Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Connecting the (birding) dots this week

On Sunday, I topped up our bird feeders as usual. Yesterday I made a mental note that the feeder closer to the pond was nearly empty again. And I thought it odd that the feeders hanging outside the kitchen windows were still nearly full. I didn't spend much time dwelling on it, and went on about my business.

This morning at breakfast, Chris pointed to a tree outside and said, "There's that bird again! I saw it the other day and couldn't figure out what it was." We started rifling through our bird books, eventually identifying a Sharp-shinned Hawk (a new sighting, added to our Bird List!).

Reading on, I suddenly understood why the bird feeders had gone quiet this week:
  • The Audobon Society Field Guide to North American Birds: The Sharp-shin preys on small birds such as sparrows and warblers...
  • eNature: The smallest and most numerous of the accipiters, the Sharp-shinned Hawk feeds mainly on birds, which it catches in sudden and swift attacks.
  • National Audobon Society Field Guide to the Mid-Atlantic States: Expert at capturing small birds, often at feeders.
Keeping my fingers crossed for our "regulars," that the Sharp-shin gets bored and moves on!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Get rid of catalog clutter!

I have a feeling more people watch Bill Moyers Journal than read this blog, but I was so impressed by an interview that aired last night, I feel compelled to put in a plug for Moyers interviewed Dan Katz, the Environmental Program Director of the Overbook Foundation. Overbook joined with the Kendeda Fund and the Merck Family Fund to create, an easy, free service that allows you to "opt out" of unsolicited catalogs, reducing the number of catalogs in your mailbox and lightening your footprint on the environment.

We receive a lot of catalogs, and at this time of year we are postively inundated. Once upon a time I used to enjoy receiving these, but that was before internet shopping made it easy to browse and buy. Now all those catalogs are just house clutter and a waste of natural resources. The site offers a couple of interesting facts:

  • Over eight million tons of trees are consumed each year in the production of paper catalogs.
  • The production and disposal of direct mail alone consumes more energy than three million cars.
In the television interview, Katz recommended viewers, "take your catalogues, rip off the back page, recycle these, the big parts that you don't want, and you stack up the pages here that have your name and customer number on it. You go to the website, and you sign up. ... it would just take you a few minutes to opt out of the catalogues that you don't want to get."

It can take 10 weeks for an "opt out" request to take effect, but it's still a fantastic idea. I registered 5 catalogs we received yesterday, and will add more as they fill up our mailbox.