Every December it is one of my great
pleasures as Bergen Audubon Society President to have the opportunity to
present our annual Conservation Awards to our local heroes who have given of themselves
with little recognition and often with personal sacrifice to make our
environment and community a better place not only for wildlife but for all of
Our conservation award is named in honor
of the late Harold Feinberg, BCAS Board member and field trip chairman for many
years. Harold was a mentor, an enthusiastic supporter of our endeavors, and
always gave freely of his expertise with a combination of patience and
knowledge that few possess.
We are very proud once again to announce
our winners of the 10th annual “Bergen CountyAudubon/Harold Feinberg
This year our award winners are
Dee De Santis-Palisades Park
Dee, otherwise known as “The Eagle Lady,” has for the last 3 years devoted herself to the protection and preservation of the Ridgefield Park Bald Eagle nest.
As the official observer for NJDEP, Dee
spends almost every day from November through June, in all kinds of
weather watching to be sure our eagles are safe. She documents all their
behaviors such as egg laying and fledging times, which greatly helps
scientists at the DEP learn about eagles in urban areas. The futures of all the
Bald Eagles in New Jersey are being helped by such an amazing, devoted woman.
Dawn Giambalvo, Kevin Link and Irene Stamos -Jersey City
Dawn, Kevin and Irene
have done amazing work creating a natural urban oasis in Jersey City called
Canco Park Conservancy. Their hard work and devotion has engaged a diverse
community through educational opportunities for both adults and children in the
wonders of the natural world. These three amazing people are prime examples of
what a difference a few determined people can make in their own communities
No matter where she is
or what she is doing Michele’s first concern is what can she can do to help
make this world a little better. Michelle participates 48 weekends out of a
year on a cleanup.
Her cleanups include
Liberty State Park cleanups with Friends of Liberty State Park; Bayonne Nature
Club cleanups in Bayonne; Raritan River cleanups with Save the Raritan; and Hackensack
River cleanups in Bergen and Rockland counties, just to mention a few. Michelle
is an example of a true environmental hero who has dedicated her life to
a better place for us, birds and all wildlife
Please Join Us Wednesday
Evening , Dec. 18, at 7:30 pm at Teaneck Creek Conservancy as we present our
awards to these well-deserving local environmental heroes.
At times environmental
issues seem overwhelming, especially with this year’s disheartening news of us
losing 3 billion birds since 1970 and the National Audubon Society report on
climate change putting 389 bird species on the brink of extinction if something
is not done. The frustration makes most people sit back and feel helpless and
believe that there is little that one person can do to make things better.
The good news is
there are many ways you can help our birds and the environment without waiting
for any elected officials or government agencies to do it for us. By taking the
initiative we can have an almost immediate positive effect on the natural world
around us. Rember, if you manage to do
even one or two of these things it will have an immediate positive impact on
our bird population.
1-Create a wildlife habitat in your backyard, schoolyard or
With the incredible
loss of natural places here in New Jersey, creating a backyard wildlife habitat
using native plants can mean survival for many of our birds. By providing food,
water, shelter and places to raise young you can have an important positive
impact on all birds and relieve some of the stresses caused by cclimate change.
2-Introduce a child to
birding and nature
Helping our next
generation to learn about birds is critical in keeping our children connected
to nature. Teaching them to love nature the way you do will enable them to grow
up to be caring and nurturing adults who will define the future of our
environment. So take a kid out birding, help start a bird club in schools, or
with Scout groups
3-Become a community activist
Our local cities and
towns need environmentally minded people to get involved in municipal
commissions, planning boards and schools, to have more environmentally sound
decisions made for everyone. So get out there and be heard and get involved to
help create a better and healthier community for both you and our birds.
4-Keep you cats indoors
animals more than me, so for the sake of the cats and the lives of millions of
birds please keep your cats indoors. Your cats and the birds will thank you for it.
5-Join and be active in
a local conservation group
Any group is only
as strong as its members, so get off the couch and ask how you can help your
favorite conservation organization,and join up! There is strength in numbers.
6-Drink shade grown coffee
One cup of shade-grown coffee will preserve more than two square feet of rainforest — and the birds that inhabit the trees. So make sure your daily cup of coffee is organic and shade grown and even better yet be sure it is Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center (SMBC) certified, which represents a gold standard in ethical and sustainable coffee business.
7- Recommend to your town, school system and whoever will
listen to use native plants in the landscape
Our native plants
are the foundation to a healthy bio-diverse bird habitat. You can have an
almost instant positive impact on your environment by planting native plants in
your backyard and anywhere and everywhere you can. Not only our birds, but our native
bees and butterflies will also thank you for it.
8-Part with plastics
Finally this may be the year New Jersey does away with plastic bags. The
first plastic bags were produced in 1957, according to Worldwatch Institute,
and we now throw away 100 billion a year. Many eventually wash into the ocean
to join oceanic garbage patches, drifting gyres of trash that spread over huge
sea areas. Every year the floating “bladders” of these bags kill
hundreds of thousands of seabirds – along with sea turtles and marine mammals –
not to mention our nesting Osprey and Bald Eagles
9-Keep pesticides out of your yard, parks and school grounds
It is near insanity to plant
flowers, shrubs, and trees for our birds and then douse them in toxic waste, but
that is what many gardeners do by using pesticides at home. Since Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring” was
published five decades ago, pesticide use in North America has grown to exceed
1.1 billion pounds annually. Roughly 8 percent of that is applied to yards and
gardens. One particular lawn-care pesticide, diazinon, has been implicated in
more than 150 mass bird die-offs. At the same time, U.S. researchers estimate
that agricultural use kills 67 million birds each year. Pesticides also cause
longer-term, potentially lethal effects ranging from eggshell thinning to
neurological damage, and may be linked to human food allergies.
10- Prevent Bird Collisions with Your Windows
Collisions are one
of the most frequent causes of bird deaths. Birds see nature reflected in the
window or mistake houseplants inside the building for outdoor plants and fly
into the glass. Putting up curtains or window decals helps make the window
visible to birds.
11- Provide Water
It’s very tough for
birds to find water when its below freezing. Filling your birdbath with warm
water in the morning or getting a heated birdbath will provide water for
everything from raptors to wrens.
12 – Feed the birds and leave your bird houses up all winter
Feeding your birds
a good quality seed and suet can help them through a tough winter. Don’t forget
to also put out some fruit and mealworms for birds like Carolina wrens and
Mockingbirds that have a real tough time. Also don’t forget to keep your
feeders and ground under the feeders clean to keep birds happy and healthy.
birdhouses that are used for spring nesting will also be used by Chickadees,
Woodpeckers and all cavity nesting birds to keep warm and cozy through the
coming winter. So if you have some leave them up. If not get a few up soon.
13- Don’t Clean Up!
Birds need the natural seeds and insects that
are in your leaf letter and garden litter. So whatever you do learn to be a
sloppy gardener! You will help birds more than you know.
14- Protect and save every bit of natural habitat we have
Don’t evert let
anyone tell you that a small patch of woods or meadows does not matter! Small patches of natural habitat
are used by birds for a migratory stop-over and for nesting, so when a
politician tells you that it does not
matter let them know they are very wrong. And then work to save it!
15- Urge local towns to create No-Mow Zones in local parks
Even small No-Wow
Zones create great habitat for not only birds but also for Butterflies and
Pollinators. They also save energy, manpower and money, something local officials will
It all goes without
saying that we all need to work together to stem the tide of climate change.
But lets not forget that conservation begins at home. By trying as many of
these bird friendly recommendations as you can, you will change the environment
around you and eventually the world. If you have other ideas that help our
local environment let me know. You can e-mail me at Greatauk4@aol.com
Join the Bergen County Audubon Society on Tuesday, Dec. 17, for a guided walk of Mill Creek Point Park and Schmidts Woods in Secaucus! The walk runs from 10 am to noon and they’ll be on the lookout for wintering birds. For more info contact Chris Takacs at firstname.lastname@example.org or 201-207-0426.