Forum 2017

Saturday, February 4th – ODWC’s Lake Arcadia Conservation Education Building directions to location Register for 2017 Forum As last year, participation is open to anyone working on biod…

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Organizational skill? No, organizational planning.

Are you naturally organized?  No, me neither.

About 7 billion people on this planet right now could probably benefit from increased organization in their lives to manage short-term obligations and achieve long-term goals. The good news is that we don’t have to rely on inherent organizational talent to become better organized people. These days, there are tools at our disposal that can help any of us get there.

Auriel Fournier is a colleague wrapping up her PhD at the University of Arkansas. She’s really impressive, and I’m enjoying watching her make that transition from graduate student to renowned scholar in her field. She recently made available an essay that describes how she stays organized, with links to specific tools she uses and a description of how she uses them.  It’s great, and so is she.  Check it out!

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We’re gonna be okay

This is a blog devoted to appreciation and conservation of nature, respect and celebration of science and rational thought, and the occasional rant about how far we still can go in our love and care of fellow humans.

As you might imagine then, like millions of people all over the globe, I’m saddened to have handed over control of the world’s foremost economic and military power to a sociopathic, narcissistic, anti-intellectual baby-man and his army of sycophants hell-bent on the schadenfruede of people already marginalized by the powerful and the infantile.

Saddened is too soft. Sickened works a bit better.

Cruel. Stupid. Backwards. Corrupt. These are terms that describe that man and how I’ve thought about him for decades. He embodies the absolute worst of America, so in our infinite wisdom, we handed him the keys to America.

Many are terrified. Millions, that is.  We have a Putin puppet in the White House who’s displaying more fascist tendencies with each passing week.  And why not?  When you are mentally ill to the point that you think only you can fix what’s wrong with society; when you think that every man wants to be you and every woman (the hot ones, at least) want to be with you; when you think that you can act on every puerile fantasy of an adolescent boy and be chastised only by getting elected to the highest office in the land, you might start believing in your own nonsense.  Once you declare yourself the arbiter of truth and fiction and right and wrong, it’s probably fairly easy to start abusing your power to silence your critics, and to justify it because if those critics are against you, then they must be wrong.

So people are nervous, and vulnerable people are terrified.  This fool really could undo decades of real progress on human rights, environmental protection, etc. in a heartbeat.

But here’s the thing, and it gives me tremendous hope.

We’re gonna be okay.

We’re gonna be okay because this next generation will blow your mind with their commitment to equality and environment and their well-developed bullshit detectors. What we just did was inaugurate a common enemy for them whose rhetoric will expunge every ounce of apathy for politics that they would otherwise have developed. Folks think that Trump’s election was a revolution? We ain’t seen nothing yet.


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Birding and the Border Patrol – a Rio Grande encounter

Eight years ago, I had this illuminating encounter with a Border Patrol Agent in the Rio Grande Valley.

The Waterthrush Blog

While birding the Lower Rio Grande Valley a few weeks ago, we visited a number of out-of-the way places where illegal aliens routinely cross the border from Mexico into the United States.  It’s one thing to imagine how difficult that journey must be, but to go there and see the cactus and thorn scrub woodlands through which these people sprint in the dark on the hope of a better life somehow makes their desperation that much more palpable.  At the same time, you are struck by all the nefarious activities happening in the same place – the smuggling of drugs, guns, people.  We saw some houses in the area that looked to be completely surrounded by 8-10′ chain link fencing – folks just get sick and tired of desperate Mexicans running across their lawns in the middle of the night.

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Why Keystone XL should be approved

Two years later and yes, of course, the Standing Rock protesters have my sympathies. My support of their right to protest and my objection to the harsh treatment they have received, however, is separate from the objective analysis on this issue I attempted in 2015. There have been some more pipeline leaks since then, but I haven’t seen anything new to convince me that the pipeline is not, ultimately, the best option among bad choices.

The Waterthrush Blog

I’m very much in the minority among my environmentally conscious brothers and sisters in that I am convinced that the Keystone XL pipeline should be approved without further delay.  The controversial pipeline resolution was passed today by the US Senate but President Obama has promised to veto its final approval.  It would be a mistake for him to do so.

Among the many groups encouraging the President’s veto, the Natural Resource Defense Council lists 5 big reasons why the pipeline should not be completed:  1) transporting “tar sands” bitumen via pipeline is unsafe, 2) burning tar sands oil will contribute greatly to global climate change, 3) tar sands sludge is toxic to human and environmental health, 4) transporting tar sands oil via pipeline will cost American jobs, and 5) approving the Keystone XL pipeline sends the wrong message for the future, which should be less reliance on fossil…

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What’s in the yard: 2 January 2017

Stillwater, Payne, Oklahoma, US
Jan 2, 2017 8:50 AM – 2:50 PM
Protocol: Traveling
0.25 mile(s)
27 species

Northern Bobwhite  3
Cooper’s Hawk  1
Red-shouldered Hawk  1
Red-tailed Hawk  1
Mourning Dove  3
Barred Owl  2
Red-bellied Woodpecker  2
Downy Woodpecker  1
Northern Flicker  1
Pileated Woodpecker  1
Blue Jay  3
American Crow  5
Carolina Chickadee  6
Tufted Titmouse  1
White-breasted Nuthatch  2
Carolina Wren  2
Ruby-crowned Kinglet  1
Eastern Bluebird  3
Hermit Thrush  1
American Robin  1
Northern Mockingbird  1
Yellow-rumped Warbler  2
Dark-eyed Junco  22
Harris’s Sparrow  3
White-throated Sparrow  2
Northern Cardinal  12
House Finch  2

View this checklist online at

This report was generated automatically by eBird v3 (

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2017 AOS/SCO meeting announcement

Two venerable ornithological societies, the American Ornithologists’ Union and Cooper Ornithological Society, merged in 2016 following protracted discussions on the topic over the last several years. Next summer will be the first meeting of the newly merged society, the American Ornithological Society or AOS (though it’s listed as the 135th stated meeting to preserve the long history of the AOU and COS).  As the AOU and COS have done for quite some time, the meeting will be held jointly with our Canadian colleagues, the Society of Canadian Ornithologists.

The meeting will take place 31 July–5 August 2017 on the campus of Michigan State University in East Lansing, MI, USA. The call for symposia proposals is now open with a deadline of Feb. 1.  Hope to see you there!

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