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Submission Guidelines, etc.

Why Should I Join HQAA?
Like other groups, I will compile features and host contests. However, one thing I've yet to see is bridging great photographic quality with animal conservation efforts. By day, I am a full-time zoo educator.  I use my photography to bridge awareness through a different medium. I invite you all to do the same.

What to Expect
In addition to the typical animal groups, we will:
- Feature Wildlife and Zoo Photography Hot Spots
- Feature Conservation-Themed Articles
- Lend Constructive Critiques
- Post Technical Tutorials
- Host Q&A Sessions
- And more!

Submission Guidelines
- Please submit your photos to the correct folders.
- Three (3) submissions per week to the standard gallery folders.
- HQAA will add photos to the Featured gallery based from submission to the standard gallery folders.
- The photograph should be of high quality, including but not limited to proper composition, lighting, color balance, focus, etc.

For a limited time only! The submissions have been raised to 3 per day to get the group rolling!

Would You Like to Contribute?
Select members will be asked to be contributors to the group. Contributors may add twice as many photos as general members, but are still subject to approval.

We'd also love to feature your conservation message or technical input! Contributor or member, if you are interested in writing an article to be featured in the group, please contact us via note about content approval.

Admins

Founder


:icondenisesoden:

Contributors


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Deviants

Affiliates

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Important Announcement
Hello Members. I want to thank you for your participation in this group. I hope that the conservation articles, critiques, and video tutorials have been helpful to all who have used them. Thank you to the contributors as well for all their work. That being said, the group is floundering a bit with a lack of contest support and unfortunately with the busy season coming up at the zoo I work at, I do not have the numerous hours it would take to keep us afloat and boost activity. I will be closing the groups submissions until further notice.

I want to thank MorrighanGW so much for the following article. I'm sorry that it was paired with such bad news, Jennifer!

Conservation is Key
Please continue to be ever so involved with conservation in your local area and/or world wide. It's the difference between having these animals in our future and having them be gone forever.

xoxo
Denise

Attwater’s Prairie Chicken (Tympanuchus cupido attwateri)
Whenever I try to explain what I was doing in Texas last summer (raising Attwater’s prairie chickens as part of their captive breeding program), the response tends to be, “You were raising endangered baby chickens?” Well…sort of. The name “chicken” is misleading; they are actually members of the grouse family, a group of ground-dwelling birds that are found in varying habitats within temperate and sub-arctic regions. The Attwater’s is a subspecies of the greater prairie chicken, and was once found across the coastal prairies of Louisiana and Texas. Today, there are only around 100 individuals in the wild, spread between three tiny pockets of land in Texas. One is Attwater’s Prairie Chicken National Wildlife Refuge (APCNWR), the second is the Nature Conservancy’s Texas City Prairie Preserve, and the third is a private ranch in Goliad County.

Based at APCNWR, biologists from Texas Parks and Wildlife monitor the species in the wild. They provide assistance to the hens by putting predator-deterrent fences around nest sites, and make sure the chicks have an excellent head start by providing them with freshly-caught insects daily until they are ready to fledge. The biologists also do quite a bit of habitat management, ensuring that invasive plant species are kept under control, and making sure that the Attwater’s have access to varying lengths of native prairie grasses. Even with this help, the Attwater’s faces an uphill battle; they are more vulnerable to predators in these little pockets of habitat, and only a few of the chicks will survive to adulthood.

This is where the captive breeding program comes in. Five facilities in Texas participate in the Attwater’s Species Survival Plan (SSP), providing a fighting chance for this species. While the goal of each breeding season is to successfully raise chicks and prepare them for release into the wild, the process begins months beforehand, with the determination of which adults will be paired together for the season. These pairings are made based upon genetics in order to ensure the greatest amount of genetic diversity and reduce the risk of inbreeding; with such a small population (between 200-300 individuals in captivity), this is of the utmost importance. Once the pairs are put together at the start of the breeding season (January-February), the wait begins.
When I arrived at Fossil Rim Wildlife Center last March as an avian intern, I had no idea how much raising these precious baby chickens would affect my passion and commitment towards wildlife conservation. The roosters were booming and madly foot-stomping to attract hens and to show-up their rivals, and their calls were the first thing I heard as I drove up to the facility every morning. For the first several weeks of my internship, my duties were to care for the adults and to prepare the facility for the arrival of chicks (which meant lots of cleaning). Once the hens started laying their clutches, we collected the eggs for artificial incubation. As ideal as it would have been to have the hens sit and complete the incubation process, there were too many risks; a hen might abandon her clutch at any given time, the weather might turn unfavorable, or fire ants might attack the eggs and completely destroy the hen’s efforts. We also wanted to encourage double-clutching (laying two sets of eggs during a season), and removing the eggs helped that process.
On April 26th, our first group of chicks hatched. Our routines changed to incorporate our new charges; the chicks needed to be fed four times a day, kept warm and dry, and they needed to be checked on regularly to make sure they were doing well. It was amazing to watch how fast they grew. Every day they gained a little weight, and it was clearly visible. It was a common joke among us that you’d turn around, and when you looked back, they’d be bigger than they were a few seconds ago. Yellow fluffy down became little pin feathers that eventually became mottled brown and black feathers on their wings and the rest of their bodies. Within weeks, our first group of babies was adjusting to life in the outdoor pens, and we had plenty of younger chicks to care for inside. The work was seemingly never-ending with all the cleaning and feeding we needed to do, and it only became more stressful as we reached close to two hundred chicks.

It was always in the back of our minds that each of these babies was precious. Every single one had the potential of being released into the wild or being kept to be used in the captive breeding program. So the pressure was on to make sure that each and every one got the best of care; chicks that didn’t seem to be doing well received extra attention, and the vets intervened as necessary. Even so, there were some that didn’t make it. That is the reality of wildlife conservation and wildlife husbandry: there are successes and there are losses. All we could do was to learn from the losses to prevent similar situations from occurring in the future. I am proud to say that we were very successful, and we had more surviving chicks that season than in previous seasons.  

On July 14th, biologists from APCNWR arrived to prepare thirty of our oldest chicks for release into the wild. This entailed quite a bit of chicken-wrangling; each bird was safely caught and placed into cloth bags to reduce stress, and the vets thoroughly checked each bird over before transferring them over to the biologists. The biologists then placed two forms of identification on each of the birds: leg bands with unique numbers and colors, and a radio collar placed securely at the base of the neck. Once each bird was processed, they were placed into traveling crates for the trip down to the refuge. It was a bittersweet moment, saying goodbye to those birds. They’d become my babies in the short amount of time they’d been in my life, and I couldn’t help but be a proud prairie chicken mama knowing that they were about to go and make a difference for their species.

After completing the internship, the true icing on the cake was being able to go to APCNWR to see exactly where my babies were going. I spent the morning with the biologists, observing how they tracked the birds via radio collar (it’s almost impossible to see them in the grass), and learning about the challenges they faced trying to keep this species thriving in the wild. Predation is a huge problem, and maintaining the native prairie grasses is essential to the Attwater’s survival. It was an amazing experience, and it was equally as moving to see some recently released birds from a different facility adjusting to life out in the wild. I wished those birds well, reminded them to keep their heads down, and had to smile. Seeing those birds reaffirmed my belief that the Attwater’s prairie chicken would endure and that one day, the sounds of roosters booming and foot-stomping will reverberate across the coastal prairies as they once did.

So yes, I’m quite proud to be called a “chicken chick.”

For more information:
-www.fws.gov/southwest/refuges/… Attwater’s Prairie Chicken National Wildlife Refuge
-ecos.fws.gov/speciesProfile/pr… U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Species Profile
-www.tpwd.state.tx.us/huntwild/… Texas Parks and Wildlife: Attwater’s Prairie Chicken
-www.nature.org/ourinitiatives/… The Nature Conservancy

Photo and video links:
morrighangw.deviantart.com/art… (rooster foot stomping)
morrighangw.deviantart.com/art… (rooster foot stomping)
morrighangw.deviantart.com/art… (close-up of rooster’s pinnae and air sac)
morrighangw.deviantart.com/art… (week-old chick)
morrighangw.deviantart.com/art… (month-old chick outside)
morrighangw.deviantart.com/art… (male chick foot stomping)
morrighangw.deviantart.com/art… (older chick in outside pen)
morrighangw.deviantart.com/art… (older chick in outside pen)
morrighangw.deviantart.com/art… (older chick in outside pen)
morrighangw.deviantart.com/art… (young APC hiding in the grass at APCNWR)
www.youtube.com/watch?v=0oMkUL… (video of rooster foot stomping)
www.youtube.com/watch?feature=… (Texas Parks and Wildlife official Attwater’s prairie chicken video)
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hpfan341 Featured By Owner Jun 13, 2012  Hobbyist Photographer
Thank you for accepting me, but the "contribute to this gallery" button is not showing up. I have some fish photos I would love to share.
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:iconchaotic-chelly:
Chaotic-Chelly Featured By Owner Jun 7, 2012  Hobbyist Photographer
I would love to submit some of my work. Please take a look and let me know if you like of my photos. (:
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CrissaRain Featured By Owner Apr 15, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
thanks for accepting me in this group :)
eh, which deviation may I posted? can you visit me and tell me which deviation ? >_<
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CyberLogic Featured By Owner Apr 12, 2012
I'd like to share my panda artwork with the group.

> Inside a Panda's Dream <
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ShellyBad Featured By Owner Feb 1, 2012  Hobbyist Photographer
Thank you so much for accepting me!! :woohoo: It is very apreciated!! :w00t:

:hexentanz::hexentanz:
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder :eye:
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:icondenisesoden:
DeniseSoden Featured By Owner Feb 9, 2012  Professional Photographer
Thanks for joining us!
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ShellyBad Featured By Owner Feb 26, 2012  Hobbyist Photographer
:iconteddyplz:My great pleasure!! :iconsbg-crewstock:

:iconmyheartplz: Love is the beat:iconbeatingheartplz:of the Life :iconmyheartplz:
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RezzanATAKOL Featured By Owner Jan 7, 2012
Many thanks again:lvoe:
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RezzanATAKOL Featured By Owner Jan 7, 2012
Thank u so much for the request. Kindly appreciated:heart:
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