My New Book


Birding and the Government Shutdown

I was out at Mr. Neil’s the other day doing some final inspecting of bee equipment (they should be here in a week and a half).  We’re getting seven new hives this spring and poor Hans (the groundskeeper) was trying to finish removing our dead hives in time for the new bees.  I had a hard time focusing because migration has hit hard.  A big flock of purple finches were chowing down around the feeders.  Above is a purple finch perched on a red-osier dogwood (I love the way the feathers of the male compliment the branches).  This is a purple finch and not a house finch because there is no streaking on the flanks and he’s an overall beefier bird.

It’s interesting to note the change in juncos (the bird behind the purple finch).  Their breeding hormones are kicking in and they are chasing each other singing like crazy.  Here’s what a singing junco sounds like–have you heard that in your neighborhood?

You may have heard some talk in the news this week about a possible government shutdown.  It’s been brewing for awhile and I must admit, up until yesterday I thought it was nothing more than bluffing you would find on a prairie chicken lek.  As of yesterday, I think it may happen.  I find it amusing that one of the reasons I have my part time Park Ranger job is so I can have a safety net with my unpredictable freelance work and in a strange turn of events, it has suddenly become the unpredictable job.

I have a program on Saturday and at the time that I’m typing this, I have no idea if it will happen (and no official idea until midnight eastern time Friday night).  A friend invited me to go birding on Saturday if I don’t have to work and I’m not sure where we will be going.  Some of the places I love to visit will be closed off during the shutdown like Minnesota Valley NWR.  Here’s a list of all National Wildlife Refuges in Minnesota.  You might want to click on your state’s link and see what refuges could be closed near you.  Keep in mind that National Parks, National Historic Sites, National Forests and Bureau of Land Management areas.  Think of where you plan to watch birds this weekend.  If “National” is in the title of the park…you will not get in if there is a shut down.

Let’s hope it doesn’t happen and if it does that it is brief.

And let’s keep politics of the shutdown out of the comment section.  I’m not happy with anyone involved that this is happening and this post is more a head’s up to birders about where they plan to watch birds this weekend.




7 comments to Birding and the Government Shutdown

  • I really like how you tied the prairie chicken bluffing into the post.

  • I was thinking of visiting the Okefenokee for the first time this weekend, and abruptly realized today that’s probably not going to be possible since it’s a NWR. Dang it.

  • Celynnen

    If there’s a shutdown, I’ll likely be doing some “passive” birding in my backyard – they’re going nuts out there and I hardly get any time between work and my weekend obligations to just sit and listen to all the little featherheads. Really hoping there isn’t a shutdown, since I have student loands and a mortgage to pay . . .

  • Juncos all over my yard, have been for a while, but for some reason there have been a ton of grackles and they are chasing off the other birds.

  • There is a book called “A Gathering of Finches” about a lumber guy in South Oregon – Coos Bay – years ago. Written from the view of his wife coming into the old time family and thinking what went on in family gatherings was like a gathering of finches … just sort of reminded me of … oh, you know ….

  • I’m glad the government shutdown didn’t happen. I had a photography workshop at Laguna Atascosa NWF that I was afraid would be canceled. It wasn’t and I had a good time. It’s too windy and hot for good migrants but the usual Green Jays, Chachalacas, and friends were enough.
    I like your blog!

  • I heard a junco sing its “other” song for the first time yesterday and was pretty much blown away. All those odd little junco call notes strung together–the effect is kind of goldfinch-like. Apparently both males and females do it.