Looking Back at 2015: Milestones in Bird Conservation
Here at ABC, we approach conservation with a clear strategy. We take targeted actions, including safeguarding the rarest birds and reducing threats that affect all birds. Over the past year, we've marked major milestones that benefited many species, including Hawaiian Petrel and Golden Eagle.
Endangered Petrels Moved to a New Home
In a historic effort by a group of dedicated partners, scientists moved 10 endangered Hawaiian Petrel chicks by helicopter from their mountain colonies on the Hawaiian island of Kauaʻi to a new, protected colony within Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge. Through much of November, human caretakers hand-fed the young birds a slurry of fish and squid and carefully monitored their growth until they left their new nest burrows and flew out to sea.
The petrels will remain at sea for the next three to five years before—we hope—returning to Nihoku as adults. The new colony will be the only fully protected colony of federally listed seabirds anywhere in the Hawaiian Islands and will represents a huge achievement in recovering this species.
Solutions to Prevent Birds from Hitting Windows
Collisions with glass windows kill hundreds of millions of birds each year in the United States, including migratory species such as Wood Thrush and Painted Bunting. But thanks to ABC's new Bird-Smart Glass Program, unveiled in November, a list of 18 tested, proven products is now available to help homeowners and architects identify effective solutions to stop birds from hitting windows.
Over the last six years, ABC led testing efforts to identify a range of products that are proven to minimize the frequency of bird collisions while also being affordable and aesthetically suitable. The list of Bird-Smart glass products will continue to grow as new products are tested and found effective.
Court Victory for Eagles
In July, a federal judge in California ruled in favor of American Bird Conservancy in a lawsuit over a federal rule that would have allowed wind energy and some other companies to harm or kill Bald and Golden Eagles for up to 30 years without prosecution. Eagles are at risk of colliding with fast-spinning wind turbines. More than 2,000 Golden Eagles have perished at California's Altamont Wind Energy Project alone.
The court ruled that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and the U.S. Department of the Interior violated federal law by expanding the maximum duration for “programmatic” eagle take permits sixfold without first assessing the impact those rules would have on eagles. In a major victory for our nation's eagles, the court granted ABC's request to set aside the 30-year rule, handing it back to FWS for further consideration.
Bird Conservation in Managed Forests
This fall, ABC announced a new, innovative project with the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) and several of its Program Participants—including Weyerhaeuser, Resource Management Service, Plum Creek Timber Company, Hancock Timber Resource Group, and Enviva—to help improve prospects for migratory birds across millions of acres of North American forests. Swallow-tailed Kite is among the birds that could stand to benefit from the new collaboration.
The project aims to better understand how current forest management practices can benefit birds and then look for “sweet spots” where bird conservation and commercial forest management goals can be further integrated.
More Habitat in Latin America for Rare Birds
With support from ABC, several of our Latin American partners expanded land conservation efforts in 2015. This work benefits some of the rarest birds in the Western Hemisphere, many of which require very specific habitat to survive. Colombia's Fundación ProAves, for instance, expanded the El Dorado reserve by 148 acres to provide habitat for the endangered Santa Marta Parakeet.
In Peru, our partner ECOAN's new Siete Cataratas—Qanchis Paccha Private Conservation Area expanded the Vilcanota Reserve Network by an additional 2,500 acres. And Honduras's new El Ciruelo Wildlife Refuge provides 147 acres of dry forest habitat for the rare Honduran Emerald, thanks to the Honduran organization La Asociación de Investigación para el Desarrollo Ecológico y Socio Económico (ASIDE).
Editor's note: To learn more about how ABC's conservation framework takes shape on the ground, explore our conservation programs, including International, Oceans and Islands, Migratory Birds, and Policy & Advocacy.