Birds and bans.

The rufous hummingbird, which seems ubiquitous in our region of northern New Mexico, hasn't been able to avoid a 50 percent decline in its population in the past thirty years. The speedster hummingbird's decline has been documented by amateur birdwatchers across the U.S. who participate each year in the Great Backyard Bird Count. This year's count is Feb. 13-16.

The Randall Davey Audubon Center in Santa Fe is seeking birdwatchers to help with the count beginn at 8:15 am on February 14. The center also is hosting a series of bird classes from 6:30-8:30 pm beginning Feb. 18.

For more information go to the birdsource website.

The Newman Crows Landing Board of Education voted 4-1 on Monday night to remove the coming of age novel by New Mexican Rudolfo Anaya from the high school sophomore reading list because one parent complained that it is anti-Catholic and vulgar. The main character tries to reconcile his Roman Catholic faith with American Indian mysticism. The 1972 novel was on former first lady Laura Bush's must-read list and is the literature selection for this year's state high school Academic Decathlon competition. It was also chosen by the National Endowment of the Arts as part of the nationwide Big Read program.

The book has in the past been removed from classrooms in New Mexico, Colorado, Texas and California, and it was No. 75 on the American Library Association's list of most banned books in the 1990s.