Archive for April 2009

A Request from the Prez

April 22, 2009

Yesterday, President Obama announced a call to service:

… I ask every American to make an enduring commitment to serving your community and your country in whatever way you can … Together, we will measure our progress not just in number of hours served or volunteers mobilized—but in the impact our efforts have on the life of this nation … We need your service, right now, at this moment in history. I’m not going to tell you what your role should be; that’s for you to discover. But I’m asking you to stand up and play your part. I’m asking you to help change history’s course.

Today, on Earth Day, as a Minnesota Master Naturalist, I pledge to volunteer at least 40 hours per year for environmental causes. My charity dollars and my free time are spent enjoying and protecting nature.

What’s your pledge?

My First Cedar Waxwing

April 13, 2009
Erica Marshall of

Erica Marshall of

I spotted my first Cedar Waxwing—ever. A year ago I had never heard of this bird, and now I can say I’ve seen dozens of them. Yesterday there was a flock of them on my neighbor’s silver maple. Today there was another flock of them on my other neighbor’s green ash tree. The distinctive markings of the Cedar Waxwing include exquisite taupe plumage, light yellow belly, black mask, pointed crest, bright yellow tip on the tail, and red tips on the wings. I plan to add a serviceberry bush to my yard to attract this lovely bird.

I’ve started to become interested in birdwatching—learning the species, being observant enough to find the birds and identifying them by their markings and songs. If that’s not challenging enough—try to photograph them! Spring is a great time for birding because the birds are very active and vocal, and the leaves on the trees have not appeared yet, making it much easier to spot birds.

Extreme Ice

April 8, 2009

Nova has a fantastic new documentary — Extreme Ice — about our disappearing glaciers, and you can catch it online. Time-lapse photography shows glaciers calving and receding at an alarming rate. But it is cool to watch.

Aialik Glacier, Kenai Fjords National Park, Alaska, 1999

Here we are in 1999 at Aialik Glacier, Kenai Fjords National Park, Alaska.

What would be the problem if there were no glaciers? Many people get their drinking water from glacial streams and rivers, not to mention the fisheries and agriculture that are dependent on these waterways. Also, if the glaciers were to disappear, plus the ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica, it is predicted that the sea level would rise enough to wipe out many coastal communities.

Currently in the news, the bridge of ice to the Wilkins Ice Shelf in Antarctica has collapsed, which could facilitate further breaking up of the ice shelf. See Wikipedia.