Jo Santiago, a U.S. Forest Service Wildlife Biologist who educates the public on birds through live demonstrations, shows off a Red-tailed Hawk during the “Wings Across America” event. (Photo by Sean Kelley)
When it comes to the U.S. Forest Service, it’s not always about trees.
Sometimes it’s all about the birds, the dragonflies and the butterflies. Oh, and the bats. At least, that’s what it was all about during a ceremony last month recognizing some great contributions from U.S. Forest Service and partner organizations to the Wings Across the Americas program in the past year.
In a festive event held in Omaha, Nebraska, as part of the 80th North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference, U.S. Forest Service employees and agency partners received shout-outs for outstanding efforts supporting migratory species across the nation and beyond. Read more »
Barnegat Bay is one of 28 estuaries across the country classified as nationally significant.
Soil scientists don’t just map what’s under our feet but what’s below the water’s surface, too. Scientists with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) are mapping and documenting the permanently submerged subaqueous soils of Barnegat Bay, a troubled estuary in New Jersey that is home to environmentally-sensitive habitats.
The bay’s ecosystem has degraded over the years from pollution, human development and other causes. NRCS soil scientists are now working an inventory of the bay’s soils that will identify the sources of the estuary’s decline and aid in its restoration.
To make this happen, NRCS is collecting vibracores and field notes and describing soil samples as part of mapping the floor of the bay. Vibracores are samples of underwater soils collected in tubes. Read more »
Since December 2014, USDA has confirmed several cases of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5 in the Pacific, Central, and Mississippi flyways (or migratory bird paths). The disease has been found in wild birds, as well as in a few backyard and commercial poultry flocks. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) considers the risk to people from these HPAI H5 infections to be low. No human cases of these HPAI H5 viruses have been detected in the United States, Canada, or internationally.
Anyone who owns or works with poultry—whether on a commercial farm, in the wild, or at a hobby/backyard farm—should take proper steps to keep HPAI from spreading. The best way to protect your birds is to follow good biosecurity. Even if you are already familiar with biosecurity, now is a good time to double-check your practices. You are the best protection your birds have! Read more »
Buck Mountain precipitation gage with solar panel, radio stand, and electronics—Whitewater Baldy Complex Fire, N.M.
New Mexico experienced in June two catastrophic wildfires—the Whitewater Baldy Complex Fire and the Little Bear Fire. One consequence of those fires has been flash flooding. Water runs off more quickly during rainstorms in areas where fires have stripped the landscape. These floods can happen with very little notice, endangering communities downstream. Read more »
Written collaboratively by: The People’s Garden Team
Today, Sam Droege with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) led a workshop on The Native Bees in Your Garden at The People’s Garden at USDA Headquarters. Did you know there are about 4,000 species of bees in North America and that one eighth of them have not even been named yet?
Despite their importance, there has been little research on native bees. Much of what we know comes from before the 1930’s when collecting and studying insects was popular. Since there has been little research, we do not know if there have been wide spread declines in native bees like there have been with the non-native honeybees. Sam and other scientists and taxonomists are working together to create online identification guides for the bees of North America. You can find out more about this collaborative project at National Biological Information Infrastructure.
Did you know that most of the native bees do not sting? Only the few “colonial” bees (bees that form colonies) will sting and only if trapped or if their hive is attacked. Most “bee” stings are in fact from wasps, like yellow jackets, not bees. Sam noted that in general bees are vegetarians while wasps are meat eaters. While bees are attracted to and pollinate flowers, wasps generally do not. Honeybees are important for agriculture since native bees are frequently not available around industrial farms. The reason is that industrial farmland is devoid of the natural habitat native bees need. Instead, beekeepers bring in beehives to provide pollination services. Another problem is that the pesticides used to eliminate insect pests in agricultural land also kill bees and other beneficial insects. Because of the lack of research, we do not know the impact of pesticides on native bees or the honeybees. The presentation ended with a tour of the garden and Sam showing the attendees all the many bees peacefully pollinating the garden.
Throughout the month of June, The People’s Garden is celebrating pollinators in honor of National Pollinator Week, June 21-27 with workshops and exhibits. Come join us next Friday (June 11) from 12 noon to 1 p.m. for the workshop Pests and Their Natural Enemies.
Sam showing different species of bees.