Report on Lead Issue and Birds by Dr. Vernon Thomas



A Journal of the Human Environment

ISSN 0044-7447


DOI 10.1007/s13280-012-0361-7

Lead-Free Hunting Rifle Ammunition:

Product Availability, Price, Effectiveness,

and Role in Global Wildlife Conservation

Vernon George Thomas


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Audubon publisheds a new report on climate change and birds

Audubon has published its report on “the future of birds in a climate-changed world”.  In Audubon’s September-October issue, they reveal important aspects of the report.

go to for more information.

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Important information on the lead issue and birds

Dr. Vernon Thomas is one of the world experts on the issue of lead in the environment and how when consumed, is killing our birds.  Dr. Thomas is retired from the University of Guelph, but spends much of his time bringing this issue to some resolution.

Look for guest articles by Dr. Thomas in the new year.

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Canadian e-Centre of Ornithology will change its status to NGO

The Canadian e-Centre of Ornithology will be applying for NGO status in the new year.  We want to expand our services to all amateur and professional ornithologists in showcasing current research and presenting educational opportunities for them.

We also want to be able to present more up-to-date information for birders throughout Canada and internationally.

Thank you for your continued interest in the e-centre and we extend our holiday wishes to all!

Sherrene Kevan, President and editor

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New journals and Website for American Ornithologist Union and Cooper Ornithological Society

The AOU and the COS have come together to create a Central Ornithological Publications Office (COPO).  Two new journals, The Auk: Ornithological Advances, and the Condor: Ornithological Advances, are published in electronic format, and papers will appear weekly on the website

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BirdLog App for iPhone and Android Smartphones

New BirdLog App Transforms Bird Watching

Users share bird sightings using their smartphones

For release: April 5, 2012

Ithaca, NY—A satisfying day of bird watching used to be followed by tedious time spent transferring observations from notebook to computer. No more. Now there’s BirdLog, a data entry app for iPhone and Android smartphones.

For the first time, bird watchers can use their smartphones to instantly report the birds they see, from wherever they see them. With  one click, sightings go straight to the eBird citizen-science program run by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Audubon. eBird takes in more than a million bird reports each month from anywhere in the world. These reports are used by a global community of educators, land managers, ornithologists, and conservation biologists. BirdLog was developed by Birds In The Hand, creators of the popular BirdsEye bird-finding app, which is also based on eBird reports.

“Bird watchers have waited for in-the-field data entry for years,” says eBird leader Marshall Iliff. “BirdLog’s simple interface not only makes it easy; it maximizes the usefulness of sightings for birding, science, and conservation.”

Fully integrated with the eBird online reporting system, BirdLog allows users to select from thousands of existing eBird Hotspots and personal bird-watching locations, or to use the built-in GPS services of the phone to allow easy and accurate creation of new locations. Users can create lists in BirdLog even if there is no cell coverage at their location.

“We hear phrases like ‘revolutionize birding’ all too frequently,” notes eBird’s Chris Wood. “But BirdLog will actually do it! BirdLog will fundamentally change the way we go birding, making it easier than ever for birders to share observations among themselves and with the science and conservation community.”

BirdLog North America and BirdLog Worldwide are available via the iTunes app store or at the Google Play app store for Android devices. A portion of the proceeds goes to fund research and conservation work at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

Media Contact:
Pat Leonard, Cornell Lab, (607) 254-2137,

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Cornell Lab of Ornithology offers tutorials to become a better birder!

August 7, 2013 

We are pleased to introduce our new “Be a Better Birder” tutorials, created for beginning birders who want an introduction to the basics of bird identification. The two-part series explores how size, shape, color, and pattern can be used to identify birds and enables users to tackle real-life bird identification scenarios.


Sample Exercise: Click the image above to test your knowledge of the parts of a bird. (Requires Flash)

These self-paced tutorials feature interactive exercises, engaging audio and visual presentations, and occasional quizzes to test what you have learned. Topics range from an introduction to the hobby of birding itself to proven techniques for honing your birding skills, so these tutorials can be a dynamic learning tool no matter what your skill level. See an example of the kinds of activities the tutorials offer at left.

We think these tutorials will appeal to you and your readers, whether the goal is to get into bird identification or simply learn more about the natural world. There are two sections, each available for $29:

Part I: Be a Better Birder–Size & Shape
Part II: Be a Better Birder–Color & Pattern

We’re offering free access to “Part I: Be a Better Birder-Size & Shape” to the first 15 bloggers who reply to this email. We invite you to try the tutorials and let your readers (and us) know what you think!

Thank you,

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology

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Cornell lab of Ornithology launches new online ebird portal for Central America

New Online eBird Portal for Central America

For release: August  2013

Ithaca, NY–The Cornell Lab of Ornithology has launched eBird Centroamérica, a regional Internet portal providing birders, scientists, and the general public with open access to its worldwide eBird database. eBird is a citizen-science project collecting bird observations to document spatial and temporal patterns in bird distribution. Central America is one of the world’s biodiversity hotspots, with about 1,160 species of birds. eBird already includes 2 million observation records for the 7 countries of Central America, submitted by eBird users since the database was created in 2002. The rapidly growing database now contains more than 138 million records for birds around the world with some records dating back to 1800.
The Central American portal is fully bilingual (Spanish and English). Birders are encouraged to share their observations through the portal, which can be found online at

The new portal features news articles and other features prepared for local birders in Central America. These articles highlight new discoveries and regional trends. Tips are provided on when and how to look for birds. The portal aims to be an online information source for the growing birding communities of Central America.

eBird has already profoundly increased knowledge of bird distributions in Central America. eBird users can examine range maps in a variety of formats for every species, at any spatial scale, and for specific time periods. This means that you can see where birds were reported this last July, or every July in the last 100 years. Unlike traditional range maps, eBird maps demonstrate frequency of occurrence, a measure of relative abundance, and are updated every day. The data are reviewed and verified by expert birders based in each country of Central America.

Users can also access species lists from hundreds of sites of interest, such as parks and protected areas throughout Central America. As with the range maps, the site lists are updated daily. Each species on one of these lists is accompanied by graphs that illustrate its seasonal occurrence (relative abundance) at the site. Users can access all of this for free.

The Central American eBird team includes Liliana Chavarría (Nicaragua), Jan Axel Cubilla (Panama), John van Dort (Honduras), Knut Eisermann (Guatemala), Lee Jones (Belize), Roselvy Juárez (El Salvador), Oliver Komar, Darién Montañez (Panama), and Jim Zook (Costa Rica).

Oliver Komar, Zamorano University, Honduras,

Chris Wood, Cornell Lab of Ornithology,



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The Educational Boardgame: The Conspiracy of Ravens


Conspiracy of Ravens Boardgame


Objectives of the Game

Ravens are very smart and clever birds. They are very sociable creatures and work together
to find food. However, the individual raven goes to great lengths to store the excess amount
of food that it cannot eat right away. Food that is stored by one raven can easily be found by
another if the hiding place has been discovered. A less experienced raven can have food
stolen by other ravens. This is why there are two types of cache (food storage), open and
hidden. Food stored in the open cache is more susceptible to theft by other ravens or birds,
and the hidden cache is what the raven has successfully kept for himself. At the end of the
game, the raven with the most food pieces in the hidden cache wins the game.

The Conspiracy of Ravens Game Information

  1. This game is suitable for ages 5 and up.
  2. Two to 4 players can play this game.
  3. The set up requires you to print off all the game pieces and cut them out.
    To add strength to the game pieces, consider gluing them to a piece of cardboard
    or heavy paper (e.g. old greeting cards, cardboard from writing paper pads, etc.).
  4. Cut out all the food pieces, mix them up and put in the middle of the game board.
    Ideally you may want to put the food pieces in a bowl or other container.
    Print off the pages of food pieces at least twice.
  5. Cut out the raven game pieces. Cut along solid black line, and
    fold carefully along the dashed lines. Use glue or tape to join
    the backs of the ravens together.
  6. Game cards. There are two types of game cards, the question and
    answer ones, and the instructional game cards which tell you to do something
    such as moving ahead one space. The question and answer cards are for
    the more adventurous and skillful players. They are used to increase
    ones knowledge about ravens. The instructional cards are used for
    the beginner at any age, and who wants to just play the game without hurting
    the brain! Cut out the cards and put them into two stacks: Q&A and
    Instructional. Decide what level you want to play the game.
  7. Numbers pieces: Cut out the number pieces. Fold them once
    and put into a bowl or set aside in a pile outside of the game
    board. If you have dice you can use one of them instead of the number pieces.
  8. Game board. Print off the two pages of the game board. Place something
    heavy and flat underneath the game board. Suggestion: glue game board
    pages onto cardboard, or staple 5 pieces of lined paper together (2 times),
    and put under the game board to add stability.
  9. Enemies of the Raven pieces. Cut out the eagle, owl, hawk and falcon.
    Assemble and place these pieces somewhere outside of the game board.


Rules of the Game

  1. Each player chooses a raven game piece. Place the raven in the respective coloured territory on the game board. Each territory is divided into 2 sections: open cache and hidden cache. When you accumulate food pieces you will be instructed as to which area of the territory you are to pile the food pieces.
  2. Put the bowl with all the food pieces in the centre of the game board.
  3. Place the two decks of game cards (instructional and Q&A) on each side of the food cache in the center.
  4. Each player takes a number from the number bowl. The player with the highest number starts the game. If you have dice, throw one time for each player. Again, the highest number starts the game. Put the numbers back in the bowl and mix them up.
  5. Each player starts out with 2 food pieces for each cache.
  6. The first player takes a number from the bowl. The number drawn is the numbers of spaces the player’s moves on the game board. Depending on where the raven lands, the player must do what is instructed on the game board. If two players land on the same square, both players must draw a number card. The player with the highest number gets to move one space forward on the game board.
  7. The player who ends up back at his/her territory must “cache out” from the open and hidden storage areas. The number of open must be deducted from the number of hidden food pieces.
  8. The winner of the game is not decided until all the players have been once around the board and are back at their territory. The player with the highest number of food pieces wins the game.
  9. To mix up the game, randomize the board pieces.


About the game

A group of ravens is sometimes referred to as a “conspiracy of ravens”. Although ravens are considered highly intelligent, they only “conspire” to find food or perhaps to play tricks on  other animals. The Common or Northern Raven (Corvus corax) is a large black bird, approximately 56-69 cm long. Ravens look like crows (large black birds) but the body length, the shape of the tail, and their beaks, are different. Ravens consume a variety of fruits, berries, grains, carrion (meat), amphibians and invertebrates. They are also
fond of human garbage. When ravens find more food than they can eat, they hide the surplus in areas where they can go back to when they are hungry. These hiding places are referred to as caches. These caches are particularly important for ravens whom inhabit harsh climates because they provide them with a source of nourishment when food is scarce. Ravens are social birds and will share food when it is found. Juvenile ravens are known to form an independent group, where the dominant juvenile bird will call to other juveniles (called juvenile recruitment) to share in a food bonanza,
keeping the adult ravens away. This game was developed out of love and respect for these birds. In my many years of teaching Ornithology I have
found it difficult to have just one favorite bird. Ravens come close.

–Sherrene D. Kevan

Price: $1.25 CDN

   GO TO for payment information.

After the payment is received via PayPal or Credit Card, you will be sent an email with the link to download the game. All files within the downloaded .zip file need to be extracted and printed on a colour printer. Instruction for play included.

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Bird Collisions and Buildings

Precedent-Setting Verdict Should Reduce Bird Collision Deaths in CanadaRipples May be Felt Elsewhere as Other Cities Grapple with Similar Issue
Contact: Robert Johns, 202-234-7181 ext.210, Email click here
(Washington, D.C., February 19, 2013) A significant legal precedent was set last week in Canada that could have ripple effects worldwide. A Canadian judge has recognized in a ruling the need for building owners to take action to reduce migratory bird deaths from lethal collisions with the highly reflective windows of office buildings.“This is a significant development in an increasingly serious issue that is gaining more attention worldwide – the impact of man-made structures on wildlife, especially birds, and the need to modify existing buildings, as well as incorporating bird-friendly design into new construction,” said Dr. Christine Sheppard, Bird Collisions Campaign Manager for American Bird Conservancy, one of the leading U.S. bird conservation organizations and the only one in the U.S. with a national bird collisions program.

 Cadillac Fairview, one of Canada’s largest commercial property owners and managers, was charged with violating the Environmental Protection Act (EPA) and the federal Species at Risk Act (SARA). In a ruling, Judge Melvyn Green of the Ontario Court of Justice found that hundreds of birds, including threatened species, had been injured and killed at the company’s Yonge Corporate Centre, consisting of three office buildings in Toronto, during the 2010 spring and fall migrations. Judge Green ruled that both the EPA and SARA are properly interpreted to prohibit the emission (intentional or unintentional) of reflected light where that reflection causes the death or injury of birds. While the Toronto court acquitted Cadillac Fairview and related companies of the charges, that verdict was handed down only as a consequence to the corporate steps being taken to address the problem. The company began investigating window films as a solution after Ecojustice and Ontario Nature laid similar charges against a different building owner, and subsequently installed window films on the most lethal side of their complex at a cost of over $100,000. The company also committed to retrofitting the remainder of the complex. “The law is now clear that owners and managers of buildings with reflective windows that kill or injure birds must take action. This is a major success, even if it’s not a complete victory,”said Ecojustice lawyer Albert Koehl, one of the case prosecutors. The court found that light reflected from the Yonge Corporate Centre’s glass windows was responsible for luring the birds to their injury or death. Migratory birds are confused by the illusion of safe havens like sky and trees reflected in windows. Buildings with highly reflective windows, like those found at the Yonge Corporate Centre, are especially dangerous for birds, although non-mirrored glass can also produce dangerous reflections. Judge Green rejected Cadillac Fairview’s argument that the law does not apply to protect migratory birds from reflected light. He concluded, however, that the company was on the way to addressing the problem and acted reasonably in the circumstances. “The judge’s ruling also means that the Ontario Ministry of Environment will now be obliged to regulate buildings whose reflective windows are killing birds,” said Koehl.The ruling marks the first time that the EPA and SARA have been found by a court to apply in the case of window strikes that kill birds. “Ecojustice, Ontario Nature, FLAP and the City of Toronto are to be congratulated. Their efforts already have saved the lives of scores of birds and it appears the effects could be of huge benefit long term,” Sheppard said. The issue of bird collisions with buildings exists in all countries. In the U.S., estimates say as many as one billion birds are killed in such collisions each year. But interest in preventative measures has also been gaining momentum in the U.S. in recent years. The City of San Francisco passed Standards for Bird Safe Buildings; several municipalities around Chicago have taken legislative action, the State of Minnesota is poised to add requirements for bird-friendly design to their sustainability program, and more actions are in process.In response to the interest in the issue in the U.S., ABC published Dr. Sheppard’s Bird-Friendly Building Design, available for download at The publication provides a comprehensive review of the collisions issue and the science behind the problem and its solutions, including many examples of beautiful bird-friendly buildings that also work well for people living in and using them. ABC has also led the team that created LEED Pilot Credit #55, which allows building owners, architects, designers and developers pursuing LEED (Leadership in Environment and Energy Design) green building certification to earn credit for incorporating design strategies that reduce bird collisions. Glass and window film manufacturers have taken notice and are starting to promote existing bird-friendly products and to develop new ones.Window films with markers are only necessary on the lower floors of buildings, where birds face the greatest danger. The City of Toronto has recommended the use of window markers since 2007.

The Fatal Light Awareness Program, an environmental group that works to protect migratory birds in the urban environment, estimates that collisions with the city’s buildings kill one million birds each year. All buildings constructed after 2010 in the city of Toronto, are required to include measures to reduce bird strikes. The trial began in April, 2012.



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