Recently in newsletter Category

Oct My Minnesota Woods

| No Comments

Check out the latest news here

Oct Headwaters Science Center News

| No Comments

You can read the latest news from the Headwaters Science Center here.

Oct. Maplewood Parks & Rec Newsletter

| No Comments

You can view the latest events and information from Maplewood Parks and Recreation here.

Oct SEEK Bulletin

| No Comments

You can view the October SEEK Bulletin here.

Are you seeing colored leaves on your dogwoods?

| No Comments

October Mississippi Messages

| No Comments

Calendar of Events


Saturday, October 17 -- 3:00-7:00 p.m.
REI Roseville, 1955 County Road B2 W, Roseville

Throughout October, FMR and REI are celebrating their longstanding partnership with special member benefits. One of these perks, is a complimentary REI "Steward 2014" t-shirt ($20 value) for individuals that are both REI and FMR members. T-shirts will be available only for pick-up on the date provided above. Additionally, when picking up your t-shirt you can enter to win a light-weight REI Passage 2 Tent -- it's great for backpackers. Come out and join us on October 17th from 3:00-7:00 p.m. at REI Roseville. T-shirts available while supplies last. Only one per member please. Contact John Briel, Development Associate, with questions at

Read more »


Saturday, October 18 -- 9:00 a.m.-noon
Cottage Grove Ravine Regional Park, Cottage Grove

Centered around one of the most impressive landscape features in southern Washington County, Cottage Grove Ravine Regional Park totals nearly 600 acres. The ravine for which it is named is approximately a half-mile wide with 80- to 100-foot slopes, and bisects the park north to south before ending in a small lake. Known as a "tunnel valley," the ravine was carved by a subglacial drainageway that carried large volumes of water, eroding the valley.

Volunteers will work with FMR Senior Ecologist Karen Schik to continue and expand the restoration of this beautiful park by hauling cut brush, primarily buckthorn. (There may also be some brush-cutting for volunteers comfortable working with handsaws or loppers.) This will help open the canopy, making way for native plants beneficial to local wildlife and waters to return.

Capacity is limited and registration required. Learn more on the event page, or sign up now with or 651-222-2193 x31.

Read more »


Wednesday, October 22 -- 6:00-7:00 p.m.
Dakota County Western Service Center (next to Galaxie Library), Apple Valley

Join FMR Stewardship Coordinator Adam Flett to learn about practices and small projects you can take on inside your home -- be it a mansion or a small apartment -- to significantly improve your water footprint. We'll quickly cover the basics, touching on both well-known lessons and lesser-known tools to help you figure out the most effective steps to take to make your home river-friendly.

Topics include the biggest water users in your house or apartment (both direct and indirect usage), where to take leftover prescription drugs, alternatives to household products containing triclosan and other river polluters.

Capacity is limited and registration required. Learn more about this free Vermillion Stewards event on the event page, or sign up now with or 651-222-2193 x31.

Read more »


Saturday, October 24 -- 3:00-7:00 p.m.
REI Bloomington, 750 American Blvd W, Bloomington, MN 55420

Throughout October, FMR and REI are celebrating their longstanding partnership with special member benefits. One of these perks, is a complimentary REI "Steward 2014" t-shirt ($20 value) for individuals that are both REI and FMR members. T-shirts will be available only for pick-up on the date provided above. Additionally, when picking up your t-shirt you can enter to win a light-weight REI Passage 2 Tent -- it's great for backpackers. Come out and join us on October 24th from 3:00-7:00 p.m. at REI Bloomington. T-shirts available while supplies last. Only one per member please. Contact John Briel, Development Associate, with questions at

Read more »


Saturday, October 25 -- 9:00 a.m.-noon
Pine Bend Bluffs near Highway 52, Flint Hills property, Rosemount

After a light breakfast and hot coffee, enjoy a nice fall workout removing pre-cut invasive buckthorn at this annual event in beautiful Pine Bend Bluffs. At the end, we'll enjoy a hot lunch (in a heated tent) to say thank you and celebrate a day's good work.

Learn more on the event page, or sign up now with or 651-222-2193 x31.

Read more »


Saturday, November 1 -- 9:30-11:30 a.m.
3M Cottage Grove facility natural area

Join us in the oak woodlands and bluff prairie near the Mississippi River, part of a natural area owned by 3M-Cottage Grove being restored in partnership with Friends of the Mississippi River. Alongside FMR Ecologist Joe Walton and River Stewardship Coordinator Adam Flett, volunteers will learn about, explore and then help restore the woodlands and prairie by hauling cut brush, primarily buckthorn, and removing honeysuckle. This will immediately create openings for the return of native plants that benefit our local wildlife and waters. No experience is required and all supplies will be provided.

Capacity is limited and registration required. Learn more on the event page, or sign up now with Amy at or 651-222-2193 x31.

Read more »


Tuesday, November 4 -- 6:00-7:00 p.m.
Schaar's Bluff Gathering Center, Hastings

Whether you're interested in a smaller native planting or want to transform your whole yard into a force for clean water in 2014, this FMR workshop can help you jump-start your spring planning. We'll also touch on ways to make your yard river-friendlier this winter. Taught by FMR's former River Stewardship Coordinator Adam Flett, the presentation receives rave reviews from participants, who also appreciate the high-quality and concise take-home materials. .

Capacity is limited and preregistration required. Learn more on the event page, or sign up now with Amy at or 651-222-2193 x31.

Read more »

For current event listings and more information on the events listed above, please visit our events calendar page at

Fall WCROC Horticulutre Display Garden Newsletter

| No Comments

Greetings from the University of Minnesota West Central Research and Outreach Center in Morris, MN! Whether you are a Friend of the Garden, an attendee at a Come Grow with Us education class, or someone who supports the Horticulture Display Garden, the attached Horticulture Newsletter is for you! Fall 2014 News (1).pdf
Helpful fall lawn and garden tips
An update on our latest research project
A recap of our summer and early fall events
Our Top Ten Performing Annuals from 2014
Upcoming Come Grow with Us classes

Fall SNA Nature Notes

| No Comments

What's the Buzz about Native Bees?

By Crystal Boyd, Minnesota Biological Survey Bee Researcher

In spring 2014, I visited nine SNAs in southwestern Minnesota. It was memorable to see a bobolink singing at Lundblad Prairie SNA and a monarch butterfly soaring at Cottonwood River Prairie SNA. The real treat for me, however, were the native bees that I was there to survey.

I collected bees using small cups of soapy water, as shown in the photo to the right. These specimens will support a DNR grant (see video about the project) to update the state species list of bees. The most recent list was published in 1919 as part of The Hymenoptera of Minnesota, so a more complete version is long overdue. The specimens collected will be preserved at the University of Minnesota Insect Collection, where seven volunteers are helping to catalogue the data.

Native bees are different from honey bees in several ways. First, there are about 350 species of native bees in Minnesota. This contrasts with honey bees, which are just one species--Apis mellifera--and were imported from Europe in the 1600s.

Native bees also have different life strategies than honey bees. Over 90% of native bees are solitary, and only 10% are social. Leaf cutter bees, for example, live alone while bumble bees can nest in hives of a few hundred individuals. This contrasts with honey bees, which are highly social and live in colonies of 50,000 individuals or more.

Approximately 70% of our native bee species nest underground. Usually a solitary female digs a main tunnel connected to several chambers. She provisions the chambers with pollen and lays an egg inside each one. At sites like Compass Prairie SNA and Des Moines River SNA, one of the most common species I found was the Bicolored Agapostemon (Agapostemon virescens). This is a native ground-nesting bee that shimmers bright green in the sunlight.

The other 30% of bee species are cavity-nesters. They use pithy shrubs or hollow grasses to shelter their young. Some bees nest in tunnels that beetles excavate in dead trees. But not all cavity-nesters build their own home: cuckoo bees lay their eggs in the nests of other bees, much like cuckoo birds parasitize the nests of other birds. I found the most cuckoo bees (Nomada sp.) at Prairie Bush Clover SNA. This could indicate that the site's bee population is healthy enough to sustain parasites.

The specimens from these SNAs are great data points for the state species list of bees, and I hope to survey more SNAs in the future. This research is only possible with the help of SNA staff and volunteers--so I'd like to give a huge "Thank you!" for all your great work and help you provide to this survey!

Funding for this project was provided by the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund as recommended by the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCCMR).

Students Survey Rare Thistle

By Jeff Moss, Nicole Ellingson, Isaac Holman, Christina Weeks, Lindsey Forward, and Jack Norland

"There's thistle in them thar hills", or more accurately, there is Hill's Thistle in the hills of Blanket Flower Prairie SNA. The presence of this Minnesota species of special concern on this SNA has given the North Dakota State University Natural Resources Management (NRM) Club, stewards for the site, an opportunity to conduct an annual survey of the thistle. Led by Jack Norland, the group's advisor, nine individuals participated in the 2014 survey.

Hill's thistle is a short stocky thistle with a large flowering head. The stems range from 8 inches to 2 feet in height and usually have only one flowering head. The flower ranges from 2-3 inches in height and are reddish to deep purple in color. The leaves are lobed with wavy edges and can vary in length up to 10 inches with a woolen, whitish appearance. Blanket Flower Prairie SNA is the western most edge of its known range.

After a successful 2013 survey the group was anxious to survey some of the areas not previously covered. A brief discussion on identification was conducted at a known Hill's thistle site, then with GPS and clipboard in hand, the survey crew split into two groups and decided to head into different sections of the SNA. While one of the groups had more of a nature walk, the other group was able to locate and identify 7 different patches of thistle totaling 100 individual rosettes as well as evidence of growth near a prescribed burn site. (NRM Club members are pointing to blooming Hill's thistle on the 2014 survey in the photo above.) The 2013 survey produced 15 different patches with 174 individual rosettes and both years showed evidence of summer blooms, this year however, the group was treated to a rare late blooming plant.

All surveys were promoted as an SNA event open to anyone and are a great opportunity for individuals to come together to enjoy a beautiful natural asset while conducting citizen science. The data gathered will be utilized in further understanding the growth and spread of Hill's thistle as well as formulating future management plans for Blanket Flower Prairie SNA and other prairie landscapes. The experience of a day in one of Minnesota's stunning prairie landscapes is an occasion that shouldn't be missed.

SNA Events

Fall is a great time to remove woody invasive species! Help out on one or more volunteer projects to combat aggressive invasives on SNAs. A full list is available on the SNA Events Calendar.


Grey Cloud Dunes SNA
Volunteer Project: Invasive and Trash Removal


Wolsfeld Woods SNA
Volunteer Project: Buckthorn Pull


Seminary Fen SNA
Volunteer Project: Buckthorn Removal, Clean-up and Seed Collection

Site Highlight: Gneiss Outcrops SNA
By Brad Bolduan, SNA Program Management Specialist

Over the past half century many areas along the Minnesota River have seen a large-scale invasion of woody vegetation with an especially strong one-two punch of encroaching red cedar and non-native buckthorn. This was, to a degree, the case at Gneiss Outcrops SNA, although not as pervasive as at many locations. The SNA is located southeast of Granite Falls. In the fall 2012 the SNA program solicited bids to cut, treat, and pile the invasive woody vegetation from the majority (150 acres) of this 234 acre SNA. The contracted work was completed in the first half of 2013 leaving the site much more open as seen in the adjacent photo.

Species such as oak, willow, and basswood were left standing. Ongoing management to control remaining woody vegetation and other "weeds" will be required for a few more years. There are still brush piles that will need to be burned over time.

Numerous small trees are still found growing in wetland fringes. Fire and cutting will be used to control these trees. The remaining parts of the SNA are seeing similar treatments. Formerly open areas are being cleared, while buckthorn is being removed in the areas nearest the Minnesota River.

The general appearance of the SNA has changed considerably. Outcrops that were hidden for years are now visible. It is hoped that the native prairie and outcrop species will respond favorably over the long-term. Come take look yourself and see how management is restoring the character of this site.

Funding for this project was provided by the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund as recommended by the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCCMR).

Notes from Site Stewards

Site stewards monitor SNAs across Minnesota. Their observations provide invaluable information to the SNA Program. Here are some interesting notes from reports:

Often site stewards help with more than observations, including actively working with SNA staff to manage a site. For example at Whitney Island SNA site steward Virgil Luehrs was shown where a patch of invasive Japanese barberry was growing and he has been working this summer to eradicate it from the Island.
Surveying for rare species is another task site stewards can take on. On July 17th site steward Ed Heinen conducted a survey for breeding Louisiana waterthrush at Kettle River SNA.
Management isn't the only area where site stewards excel. On June 21st photographer Dale Bohlke offered a prairie photography workshop at Cottonwood River Prairie SNA, where he is steward. He offered a second workshop on August 16th at Joseph A. Tauer Prairie SNA.
Thanks stewards for all the work you do for SNAs!

Nature Notes is the Minnesota Scientific and Natural Areas quarterly e-newsletter. It seeks to increase interest, understanding and support of natural areas while promoting involvement in the protection of these special places. Contact us at

Funding for this project was provided by the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund as recommended by the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCCMR).

Sept. Saint Paul Natural Resources

| No Comments

Welcome to the Natural Resources Newsletter!

By Eric Thompson, Parks Program Supervisor, and Cy Kosel, Natural Resources Manager

As your Natural Resources team (Arts & Gardens, Environmental Education, Environmental Services, Forestry, and Volunteer Resources), we strive to meet our mission, to create lifelong connections to a healthy natural environment for all.

With the understanding we all may want to "connect" in different ways. We look forward to creating "connections" with all of you through this newsletter. The City has recently enhanced our trail connections by partnering with PedalMN and HealthPartners to install four new bike repair stations along the Sam Morgan and Bruce Vento regional trails. These stations allow cyclists to stop along the way and make minor repairs to their bikes. Each station allows for a bike to be held in place with an assortment of tools securely attached. We hope this will encourage people to ride their bikes more frequently knowing that if something goes wrong, there are areas provided to make repairs and get them on their way.

The Sam Morgan Regional Trail has three stations. Two are adjacent to the information kiosks at the Ford Dam overlook and the Elway entrance to Crosby Farm Regional Park. The third is located near downtown at Lower Landing Park. The Bruce Vento Regional Trail unit is located at the Southeast corner of Johnson Parkway and East Shore Drive. We encourage you to ride the trails that connect to our beautiful parks.

Parks after Dark Series Kicks Off this Fall

Get out your flashlight and lace up your boots! This fall, a new program series engages the public in wildlife monitoring in parks under cover of darkness.

Join us as we attract nocturnal insects using a black light at Crosby Farm Regional Park on Friday, September 12, 9:00-11:00 pm with the help of entomologist Alex Egan. Then on Tuesday, October 28, 7:00-8:30pm, find out about your urban owl neighbors by dissecting an owl pellet and venturing out to call owls in Como Regional Park. Future Parks after Dark programs will focus on bats, mammals, and frogs and toads. We are grateful to REI and the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment for their generous support of our wildlife survey and educational outreach efforts

Landmark Tree Program Nominations Now Open

The Landmark Tree Program was established in 2010 to document the remarkable trees found growing throughout the neighborhoods and parks of Saint Paul.

Since the program's inception, 29 trees representing 22 tree species have been selected with two trees currently listed as state champions. Nominations for the 2014 Landmark Tree Program are now being accepted through November 1, 2014.

The Saint Paul Tree Advisory Panel will review the nominations and the selected trees will be announced at the Blooming Saint Paul Awards in January 2015.

For more information or a nomination form, visit or contact the Forestry office at 651.632.5129.

RightTrack Team 2014 Worked Hard to Beautify City

With 12 youth and two supervisors, the Blooming Saint Paul Right Track team took on the responsibility to beautify the city's public spaces through garden maintenance.

The team carried out this responsibility with a variety of services, including weeding, planting, and mulching. Not only did the Blooming St. Paul Right Track team maintain Saint Paul's status as a beautiful city, but also learned the inner workings of a job.

The purpose of the Right Track program is to get youth on the right track to a career. Supervisors Kyle and Ryan guided the youth through their first job and helped them understand the importance of timeliness, communication, and work ethic.

Further, the youth of Blooming Saint Paul Right Track had biweekly education sessions on horticulture. In these sessions, the youth learned about plant anatomy, general ecology, strategies to maintain gardens, and the varieties of plants native to Minnesota (especially weeds).

The program lasted for 10 weeks. Throughout those weeks, a group of strangers found common interests and developed relationships to facilitate a group dynamic that paralleled the atmosphere of a summer camp. The team crossed cultural, ethnic, and social barriers in order to complete the demands of the job. Bringing youth together and providing a positive experience provided the most beauty to the city, even more than the gardens themselves.

Flying Squirrel was Guest of Honor at Mammal Survey

Did you know that flying squirrels are actually quite common in the Twin Cities? We rarely see them because they are a truly nocturnal animal and thus are quite elusive. We lucked out when we caught one during our AweSnap! mammal survey at Trout Brook Nature Sanctuary last month.

Over 30 photographers learned wildlife photography tips from volunteers Gordon Dietzman and Debbie Koenigs, while helping collect mammal traps for the survey. Volunteer mammologist Carmen Martin taught participants about mammal life and behavior while collecting data from 90 traps over four days.

We'll be continuing these efforts as Trout Brook Nature Sanctuary is transformed from a brownfield to a restored natural area in the coming years, thanks to a grant from REI. We also want to thank all the volunteers who helped set traps each night as well as the photographers who contributed to our mission in Project Noah.

Our favorite feature of this furry friend was a toss-up between its large bulging eyes, and its patagia--the flap of skin that connects the wrists and ankles.

Celebrate National Public Lands Day

Come celebrate the 21st annual National Public Lands Day with Saint Paul Natural Resource on Saturday, September 27th at Hidden Falls Regional Park from 9-11:30 am. You will be able to volunteer, learn more about Saint Paul's public lands and sip some hot chocolate as we ring in a new season.

Last year 175,000 volunteers and park visitors celebrated at 2,237 public land sites in all 50 states. This volunteer event will include:

Planting trees, shrubs and acorns
Fun birding activities
Hot cocoa
Enter through the North Gate/Prior Avenue Entrance at the intersection of Prior Avenue and Mississippi River Boulevard.

Register online at

Sept. My Minnesota Woods

| No Comments

You can see the September Update here.

Sept Project BudBurst Community Newsletter

| No Comments

Fall into Phenology with Project BudBurst

Like many of you, I love this time of year as the seasons change. There is so much to observe as plants are in various stages of leafing, flowering, and fruiting. Deciduous trees and shrubs get center stage as they dramatically start to change colors. Late summer flowers are still showing off. Many plants are in various stages of fruiting. Yes, the days are getting shorter, but happily, it only takes a few minutes to make a Project BudBurst observation! We look forward to getting your reports.

--Sandra Henderson, Director

Can you sense the change
As fall makes its presence known
To plants you observe?

Register Now for Fall Professional Development Courses

Registration is open for 2014 fall online professional development courses. Space is limited, so act now! Fall courses begin on October 7th. Learn how to engage your classes and visitors in our seasonal campaign, Fall Into Phenology, or prep your lesson or outreach plans to include Project BudBurst. If you are looking for an opportunity to teach science via authentic research, now is the time to sign up.

All courses are geared towards K-12 Formal Educators and Informal Educators. Optional graduate level continuing education credits are available. Register at Questions? Email:

Join the 4th Annual Fall into Phenology Campaign
Fall into PhenologyCelebrate the beginning of fall with Project BudBurst's 4th Annual Fall Into Phenology campaign. Fall is a great time to check out leaves changing color and falling, fruits ripening, and flowers blooming. In New England, leaf peepers are enjoying colorful changes on red maples; aspens in the Rockies turn gold before shedding their leaves; and wildflowers such as Common yarrow and California poppy are in full bloom.

Grab a Single Report form and tell us what the plants around you are doing this fall. Together, we can learn more about how plants respond to changes in their environment. For more information, visit Fall Into Phenology

Project BudBurst at the Jason Learning Conference

Teachers and JASON trainers making Project BudBurst observations of a Sweetgum
Earlier in the summer, science teachers from around the country attended a JASON Learning conference, and in the process were introduced to Project BudBurst. As part of their commitment to citizen science, JASON Learning invited the Project BudBurst team to provide workshops for conference attendees. Teachers headed outside to practice Project BudBurst protocols on the beautiful George Washington University-Ashburn, VA campus. They discussed the merits of the relatively simple protocols and the power that participatory learning has in fostering authentic science inquiry. We look forward to observations from JASON students and teachers!

Caleb Shaw, Summer Intern, Presents his Research

After completing his summer internship in Colorado, Caleb ventured California to present at a Joint Summer Internship Program Final Poster Session. Interns from national science labs and research programs around the country presented their research as part of the STAR (STEM Teacher and Researcher) Program. Here are a few words from Caleb:

"Hi, I am Caleb Shaw, an environmental educator and future classroom teacher. I spent this summer as an intern investigating Project BudBurst data. I compared historical lilac phenology data with recent BudBurst lilac observations and found earlier first flower and first leaf dates suggesting that climate change is having an effect on the timing of these phenophases. The full data sets were not statistically comparable which opens the door for further investigation. This has shown the potential value of the BudBurst data and the data set will become stronger with more observations over time."

The Many Faces of Project BudBurst

Project BudBurst would not exist without the enthusiasm and dedication of the thousands of participants and supporters. Below are just a few folks we'd like to recognize this month:

Joy S.
Angela W.
Ken L.
Ruth A.
Grant P.
JASON Learning Team

Sept. Headwaters Science Center News

| No Comments

Click here for the September issue of Monthly News from Headwaters Science Center.

St. Paul Parks and Recreation

| No Comments

Environmental Volunteers
Welcome to the updated Environmental Volunteers newsletter. This is a semi-regular newsletter that is published upon need. We will send out newsletters regularly during the growing season (Apr-Oct).

Please also keep an eye out for our new Saint Paul Natural Resources quarterly newsletter. The inaugural issue will be published within the next week.

Saint Paul Natural Resources is a section of Saint Paul Parks and Recreation that consists of the following units: Arts & Gardens, Environmental Education, Environmental Services, Forestry and Volunteer Resources.



Sat, Sept 27 | 9-11:30 a.m. | Hidden Falls Regional Park (South Gate/Prior Entrance)

Celebrate the 21st annual National Public Lands Day in Saint Paul by planting trees, shrubs and acorns; learning about our migrating birds; and sipping some hot cocoa in the company of new friends.


All ages, individuals and groups are welcome. No experience necessary.


First two weeks of Sept. | Saint Paul parks or your own backyard

We are collecting acorns to plant in our parks this fall (including at National Public Lands Day - see above!) This is a great opportunity to volunteer on your own time. Here's what you need to know:

Collect acorns from a Saint Paul park or your backyard. Separate out sticks and leaves and any other non-acorns. Do not include broken ones. Store in paper bags or buckets. Store bags in fridge or another cool, dry place, like a basement or garage. Best to get them to us as soon as possible (before the weevils get out)!

Deliver acorns in paper bags, Attn: Shannon Montante, to the Park Permit Office at 1100 Hamline Ave N, St Paul, 55108, between 7 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.



Spring Semester, Jan-May

Saint Paul Natural Resources will be hiring two Special Event Interns during the Spring Semester to help coordinate, plan and implement special events including the Blooming Saint Paul Awards, the Citywide Spring Cleanup and the annual Arbor Month Celebration. These interns will gain experience in marketing, advertising and event organization, as well as opportunities to work closely with our internal and external partners and sponsors. Interested? Email


October 18, 19, 24, 25 and 26 | Weekend Evenings

ZooBoo is a fall fund raiser for Como Park Zoo and Conservatory. This is a non-scary Halloween event for families. This magical occasion offers families a safe trick-or-treating alternative with Halloween activities. Hop into a Como costume, bring your own non-scary costume or assist in a non-costumed position! A pre-event orientation for learning more and reserving a costume is offered in early October. More information and registration online here.


Join our partners Mississippi River Fund...

Every Thursday through Oct | 9 a.m.-noon | Lilydale Regional Park - meet at the boat launch parking lot

Looking for a way to be part of the cottonwood restoration experiment? Meet us at Lilydale to care for the young trees and ensure they are growing to be healthy and strong. Shifts subject to cancellation if the trees are getting enough rainfall. Contact Maria at to help out!

Visit our website to find more information about our ongoing volunteer opportunities and how to set up a GIVE (Group Impact Volunteer Event).

Sept BEN Bulletin

| No Comments

BEN Bulletin (Bird Education Network)

Kids: The Binocular Trap
by Paul J. Baicich

Why is it that when you share binoculars with an adult, perhaps a beginning bird watcher, you make sure that you share a solid, quality, even impressive, pair of binoculars, but when you go afield with a child, say, between 8 and 12 years of age, almost any piece of optics will do?

Worse yet, why is it that inexpensive and light "compact binoculars" are almost always ascribed to kid use?

It's a big mistake.

Too often, the very people whom many bird educators value the most, youngsters, are left with the worst in introductory binoculars. Nothing will discourage continued bird-watching activity and learning in the field more than an initial experience with binoculars that are, essentially, junk. It's just no fun.

Of course, there are important optics features that do need attention when dealing with youngsters. These may include the ability for the young folks to get their hands around the binoculars, access the focusing knob, and adjust the interpupillary distance (to match the closeness of the eyes among the youngest kids in the group). What's more, finding the bird in the tree or bush is difficult enough for beginning birders - of any age - without having to deal with a narrow field of view or a high magnification that may have the image almost bouncing around.

Try a lower power - between 6X and8X - and definitely stick to a wide field of view.

Of course, some training and help - from a parent or other adult - is essential. Learning to bring the binoculars to your face, while constantly watching the bird, needs practice. (Focusing on a far-off sign - and reading simple text - is a fine way to learn locating the object and focusing properly.) While practice makes perfect, that practice can be squandered if the binoculars are unserviceable.

We have probably all seen a box of binoculars distributed among kids in a group, binoculars that are small, light, flimsy, very low power, narrow field of view, and really unacceptable

The options for binoculars appropriate for youngsters are many today. It's not like the limitations of a decade or two ago. In fact, we live in an era when relatively good quality binoculars can be secured for around $100 or even less. Some of these are porro-prism binoculars that can be outstanding. There are so many options, that recommending a particular brand would be inappropriate or misleading here. Still, you might look around the website for Eagle Optics to review the many, many brands and sorts of models that are available. A final point to be aware of is warranty. Some manufacturers will offer a unconditional warranty, a relief when binoculars get dropped, slammed against a tree, or run over with a lawn mower.

Don't sell the kids short. They usually arrive in the field eager to learn something new. Don't make it more difficult for them at the very outset. Make it fun.

[Ben Lizdas, Tom Rusert, and Dave Watkins provided advice for this article]

Book Review: Look Up! Bird-Watching in Your Own Backyard
by Dave Magpiong

Many birders have thoroughly stocked shelves of books. Field guides, bird-finding guides, life histories of birds, and birding memoirs are some of the common variations. Through the decades, there have been several volumes addressing "how to be a birder" from the likes of Peterson, Kaufman, Sibley, Dunne, and others. Perhaps it's time to add Annette Leblanc Cate to that esteemed list.

Her Look Up! Bird-Watching in Your Own Backyard captures many of the basics of becoming a birder and delivers the message in a kid-friendly package. Her cartoonish illustrations and humorous style will draw in and entertain younger readers. Yet, she provides many insights that will provide youth with the foundation to get started down the path to birding. Her light-hearted approach to birding is balanced out with the help of "technical assistance" long-time Massachusetts birder Jim Barton.

This is not a book that will teach young birders how to identify Empidomax flycatchers or distinguish between fall warblers. Rather, it will whet the appetite of kids who never considered bird watching to be an option for them. Cate gives her a readers a glimpse of the beautiful diversity of North American birds. She outlines general skills for learning birds - using shape, bill, feet, sound, habitat, and range. A nice resource is the "Bird-Watching Do's . . . and Don't's!" which touches on the ethics of birding. Quite importantly, she debunks the notion of "there aren't any birds where I live" by pointing out that birds can be found anywhere, including the suburbs and cities.

While some experienced birders may be bothered by the anthropomorphic birds and cartoonish feel, Look Up! achieves its goal of making birding both more appealing and more accessible to the bird conservationists of tomorrow. The book's humorous moments and laid-back presentation may also pull in the parents of its young readers - and they can impact conservation in many ways today.

California Fall Birding Challenge is Here!

The San Francisco Bay Bird Observatory is dedicated to the conservation of birds and their habitats through science and outreach. Founded in 1981, the Bird Observatory has produced over 30 years of scientific information on local bird populations, working with both government agencies and partner organizations.

The18th Annual California Fall Challenge (CFC) is SFBBO's biggest fundraising campaign of the year, a month of trips, contests, and events to raise money for their science and outreach programs. Join them for guided trips, bird-a-thons, band-a-thons as well as photo and youth art contests through October 18.

Choosing an IMBD habitat theme for 2015

The artist, Amelia Hansen, will be working on the 2015 International Migratory Bird Day (IMBD)theme, "Habitat Restoration". In the process, bird educators have been asked for their input.

You can give your opinion and rank you choices on habitats, slogans, and accompanying materials. Make your opinions known in this IMBD Survey from Environment for the Americas.

BEN: Connecting Bird Educators TM
CEE logo CC good resolutionFor more information visit:

Sept-Dec Maplewood Parks & Rec Brochure

| No Comments

Wellness, Arts, & Fun for Everyone!

Check out the Fall edition of the brochure listing upcoming events here.

About this Archive

This page is an archive of recent entries in the newsletter category.

Educational is the previous category.

Opportunities is the next category.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.



Powered by Movable Type 4.31-en