Dramatic Decline in Bird Numbers in North America

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology's new study documents widespread decline in bird numbers.
The Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s new study documents widespread decline in bird numbers.

“If you were alive in 1970, more than one in four birds have disappeared in your lifetime.”  So begins a Cornell Chronicle article about a new study by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.  That loss represents about three billion birds, across the US and Canada and across all biomes. Researchers examined decades of data on 529 species and found massive declines (53% loss) in the numbers of grasslands birds as well as big drops (37%) in shorebirds. As Ken Rosenberg, lead author of the study said, “It’s a strong signal that our human-altered landscapes are losing their ability to support birdlife. And that is an indicator of a coming collapse of the overall environment.”

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Documenting the River of Redemption: An update on the Anacostia Project

Sunset over the Anacostia River in Prince George's County, Maryland.
Sunset over the Anacostia River in Prince George’s County, Maryland.

Story & photos by Krista Schlyer

In 2010, as part of the International League of Conservation Photographers’ Chesapeake Bay RAVE (Rapid Assessment Visual Expedition), I found myself on the Anacostia River in Washington DC. The Anacostia is one of the most imperiled watersheds within the Chesapeake Bay watershed, a sprawling eco-region spanning most of the Mid-Atlantic. The Anacostia is also my home watershed, where the water that drains off my house and yard ends up.

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Showcase Deadline is Tonight!

Make the Image Your Own from NANPA Video on Vimeo.

Tonight, at 11 PM Eastern Time, the entry window for NANPA’s Showcase Competition closes. Have you got your entries in or are you a procrastinator? I’ll confess to sometimes waiting until the last minute to get something done. The important thing is actually getting it done. So, the good news is: You still have time. The bad news is: Not much!

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Bugs, Photographers and NANPA’s Conservation Handbook

An Eastern Tiger Swallowtail feeds on milkweed flowers. This meadow, planted with milkweed, is an important stop on the Monarch butterfly migration, but also provides food and shelter for many other insects, birds, rodents and reptiles all year long. Photo © Frank Gallagher.

An Eastern Tiger Swallowtail feeds on milkweed flowers. This meadow, planted with milkweed, is an important stop on the Monarch butterfly migration, but also provides food and shelter for many other insects, birds, rodents and reptiles all year long. Photo © Frank Gallagher.

You might have seen headlines about an “insect apocalypse,” a dramatic and alarming decline in the numbers of insects, collapsing bee colonies, once-common species becoming increasingly rare.  Should we be worried?  And what has this got to do with photography?

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From the President: Tom Haxby

Tom Haxby at Olson Falls near Munising, MI.

Tom Haxby at Olson Falls near Munising, MI.

Please allow me to introduce myself. My name is Tom Haxby, and for the next year I will be the President of the Board of Directors of NANPA. I’ve been a member of NANPA for over 10 years and have been on the Board of Directors for the last two. I have always enjoyed photography, but several years ago, after a career of almost 30 years as a natural resource manager, it was time to leave behind the 10 x 10 cubicle, endless meetings, toxic office politics and administrative tedium. So, I dove into nature photography full time and have not regretted for one minute the photographic adventures and time spent behind my camera.  Along the way, there have been a few photos that have made the Showcase top 250 and a few other award winners as well as six weeks as an Artist-in-Residence in 2016 in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. There have been so many trips to the Smokies, that some thought that I am local to there. Not yet! I currently reside in the Traverse City area of Northern Michigan.

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The Many Flavors of Conservation Photography

The Rock Creek Conservancy is partnering with the National Park Service and working with the local community to strategically restore five sites ("mini-oases") within Rock Creek Park.

The Rock Creek Conservancy is partnering with the National Park Service and working with the local community to strategically restore five sites (“mini-oases”) within Rock Creek Park.

Story & photo by Frank Gallagher

When we think of conservation photography, we often have in mind images of the grand and majestic:  elephants, whales and tigers; the Grand Canyon, glaciers and coral reefs.  You don’t have to be a well-known photographer like Joel Sartore or Florian Schulz, or work with National Geographic or the Sierra Club to have an impact.  Those are all important, to be sure, but not everything has to be charismatic megafauna, epic landscapes, famous names or mass media.  There are also many opportunities for conservation photography in the small, in the local and in the mundane.  Sometimes, opportunity is knocking in places you’ve come to take for granted.

I was thinking about that recently, during a project for Nature Photography Day.

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Crowds vs. Conservation–Conflict or Cooperation

Crowds of tourists and photographers start to gather by Delicate Arch hours before sunset.

Crowds of tourists and photographers start to gather by Delicate Arch hours before sunset.

Story & photo by Frank Gallagher

Where do you draw the line between access and preservation?  At what point does introducing a larger number of visitors to the wonders of nature start to endanger that very nature?  It’s a tough call and one that land owners, government agencies and photographers are facing every day.

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From the President: Gordon Illg

In the wildflower bloom at Peridot Mesa in Arizona © Cathy Illg.

In the wildflower bloom at Peridot Mesa in Arizona © Cathy Illg.

This is my last blog as NANPA president, the end of a year of maundering over the past, present and future of nature photography. It turns out my fear that the organization would suffer under my leadership, or lack thereof, was unfounded, just as many of my fears are. Not only is NANPA doing well, but its membership has reached a new high point. It’s tempting for me to take credit for our success, but the truth is I’m riding on the coattails of an incredible herd/school/pride/pod of talented and hard-working staff and volunteers. Without them I would have been president of nothing, and I’m extremely grateful for my addiction to nature photography if for no other reason than it introduced me to these wonderful people who have guided and supported me.

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From the President: Gordon Illg

A family of sandhill cranes has no fear of this photographer. Photo © Cathy Illg.

A family of sandhill cranes has no fear of this photographer. Photo © Cathy Illg.

Cathy and I just returned from our last photo tour, a week of pointing lenses at colorful birds and ancient reptiles in some of Florida’s remaining wetlands. Just about every location we visited was outstanding, so crammed with photographic possibilities it was sometimes difficult to choose which subject to put in the viewfinder. A viewer, judging from the images we came home with, would assume all is right with this sub-tropical environment. What the photos don’t show is that each wonderful site was separated from the others by a couple of hours of driving on some very busy roads. It’s perfectly true that there are still some great venues for those who enjoy photographing wild things and the places they live, but these venues are becoming more and more isolated, islands of biodiversity in a growing sea of concrete, asphalt and golf courses.

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Photographing Wildlife With a Home-Made DSLR Camera Trap

Renous, River, New Brunswick (August 2007).

Renous, River, New Brunswick (August 2007).

Story & photos by Phil Riebel

A favorite hobby on my woodland property.

As a nature photographer I feel very fortunate to own forestland.  I regularly visit one of our properties on the border of the Renous River in Northern New Brunswick, about 35 minutes from where I live.  This is quite a wild area, dominated by forest with few people.

There are many nature photo opportunities here, including several species of mammals such as Moose, White-tailed Deer, Coyotes, Black Bear, Red Fox, Weasel, and Bobcat, just to name a few.  However, because they often avoid humans, it’s a challenge to get good photos of some of these species.

My small trailcam has allowed me to capture some photos and see what is around, but the quality of the photos is not great, especially when compared to a high-resolution DSLR.  That’s when I got the idea of building a DSLR camera trap based on discussions with colleagues and a bit of research.

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