Brian Rutledge is dedicated to protecting Greater Sage-grouse and the sagebrush ecosystem that is part of our country's great natural heritage. In his role as a member of Governors' Freudenthal draft and initiate the Sage-grouse Core Area Program, directing state agencies in the Cowboy State to conserve key breeding areas for this dwindling species.
Much of the anticipation we feel when setting out on Christmas Bird Counts is from the expectation of finding the unexpected, or for that matter any brightly colored avian gem during the early winter period. While the Townsend's Warbler (Setophaga townsendii) can be found in large numbers of CBCs along the West Coast, it is also found as a vagrant in the East. One particularly lovely aspect of this species is that, unlike many other warblers, adult males retain their bright plumage through the winter--as illustrated by this stunning male in a setting especially fitting for the holidy season.