to the BirdNote Web site, which I encourage you to check out because BirdNote is much more than a great podcast. The site has a lot of bird-related information.

If you would like to add the BirdNote widget to your Web site or blog, click here.

I've blogged about BirdNote before, and I love its podcasts, so when I found I could make it part of my blog, I jumped at the chance. It's a perfect addition for the new year.