The article “Exposed: Secret Lives of Warblers” [April/May 2000] was fascinating. As a devoted fan of these exciting birds on their breeding grounds and on migration, this is exactly the kind of information I want to know more of. I do hope, though, that the article’s mention of the effectiveness of using recordings to attract birds by scientists does not tempt the casual birder to abuse this technique, especially when the birds are establishing territories or they are breeding.
To quote from the ethics published by the American Birding Association: “To avoid stressing birds or exposing them to danger, exercise restraint and caution during observation, photography, sound recording or filming. Limit the use of recordings and other methods in heavily birded areas, or for attracting any species that is threatened, endangered or of special concern, or that is rare in your local area.”
King George, Virginia
I couldn’t agree more with NWF President Mark Van Putten that “every day is Earth Day” [“NWF View,” April/May 2000]. However, I also couldn’t help but compare the efforts he mentioned by students who patrol campus buildings at night to make sure lights and equipment are turned off to the proliferation of motorized recreation vehicles that is taking over our forests, waterways and even the streets where we live. Americans seem to find increasingly wasteful ways to consume fossil fuels. Turning off lights is important, but it seems like a drop in the bucket compared to the damage and noise pollution, not to mention fuel use and safety concerns, of motorized recreation.
Your article [“Urban Life,” April/May 2000] presented a bevy of statistics in connection with impending dangers to the atmosphere and water from the disposal of tech equipment. As a citizen concerned about life and the environment, I know that there have to be at least some agencies and depots where these kinds of waste products can be recycled or disposed of in a way so as not to allow the release of harmful toxics into the air and water. Unfortunately, I do not know them at present, and that is why I have similar waste sitting in my office waiting for information about safe disposal.
Hempstead, New York
Editor’s note: Because their components contain potentially dangerous toxic substances, old computers should never be disposed of in landfills. Monitors and old television picture tubes, which contain large amounts of lead, are particularly problematic. To find out how to dispose of your equipment properly, contact your local government’s hazardous-waste or solid-waste agency. Another option is to talk with local computer-recycling operations that refurbish equipment for schools and other institutions. For a national directory of such facilities, see the Web site for the nonprofit group, Resources for Parents, Educators and Publishers (www.microweb.com/pepsite/Recycle/recycle_index.html).
Platte River Memories
Thank you for your informative and poignant article, “Bringing the Magic Back to the Platte” [April/May 2000]. My sisters and I spent our childhood on our grandfather’s farm, located just half a mile south of the North Platte River. We spent countless, hot summer evenings playing on the sand bars and swimming in the water.
After a 40-year absence, my mother, sisters and I returned to the Platte River in March. We wanted to see the awesome sight of the sandhill cranes leaving their river roost at dawn and hear their stirring cries that we remembered from years ago. Happily, the cranes were there and the river, although greatly changed, was still there, too. It is unthinkable that a day could come when we could not go home to the Platte. We should all know the importance and urgency of the conservation efforts detailed in the article.
Diane Johnson Dupree
I enjoyed your article on creating a backyard habitat for frogs [“Natural Gardening,” April/May 2000]. However, I wanted to point out that creating standing pools of water should be researched carefully in advance. Here in Westchester County, New York, and other communities, we experienced an outbreak of West Nile encephalitis last summer. This virus is spread by mosquitoes whose favorite hangouts are areas with standing water, even those as small as backyard ponds. Before creating a backyard watering hole, contact a local or county health department to find out if it will increase the risk of exposure to West Nile or other diseases.
Pleasantville, New York
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