Godwit Days 2014

February 3, 2014 by  
Filed under Events

The 19th Annual Godwit Days Spring Migration Bird Festival will celebrate the lovely marbled godwit. The event features field trips, workshops, boat excursions and lectures. Included in the schedule are a number activities aimed directly at kids, including kids birding trips and interesting interactive presentations.
For more information visit www.godwitdays.org.

Date: 16-22 April 2014
Location: Arcata, California, United States of America

Audubon’s Nebraska Crane Festival 2014

February 3, 2014 by  
Filed under Events

The Audubon’s Nebraska Crane Festival celebrates the arrival of vast numbers of Sandhill Cranes and various waterfowl that have been migrating. Begun in 1971, the festival focuses on education about the environment and wildlife. The 2014 schedule is packed with activities to keep the whole family busy, including birding trips, photography workshops, an historic tour, the Wild Experience Room, a banquet and more. Speakers will include Jen Smith of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (discussing the effects of wind farms on Greater Prairie Chickens), Kent Skagg & Kevin Poague of Audubon Nebraska (with Birding 101), Wayne Mollhoff (talking about the Second Nebraska Breeding Bird Atlas Project), Mary Harner of The Crane Trust (looking at sandhill crane behaviour) and others.
nebraskacranefestival.org

Date: 20-23 March 2014
Location: Kearney, Nebraska, United States of America

The Plight of the Red Knot

January 21, 2014 by  
Filed under Features

Breeding in the Canadian Artic and wintering in Argentina and Chile, red knots undertake an epic migration journey of around 9,300 miles (15,000 km) twice every year. In order to complete the voyage successfully, red knots (Calidris canutus) require top quality food sources, and previously they have found this in abundance in the shape of horseshoe crab eggs in Delaware Bay. However, it’s been noted that red knot numbers have declined drastically since the turn of the century, with one of the main reasons being the decline in horseshoe crabs that have been harvested for commercial gain. Without sufficient fuel, these medium-sized shorebirds may not make it back to their Arctic breeding grounds, or if they do, they may be too weak to breed successfully, and considering that nearly 90 percent of the red knot population use Delaware Bay on their migration route, the lack of food could result in the species becoming endangered, or extinct.

Recognizing this problem, the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) have proposed that red knots be classified as ‘threatened’ under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Data reveals that there has been about a 75 percent decline in red knot numbers since the 1980s, with the rate of decline increasing sharply after the year 2000, coinciding with the decline in horseshoe crab populations. Red knots arrive at Delaware Bay just as horseshoe crabs arrive on the beaches to lay their eggs in shallow holes they dig in the sand. Each female lays up to 120,000 eggs in batches, which are then fertilized by the male that hitched a ride on her back to the beach. Shorebirds, including the red knot, eat many thousands of these protein rich eggs in the two week period before they hatch.

When red knots arrive at Delaware Bay, they are quite exhausted and emaciated. They need to rebuild their strength and stock up on fat reserves for the arduous journey ahead. As they feast on the eggs, they undergo a number of interesting physiological changes. As documented by the FWS, these include an increase in fat stores, and an increase in size of the chest (pectoral) muscles and heart, while the gizzard, stomach, intestines, liver and leg muscles of the birds decrease in size, all in preparation for the last leg of their migration.

While the decline of horseshoe crab eggs as a food source is a serious problem for red knots, it is not the only problem they face. The FWS notes that climate change is altering the terrain they breed in and impacting their diets on their home turf. Rising sea-levels and coastal development are other issues. But these are beyond the control of conservationists concerned with the plight of migratory birds. What can (and likely will) change is when harvesting of horseshoe crabs takes place, so that when the red knots arrive they have first choice of the horseshoe crabs’ eggs to fuel up for the last leg of their journey.

New York Birders Conference 2013

October 14, 2013 by  
Filed under Events

The 66th annual New York Birders Conference offers birders the opportunity to view the fall coastal migration when it is at its peak, the ideal time to spot rare birds. Keynote speaker for the event is James Currie, a renowned birder who has contributed to a number of publications. Other speakers and presenters are Mark E. Hauber Ph.D., John Turner, Sean Mahar, Susan Elbin, and more. Field trips will have birders exploring Jones Beach State Park, Kissena Park, Sunken Meadow State Park, Francis Purcell Preserve and other lovely birding spots. Book your spot today. For more information visit nybirdersconference.wordpress.com

Date: 1-3 November 2013
Venue: Mariott Hotel
City: Uniondale
State: New York
Country: United States

AEWA: Supporting Habitat Conservation for Migratory Birds

July 2, 2013 by  
Filed under Features

Administered by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) and developed in line with the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS), the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA) is a program devoted to the conservation of migratory waterbirds and their habitats in Africa, the Middle East, Europe, Central Asia, the Canadian Archipelago and Greenland. This calls for the cooperation of governmental authorities in these regions, as well as the wider conservation community, to develop conservation principles that can be applied successfully to the management of migratory waterbirds along all their migratory routes.

The 255 AEWA-monitored species cross international borders during their annual migration and need suitable habitats as stop-over and breeding sites. Cooperation between countries along their routes is essential to ensure the survival of many of these species, which include grebes, divers, pelicans, herons, cormorants, storks, ibises, spoonbills, rails, cranes, gulls terns, auks, frigate birds and more.

As of June 1, 2013, seventy-one countries and the European Union are involved in the AEWA program, cooperating with one another in the interest of the birds. Representatives from these member countries meet every two to three years to review progress made and plan the way ahead. The first meeting was held in November 1999 in Cape Town, South Africa, with subsequent meetings being held in September 2002 in Bonn, Germany; in October 2005 in Dakar, Senegal; September 2008 in Antananarivo, Madagascar; and the most recent being held in May 2012 in La Rochelle, France.

Countries that have joined AEWA are legally bound to carry out core activities as outlined in the organizations Action Plan. The current action plan is valid until 2015 and includes legal measures that protect the habitat, eggs and birds of the identified migratory species, with certain exceptions if the bird population is deemed sustainable or if it poses a danger to crops, water and fisheries. The Action Plan also covers strategies for conserving specific species, emergency measures for species deemed in danger, and methods of re-establishing populations in their traditional range. Habitat conservation is covered in detail, as is the establishment and control of eco-tourism, as well as the education of personnel responsible for implementation of the Action Plan and members of the public.

Birding enthusiasts, who gather to greet the masses of migratory birds that have successfully completed their annual, often treacherous journey, can do so in the knowledge that organizations such as the AEWA are playing a vital role in the success of this marvel of nature.

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