blogging from the student's perspective

Archive for September, 2010

Looking Out for our Bird Friends

Last week our class took a field trip to Eagle Creek State Park. We went in their new Ornithology Center, (which is really nice and has a great view of Eagle Creek!), and  learned what characteristics to look at when identifying birds. Afterwards, we went outside to practice looking at birds through binoculars. We saw a ton of Double-Crested Cormorants, flapping away on trees above Eagle Creek. It was nice to be outside enjoying nature without having to worry about walking into a car or another person on a sidewalk. I knew that birdwatching was a common hobby, one that I never really looked into, but after the field trip I realized it would be a great hobby to have. It’s very cheap because all you need are binoculars and maybe a bird book to help identify unless you want to use the internet.

Yes, there are 400 species of birds in Indiana and they aren’t going to all die out because of window strikes. But these aren’t the only birds that are flying through Indianapolis. Migratory birds and rare birds have been spotted near the Ornithology Center, and if these birds are attracting birdwatchers from long distances, then these birds are obviously important. They risk death from window strikes because they are not familiar with the area and are following guidance from the stars at night and are distracted by building lights that lead them to areas of lots of windows.

I’m looking forward to learning about how to market our ideas this week.


bird watching, and I don’t mean looking at twitter all day

Lately, the only time people think about birds is when they are about to go on twitter and hear that same high pitched chirp as you sign on. Its quite the impressive logo for twitter since we are always posting our ideas, our daily thoughts and activites, as well as articles which we find appealing to our audience. Although I am not a twitter enthusiast, I do agree that social media is becoming one of the best ways to communicate ideas to other members of your cyber community.  But is social media the only way that we can interact with this blue little bird?  If you step outside your front door, you can’t help but look around the trees and notice that there are birds everywhere, dwelling within the limbs of the trees or soaring through the sky. Birds are great indicators of our natural environment and we should start to look at them in a different light. After our trip to Eagle Creek State Park this past week, we learned a little bit more about the bird strikes as well as bird watching and how to classify them based on wings, beaks, eye rings, etc. We were also able to bird watch and learn binocular techniques.

Bird watching is one of the largest recreational activities to do and people travel all over the world just to mark a bird off their list. On of the workers at Eagle Creek told us that a bird from Antartica got stuck on their land and thousands from all over the world traveled just to see the bird. It is amazing to see that these species have developed into a recreational activity for people of all ages. If you look closely and patiently, you really do see a different side to these creatures of the air. They different characteristics that each one possess and how only subtle details can tell different birds apart is phenomenal. It is expected that birds will decline dramactically before 2020.

Take a look outside your door tomorrow and look for signs or sounds of these aviators. What will we do when we don’t have them anymore.. why not look for answers that won’t lead to this conclusion! This semester I hope to be able to support a good cause and promote it to the outside community so that we all become more knowledgeable of the natural world around us!

It’s for the birds

This past week for class, we took a trip to Eagle Creek Park. While there we learned more about bird strikes and why they were important and had an impact. I had questioned this very thing for a while but wasn’t really sure how to ask it. With all the birds there are in the world and the US, why does it really matter? I knew that window strike deaths were less than 1% of the total bird population in the US. It doesn’t seem like that would impact the population that dramatically (although, I do believe loss of life is something to be avoided where possible). After thinking about it further and talking with the environmentalists at Eagle Creek, I realized why it is important to try to stop of limit window strikes. The birds that are striking the windows come from a select or much smaller population. So while the total number of birds is going to be fine, these specific populations will begin to dwindle over time.

After finally solidifying the importance of Lights Out Indy’s work, I am really excited to really start to help them. Soon, the class will be meeting with a professor in the Business school to start us off and give us, many of whom have never had a business class, advice on working with businesses. I am really getting excited about really getting going. I feel like once I start everything will become a lot more real to me.

We as a class have also been working on various case studies. Mine has been about a bridge in South Carolina, specifically how the US Fish and Wildlife worked hand in hand with the Department of Transportation. I will hopefully be in contact with our local US Fish and Wildlife soon to see if they can help Lights Out Indy gain some traction with local businesses.


When I thought about this blog, I thought about the different ways that we try to help the environment. I thought about how some people are starting to put up stickers on glass windows so birds would not fly into them, how we should stop the poisonous dumping, and many other issues. then I thought of what we might do in the future. Would we try to make landfills a thing of the past, or  give every house  solar panels? Then I remembered that  we need to do one thing at a time and work our way toward accomplishing these kinds of goals with even small steps.

Procrastination is the Problem

Greetings bloggers and occasional blog readers. I’d like to begin my post for this week with a song that I was first introduced to in grade school via one of my old and favorite cartoons, “Rocko’s Modern Life”. “R-E-C-Y-C-L-E, recycle…C-O-N-S-E-R-V-E, conserve…don’t you P-O-L-L-U-T-E, pollute the river, sky, and sea or else you’re gonna get…what you deserve.”

Let’s talk about recycling ladies and gentlemen. If you’re an American, and you’ve matriculated past at least fourth grade, then you’ve indubitably had the pleasure of enjoying the “recycle” talk. Forgive me for playing grade school teacher, but let’s take a moment and discuss this recycling thing for a second. I’ll be brief; two words…economic efficiency. What are the benefits of recycling? Well…there’s: the lessening of the need for incinerating trash and thereby reduced air pollution, reduced waste from landfills, reduced energy consumption, reduced waste, reduced resource consumption, reduced damage to the environment via mining and lumberjacking, etc., etc., etc. Now take a moment to ask yourself: are any of the above important to me?

It may feel good to answer yes to yourself, but I have just one more question. Did you throw any glass, aluminum, and/or plastic waste into a regular receptacle today? I’d like to think you did, and I am guilty as well ladies and gentlemen so do not feel bad. I say all of that to say this…the first step to solving a problem is knowing what it is. Procrastination is the problem. We have known that our civilization is highly reliant on a source that is finite for a very long time; however, because it was not a pressing issue in the past, solving it was not a pressing issue either. Allow me to introduce a few loose statistics to the conversation. The following elements are considered “commonly” used by modern civilization. They are: zinc, indium, hafnium, terbium and phosphorus. Exact statistics would provoke an entirely different argument, so loosely speaking, without increased recycling efforts on a MASSIVE scale, we may expect the following. We may deplete our resources of zinc by about 2037, indium and tafnium by perhaps 2017, terbium probably as early as 2012, and phosphorus within about a hundred years. I don’t mean to offend anyone, but if your response to the above was that we still have a bunch of time, or that the problem won’t affect you while you’re still alive…then you’re the problem. Change must be immediate if it is to stand a chance of being effective.

-Duwan K. Morris

Looking forward: what can we learn?

As I conducted research on Toronto’s Fatal Light Awareness Program (FLAP), I began to realize what Lights Out Indy can achieve. FLAP has a very in depth website, numerous corporate partners, and overall has accomplished a great deal in Toronto. The group was founded in 1993, and has since joined forces with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF; the group that made the World Wrestling Federation change to World Wrestling Entertainment). The partnership released a publication entitled Collision Course: The Hazards of Lighted Structures and Windows to Migrating Birds. It’s been very encouraging to find out more about FLAP and hoping that Lights Out Indy can gain some valuable insight as they attempt to raise awareness of and participation in their own program.
I have yet to find any dead birds on my route (Pharmacy building and Holcomb), but I’m sure there have been several I have missed (not that I am itching to find one). I still receive occasional text messages from friends who have seen dead birds around campus (Yes, I asked my friends to let me know if they saw any. Strange request, but a good way to raise awareness and have more sets of eyes peeled for window strike victims). After reading Hal’s blog entry, I reflected on the difficult task ahead of any group that has the gall to ask building managers to turn off lights at night. Anyone who has watched any nighttime sporting event or looked for cool desktop backgrounds online knows how impressive spectacle an illuminated skyline can look. I’m sure this has been, and will continue to be, a major hurdle for Lights Out Indy. They may have already tried it, but they could consider asking managers to turn off lights once or twice a week at first. The immediate impact would likely be minimal, but it would be a step in the right direction.
That’s all for now. In the meantime, I’ll maintain constant vigilance in my search of window strike victims, and I may look into this whole “birding” racket. Sounds like it could be cool. 🙂


Looked like Lights ON Indy for the Colts Game

First off I have found no dead or injured birds around Resco dormatory windows, which I find somewhat surprising because I thought Resco had many windows.  However, I do find people staring at me with weird faces because I am rooting around in trees nearby and people can see me through the windows. 

In class, we are comparing different cities plans that pertain to lights out indy.  The city and project which I am researching is Lights out New York.  Lights out New York has 35 participating buildings and even the chrysler building is participating in hopes of saving birds from dying and cutting electrical cost.  However, I have been finding that New York has more funding for this project and the participants receive recognition by the program. And Lights out New York has been established since 2005.   Since our class will be working with Lights out Indy, I have gained new ideas to propose to gain more support throughout the community.  Media will be a big factor in how successful this project ends up. 

Our class is taking a field trip to Eagle Creek Park, where we will be toured around and explained the difference between Urban areas and Park areas for birds and migration.  This should be a good field trip, but this will be only the second park I have been to since returning from Gamboa, Panama this past summer. So I am sure I will see a lot of differences from the rain forest and Eagle Creek.

Lastly, did anyone watch the Colts game?  When showing the skyline of the city, many of the buildings had their lights on and they showed the lit up state house. (WHAT!)  Hopefully, we can eliminate or reduce some of those lights, although they look good on the TV.