September 16, 2018
You Can Hand-feed
But Should You?
By JoAnna Klein/The New York Times
Photo by TJ Gehling/flickr
Spencer Pratt, the former reality TV star, often feeds hummingbirds on his  Instagram  page. Maybe you’ve watched him, with  a feeder in one hand and baby in the other , or wearing  special hats  and  glasses .

Or maybe you’re seen videos on YouTube of other people with homemade feeding devices like the “ ultimate hummingbird helmet ,” the “ original hummer helmet ” or gadgets  dangling from bicycle helmets hidden in straw hats built into creepy masks  or  wired onto hat bills . Perhaps you’ve even bought your own  clip-on hat feeder   from Etsy .

It’s fun to feed hummingbirds and see them up close — almost like encountering fairies. But should we be getting so personal? And if so, how is it possible for a giant human to attract a buzzing  bee-bird  weighing about as much as a nickel?

Understanding Waterfowl: Ducks in Motion
By J. Dale James/Ducks Unlimited
Photo by Micolo J Thanx/flick r
Whether it's a huge flock of lesser snow geese passing overhead, a hen pintail leading her recently hatched brood overland, or a canvasback diving for aquatic vegetation, waterfowl are fascinating to watch when they are on the move.

Years of natural selection have made waterfowl exceptionally well adapted to their environments, allowing the birds to fill diverse ecological niches. This process has resulted in great variation in the body structures of waterfowl, which affects how the birds fly, swim, and walk.

There are few spectacles in nature more impressive than the annual migrations of waterfowl across this continent, and it's the marvel of flight that allows these impressive bird movements to occur. Waterfowl wings provide the two essential elements of flight: lift and thrust. Primary feathers (the outer flight feathers) provide thrust, which is the force that propels a bird through the air and maintains forward momentum. The secondary feathers (the inner flight feathers) provide lift, the force that pushes a flying bird in an upward direction. Other special adaptations for flying that are shared by all waterfowl include a streamlined body, lightweight hollow bones, and a rigid skeleton.

How Your Conservation Dollars Are
By Randall Williams/TRCP
Photo by Gage Skidmore/flickr
Sportsmen and women know that the money we spend hunting and fishing not only drives an  $887-billion outdoor recreation economy , but it also pays for wildlife conservation and fisheries management across the country. License sales by state agencies and duck stamps from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service offer the most obvious examples, but the full picture includes a diversity of sources. Thankfully, not all our eggs are in one basket, and though we contribute heavily to the American conservation funding model, we are not alone.

At the federal level, conservation funding can be a complicated landscape of laws and acronyms. But it is critical that sportsmen and women understand where this money comes from—and it’s not always out of our own pockets—and the incredible value of investing in our fish and wildlife resources now, in case there’s ever a need to defend these revenue streams against shortsighted cutbacks in the future.

Get on a first-name basis with these major conservation funding programs.

8 States Fighting Change to Bird Treaty Act
By Darryl Fears/The Washington Post
Photo by IIP Photo Archive/flickr
Eight state attorneys general -- including Illinois' -- have filed a legal challenge to the Trump administration's bid to  dramatically weaken  the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, a century-old law established to protect birds.

The  lawsuit , led by New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood, and supported by Maryland, New Jersey, Illinois, Massachusetts, Oregon, California and New Mexico, is an effort to stop the Interior Department from fully implementing a directive to its law enforcement division to forgive mass bird kills, even when the animals are threatened or endangered.

In accordance with a new interpretation of the act issued in April, the department informed its wildlife police that the slaughter “of birds resulting from an activity is not prohibited . . . when the underlying purpose of that activity is not to take birds.” For example, the guidance said, a person who destroys a structure such as a barn knowing that it is full of baby owls in nests is not liable for killing them. “All that is relevant is that the landowner undertook an action that did not have the killing of barn owls as its purpose,” the opinion said.

Are Some Animals Too Smart for
Their Own Good?
By Liz Langley/National Geographic
Photo by Jerry McFarland/flickr
They say nobody likes a know-it-all, and that seems to be true for some very intelligent, and sometimes very annoying, animals.

Take raccoons, for example. Being smart enough to adapt to our human-centric world is pretty incredible, but for them it can be a liability. Their intrusions on our gardens and garbage get them a bad rep at best—at worst, it gets them killed by humans who see them as pests.

recent study published in the journal Animal Behavior  suggests that the wildlife best suited to living among us—the most flexible, adaptable, and clever—are exactly the ones that end up in conflict with humans.

And that made us wonder: What are “nuisance” animals, and how can studying their intelligence help us learn to live peacably with them? (Related:  Raccoons Pass Famous Intelligence Test—By Upending It ).

"To brag a little, to lose well, to crow gently if in luck … to pay up, to own up, to shut up if beaten … are the virtues of a good sportsman.” 

-    Oliver Wendell Holmes
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