Monday, December 14, 2009

Flying Friendlier Skies

Blog by Ginny Glasscock

Everyone appreciates the modern conveniences that electricity brings to our homes, from utilities and communications to entertainment. But we don’t always think about the problems that the equipment that supplies this power can cause for our feathered friends.
Natalie Turlie, of Idaho Power, addresses these concerns in her job as Avian Protection Coordinator. Working with the US Fish and Wildlife Service to monitor problem areas, she then plans improvements to Idaho Power equipment.
She trains company crews to retrofit older poles and lines with more bird-friendly features, and to use these same features on new or replacement installations.
At The Nature Conservancy's Silver Creek Preserve, several power poles were scheduled for replacement prior to winter, as they had been partially charred by the fire of 2008.
Crews recently completed the job, using several bird safety devices. Additional protection was provided on a nearby power pole with three transformers, where an osprey had been recently electrocuted after it perched to eat its meal of just-caught trout.

Birds can run afoul of power lines by actually flying into them, or by electrocution. Natalie explains that birds can die if they simultaneously touch two energized wires, or one live wire and a ground. Birds can perch safely as long as they don’t make these two points of contact.
Protective devices work by making power lines more visible so that the birds can avoid them, discouraging birds from perching in dangerous locations, or by covering energized wires to allow safe perching.
Firefly bird diverters are mounted directly onto long spans of wire in high traffic flight areas. These small, reflective flappers are also luminescent, to be visible to night-time flyers.
Perch preventer strips are rows of small spikes mounted on power pole cross pieces, nudging birds away from dangerous spots. T-shaped perches provide a sitting area well above electrified parts. Large PVC sheaths cover wires and insulators at the tops of poles, and plastic tubing is installed over smaller wires.

You will be able to find all of these on power lines and poles at Silver Creek Preserve.
The preserve is a popular bird-watching destination, with more than 150 different species reported.

All birds and birders are grateful to Idaho Power for their work in mitigating possible conflicts between human needs and avian ones.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Wildlife at Point of Rocks

Conservation Seeding and Restoration, Inc. (CSR) sent this Flickr photo gallery of wildlife on the Point of Rocks section of Silver Creek, on the property of John and Elaine French.

Check out the entire photo gallery.

CSR has undertaken extensive habitat restoration on the Frenches' property, which is also protected through a conservation easement with The Nature Conservancy.

There is still time to vote John French for Budweiser Conservationist of the Year. Vote here.

The deadline is December 15. Vote today!

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

From Idaho to Colombia

In 2008, I spent a month in Colombia as part of a fellowship with The Nature Conservancy. I gave a presentation on my adventures there last night in Boise and will give another next week in Ketchum (6 pm Dec. 15 at The Community Library).

For those interested in more stories from Colombia, here are some links:
Saving Cotton-Top Tamarins--and Helping People Too: My article on the Conservancy's work in the tropical dry forest near Cartagena.
Mochilas for Monkeys: My Cool Green Science blog post about Conservancy partner Proyecto Titi and how making mochila bags benefit communities in the dry forest.
A Ranch Called Hope: My story on Eduardo Martinez and his ranch on the Llanos grasslands.

The Nature Conservancy's Colombia page: Lots of good information about the Conservancy's work in Colombia.
Colombia blog: More photos I took during my fellowship.
If you have questions or would like to discuss more about Colombia, please feel free to email me. I'm always happy to share stories about my time in that beautiful part of the world.--Matt Miller

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Your Vote Counts

Don't forget to vote for Idaho conservationist John French for the Budweiser Conservationist of the Year.

Vote here:

John has worked tirelessly on behalf of Silver Creek and other natural areas in Idaho and around the world. Voting takes just a minute.

Recognize a great Idaho conservationist and help the Conservancy continue to protect special places in Idaho!

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Update on Mercury Levels in Silver Creek Trout

As widely reported today, the U.S. Geological Survey issued a press release explaining that the 2007 report that found elevated mercury levels in Silver Creek brown trout was based on a laboratory error and that mercury levels in Silver Creek are not as high as thought.

The health advisory for Silver Creek trout has been lifted.

At The Nature Conservancy, we're relieved by this news. Obviously, we must continue to monitor trout in Silver Creek for mercury levels, as mercury is still present in these fish.

The Conservancy's Silver Creek Preserve is strictly "catch and release" so the new findings do not change anything on our preserve.

It's important to note that about 2o southern Idaho lakes, reservoirs and waterways still contain mercury advisories--and on many of these waters, people do catch fish for eating.
This is still a serious issue. The Idaho Conservation League has been a leader on addressing mercury in southern Idaho waters, working to educate and advocate for healthy waters.

Wild Idaho fish should be a sustainable, healthful food--not come with health warnings.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Journey to Colombia - Free Presentations

Can monkeys save a village? Can armadillos help a family through years of darkness?

Colombia is a country notorious for its violence, but in many parts of the country, that dark past is history.

Colombia is also the country with the most bird species, with seemingly endless grasslands and beautiful colonial cities.

Join The Nature Conservancy's Matt Miller in two presentations as he shares the dramatic stories and images from his conservation fellowship in Colombia. You'll learn how people are looking to wildlife and the land to shape a more hopeful, peaceful future.

6:30 pm Tuesday, December 8
Foothills Learning Center (directions)

6 pm Tuesday, December 15
The Community Library (directions)

Phone 208-343-8826 for more information.

The events are free and no registration is required. We hope to see you there!