“Young man noticed a strange stump and decided to get closer to it! What happened next made him gasp!”

“Preventing Bird Window Collisions”

With Plenty Of Room For The Kids

Onlookers “Tag Along” with Southbound Swallow-tailed Kites

abcbirds.org

Media Contact: Jordan Rutter, Director of Public Relations| jerutter@abcbirds.org | @JERutter

American Bird Conservancy (ABC) and partners are following the migratory journeys of three Swallow-tailed Kites to gather data that will help inform conservation measures across this bird’s range, to help assure a brighter future for the kites and their southeastern forest habitats. Photo by David Spates

(Washington, D.C., September 17, 2021) Swallow-tailed kite is one of North America’s most beautiful birds of prey, with distinctive black-and-white plumage, narrow wings spanning four feet, and a forked, elongated tail. Although the U.S. population of this migratory raptor is considered stable, it is much-reduced from numbers of the past. American Bird Conservancy (ABC) and partners are following the migratory journeys of three Swallow-tailed Kites to gather data that will help inform conservation measures across this bird’s range, to help assure a brighter future for the kites and their southeastern forest habitats.

ABC collaborated in June with International Paper and the Avian Research and Conservation Institute (ARCI) to successfully capture, tag, and release the three  kites near Georgetown, South Carolina. Other partners included Resource Management Service, Forest Investment Associates, and White Oak Forest Management.

Each bird was fitted with a GPS transmitter that will track its movements throughout the year. Swallow-tailed Kites are long-distance migratory birds, spending their spring and summer months in the southeastern U.S. and wintering in Central and South America.

“Since early spring, these kites were roosting, feeding, and nesting within the same working forest landscape where International Paper and other forest companies produce and procure the wood fiber that goes into many of the products we use every day,” says Emily Jo Williams, ABC’s Vice President for the Southeast Region.

“The data these birds provide will help us ensure that these sustainable working forest landscapes provide society with renewable forest products and critical habitat for Swallow-tailed Kites and a host of other wildlife species,” Williams says. ”We look forward to what the kites can tell us about their wintering grounds over the next few months, and to learn more when they return to the southeastern U.S. in spring 2022.”

A map of the tracked flight paths for three Swallow-tailed Kites that were successfully captured, tagged, and released through ABC’s collaboration with International Paper, Avian Research and Conservation Institute, Resource Management Service, Forest Investment Associates, and White Oak Forest Management.

Over the past two months, the team has been “watching” the three tagged birds, each carrying the name of its nesting location along with its GPS transmitter. As of September 2, all three kites departed breeding areas in South Carolina, traveled through Florida, and successfully crossed the Gulf of Mexico.

According to ARCI, the timing and tracks across the Gulf for these Swallow-tailed Kites are shaped by the prevailing winds of hurricanes and tropical storms that were active in the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico at the time. These birds apparently can sense related changes in the atmosphere and respond by using favorable tailwinds to cross the open water as fast as possible.

“Despite all the tropical storm activity in late August and early September,” says Williams, “we have witnessed ‘textbook’ migration pathways used by our tagged Swallow-tailed Kites that have carried them across the Yucatán Channel and western Caribbean.”

The bird known as Carver’s Bay left Florida on August 13, crossed the Gulf for an astounding 41 hours before landing in southern Belize, and last checked in from Honduras on September 5. Big Branch left Florida on August 17, stopped over in Mexico, and is currently also in Honduras. Peters Creek was the last to leave South Carolina on August 30, traveling over Naples and the southern tip of Florida, stopping for a night in western Cuba, and then crossing to the Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico, where he arrived on September 2 and remains for now. As the birds continue into South America, they will have to traverse the Andes Mountains to finish their journey to wintering areas in Brazil and Bolivia.

You can follow along and keep track of these Swallow-tailed Kites at ARCI’s blog or on their Facebook page.

Read more about ABC’s and partners’ work with Swallow-tailed Kites here.

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American Bird Conservancy is a nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving wild birds and their habitats throughout the Americas. With an emphasis on achieving results and working in partnership, we take on the greatest problems facing birds today, innovating and building on rapid advancements in science to halt extinctions, protect habitats, eliminate threats, and build capacity for bird conservation. Find us on abcbirds.org, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter (@ABCbirds).

https://abcbirds.org/article/onlookers-tag-along-with-southbound-swallow-tailed-kites/

New Search for Lost Birds Aims to Find Some of the Rarest Birds on Earth – American Bird Conservancy

Worldwide effort will support expeditions to find 10 birds that haven’t had a confirmed sighting in a decade or more

Media Contact: Jordan Rutter, Director of Public Relations| jerutter@abcbirds.org | @JERutter

Pictured above are the top ten most wanted lost bird species, as designated by the collaboration that aims to find them. The Top 10 most wanted lost bird species, listed by row from left to right. Top: Himalayan Quail, Negros Fruit-Dove, Itwombwe Nightjar, Santa Marta Sabrewing. Middle: Vilcabamba Brushfinch, Siau Scops-Owl. Bottom: Jerdon’s Courser, Cuban Kite, Dusky Tetraka, South Island Kōkako. Illustrations © Lynx Edicions

(Washington, D.C., December 17, 2021) A new global search effort is calling on researchers, conservationists, and the global birdwatching community to help find 10 rare bird species that have been lost to science. The Search for Lost Birds is a collaboration of Re:wild, American Bird Conservancy (ABC), and BirdLife International, with data support from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and its eBird platform used by birders around the world. It’s an extension of Re:wild’s Search for Lost Species program, which launched in 2017 and has since rediscovered eight of its top 25 most wanted lost plant and animal species. As its name suggests, however, the Search for Lost Birds focuses exclusively on rediscovering enigmas in ornithology.

“During the past five years, since we launched the Search for Lost Species, our list of species that could be considered lost has grown to more than 2,000,” said Barney Long, Director for Conservation Strategies for Re:wild. “We never planned to look for all of them alone, but to encourage others to search and develop partnerships to help. Through this new partnership we’ll be able to get more targeted expeditions in the field. If we can find these lost birds, conservationists can better protect them from the threats they face.”

The Search for Lost Birds is hoping to harness the collective power of the global birdwatching community to help search for species on the top 10 most wanted lost birds list. Cornell’s eBird platform provides an example of what the global birding community can accomplish: eBird currently has more than 700,000 registered users who have collectively submitted more than 1 billion sightings of birds from around the world. However, none of those observations have included any of the top 10 most wanted lost birds.

None of the top 10 most wanted birds have had a documented sighting in the wild in at least 10 years, but they are not classified as “extinct” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. The reasons behind their disappearances range from habitat destruction to invasive species. In a few cases, species may have gone missing simply because scientists don’t know where or how to look for them, or don’t have access to their habitats, which may be remote or in places that currently have travel restrictions. Many of the lost birds are native to areas that are rich in biodiversity, but also urgently need conservation efforts to protect their biodiversity.

“By working with partners and collaborators from around the world, the Search for Lost Birds hopes to engage the knowledge and expertise of the global birdwatching community to solve these conservation challenges,” said John C. Mittermeier, Director of Threatened Species Outreach at ABC. “By directly reporting sightings and information through eBird, birdwatchers and citizen scientists from anywhere in the world can help us find and learn more about these lost species.”

The 10 birds span five continents and a variety of groups of species, from hummingbirds to raptors. Some have recently been lost to science, while others have been lost for more than a century. Two species, the Siau Scops-Owl and the Negros Fruit-Dove, have only ever been documented once, when they were originally described in the mid-1800s and in 1953, respectively.

The top 10 most wanted lost birds are:

  • Dusky Tetraka, last documented in 1999 in Madagascar
  • South Island Kōkako, last seen in 2007 in New Zealand
  • Jerdon’s Courser, last seen in 2009 in India
  • Itwombwe Nightjar (or Prigogine’s Nightjar), last seen in 1955 in Democratic Republic of Congo
  • Cuban Kite, last seen in 2010 in Cuba
  • Negros Fruit-Dove, last seen in 1953 in the Philippines
  • Santa Marta Sabrewing, last seen in 2010 in Colombia
  • Vilcabamba Brushfinch, last seen in 1968 in Peru
  • Himalayan Quail, last seen in 1877 in India
  • Siau Scops-Owl, last seen in 1866 in Indonesia

Two expeditions, led by local and national partners and funded under the Search for Lost Birds partnership, are preparing to head into the field during the next year. The expeditions will focus on the Siau Scops-Owl in Indonesia and the Dusky Tetraka in Madagascar. Expeditions for other species are expected to be underway in the coming year as well.

The Siau Scops-Owl was last seen 155 years ago, when it was first described by science, but there have been unconfirmed reported sightings and calls of a bird that potentially matches the description of the owl during the past 20 years. Much of the forest where it was originally discovered has been destroyed, but given how challenging it can be to detect small forest owls, conservationists believe that there is a chance that a small and as-yet-overlooked population may still survive.

The Dusky Tetraka was last definitely seen in Madagascar 22 years ago; before that, there had been very few confirmed sightings of the species in the humid understory of the forests of eastern Madagascar.

One species on the list, the South Island Kōkako, has already been the focus of an on-going search. The South Island Kōkako Charitable Trust has been leading a community-driven search for the bird for the past 11 years, following up on possible sightings and reports of people hearing what sounds like the bird’s haunting call. They launched a public search campaign in 2017 that has drawn nearly 300 reports of possible encounters with a South Island Kōkako, which, in addition to historic reports, they have rated and mapped.

“We are optimistic that the Search for Lost Birds will lead to exciting rediscoveries, but ultimately it’s about conservation,” said Roger Safford, Senior Program Manager for Preventing Extinctions at BirdLife International. “We know that with good conservation efforts, species can be rescued from the brink of extinction, but only if we know where the last populations are. We hope these expeditions will capture people’s imaginations and catalyze conservation.”

ABC supports field expeditions to search for these species and works with partners to conserve rediscovered birds. For example, ABC is supporting Brazilian partners’ efforts to recover the population of the Blue-eyed Ground-Dove, rediscovered in Brazil in 2015.

Other recent rediscoveries of bird species have fueled hope that expeditions for the top 10 most wanted lost birds will be successful. An expedition in Colombia in March 2021 seeking the Sinú Parakeet, one of Re:wild’s top 25 most wanted lost species, didn’t find the parakeet, but did document dozens of species that had never before been recorded in Cordóba Department. In Indonesia, the Black-browed Babbler, a bird that had only had one documented sighting, was rediscovered after 170 years in February 2021. The data that expeditions for the Search for Lost Birds collect will be shared with eBird.

The Search for Lost Birds may also help bring to light previously overlooked records of some of the birds on the top 10 most wanted list that have not been fully documented or confirmed. The Search for Lost Birds will work to follow up on records that may have remained in biologists’ field notebooks and memories, and attempt to collect photographic confirmation that the species still exist. If those sightings can be confirmed, it could help conservation efforts for those species.

The rediscoveries of other lost birds have also led to conservation efforts that helped them recover from threats to their survival. The Madagascar Pochard in Madagascar is another example of a lost species that was once lost, but is now increasing in population thanks to conservation efforts following its rediscovery.

ABC would like to thank the Constable Foundation and the estate of Phyllis Brissenden for their support of the Lost Birds program.

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American Bird Conservancy is a nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving wild birds and their habitats throughout the Americas. With an emphasis on achieving results and working in partnership, we take on the greatest problems facing birds today, innovating and building on rapid advancements in science to halt extinctions, protect habitats, eliminate threats, and build capacity for bird conservation. Find us on abcbirds.org, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter (@ABCbirds).

BirdLife International is the world’s largest nature conservation Partnership: a global family of over 115 national NGOs covering all continents, landscapes and seascapes. BirdLife is driven by its belief that local people, working for nature in their own places but connected nationally and internationally through the global Partnership, are the key to sustaining all life on this planet. This unique local-to-global approach delivers high impact and long-term conservation for the benefit of nature and people.

Re:wild protects and restores the wild. We have a singular and powerful focus: the wild as the most effective solution to the interconnected climate, biodiversity and pandemic crises. Founded by a group of renowned conservation scientists together with Leonardo DiCaprio, Re:wild is a force multiplier that brings together Indigenous peoples, local communities, influential leaders, nongovernmental organizations, governments, companies and the public to protect and rewild at the scale and speed we need. Re:wild launched in 2021 combining more than three decades of conservation impact by Leonardo DiCaprio and Global Wildlife Conservation, leveraging expertise, partnerships and platforms to bring new attention, energy and voices together. Our vital work has protected and conserved over 12 million acres benefitting more than 16,000 species in the world’s most irreplaceable places for biodiversity. We don’t need to reinvent the planet. We just need to rewild it—for all wildkind. Learn more at rewild.org.

Copyright 2021 © American Bird Conservancy. All Rights Reserved. American Bird Conservancy is a 501(c)(3) organization. EIN: 52-1501259

https://abcbirds.org/article/top-10-most-wanted-lost-birds-2021/

Agami Heron – American Bird Conservancy

Agami Heron range map, NatureServe

abcbirds.org

The colorful, reclusive Agami Heron is a coveted sighting for birders visiting flooded lowland forests and slow-moving waterways of Central and South America. This long-billed, medium-sized heron is so distinctive that it occupies its own genus, Agamia. Its species name, “Agami,” comes from a Cayenne Indian word for a forest bird.

In Brazil, the Agami is sometimes called Soco beija-flor, “hummingbird heron,” for its vivid plumage. It’s also commonly known as the Chestnut-bellied Heron.

Threats to Agami Heron are poorly understood, but habitat loss is probably one of the most significant factors affecting this heron and other birds that share its lowland habitat, including Mangrove Hummingbird, Great Curassow, and Harpy Eagle.

The Agami Heron’s retiring nature and preference for dense vegetation makes the species difficult to study, and its total population is still unknown. Although resident throughout its range, it moves seasonally, abandoning nesting areas for deeper forest after the breeding season.

Undercover Fisherman

This heron specializes in fishing from river banks or branches overhanging the water. Its long neck and dagger-like bill — the longest of any New World heron’s — gives the Agami a significant striking range, while proportionally short legs confine the bird to shallow water. Agami Herons rarely wade in the open, preferring to forage for small fish, snails, and insects while stalking along under dense cover.

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Equal Opportunity Courtship

Unusual for birds, both male and female Agami Herons flaunt colorful courtship plumage during the breeding season. Both sexes also show heightened color in the lores (the fleshy area between the base of the bill and front of the eyes), which turn an intense red during displays.

The Agami’s spectacular courtship display begins when a male chooses a display site, then starts to “dance” with shaking plumes, rocking movements, and bill-snapping. An interested female will approach the site and perform similar displays until the male accepts her presence. This process may go on for several days, as the male may aggressively repel the female at first. After some persistence on the female’s part, the birds form a pair-bond, mate, and begin to build a nest.

Agami Heron, Kyle C. Moon

Agami Heron in its swanky breeding plumage. Photo by Kyle C. Moon

Recent fieldwork has found that Agami Heron, like Reddish Egret and many other waterbirds, nest in colonies. The birds hide their nests, a loose platform of sticks, within the forest canopy.

Conserving Agami Herons in Costa Rica

The Agami Heron is listed as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, based on predictions of future habitat loss in lowland forests, particularly throughout the Amazon region.

ABC partner Osa Conservation protects several conservation properties in Costa Rica’s Osa Peninsula where this shy, spectacular heron can be seen, along with more than 450 other species of other birds, including the endangered Black-cheeked Ant-Tanager and Yellow-billed Cotinga.

In 2016, ABC celebrated the 10th anniversary of its sustainable tourism program, which is designed to prevent the extinction of some of the Americas’ rarest bird species. ABC’s reserve network now includes more than 70 tropical reserves, including Costa Rica’s Yellow-billed Cotinga Sanctuary, and spans close to one million acres. Find out more about visiting the Osa here.

https://abcbirds.org/bird/agami-heron/

Rise and Shine

Bald eagles dying ‘senseless deaths,’ Pennsylvania wildlife center says. Here’s why

news.yahoo.com

Julia Marnin

Bald eagles — America’s symbolic bird — are dying “senseless deaths,” a wildlife center in Pennsylvania is warning.

These birds of prey are dying from lead poisoning and have been for years.

“This was a rough year with lead toxicity in our adult bald eagles,” Centre Wildlife Care, a rescue service in Port Matilda in Centre County, wrote in a Dec. 6 Facebook post.

In 2021 alone, eight bald eagles were brought to the center suffering lead poisoning, and seven died.

This problem isn’t exclusive to Pennsylvania; millions of birds are affected each year, including bald eagles, by lead toxicity that is a “leading concern” for many species, according to the American Eagle Foundation.

Poisoning is brought on after birds of prey eat animal carcasses shot with lead ammo by hunters.

“All scavengers and humans are at risk of lead toxicity when consuming meat shot with lead ammo (bullets or pellets) especially the avian scavengers such as eagles, hawks and vultures,” Robyn Graboski, a spokesperson and wildlife rehabilitator for the center, told McClatchy News via email.

“We ask all hunters to use non-lead alternatives when hunting because hunters are our first conservationists.”

One bald eagle brought to the center died on Dec. 5 after it was caught in a leg trap for 10 days, the center said in the news release.

“Sadly, the infection caused by the trap injury complicated by lead poisoning was just too great to overcome. These losses hurt.”

“Simple acts like switching from lead ammo to copper and properly covering traps from aerial view can prevent these senseless deaths,” the center urged.

The bald eagle that recently died “was flying around at least 10 days with a leg hold trap attached to its foot,” Graboski said. “It was caught when it was too weak to fly.”

This eagle died on Dec. 5 after suffering from lead poisoning and infection.
This eagle died on Dec. 5 after suffering from lead poisoning and infection.

“When it arrived, it was thin, weak, dehydrated, anemic, exhausted, lost a toe, had a bacterial infection,” alongside “suffering from lead toxicity,” they added.

Lead poisoning causes a slow death that could last weeks for birds if it goes untreated, the center explains online.

Birds of prey “get lead poisoning through leftover gut piles, un-retrieved carcasses and varmint carcasses left in the field,” according to the center, as fragments of lead ammo “left in the tissue of carcasses” get ingested.

Additionally, the winged creatures can be poisoned from “lead tackle left behind in fish,” the center warns.

“When the lead hits the bird’s acidic stomach, it gets broken down and absorbed into their bloodstream where it can be distributed to tissues throughout their body,” according to the Pennsylvania Game Commission.

If a bird appears “weak, emaciated, and uncoordinated” and is having trouble walking, flying or moving at all, those are likely signs of lead poisoning, the commission said.

The birds also might suffer seizures, appear blind and refuse to eat anything.

“Bald eagles with lead poisoning often do not respond at all when approached,” the commission added.

It advises hunters to bury an animal’s carcass or gut pile if lead ammo is used.

“If the carcass or gut pile it too large to be removed from the environment, it can be buried or covered with debris to prevent scavengers from accessing the carcass and lead fragments,” according to the commission.

In 2014, Ed Clark, the president and co-founder of the Wildlife Center of Virginia, said in a news release by the American Bird Conservancy that lead poisoning in bald eagles “is not a new problem.”

“The question is not whether or not lead is causing the deaths of eagles and other wild animals; the real question is, what are we going to do about it?”

https://news.yahoo.com/bald-eagles-dying-senseless-deaths-200837291.html?soc_src=social-sh&soc_trk=tw&tsrc=twtr

Black-footed Albatross – American Bird Conservancy

abcbirds.org
Black-footed Albatross


Black-footed Albatross map, NatureServeThe Black-footed Albatross is the only one of its kind commonly seen off the North American coastline. It’s rather small as albatrosses go, but still impressive, with a six-foot wingspan. Its species name, nigripes, derives from two Latin words, niger meaning “black,” and pes meaning “foot.”

Although drift nets and longline fisheries remain constant threats, the Black-footed Albatross faces a gauntlet of newer challenges: invasive predators and introduced plants on nesting islands, ingestion of plastics, and climate change.

More than 95 percent of the world’s population of Black-footed Albatross nests in the remote Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, with the largest colonies on Midway Atoll and Laysan Island. (Laysan is also home to the recently introduced Millerbird.) Although these islands are protected, they are vulnerable to the effects of sea-level rise and increased storm intensity.

 


Life over the Ocean

Black-footed Albatrosses are beautifully adapted for a life at sea and can remain airborne for hours, landing only on the water to rest or feed. Their specialized tubular noses (found among many seabirds, including Hawaiian Petrel and Newell’s Shearwater) filter salt, allowing the birds to drink seawater and giving them an excellent sense of smell.

This keen sense helps the albatross locate its prey over vast expanses of ocean. Favored foods include flying fish (both eggs and adults), squid, crustaceans, and offal thrown from ships.


They forage by seizing prey at the surface, up-ending to reach underwater, or diving short distances with wings partly spread.

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Faithful Partners, Devoted Parents

Like other albatross species, including Laysan and Waved, this bird is slow to mature, not breeding for until five years or older. It also has a low reproductive rate and mates for life.

Males are the first to arrive on the breeding grounds, where they re-claim the nest site that the bird and its partner may have used for many years. The strong pair bond shared by these birds is established and maintained through elaborate displays, including bowing, mutual preening, and head-bobbing.

The Black-footed Albatrosses’ nest, rebuilt each year, is a simple scrape in the sand, usually at or above the high-tide line in an open or sparsely vegetated area. Both birds build the nest and take turns incubating their single egg. If this egg is lost—whether to a predator or some other threat—the birds will not attempt to breed again until the following year.

Black-footed Albatross, Greg Lavaty

Black-footed Albatross in flight, showing its impressive six-foot wingspan. Photo by Greg Lavaty

For about 18 to 20 days after hatching, one parent broods and guards the nestling while other forages for food, switching off every day or two. The chick is fed by regurgitation by both parents until it fledges, at four to five months old.
Advocating for Black-footed Albatross

The Black-footed Albatross is included on the Watch List in the State of North America’s Birds 2016 report, which highlights species most in need of immediate conservation action.

ABC continues to advocate for Black-footed Albatross and other seabirds impacted by commercial fisheries. We also support legislation to ratify the Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels (ACAP) by the United States. And we recently launched an interactive web-based tool to help fisheries avoid accidentally catching seabirds: fisheryandseabird.info.

ABC has also collaborated with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and other partners to secure predator-free breeding habitat for seabirds on islands in Hawaii.

Donate to support ABC’s conservation mission!

Our weekly bird profiles provide an inside look at captivating species with video, birds calls, and fast facts dashboards.

https://abcbirds.org/bird/black-footed-albatross/

Tell Congress to Save Birds from Plastic Waste

act.abcbirds.org

Tell Congress to Save Birds from Plastic Waste

Every year, 17 billion pounds of plastic enter the marine environment. Despite efforts to promote recycling, less than nine percent of plastics in the U.S. are actually recycled.

Birds are particularly vulnerable to plastic pollution. Many seabirds, like Laysan Albatross, are seriously injured or killed when they ingest or become entangled with plastic trash.

To address the plastic pollution crisis, Congress has introduced the Break Free from Plastic Pollution Act of 2021 (S.984/H.R.2238). This bill would put the onus on manufacturers to take care of the plastic waste that they produce, ultimately reducing the amount of plastic that gets into our oceans and the toll it takes on birds.

Take action today: Contact your U.S. Representative and Senators and ask them to pass the Break Free from Plastic Pollution Act. Read More

https://act.abcbirds.org/a/take-action-plastics?ms=social

Piping Plover

Piping Plover map, NatureServe

abcbirds.org

The small, sand-colored Piping Plover, named for its melodic, plaintive whistle, is a bird of beaches and barrier islands, sharing this habitat with Least Terns, Black Skimmers, and Wilson’s Plovers.

Beaches are also popular with people, and their impacts have caused serious declines in Piping Plover populations. Shoreline development and stabilization projects, free-roaming cats and other predators, poorly sited wind turbines, gas/oil industry operations, and global warming are some of the biggest threats to this species.

Beach Sprites

Piping Plovers resemble wind-up toys as they dart along the beach in search of food, taking a wide variety of insects, marine worms, and crustaceans. They nest in small depressions in the sand called scrapes and often nest in the same area with Least Terns.

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Like many other plover species, adult Piping Plovers employ a “broken wing display” when threatened to draw attention to themselves and away from their chicks and nest.

Piping Plover chick, Venu Challa

Piping Plover chick by Venu Challa

Saving the Piping Plover

The Piping Plover is federally listed as Endangered in the Great Lakes region and Threatened in the remainder of its U.S. breeding range; it’s also listed as Endangered in Canada. The Great Lakes population is on the 2014 State of the Birds Watch List.

Critical Piping Plover nesting habitats are now protected to help the species during its breeding season. Populations have seen significant increases since the protection programs began, but the species remains in danger. For example, at popular Jones Beach near New York City, nesting Piping Plovers are threatened by a colony of feral cats. ABC is urging authorities to remove the cats for the safety of this federally protected species.

ABC is also leading a Gulf Coast conservation effort that is working to identify and implement protective measures for vulnerable beach-nesting birds and other birds, such as the Piping Plover, that winter there. Strategies include preservation of plover habitats; public education; limiting off-road vehicle (ORV) traffic; and limiting predation of free-roaming cats and dogs.

Donate to support ABC’s conservation mission!

https://abcbirds.org/bird/piping-plover/

Hawaiian Common Gallinule (‘Alae ‘Ula)

abcbirds.org

Like the ‘Io (Hawaiian Hawk) and ‘Ua‘u (Hawaiian Petrel), the Alae ‘Ula, or Hawaiian Common Gallinule, is revered in folklore. According to legend, this bird brought fire from the gods to the people, burning its white forehead red in the process. In fact, its Hawaiian name, Alae ‘Ula, means “burnt forehead!”

The ‘Alae ‘Ula is one of 12 subspecies of Common Gallinule, which is found worldwide. (It differs slightly from the more familiar Common Gallinule in having a reddish blush on the front of its legs and a more extensive facial shield.)

The Hawaiian Common Gallinule was once found throughout the Hawaiian archipelago, but now occurs only on the islands of Kaua‘i and O‘ahu—mainly due to loss of habitat and invasive species such as domestic cats.

Hawaiian Common Gullinule map, ABC
Surveying a Subspecies

‘Alae ‘Ula are territorial and defend an area of wetland ranging from a quarter-acre to a half-acre. Although not as secretive as other members of the rail family, such as the elusive Black Rail, this gallinule’s preferred habitat—dense aquatic vegetation—can complicate efforts to accurately estimate its population size.

Both sexes appear similar, although males are larger, and both give voice to chicken-like cackles and croaks. The birds cannot fly for about 25 days each year during their molting period, usually from June-September, which increases their vulnerability to predation.


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Feeding Behind a Shield

The ‘Alae ‘Ula’s striking red frontal shield is thought to protect its face as the bird forages through dense vegetation for grasses, seeds, mollusks, and aquatic insects and their larvae. The shield may also be used in courtship display and territorial defense.

‘Alae ‘Ula are opportunistic feeders. They may take food from the water’s surface, dip or dive underwater, or turn over aquatic vegetation as they seek prey.

Platform Nesting

‘Alae ‘Ula can nest year-round, but the majority of nesting occurs from March to August and may depend on suitable water levels. This bird’s platform-style nest is built from twigs, stems, and leaves, with the male collecting materials and the female arranging them at the nest site. The parents frequently incorporate a ramp on one side to allow chicks to easily clamber in and out.

Hawaiian Common Gallinule, Michael Walther

Hawaiian Common Gallinule by Michael Walther

Female gallinules lay a clutch of around five eggs, which hatch after two to three weeks of incubation by both sexes. Like Wilson’s Plover and Piping Plover chicks, ‘Alae ‘Ula hatchlings are precocial: They can walk and swim within a few hours of hatching. However, they depend on their parents for protection and food for several more weeks.

Rekindling the Fire-bringer

The Hawaiian Common Gallinule was listed as Endangered under the U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA) in 1967; it’s also listed as endangered at the state level. The filling, dredging, and draining of wetlands in Hawai’i has greatly reduced the amount of habitat available for the gallinule, limiting their distribution and abundance.

Introduced predators such as cats, mongooses, bullfrogs, and turtles are another problem for the ground-feeding birds. And climate change, particularly rising sea level, threatens the  species’ low-lying coastal habitat.

ABC recently joined with several partner groups to ask Congress to support a new conservation effort in Hawai‘i that would provide increased funding for endangered endemic birds. Together with our partners, we’re undertaking many other conservation efforts to help prevent extinction of Hawaiian birds.


https://abcbirds.org/bird/hawaiian-common-gallinule/

King Vulture

abcbirds.org

King Vulture range map by ABC

King Vulture range map by ABC

The King Vulture is a clownish-looking bird with a serious mission: In most of its extensive tropical range, this species is the largest scavenging bird. The King’s smaller, more plentiful relations, including Black and Turkey Vultures, depend upon this heavy-billed bird to tear into larger carcasses first. The King only plays second fiddle to the Andean Condor in a few areas, such as northern Peru, where both species live side by side.

At 6.5 feet, the King Vulture’s wingspan is certainly impressive, but it doesn’t match up to those of the condors: The Andean Condor, wingtip to wingtip, can reach 10.5 feet; the California Condor is only slightly smaller.

Top of Their Line

Despite having larger cousins, the King deserves its royal moniker for at least three reasons: As mentioned before, it outranks other vultures of the Americas in size in most of the remote lowland forest and environs where it occurs. And its size, including its hefty bill, puts it at the top of the “picking order” — able to muscle its way into feeding frenzies and dig deeper into carcasses than other species sharing its habitats.

The King Vulture also wins the “beauty” prize for most colorful vulture. Adults sport multicolored, featherless heads that are a hodge-podge of peach-orange, yellow, red, and pink, all framed nicely by a charcoal feather neck ruff. Another eye-catching accent: the bird’s piercing white eyes, which are outlined by cherry-red orbital rings. These birds are striking in flight as well: Adult King Vultures can be easily identified from great distances, thanks to gleaming white backs, underparts, and underwing coverts fringed by black flight feathers. (At a distance, soaring Wood Storks are the birds most likely to cause confusion.)

Widespread but Generally Scarce

King Vultures occur from southern Mexico to northern Argentina and northern Uruguay. This range includes most of Brazil. In Central America, distribution is now spotty, with this majestic bird most frequent in remaining wilderness areas. For example, in Costa Rica, King Vultures are most reliably found in the remote Osa Peninsula in the south and the San Carlos River region near the border with Nicaragua.

King Vultures are mostly found in forested lowlands, but in the southern Andes they can occur at elevations up to 6,000 feet. The species is thought to be nonmigratory, but individuals travel long distances in search of food. While most frequently encountered in or over humid and semi-humid forest habitats, the King Vulture also occurs in regions with dry forest, usually where large areas of habitat remain. Although associated with forest, these birds also soar over and forage in open areas.

King Vultures have been documented emitting at least a half dozen harsh vocalizations at nest sites. Most are from nestlings and some by adults attending the young. These include growls, groans, screeches, and a noise like a cutting saw. Otherwise, while out and about, this bird is not known to vocalize.

Late to the “Party”

King Vultures cover large areas and tend to occur in low numbers, especially compared to some of their smaller relatives. But they have a special “seat at the table” at carcasses. For a study published in 1987 in the journal The Auk, researchers observed the goings-on at 217 animal carcasses in northern Peru, where five scavenging bird species vied for the spoils. These feeding assemblages might seem chaotic, but the study revealed a certain order that likely helps explain how these species coexist: Turkey Vultures, which likely have among the best olfactory senses in the family, often showed up first at carrion, holding sway over arriving, smaller Black Vultures, unless their numbers exceeded dozens. The Crested Caracara, not a vulture but an opportunistic follower, cautiously skirted the edges of the frenzies, visiting for leftovers after the main feeding. Arriving last were the largest birds — the King Vulture (which may not have a good sense of smell) and the even-larger Andean Condor. These birds brought their superior cutting equipment — their heavy bills — which allowed them to tear open large carcasses the other birds could not. For these larger meals, the smaller early arrivals had to wait on the sidelines until the giants had their fill.

King Vulture in flight by Ondrej Prosicky, Shutterstock

King Vulture in flight by Ondrej Prosicky, Shutterstock

Although King Vultures are best known as scavengers supreme, feasting on a wide variety of dead creatures from fish to monkeys to livestock, they have also been seen eating maggots, and also palm fruits. In addition, there are reports that these birds sometimes kill small lizards, wounded animals, and newborn livestock.

One-Shot Wonder

King Vulture pairs, like those of the Laysan Albatross, put all their energy into a single egg. Incubation and feeding duties are taken on by both female and male. King Vulture breeding remains rather poorly understood, in good part because the birds are stealthy nesters often in remote areas. The egg is laid in a secluded spot. Locations have included a simple scrape on the ground, a rotting stump or tangle, a large tree hole, a cliff ledge, and even in Mayan ruins. Parents incubate the egg for almost two months, and then the hatchling remains at the nest site until it fledges, after between two to three months, or longer.

Not only do King Vultures have only one shot at success — it takes them a long time to reach breeding age. Female Kings don’t reach adulthood for four to five years; males take longer, at five to six.

Saving Room for the King

Although still found in 20-plus countries and ranked as “Least Concern” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List, the King Vulture is declining in many parts of its range. Causes of decline likely include habitat loss and persecution, including unregulated shooting, capture, and poisoning. Along Mexico’s Pacific and Gulf coasts, the northern extent of this species’ range shrank dramatically over recent decades, and it has become scarce in many other regions with extensive forest clearing, including western Ecuador and southeastern Brazil.

ABC’s BirdScapes approach to bird conservation helps to protect habitats throughout the Americas, including forests harboring King Vultures as well as Neotropical migrant birds such as the Wood Thrush, Hooded Warbler, and Yellow-billed Cuckoo.

The King Vulture can be found at a number of reserves in ABC’s Latin American Bird Reserve Network, including Barba Azul in Bolivia and El Dorado in Colombia.

https://abcbirds.org/bird/king-vulture/

Senate Drops Rider Exempting Greater Sage-Grouse from Endangered Species Act – American Bird Conservancy

Bald Eagle, Agustin Esmoris, Shutterstock

Media Contact: Jordan Rutter, Director of Public Relations| jerutter@abcbirds.org | @JERutter

Today, the Senate approved removal of a rider that had stifled conservation efforts for rapidly declining Greater Sage-Grouse. Photo by Vivek Khanzode

(Washington, D.C., October 18, 2021) The Senate FY 22 Interior Appropriations bill released today excludes a provision exempting protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) for the once-abundant but now rapidly declining Greater Sage-Grouse. The House of Representatives has already passed an Interior bill without the rider. Conservation groups are urging that the rider remain out of the final spending agreement.

“Our thanks to Senators Jeff Merkley and Patrick Leahy for showing exemplary conservation leadership by excluding the sage-grouse rider from the Interior bill,” said Steve Holmer, Vice President of Policy for American Bird Conservancy (ABC). “This exemption has been in place for nearly seven years. It’s time to once again give the grouse the possibility of ESA protection and the safety net it deserves.”

The Greater Sage-Grouse is the keystone species of sagebrush habitat in the American West. Conserving the grouse also supports 350 other species of conservation concern, including the Pronghorn, Pygmy Rabbit, Mule Deer, native trout, and nearly 200 migratory and western bird species.

As many as 16 million Greater Sage-Grouse once occurred across 297 million acres of sagebrush grasslands in the West. Today, the sagebrush biome and grouse populations continue to decline. Sage-grouse habitat is less than half of what it once was, diminished by invasive species, roads, overgrazing, mining, energy development, agricultural conversion, and fires. The grouse’s populations have declined 80 percent range-wide since 1965 and nearly 40 percent since 2002.

“A recent U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) study provides an excellent resource to understand the magnitude of Greater Sage-Grouse loss, as well as the likelihood that grouse populations will continue to decline,” said Holmer. “It also shows that the species’ range will continue to contract absent substantial new conservation measures.”

The USGS report indicates that current management plans and other regulatory mechanisms are not sufficient to arrest the grouse’s ongoing decline, and that additional conservation measures are needed to stabilize the population.

“Efforts to revive the National Greater Sage-Grouse Planning Strategy can best be accomplished, and will have a greater chance of success, if the Endangered Species Act listing moratorium is ended,” said Holmer.

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American Bird Conservancy is a nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving wild birds and their habitats throughout the Americas. With an emphasis on achieving results and working in partnership, we take on the greatest problems facing birds today, innovating and building on rapid advancements in science to halt extinctions, protect habitats, eliminate threats, and build capacity for bird conservation. Find us on abcbirds.org, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter (@ABCbirds).

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https://abcbirds.org/article/sage-grouse-rider-dropped-by-senate/

Eleven U.S. Bird Species Soon to be Declared Extinct, Including Eight Hawaiian Birds

The Kiwikiu is one of several critically endangered bird species at risk of extinction in Hawai’i. Photo by Zach Pezzillo (MFBRP, 2019).

abcbirds.org

Media Contact: Jordan Rutter, Director of Public Relations| jerutter@abcbirds.org | @JERutter

(Washington, D.C., September 29, 2021) Eleven U.S. bird species are on their way to being declared extinct — and “eight of them are in Hawai’i,” noted Mike Parr, President of American Bird Conservancy (ABC), commenting on news announced today by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Many news stories about this announcement have focused on the demise of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker, an iconic bird of the southeastern U.S. “The loss of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker is tragic,” said Parr, “and could have been prevented if action to conserve its habitat was taken sooner. We at ABC are focused on the place where the next round of  imminent bird extinctions is likely to happen — Hawai’i — and taking action to prevent losing those birds.”

Hawai’i is the bird extinction capital of the world. It’s home to several bird species that are found nowhere else and are teetering on the edge of oblivion, including the Kiwikiu

“I still have hope that we can prevent the extinction of the Kiwikiu and other Hawaiian birds,” said Parr. “If we act now, and decisively, we can ensure a different outcome.”

“The number one-threat to Hawaiian birds is avian malaria, transmitted by non-native mosquitoes,” said Brad Keitt, ABC’s Oceans and Islands Director. “This threat is exacerbated by warming temperatures associated with climate change, which allow mosquitoes and the lethal diseases they carry to move into higher elevations — the last refuges of the remaining Hawaiian forest birds.”

ABC is helping to coordinate the design and implementation of a strategy that will disrupt the mosquitoes’ breeding cycle. Under the plan, a secure lab is rearing male mosquitoes containing a strain of naturally occurring Wolbachia bacteria that will make them unable to successfully reproduce with wild females in Hawai‘i.

“We’re working urgently with our partners in Hawai’i to deploy this solution and prevent the tragedy of future Hawaiian bird extinctions,” said Keitt.

The eight Hawaiian bird species presumed already extinct — including the Kauaʻi ʻōʻō and the Large Kauai thrush — are joined in today’s USFWS announcement by 15 other species, including fish and mussels. The total of 23 species listed in the announcement will be removed from the Endangered Species Act due to extinction.

“Sadly, the majority of these species were listed under the Endangered Species Act too late,” said Steve Holmer, Vice President of Policy for ABC. “The longer conservation efforts continue, the better the results. The Kirtland’s Warbler, delisted in 2019, is an excellent example of a species recovering, slowly but surely, over decades. It is essential that species be listed for protection under the ESA before they are in crisis — and that the ESA remain strong to guard against future extinctions.”

American Bird Conservancy is a nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving wild birds and their habitats throughout the Americas. With an emphasis on achieving results and working in partnership, we take on the greatest problems facing birds today, innovating and building on rapid advancements in science to halt extinctions, protect habitats, eliminate threats, and build capacity for bird conservation. Find us on abcbirds.org, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter (@ABCbirds).

https://abcbirds.org/article/eleven-bird-species-extinction

Identify Raptors in Flight

www.audubon.org

By Alisa Opar

Raptors are on the move. Now is a great time to get out and see the birds of prey as they migrate south for the winter (click here for a list of 10 awesome places to watch the spectacle).

Seeing the birds on the wing is thrilling—particularly when there are large numbers of them—but it can also be frustrating to try and identify them at various angles and distances.

The challenge: Identify and age these common raptors. Some species appear more than once. Scroll down for a list of all of the species shown, and keep going for the answers.

HINT: Below are all of the species pictured.

American Kestrel

Bald Eagle

Broad-winged Hawk

Cooper’s Hawk

Merlin

Northern Harrier

Osprey

Peregrine Falcon

Red-shouldered Hawk

Red-tailed Hawk

Sharp-shinned Hawk

Turkey Vulture

SCROLL DOWN FOR ANSWERS

ANSWERS​

1. Sharp-shinned Hawk, immature: Note short, stocky wings and body, long slim tail that is short for an accipiter, and small head. Plumage is difficult to see on distant birds, but 1st-years lack a rufous tone underneath.

2. Bald EagleVery distinct white heads and tails and dark overall. Very large with long, broad wings and yellow legs and bill.

3. American Kestrel: Note pale underside with orangey chest, black spots on belly two black “sideburns” on head, and blue upperwing coverts, orange tail with black tip.

4. Northern Harrier: Very distinct brilliant white underside with a black border on flight feathers. Note long, slim wings and tail, and small head.

5. American Kestrel: Note pale underside with orangey chest, black spots on belly two black “sideburns” on head, and blue upperwing coverts, orange tail with black tip.

6. Turkey Vulture: Blackish overall; reddish head can be difficult to see at a distance but white bill usually glows. Note long, broad, squared-off wings, broad tail, and modified dihedral when gliding.

7. Sharp-shinned Hawk, adult: Note short, stocky wings and body, long slim tail that is short for an accipiter, and small head.

8. Broad-winged Hawk, immature: Stocky pointed wings, large head, and short, narrow tail. Pale underside with dark streaking on sides of breast, and indistinct tail pattern with darker tip denote 1st-year. Some (like this bird) have streaks on belly similar to red-tailed.

9. Red-shouldered Hawk, adult: Note somewhat stocky squared-off wings with translucent “commas” along the primaries. Adults have bold black and white bands on wings and tail and a warm reddish underside.

10. Red-shouldered Hawk, immature: Note somewhat stocky squared-off wings with translucent “commas” along the primaries. Pale underside with buffy underwing coverts, and dark, evenly spaced streaking on body denote 1st-year.

11. Northern Harrier: Very distinct brilliant white underside with a black border on flight feathers. Note long, slim wings and tail, and small head.

12. Merlin, adult: Merlin has stockier, more sharply pointed wings, broader, shorter tail, and is “chesty” compared with kestrel. Juvenile and adult female are pale below with heavy, dark streaking, heavily “checkered” underwings, and distinct tail bands. 

13. Northern Harrier, immature: Pale underneath mostly brown flight feathers. Note long, narrow wings and tail (showing bands when spread). Head is small with owl-like facial disc.

14. Red-tailed Hawk: Quintessential broad-winged, short-tailed buteo shape. Plumage is pale underneath with dark patagial bars and bellyband. 

15. Cooper’s Hawk, immature: Pale underneath with dark streaks throughout underbody, and brown head denote 1st-year. Note long wings for an accipiter, large head, and long tail with white tip.

16. Cooper’s Hawk, immature: Pale underneath with dark streaks throughout underbody, and brown head denote 1st-year. Note long wings for an accipiter, large head, and long tail with white tip.

17. Peregrine Falcon, adult: Pale underneath with heavily streaked body, heavily “checkered” underwings, and dark head. Note very long, pointed wings, heavy body, and broad tail and head. Wingtips are less sharply pointed in a full soar.

18. Osprey: Note the dark stripe through the eye, long, dark brown wings, white underside, and a black bill with sharp hook.

19. Sharp-shinned Hawk, adult: Note short, stocky wings and body, long slim tail that is short for an accipiter, and small head.

https://www.audubon.org/news/identify-raptors-flight?ms=digital-eng-email-ea-newsletter-engagement_20210915_eng-kids-newsletter_raptors&utm_source=ea&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=engagement_20210915_eng-kids-newsletter&utm_content=raptors&emci=d6c26761-2b16-ec11-981f-501ac57ba3ed&emdi=6679296b-3116-ec11-981f-501ac57ba3ed&ceid=89005

“Potoos of Costa Rica”

Petition: Save Songbirds From Deadly Epidemic

animalpetitions.org

Tiffany White

Target: Vanessa Kauffman,  U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Specialist for National Wildlife Refuge System, Migratory Birds, Endangered Species Act, Public Lands, and Wolves

Goal: Investigate cause of unknown affliction sickening and killing songbirds.

The bird world is dealing with its own deadly outbreak. The U.S. Geological Survey has warned of an alarming rise of wild bird deaths attributed to a mystery illness. Afflicted birds exhibit symptoms such as swollen, crusty eyes, disorientation, an inability to fly, and eventual death. Presently, scientists can only try to mitigate the disease’s spread. In a nod to social distancing, they are encouraging people in mid-Atlantic states (where the clusters of deaths are centered) to take down bird feeders, bird baths, or any other devices that attract large groups of birds.

Several potential causes have been suggested, including infectious disease, pesticide poisoning, the lingering effects of an avian salmonella outbreak, and even the emergence of cicadas that may carry a dangerous fungus. No definitive answers have been discovered, however. In the meantime, blue jays, European starlings, and other wild songbirds continue to fall victim across Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Ohio, Delaware, Pennsylvania, and possibly more states.

Various state wildlife services have begun investigations. Sign the petition below to urge the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to launch a similar comprehensive initiative that seeks a cause and, more importantly, a solution to this ongoing threat.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Ms. Kauffman,

The avian population recently dealt with a serious salmonella outbreak, and this dangerous illness eventually killed seven humans as well. This incident, as well as the public health turmoil currently engulfing the globe, demonstrates in full that we cannot ignore grave threats to the living beings with whom we share this planet. We are all interconnected.

Therefore, the even more alarming epidemic taking place within mid-Atlantic songbirds should be of urgent concern not just to conservation groups in the affected states but to the country as a whole. Scientists studying the often-fatal condition that renders birds immobile and potentially blind are at a loss. They could use the expertise and abundant resources of this federal agency in solving a perplexing mystery. The stakes are high for these birds and potentially far beyond.

Please focus the agency’s efforts on this developing crisis as soon as possible.

Photo Credit: Pixabay

https://animalpetitions.org/1006858/save-songbirds-from-deadly-epidemic/

Take bird feeders down in D.C., nearby states, experts say – BirdWatching

www.birdwatchingdaily.com

By Matt Mendenhall

Illustration by Dzm1try/Shutterstock

Wildlife experts in Washington, D.C., and nearby states say they have not identified the cause of recent deaths of many birds in the region, but they are encouraging the public to temporarily cease feeding birds to avoid the potential spread of disease at feeders.

In late May, wildlife managers and rehabbers in Washington D.C., Virginia, Maryland, and West Virginia began receiving reports of sick and dying birds with eye swelling and crusty discharge, as well as neurological signs.

The District of Columbia Department of Energy and Environment, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources, and National Park Service are continuing to work with diagnostic laboratories to investigate the cause of mortality. Those laboratories include the USGS National Wildlife Health Center, the University of Georgia Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study, and the University of Pennsylvania Wildlife Futures Program.

A report on the National Wildlife Health Center’s WHISPers site, which summarizes incidents of wildlife illnesses and mortality nationwide, shows 37 dead or sick birds — Common Grackles, Blue Jays, American Robins, and European Starlings — from several counties in Virginia on May 20. 

Birds congregating at feeders and baths can transmit disease to one another. Therefore, the state and district agencies recommend that the public in the outbreak area:Advertisement

  • Cease feeding birds until this wildlife mortality event has concluded;
  • Clean feeders and bird baths with a 10% bleach solution;
  • Avoid handling birds, but wear disposable gloves if handling is necessary; and
  • Keep pets away from sick or dead birds as a standard precaution.

If you encounter sick or dead birds, please contact your state or district wildlife conservation agency. If you must remove dead birds, place them in a sealable plastic bag to dispose with household trash. Additional information will be shared as diagnostic results are received.

Thanks to the U.S. Geological Survey for providing this news.

https://www.birdwatchingdaily.com/news/birdwatching/take-bird-feeders-down-in-d-c-nearby-states-experts-say/?amp&__twitter_impression=true

Update on birds dying in DC

Clean bird feeders thoroughly, keep your pets away don’t touch sick birds

Frightened terns abandon 3,000 eggs after drone illegally crashes on beach

www.theguardian.com

About 3,000 elegant tern eggs were abandoned at a southern California nesting island after a drone crashed and scared off the birds, a newspaper reported Friday.

Two drones were flown illegally over the Bolsa Chica ecological reserve in Huntington Beach in May and one of them went down in the wetlands, the Orange County Register said.

Fearing an attack from a predator, several thousand terns abandoned their ground nests, according to the state department of fish and wildlife.

Now, during the month when the birds would be overseeing their eggs as they begin to hatch, the sand is littered with egg shells.

It’s one of the largest-scale abandonments of eggs ever at the coastal site about 100 miles (160 km) north of San Diego, according to the reserve manager, Melissa Loebl.

With the pandemic driving more and more people to outdoor spaces, last year saw about 100,000 visitors to the Bolsa Chica reserve – up from about 60,000 the previous year, Loebl said told the newspaper.

That’s contributed not only to increased drone activity, but also to more dogs and bicycles on the trails – all of which are prohibited.

“We’ve seen a significant increase in dogs, particularly off-leash,” Loebl said. “That’s devastating for wildlife and this is prime nesting season. The dogs chase the birds and the birds abandon their nests.”

Another problem is the development of multimillion-dollar homes on the hillside at the north end of the reserve overlooking the wetlands, said Nick Molsberry, a fish and wildlife warden. While most residents respect the sensitive nature of the estuary, there are a few scofflaws, he said.

“It’s residents that sometimes feel entitled, that feel they should be able to use the land as they like,” Molsberry said. Authorities are ramping up enforcement and citing people who break the rules.

At nearly 1,500 acres, the reserve is the largest saltwater marsh between Monterey Bay, just south of San Francisco, and the Tijuana River Estuary in Mexico. About 800 species of plants and animals live at or migrate to Bolsa Chica.

… we have a small favour to ask. Tens of millions have placed their trust in the Guardian’s high-impact journalism since we started publishing 200 years ago, turning to us in moments of crisis, uncertainty, solidarity and hope. More than 1.5 million readers, from 180 countries, have recently taken the step to support us financially – keeping us open to all, and fiercely independent.

With no shareholders or billionaire owner, we can set our own agenda and provide trustworthy journalism that’s free from commercial and political influence, offering a counterweight to the spread of misinformation. When it’s never mattered more, we can investigate and challenge without fear or favour.

Unlike many others, Guardian journalism is available for everyone to read, regardless of what they can afford to pay. We do this because we believe in information equality. Greater numbers of people can keep track of global events, understand their impact on people and communities, and become inspired to take meaningful action.

We aim to offer readers a comprehensive, international perspective on critical events shaping our world – from the Black Lives Matter movement, to the new American administration, Brexit, and the world’s slow emergence from a global pandemic. We are committed to upholding our reputation for urgent, powerful reporting on the climate emergency, and made the decision to reject advertising from fossil fuel companies, divest from the oil and gas industries, and set a course to achieve net zero emissions by 2030.

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https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/jun/04/tern-bird-eggs-abandoned-drone

Solutions for Pet Cats

abcbirds.org

ABC’s Cats Indoors program supports simple solutions to keep pet cats and wild birds safe. Check out catio designs and other solutions below to see which is the best fit for you and your cat!


CATIO OPTIONS AND OTHER OUTDOOR ENCLOSURES
catio spaces come in many sizes


Want the best of outdoor access while keeping your cat safe at home? Outdoor enclosures – like a catio – can give your cat the chance to move around freely outside within a sheltered and safe space. Whether you and your cat prefer a perch, a patio, or the entire backyard, enclosures can be modified to suit all situations.

  • FENCE CONVERSION: Turn your existing fence into a cat-safe fence. These straightforward options modify existing structures to create an escape-proof kingdom for your cat to explore. To learn more, visit: Cat Fence-In, Oscillot, ProtectaPet, Purrfect Fence.

HARNESSES/STROLLERS/BACKPACKS

Many strategies exist to safely enjoy the outdoors with your cat, including comfortable restraints that keep you and your pet connected. These options are an excellent choice for joint adventures around town or exploring the neighborhood.

  • HARNESSES: Leash training isn’t just for dogs. Safely hike your local park, walk the neighborhood, or explore the backyard with your cat at your side. To learn more, visit: Adventure Cats, Leash Training with Dr. Yin, PETA.
  • BACKPACKS AND STROLLERS: Travel in style with your cat in a comfortable backpack or stroller. To learn more, visit: Texsens, Your Cat Backpack.

INDOOR ENRICHMENT


A fun and stimulating environment is critical for your cat’s mental and physical health. Consider the options below to brighten your cat’s day, engage its senses, and give it some exercise.


ANTI-PREDATION DEVICES


The best way to protect cats and birds is to keep cats safely contained. However, if you are in the process of transitioning your outdoor cat to an indoor cat or just want to add an extra layer of wildlife protection while your cat is in the backyard enclosure, several devices can help reduce (but not eliminate) cat predation. Review the latest science here.

  • VISUAL ALERTS: Visual cues can alert wildlife to the presence of a cat and prevent harmful interactions. To learn more, visit: Birdsbesafe®.
  • MECHANICAL OBSTRUCTIONS: Devices that obstruct a cat’s ability to stalk, pounce, or grab prey may reduce impacts on birds and other wildlife. To learn more, visit: CatBib.
  • AUDIO ALERTS: Noise-emitting devices worn by your cat may reduce the opportunity for direct harm to wildlife. To learn more, visit: Digibell.

CATS INDOORS PLEDGE


Owned, free-roaming cats kill over 700 million birds in the U.S. each year. You can help reduce that number by keeping your pet cat safely indoors, on a leash, or within an outdoor enclosure. Get started by taking ABC’s Cat’s Indoors Pledge today.


GET INVOLVED


Containing cats is an easy way to provide cats with healthy, safe lives while reducing needless bird and other wildlife deaths. If you’ve already taken our Cats Indoor Pledge, here are five more ways you can help:

  1. Learn more about ABC’s Cats Indoors program and the work we do to protect cats and birds.
  2. Keep up to date on our efforts by signing up for our Cats Indoors eNewsletter.
  3. Contact your local elected officials to support responsible pet ownership.
  4. Download or purchase bulk quantities of our Solutions for Pet Cats handout.
  5. Use the social buttons below to share the word with family and friends.

Photo credits, top to bottom: Sacred Wings/Flickr; PERO studio,Shutterstock; Elya Vatel, Shutterstock; Birdsbesafe.

https://abcbirds.org/catio-solutions-cats/

Feds Propose Endangered Species Act protections for lesser prairie-chicken | WildEarth Guardians

Lesser prairie-chicken. Photo by Greg Kramos/USFWS.

wildearthguardians.org

Big step forward in WildEarth Guardians’ decades-long battle to protect imperiled species

WASHINGTONYesterday, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (the “Service”) announced its proposal to provide Endangered Species Act (ESA) protections to the lesser prairie-chicken, a charismatic grassland bird that now occupies approximately 15% of its historic range. The Service’s proposed rule was submitted as the result of a settlement agreement between the federal government and WildEarth Guardians and partner organizations finalized in 2019, following failure to act on a 2016 listing petition.

The proposed rule includes listing the lesser prairie-chicken in two distinct population segments (“DPS”), with the Northern DPS—encompassing Kansas, Texas, Colorado, and Oklahoma—proposed to be listed as “threatened” and the Southern DPS—consisting of birds in New Mexico and Texas—proposed to be listed as “endangered.” All populations face severe threats of habitat loss and fragmentation caused by oil and gas development, cropland conversion, livestock grazing, roads, and power lines.

“WildEarth Guardians has been fighting for more than two decades to get ESA protections for the lesser prairie-chicken and we are encouraged that the Service has finally recognized the need for federal listing status,” said Lindsay Larris, wildlife program director at WildEarth Guardians. “For far too long, this iconic dancing bird has seen its numbers dwindling towards extinction and we are hopeful this is the first step towards rebuilding populations and preserving habitat.”

Federal listing petitions for the lesser prairie-chicken date back to the mid 1990s. For two decades, voluntary state agreements were relied upon to protect the species in lieu of federal government protections. In 2014, the Fish and Wildlife Service listed the lesser prairie-chicken as threatened. But protection was overturned on procedural grounds after a lawsuit from the Permian Basin Petroleum Association and four counties.

“The lesser prairie-chicken and its habitat have been absolutely trashed by unchecked oil and gas extraction,” said Jeremy Nichols, climate and energy program director at WildEarth Guardians. “This proposed rule means that the ESA finally stands to provide the safety net desperately needed to protect the lesser prairie-chicken in the face of rampant fracking in the Permian Basin of southeast New Mexico and west Texas.”

The lesser prairie chicken—an icon of the Southern Plains—once numbered in the millions but has declined to just roughly 38,000 birds across less than 17 percent of its original range. Experts estimate the population of lesser prairie chickens at 3 million birds before the beginning of Euro-American settlement on the Great Plains.

The Service will be accepting comments on the proposed rule for 60 days once the proposal is published in the Federal Register before issuing a final decision.

https://wildearthguardians.org/press-releases/feds-propose-endangered-species-act-protections-for-lesser-prairie-chicken/

Help Beach-Nesting Birds | American Bird Conservancy

abcbirds.org

Beach-nesting bird populations in the Gulf Coast have seen a steady decline since the days John James Audubon fell in love with its abundant birdlife. For the Fab Four of beach nesting birds, the Wilson’s Plover, Least Tern, Black Skimmer and Snowy Plover, nesting on the beach can be a huge challenge. Coastal development, off-road vehicles, beachgoers, and pets equal a perfect storm of threats and endanger their very existence. But, you can help beach-nesting birds.

Help Beach-Nesting Birds

Every year, these birds are the first to arrive at the beach and lay claim to a spot with the purpose of hatching their young safely. Natural and unnatural disasters such as Hurricane Katrina and the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill, set back beach-nesting bird populations dramatically. It takes years for population recovery and as competition for space on the beach increases, they can’t do it without our help.

Help Beach-Nesting Birds

Snowy Plover with chick by Michael Wharton

These coastal birds will be setting up camp at popular beaches such as East Beach, Bryan Beach and Port Aransas Nature Preserve at Charlie’s Pasture in Texas, Holly Beach, Rutherford Beach, Grand Isle State Park and public beaches in Louisiana, St. Pete Beach and Treasure Island in Florida and Bon Secour in Alabama. The time to help beach-nesting birds is now. Spring and fall represents a critical time for these birds and together we can help them thrive.

Fish, Swim, and Play from 50 Yards Away

By donating today, you can make a difference. Your support will: provide fencing and warning signs around sensitive nesting areas, help staff and our volunteer bird stewards educate people to stay away from nesting sites and provide beachgoers information about how to avoid disturbing beach-nesting birds via the “Fish, Swim, and Play from 50 Yards Away” educational campaign. Learn more about our coastal bird program in the gulf.

Help Beach-Nesting Birds

A sign raising awareness and protecting a Least Tern nest by Kacy Ray

“Fish, Swim, and Play from 50 Yards Away” has proven to be a successful approach to protect beach-nesting birds. This educational campaign raises awareness among beach-goers of the recreational impacts on beach-nesting birds. Educational, media-based campaigns such as this, are a major strategy identified in most conservation plans to recover shorebird populations in decline. To date, the only Gulf program for beach-nesting birds that combines the use of media marketing with protection, monitoring, and on-the-ground outreach is the Fish, Swim and Play from 50 Yards Away campaign.

Funds from this campaign will help ABC and our partners increase nest and fledging success and further the stewardship of Wilson’s Plovers, Least Terns, Snowy Plovers, Black Skimmers and other species of concern across the Gulf Coast. If we do not protect their nests, their numbers will continue to decline. Please make a gift today to protect beach-nesting birds.

BE A PART OF THIS CAMPAIGN BY MAKING A CONTRIBUTION

American Bird Conservancy is the Western Hemisphere’s bird conservation specialist—the only organization with a single and steadfast commitment to achieving conservation results for native birds and their habitats throughout the Americas. With a focus on efficiency and working in partnership, we take on the toughest problems facing birds today, innovating and building on sound science to halt extinctions, protect habitats, eliminate threats, and build capacity for bird conservation.

Audubon Louisiana mission is to conserve and restore natural ecosystems, focusing on birds, other wildlife, and their habitats for the benefit of humanity and the earth’s biological diversity.

Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary Program mission is to involve a representation of a broad base of people to support the Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary Program (BTNEP). This includes supporting the mission of stewardship of the cultural, economic and ecological resources of the Barataria and Terrebonne Basins.

Coastal Bend Bays & Estuaries Program (CBBEP) is dedicated to protecting, researching and restoring the bays and estuaries in the 12-county region of the Texas Coastal Bend. As part of the National Estuary Program, CBBEP works with local governments, conservation groups, teachers, students and the public to raise awareness of our natural surroundings through research, restoration and recreation projects.

Eckerd College mission is to challenge students to embark on a journey of development through the coordination of service to the college, to the Church, and to the community.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission mission is the managing fish and wildlife resources for their long-term well-being and the benefit of people.

Florida Shorebird Alliance  is a statewide partnership of government and non-government organizations committed to advancing shorebird and seabird conservation in Florida through coordinated and collaborative work that helps identify and address important needs with regard to research, management, education, outreach, and public policy.

Gulf Coast Bird Observatory mission is to protect the birds and their habitats around the Gulf of Mexico. They are recognized as an innovative organization, which has designed and conducted a significant number of large conservation projects, including migration studies, habitat enhancement, land acquisition, regional habitat mapping, and others.

Houston Audubon is dedicated to the creation of a healthier natural environment and more beautiful place to live by leading and nurturing a community that values and supports birds. Their mission is to advance the conservation of birds and positively impact their supporting environments. They own 17 sanctuaries in five counties, including the internationally known High Island and Bolivar Flats sanctuaries.

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department mission is to manage and conserve the natural and cultural resources of Texas and to provide hunting, fishing and outdoor recreation opportunities for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) mission is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people.

https://abcbirds.org/help-beach-nesting-birds/

“Searching for the Blue-throated Macaw: Cerrado Birding Walk in Barba Azul Nature Reserve, Bolivia”

Summer Tanager | American Bird Conservancy

 

abcbirds.org

Summer Tanager range map by ABC

The rose-red male Summer Tanager is the only completely red bird in North America — the male Northern Cardinal has a black mask; the closely related Scarlet Tanager has black wings and tail; and the duller-red Hepatic Tanager has grayish flanks and cheek patches. The female Summer Tanager is a warm orangish-yellow, and first-spring males have an interesting intermediate plumage patched with yellow and red.

This chunky, thick-billed songbird is surprisingly difficult to spot in the treetops, but it can be easily detected by its burry song and chuckling call notes.

Bee Bird

The Summer Tanager’s stout, pointed bill allows it to easily capture and neutralize its preferred prey, bees and wasps and their larvae. Its predilection for stinging insects earned this songbird the nickname “Bee Bird.” When foraging, the Summer Tanager darts out from a perch to snatch a bee or wasp in mid-air, then subdues the insect by beating it against a branch. Before eating its catch, the tanager first removes the stinger. Summer Tanagers also rip into wasp nests to eat the larvae inside.

Many beekeepers consider the Summer Tanager a pest, but it rarely takes enough insects to pose a significant threat to a hive.

Northeast by Southwest

The Summer Tanager breeds across much of the eastern and southwestern United States and northern Mexico. Eastern and southern populations prefer open oak, hickory, and mixed oak-pine woodlands, and western populations breed in riparian woodlands of cottonwood and willow.

Like the closely related Western Tanager, the Summer Tanager is a long-distance migrant, moving south to winter from central Mexico into South America, as far south as Bolivia and Brazil. It migrates during the night, with eastern populations making the long flight directly across the Gulf of Mexico.

On its wintering grounds, the Summer Tanager also favors open woodlands, but can also be found in second-growth forest and edge, on plantations, and even in urban parks and gardens.

There are two widespread Summer Tanager subspecies. The western group is duller and paler-plumaged than the brighter-red eastern subspecies. A third subspecies is only found in northwestern Arizona.

The Summer Tanager’s distinctive call is a staccato “picky-tuck-tuck.” Its song is similar to that of the American Robin, but slower and more variable.

Listen here, first to the call, then the song:

“Summer Tanager (Piranga rubra)” Jim Holmes

Audio Player

(Audio: Jim Holmes, XC333286. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/333286 ·  John A. Middleton Jr., XC643125. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/643125

Feeding on the Fly

Although Summer Tanagers specialize in hunting bees and wasps, they also take a wide variety of other invertebrates, such as beetles, dragonflies, cicadas, grasshoppers, caterpillars, and spiders. While foraging, Summer Tanagers stay in the mid- to upper levels of the forest canopy, often repeatedly sallying out from the same perch like a flycatcher.

This versatile tanager also feeds on small fruits and berries, particularly on its wintering grounds. It may also visit backyard feeders for jam and suet.

Dueling Tanagers

Male Summer Tanagers arrive on the breeding grounds first, then stake out a territory that they defend against other males through singing duels and frequent chases. They continue to defend their nest site and a feeding territory throughout the breeding season. After females arrive on the breeding grounds, males court them with more singing, calling, and chasing.

Female Summer Tanager with insect. Photo by Agami Photo Agency, Shutterstock

After mating, the female builds a cup-shaped nest of stems, leaves, and grasses high up and well out on a horizontal branch, often over a clearing or stream. There, she lays two to four eggs. The male feeds the female as she incubates, and both parents feed the hatchlings as they mature. A Summer Tanager pair usually raises only one brood per season.

Summer Tanagers seem to recognize the threat posed by brood parasites such as Brown-headed Cowbirds, chasing them away from their territories whenever possible. Nevertheless, their nests are often parasitized.

Keeping the Bee Bird Buzzing

Although Summer Tanager populations are currently considered stable, the species is still vulnerable to habitat loss, particularly the clearing of riparian habitat in the western United States. There, the Summer Tanager shares habitat with several threatened birds, including the Southwestern Willow Flycatcher and western race of the Yellow-billed Cuckoo.

ABC works to preserve riparian habitat throughout the Southwest. We have advocated for the San Pedro River, one of the last major undammed rivers in the American Southwest. The San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area, which protects important habitat for the Summer Tanager and many other species, including the Elf Owl and Costa’s Hummingbird, was the first site designated by ABC as a Global Important Bird Area.

Migrating Summer Tanagers are vulnerable to collisions with communications towers and other human-built obstacles along their journeys. ABC offers a variety of solutions to this problem, both for interested birders and businesses.


Donate to support ABC’s conservation mission!

https://abcbirds.org/bird/summer-tanager/

Scholarship for Birders in STEM

Application Period Ends June 18, 2021

Until higher education is accessible, equitable, and free, we will be here to support Black & Latinx Birders in STEM.

Are you a Black birder or Brown birder that lives in the contiguous United States and identifies as Black, African-American, and/or Latinx/e/a/o? Are you also an undergraduate student studying in STEM? Apply for the annual Black and Latinx Birders Scholarship, today!

ELIGIBILITY

Open to undergraduate students 18 and older, in any year of their college studies (full-time undergraduate). Through this scholarship, we seek to increase the number of Black birders and Latinx birders studying in STEM*. Scholarship awards range from a minimum of $2,500 to a maximum of $5,000, depending on funding for the current year. Two students will receive a one-time annual award.

RULES

1. Live in and attend college in the contiguous United States.
2. We want to hear from you!

Tell us about your birding** experience! Please answer these questions:

  • How did you become a birder?
  • How are you involved in the birding community?
  • Why are you pursuing a degree in STEM?
  • How do you plan to bring back your knowledge and skills to your community?

How to tell us:

  • Essay: no longer than two pages double spaced. Get creative! Maybe your essay is a Twitter thread that you started? Perhaps an extended IG post? Or maybe you prefer a standard essay format? Either way, tell us about you and answer the four questions above.
  • YouTube Video: Instead of an essay, send us a video link (two minutes maximum) sharing why you are pursuing your degree and how you plan to share your knowledge with the community.

3. One letter of recommendation to serve as a reference from a current or recent teacher. This can be forwarded to us by you, or sent directly to us.
4. Proof of enrollment at a 2 or 4 year college or university and proof of a minimum cumulative 2.0 GPA (high school or college, as appropriate). A letter from the admissions office and a copy of your transcripts are needed.
5. Must be 18 years or older.
6. Interview with the committee via Zoom.

*Note: STEM (Science Technology Engineer Math) includes Science Communications.

**Note: we use the term “birder” in a broad context. Perhaps you’re a lister, volunteer at a nature center and engage your community with live birds, lead bird walks, have worked on or are working on a bird-related conservation project at your school. A birder in this context is someone who is actively engaged in lifestyle, with projects, etc. that are centered around birds, bird advocacy, and/or bird conservation.Apply Today! The application period for the Black and Latinx Birders Scholarship ends June 18, 2021.

Please forward this email to your colleagues, students, and networks. Our scholarship offering has increased this year due to American Bird Conservancy matching donations up to $10K! We need your help to share this scholarship with your networks. Thank you!

For question, please reply to this email, or email hello@amplifythefuture.org.  Apply Today!Copyright © 2021 Amplify the Future, All rights reserved.

https://mailchi.mp/amplifythefuture.org/scholarship-for-birders-in-stem

IUCN Red List Update Brings Good News, Some Warnings | American Bird Conservancy

abcbirds.org

David Wiedenfeld

David Wiedenfeld

Conservation efforts paid off for species previously considered Critically Endangered, including Peru’s endemic Junin Grebe.

Each year, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) evaluates the status of species on its Red List of Threatened Species, a key listing that ranks most of the worlds’ species by conservation need. This evaluation measures carefully chosen criteria, such as each species’ population size and trend. The 2020 update brought some welcome news: In the Americas, an important group of species that ABC and our partners have worked to protect have lowered threat status. A few others, however, moved to a higher threat category.

First, the good news: Conservation efforts paid off for three species previously considered in the highest threat category, Critically Endangered (CR). Peru’s endemic Junin Grebe and two hummingbirds — Black-breasted Puffleg of Ecuador and Glittering Starfrontlet of Colombia — dropped to the lower threat category of Endangered (EN). ABC partners have protected reserves for the two hummingbirds and worked to reduce nesting area loss around the grebe’s lake habitat.

Junin Grebe by ECOAN

Junin Grebe by Pete Morris

Nine species ABC partners have protected changed from EN to less dire Vulnerable (VU) and Near Threatened (NT) status, indicating that dedicated conservation and careful monitoring have had a positive impact. Two of these, the Long-whiskered Owlet and Yellow-eared Parrot, have benefited from ABC’s flagship conservation programs with our Peruvian partner Asociación Ecosistemas Andinos, in the case of the owlet, and Fundación ProAves in Colombia, for the parrot.

For some ABC focal species, though, ramped-up efforts are needed to turn the tide. Three species with which ABC and partners have recently begun conservation efforts shifted from EN to CR status, indicating they are more threatened than previously thought. For one of these, the Lilacine Amazon parrot in Ecuador, ABC and partner Fundación de Conservación Jocotoco have recently initiated projects with local communities to protect roost areas and reduce poaching. For the other two, the Santa Marta Sabrewing hummingbird and Great Green Macaw, ABC and partners have created reserves, but more work is needed to ensure adequate habitat is protected.

Some species for which ABC has yet to begin conservation efforts jumped to more-threatened categories. These include the Perijá Starfrontlet hummingbird that occurs at the border between Venezuela and Colombia and the Santa Marta Foliage-gleaner of Colombia, as well as these island birds: the Great White Heron, Bahama Warbler, and St. Lucia Oriole. The heron, still considered by some experts to be an all-white Great Blue Heron subspecies, also occurs in southern Florida in the U.S. These species will be priorities for ABC and our partners’ work in the near future.

Great Green Macaws by Evgeniapp_Shutterstock

Great Green Macaws by Evgeniapp/Shutterstock

Parrots in Peril

The 2020 IUCN Red List update has moved four New World parrot species — the Great Green Macaw, Lilacine Amazon, Orange-fronted Parakeet, and Black-billed Amazon — to higher threat categories. All are threatened by habitat loss, direct persecution, or capture for the pet trade. Over half of New World parrots are classified as Near Threatened, globally threatened, or extinct, but thanks to targeted conservation by ABC and partners, 12 of these species, including the Lear’s Macaw, Blue-throated Macaw, and Yellow-eared Parrot, have stabilized or increased their populations.


David Wiedenfeld is ABC’s Senior Conservation Scientist.

https://abcbirds.org/blog21/iucn-red-list-update/

“Stairway to Heaven “