First Dogwood, Birders and Duck Stamps

We’re having some dirty weather today, but no warnings so far.

The first dogwood is blooming in my yard today, about 1950 feet, south facing slope. I expect most of them will be a week or two more in coming. It’s always hard to tell.

I received a very interesting email over the bird list this morning, urging the purchase of a duck stamp. When I followed the link to the Georgia Ornithological site, I was really impressed with the write up. This never would have happened a few years ago, because the birders didn’t like the duck hunters and the duck hunters didn’t like the birders. That’s starting to change, because most naturalists have caught up with the fact that the problem isn’t the ethical hunter, the problem is habitat loss.  As they point out, 98% of the duck stamp money is spent on habitat leasing or habitat purchasing. Since 1934, when the program started, about $700 million has been spent on wetlands, protecting protecting 5.2 million acres in the National Wildlife Refuge System. Those are numbers any birder ought to like. The stamp is $15 and it’s always beautiful. Some folks collect the prints, which are usually framed with the stamps.

It’s chosen by a contest, which you can read about here.

A lot of duck hunters also belong to Ducks Unlimited, which has protected up to 13.8 million acres, most of it breeding grounds, since 1937. It’s a similar organization to Trout Unlimited. It may seem ironic or sad, but almost no one – maybe birders excepted, and just there aren’t enough of them – wants to spend a dime to help the ducks except the people who want to kill them. There are a lot of people today who think it’s terrible to want to kill a duck, but they either don’t realize – or just won’t admit – that we might not have any left if it wasn’t for the duck stamp and Ducks Unlimited.

So maybe the hunters and the birders are finally getting together at least a little bit. To me, that’s a very hopeful sign. They probably still don’t want to get together for a beer … but they are working together some to achieve common goals.



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