Birding Conservation

Special Offer: 25% OFF – Second Atlas of Breeding Birds in Pennsylvania

Second Atlas of Breeding Birds in Pennsylvania

Penn State University Press has graciously offered a new discount for the recently-published Second Atlas of Breeding Birds in Pennsylvania. Audubon chapters and bird clubs helped create the Second Atlas with your observations and financial support, and we are eager to make it as available as possible.

The resulting book is beautiful, full of color photos of each species of nesting bird, multiple maps, and habitats. It’s a real treasure trove of information about Pennsylvania’s nesting birds; a must-have in the library of anyone interested in birds.

Click here for a more detailed description of the book (PDF)

Through this summer, the Second Atlas is now available for 25% off the already subsidized price.

To get this special offer, go to the page for Second Atlas of Breeding Birds in Pennsylvania on the Penn State University Press website, select “add to cart”, then “proceed to checkout” and check the box “I have a discount code” and enter: AUD14

I hope you enjoy the book and learn much, pouring over its pages. Thank you for your continued support of bird conservation.

– Dan Brauning
Co-editor, with Bob Mulvihill and Andy Wilson


10 Ways to Help Birds

Black-throated Blue Warblers

1. KEEP CATS INDOORS. It’s best for your cat as well as the birds. Indoor cats live an average of 3 to 7 times longer than outside ones. Cats kill about 2.4 billion bird each year.

2. KEEP BIRDS FROM HITTING YOUR WINDOWS by using deterrents on the outside of windows. Collisions with glass kill as many as one billion birds each year.

3. ELIMINATE PESTICIDE USE — even those that are not directly toxic to birds can pollute waterways & reduce insect populations that birds rely on for food. Buy organic food when possible to support good land stewardship practiced by organic farmers. Don’t use poisons for rodent control. These poison birds. Use mechanical traps instead.

4. CREATE BACKYARD HABITAT — Use native grasses, flowers, & shrubs to attract birds. They are more resilient and you will be rewarded by the beauty & song of a diversity of birds, and have fewer insect pests as a result.

5. AVOID USING PLASTIC BAGS — They are made from petroleum. 100 billion are thrown away every year, many washing into the ocean where they kill hundreds of thousands of seabirds and other creatures who mistake them for jellyfish and squid.

6. REDUCE YOUR CARBON FOOTPRINT — Less energy used means less habitat destroyed for energy production such as mountain-top mining in Appalachia that has obliterated more than 750,000 acres of habitat in an area larger than Rhode Island. Less energy used also lessens the impacts of climate change upon wildlife and humans!

7. POWER OF THE PURSE — if you drink coffee, buy organic, shade-grown. It provides far superior habitat for birds than coffee grown in open areas. Buy grassland-bird-friendly hamburgers. Feedlot beef comes from animals fed corn & soybeans, crops grown on what used to be the great American prairie. Grassland birds are showing the most declines of any bird group in the U.S. Using lumber certified by the Forest Stewardship Council conserves biological diversity by protecting old-growth stands, monitoring clear-cutting, and limiting pesticide use.

8. KEEP FEEDERS AND BIRD BATHS CLEAN — change the water regularly to avoid disease and to prevent mosquitoes from breeding.

9. CALL FOR LEGISLATION such as a bill that provides for bird-friendly federal buildings. Up to a billion birds — mostly migrants — are killed in building collisions in North America each year. Check out the U.S. Lights Out movement. Protecting birds helps the quality of our environment and makes economic sense. Birds are invaluable as controllers of insect pests, pollinators, and dispersers of seeds. Birds also generate huge revenues: 20% of the US population spends about $36 billion annually in bird watching activity.

10. JOIN A BIRD CONSERVATION GROUP such as Audubon or the American Bird Conservancy and get involved! You might also become a citizen scientist to help gather important data about birds that help scientists evaluate our planet’s health.

— Kathy Dodge


Keystone XL Pipeline Update

Four days after over 10,000 people surrounded the White House on November 6th to protest TransCanada’s proposed Keystone XL Pipeline that would carry tar sands oil from Alberta, Canada to refineries in Texas, President Obama announced a delay in his decision to either give the go-ahead or nix the project, until 2013. This was a victory for the planet, and demonstrated that people DO have some power over government and corporations. Two of our board members were among those 10,000.

President Obama had previously ordered the Department of State (DOS) to do a study of the project. Its first Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) was rated as “inadequate” by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The second was not a great improvement, pretty much ignoring the huge detrimental impact this will have on our environment.

Significant concern over the routing of the pipeline through the Sand Hills of Nebraska where the critical Ogallala Aquifer that supplies water to eight states is very close to the surface, prompted President Obama to call for selecting another route. This would be a compromise that would not discourage tar sands development.

This pipeline would facilitate the extraction of heavy bitumen oil from tar sands in the boreal forests of Alberta, Canada, breeding ground for about three billion birds. It is the world’s largest intact forest, and soaks up carbon with twice the efficiency of tropical rainforests, making this region ecologically priceless. With climate change becoming more and more visible in the form of very expensive and tragic major weather catastrophes, destroying such a carbon sink on the scale that is unfolding in Alberta is pure idiocy, driven only by short term greed by some fossil fuel companies. James Hansen, the government’s leading climate scientist calls the tar sands project “… game over for the planet.” Extracting tar sands oil creates about three times the greenhouse gas emissions as conventional oil production. The process uses massive amounts of water, natural gas (to create steam to heat the oil), and chemicals added to the bitumen in order for it to move through pipelines. It is leaving toxic pools of waste in the once pristine forest, and contaminating waterways and land.

On the surface, this protest is depicted as just another in a long series of environmentalists pitted against business-as-usual, but, this protest seems to be marking a huge shift: our whole society is beginning to see that something is broken about the way we think of life on this planet. Local activist and Audubon member Virginia Kennedy, who was one of those arrested in the first wave of civil disobedience against the XL Pipeline in Washington DC in August, described it is a massive critique of the system, led partly by the indigenous community which has historically held a long view of planet stewardship. They act for the welfare of seven generations into the future.

In October, Friends of the Earth, using the Freedom of Information Act, uncovered glaring conflict of interest: a cozy relationship between State Department officials and TransCanada lobbyists. Several key aides to Secretary Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama went to work for industry lobbyists after the 2008 elections. The DOS public hearings on the pipeline were run by Cardno Entrix, a “professional environmental consulting company” that lists TransCanada as a major client. Cardno Entrix specializes in permitting and compliance. This company also drafted the EIS, and manages the DOS’s Keystone XL website. When Northeast Pennsylvania Audubon sent testimony, it went to a email address.

Read more on this conflict of interest at:

Read about some behind-the-scenes strategy between DOS and Trans-Canada to avoid controversy on a higher pressure pipeline at:

For excellent articles on the tar sands, please re-visit your Audubon magazines:

March-April, 2010; “Crude Awakening” by Barry Yeoman.

July-August, 2011: “Tarred and Feathered” by Ted Williams.

If you can’t find your back issues, here are websites for the articles:

Your Board of Directors has written a letter to National Audubon President David Yarnold to ask what action they have taken on this issue beyond reporting it in the magazine and in Audubon advisories. We are waiting for their reply.

— Katharine Dodge, Education Chair