Birds, Birding and Bird Conservation

Like everyone else, I get a lot of e-news on a daily basis, most of which is dumped even before I take time to read past the headline. But there is one newsletter that I look forward to receiving each month.  It is The Birding Community E-Bulletin.  This is an email newsletter concerning birds, birding, and bird conservation.  Co-edited by Paul Baicich (Great Birding Projects) and Wayne Petersen (Director, Massachusetts Important Birding Area Program), the newsletter is distributed by email at the start of each month and is “intended to keep friends and associates abreast of important bird sighting and conservation news.”

Not only does the newsletter focus on those rare species sighted within North America and how to locate those birds yourself, it also informs about other issues that could impact birds.  For example, this month there was a brief update on the new $975 million stadium being planned for The Minnesota Vikings and scheduled to begin construction this fall.  Doesn’t sound bird-related?  The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources thought it did.  They went on record to urge project designers to make the stadium “bird-friendly”. Melissa Doperalski, the DNR regional environmental assessment ecologist stated  “If the new stadium is to have prominent glass features, the designers should consider using angled glass or ‘fritted glass’ which can provide visual cues to birds to prevent collisions.” As we know millions of birds are killed annually through building and glass impact.

Also in the most recent newsletter issue is an update on the plight of the Lesser Prairie-Chicken.  On November 30, 2012, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service started a 90-day process to consider whether the Lesser Prairie-Chicken should be recognized as Threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Once found in abundant numbers across large parts of Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico,  and Colorado, the bird’s native grassland habitat has been reduced by an estimated 84 per cent.  This is clearly a bird in trouble.

And last but not least is the Panamanian Important Birding Area on the upper Bay of Panama where millions of shorebirds rest on their way south after breeding.  The bay was also declared a Ramsar site (Wetland of International Importance) in 2003, and was included in the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network in 2005.  In 2009, over 80,000 hectares of the Panama Bay Wetland became a National Protected Area.  Sounds very much protected in perpetuity, doesn’t it?  However, last spring, this legal protected status was withdrawn because of pressure from urban and resort developers, including those  developing hotels and golf courses.  This risk to shorebirds is grave.

Paul has helped me over the years to identify bird species from photos when the quality of the photos was  less than great.  For that I thank him, and I look forward to future opportunities to quiz his ability with fuzzy, out-of-focus, dark photos of black blobs in the air. 

If you are interested in learning more about The Birding Community E-Bulletin, you can access an archive of past E-Bulletins hosted on the website of the National Wildlife Refuge Association (NWRA):

It doesn’t matter whether you are an expert birder or an amateur or just interested in the conservation status of species around the world, I believe you will enjoy the information that E-Bulletin provides.

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