Displaying items by tag: ABC

(Washington, D.C., May 22, 2020)

The Ohio Power Siting Board (OPSB) approved the Icebreaker Wind Energy Project yesterday, with conditions, moving the country’s first freshwater wind development closer to construction. Stipulations have been made to protect birds in this critical area for migratory species, including turning off the turbines at night for eight months of the year, but conservationists are concerned that these measures are changeable and may not hold long-term.

“The developers and their supporters have been determined to build this project regardless of the overwhelming evidence that for migratory birds, this is among the worst places in North America to place wind turbines,” said Kimberly Kaufman, Executive Director of Black Swamp Bird Observatory (BSBO). “The proponents of Icebreaker have consistently demonstrated a callous disregard for science, and the project, whose financial basis is experimental at best, may mostly be remembered as a monument of death for birds.” 

“The decision requires that the original Avian and Bat Memorandum of Understanding and Stipulations to the Application remain in effect, including turning the turbines off at night for eight months of the year,” said Steve Holmer, Vice President of Policy at American Bird Conservancy (ABC). “It’s positive that these have been upheld and must be complied with before construction can begin. However, we’re concerned that the stipulations can be reversed in the future.”

It is currently unclear whether the stipulations made by the OPSB will prove to be sufficient to cause the developer to withdraw the project. In addition, a lawsuit brought by BSBO and ABC against the Department of Justice and Army Corps of Engineers, for failing to adhere to the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act when awarding a $40M grant to Icebreaker Wind, could still halt the project.

Icebreaker would be a precedent-setting wind energy facility in Lake Erie, offshore of Cleveland, Ohio. Turbines in the proposed project site would pose substantial collision risks to the enormous numbers of birds that use the area throughout the year, including large concentrations of migrating songbirds, as well as Common Loons, globally significant populations of Red-breasted Mergansers, and other waterfowl. Further, construction and increased vessel traffic associated with the project could pollute the waters used by these species.

“Icebreaker is a demonstration project,” said Kaufman. “Its review and approval will be considered the benchmark for hundreds, possibly thousands, of additional turbines expected to be proposed for the Great Lakes over the coming decades.”

Radar studies conducted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have recorded large numbers of migratory birds and bats near Great Lakes shorelines, including Lake Erie's south shore. Many were flying at altitudes that would be within the rotor-swept area of wind turbines, making these birds susceptible to collision-related deaths, injuries, and disturbance.

“We need renewable energy development to combat the effects of climate change, but it needs to be done right and there are better alternatives such as distributed solar right in Cleveland,” said Holmer. “We must ensure that we're not creating new problems in the process by building turbines in high-risk areas for birds.”

American Bird Conservancy and Black Swamp Bird Observatory are being represented in the lawsuit referred to above by the public interest environmental law firm Eubanks & Associates, LLC.

ABC thanks the Leon Levy Foundation for its support of ABC's Bird-Smart Wind Energy Program.

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American Bird Conservancy is a nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving 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).   

Black Swamp Bird Observatory is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit whose mission is to inspire the appreciation, enjoyment, and conservation of birds and their habitats through research, education, and outreach.

(Washington, D.C., May 11, 2020) When the New York State Legislature finalized the state budget, it included the Accelerated Renewable Energy Growth and Community Benefit Act. The Act seeks to streamline the approval process for wind and solar energy projects as part of the State’s approach to achieving its renewable energy goals. While it does have some positive elements for wildlife, such as seeking to site projects on degraded lands and creating a bird impact mitigation fund, the Act also fast-tracks facets of renewable energy planning and development, and changes in this process raise red flags with some conservation groups.

“We have concerns about how this will be implemented,” says Joel Merriman, ABC’s Bird-Smart Wind Energy Campaign Director. “A combination of aggressive timelines and the potential for automatic approvals at key steps in the process leaves the door open for wind energy facility plans to inadequately address risks to birds.”

Wind energy development is an important element of fighting climate change, but it does not come without environmental costs. ABC estimates that more than 500,000 birds are killed annually from collisions with wind turbines in the U.S. Given projected industry build-out, that figure is expected to increase to more than 1.4 million annually by 2030. Birds are also killed by powerlines installed to connect wind facilities to the energy grid, and yet others are displaced by facility development. Some species, such as Bald Eagles and Golden Eagles, are more vulnerable to turbine collisions, and due to slow reproductive rates, these birds have less capacity to recover from losses.

The Act creates a new Office of Renewable Energy Siting, which will work with other agencies to review and set conditions for proposed renewable energy projects. The input of wildlife management agencies will be crucial to ensure that birds receive adequate protection, but under the new law, these agencies are given short time windows to participate. Insufficient staffing, busy seasons, and many other factors could prevent meaningful review and input, potentially leaving birds largely out of the discussion.

Further, under the new law, local community input is substantially reduced and comes later in the planning process. This may prevent those with first-hand knowledge of local bird populations from influencing critical project elements that are determined early in the process, including facility and turbine siting.  

“A lot hinges on development of strong standards and conditions for project siting and planning,” says Merriman. “These must ensure that local bird populations are thoroughly assessed, and that turbines are not sited in high-risk areas.”

For example, in an application filed for the Heritage Wind project in western New York in mid-March, the developer proposes placing wind turbines in close proximity to a large wetland complex that includes a National Wildlife Refuge and two state Wildlife Management Areas. Important to both breeding and migratory birds, this block of habitat supports many species of conservation concern and is also considered an Important Bird Area. During the planning process, two local bird conservation organizations raised concerns about the planned facility’s proximity to these sensitive areas, but these points have not been addressed by the developer.

“The bird-related conflict that poorly sited wind facilities create is largely avoidable if good siting practices are required,” says Merriman. “The State can greatly reduce this kind of conflict by establishing no-go zones and other commonsense standards to keep turbines out of high-risk areas.”

Merriman offers some broader advice on meeting renewable energy goals: “Renewable energy development is just one piece of the climate change solution puzzle,” he says. “We encourage the State to be equally aggressive in implementing energy efficiency measures and installing distributed solar energy. Put solar panels on commercial, municipal, and residential buildings, over parking lots…anywhere they can be supported. Birds and people win when energy production is sited where it’s used, away from valuable bird habitat.”

Merriman continues, “In other arenas, New York has done great things for birds. The State can maintain this commitment by making some adjustments to the Act, such as eliminating automatic approvals and setting a positive precedent in the development of standards and conditions for wind energy projects. A recent study by Cornell Lab of Ornithology, ABC, and others shows that the United States and Canada lost nearly 3 billion birds — almost 30 percent of the total population — since 1970. It’s critical that we balance the need for renewable energy development with protecting our vulnerable bird populations.”

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American Bird Conservancy is a nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving 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.orgFacebookInstagram, and Twitter (@ABCbirds).

oxoplasma gondii: a risk for people and wildlife

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Keeping cats indoors is safer for cats, people, and wildlife. ABC has numerous resources to help pet owners transition their cats to full-time indoor living, including enrichment activities, literature, and more. Photo by Nikita Starichenko/Shutterstock

(Washington, D.C., April 14, 2020) As the COVID-19 pandemic tragically continues to threaten the lives and livelihoods of people across the globe, evidence is mounting that domestic cats and other felines may also be at risk of contracting the disease. Professional organizations and new research suggest keeping pet cats indoors to manage infection risks.

The British Veterinary Association (BVA) this week recommended that people who are self-isolating or have COVID-19 symptoms keep their cats indoors. According to BVA, it is possible that outdoor cats may carry the virus on their fur, just as the virus can live on other surfaces.

The American Veterinary Medical Association's standing policy is that pet cats be kept indoors. Their policy states that “keeping owned cats confined, such as housing them in an enriched indoor environment, in an outdoor enclosure, or exercising leash-acclimated cats, can minimize the risks to the cats, wildlife, humans, and the environment.”

For people wanting to respond to these concerns by transitioning their cats from the outdoors to indoors, whether temporarily or permanently, American Bird Conservancy (ABC) offers a range of helpful solutions on its website that were developed over years of consultation with veterinarians and pet owners.

New studies from researchers in China, where the virus was first identified, evaluated SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19, to determine host susceptibilities and to better understand how the virus may move through the environment. These studies (Luan et al. 2020Shi et al. 2020Sun et al. preprintZhang et al. preprint), taken together, concluded that domestic cats are susceptible to infection, that infections have occurred both in experimental trials and outside the laboratory, and that infected domestic cats may transmit the virus to uninfected domestic cats.

Domestic cat infections have also been recently reported in Belgium and Hong Kong. Two Malayan Tigers, two Amur Tigers, and three Lions at the Bronx Zoo in New York have also shown symptoms of infection, and the only tiger to be tested came back positive for COVID-19. It's suspected that people exposed these felines to the virus. So far, the disease does not appear to be fatal to cats, and there is no evidence that the disease has passed from cats to people.

“Keeping pet cats safely contained indoors, on a leash, or in a catio is always a great choice to protect cats, birds, and people,” said Grant Sizemore, Director of Invasive Species Programs at ABC. “At this point, it appears that keeping pet cats indoors is also the safer alternative to ensure the virus isn't accidentally picked up or transferred by the cat.”

As well as being at risk from diseases, cars, and other threats, outdoor cats kill an estimated 2.4 billion wild birds each year in the U.S. alone.

Since 1997, ABC's Cats Indoors program has supported responsible cat ownership that not only protects birds and other wildlife but also supports long, healthy lives for pet cats. Cat owners interested in bringing their cats indoors, or providing safe outdoor time for their pets, can find resources on the Cats Indoors website.

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American Bird Conservancy is a nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving 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.orgFacebookInstagram, and Twitter (@ABCbirds).

Cats and COVID-19

Information and resources for those concerned about their cats during the pandemic

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Cat on bookshelf by Nikita Starichenko Shutterstock_news.png
Keeping cats indoors is safer for cats, people, and wildlife. ABC has numerous resources to help pet owners transition their cats to full-time indoor living, including enrichment activities, literature, and more. Photo by Nikita Starichenko/Shutterstock

(Washington, D.C., April 10, 2020) As the COVID-19 pandemic tragically continues to threaten the lives and livelihoods of people across the globe, evidence is mounting that domestic cats and other felines may also be at risk of contracting the disease. Professional organizations and new research suggest keeping pet cats indoors to manage infection risks.

The British Veterinary Association (BVA) this week recommended that people who are self-isolating or have COVID-19 symptoms keep their cats indoors. According to BVA, it is possible that outdoor cats may carry the virus on their fur, just as the virus can live on other surfaces.

The American Veterinary Medical Association’s standing policy is that pet cats be kept indoors. Their policy states that “keeping owned cats confined, such as housing them in an enriched indoor environment, in an outdoor enclosure, or exercising leash-acclimated cats, can minimize the risks to the cats, wildlife, humans, and the environment.”

For people wanting to respond to these concerns by transitioning their cats from the outdoors to indoors, whether temporarily or permanently, American Bird Conservancy (ABC) offers a range of helpful solutions on its website that were developed over years of consultation with veterinarians and pet owners. 

New studies from researchers in China, where the virus was first identified, evaluated SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19, to determine host susceptibilities and to better understand how the virus may move through the environment. These studies (Luan et al. 2020; Shi et al. 2020; Sun et al. preprint; Zhang et al. preprint), taken together, concluded that domestic cats are susceptible to infection, that infections have occurred both in experimental trials and outside the laboratory, and that infected domestic cats may transmit the virus to uninfected domestic cats.

Domestic cat infections have also been recently reported in Belgium and Hong Kong. Two Malayan Tigers, two Amur Tigers, and three Lions at the Bronx Zoo in New York have also shown symptoms of infection, and the only tiger to be tested came back positive for COVID-19. It’s suspected that people exposed these felines to the virus. So far, the disease does not appear to be fatal to cats, and there is no evidence that the disease has passed from cats to people.

“Keeping pet cats safely contained indoors, on a leash, or in a catio is always a great choice to protect cats, birds, and people,” said Grant Sizemore, Director of Invasive Species Programs at ABC. “At this point, it appears that keeping pet cats indoors is also the safer alternative to ensure the virus isn’t accidentally picked up or transferred by the cat.”

As well as being at risk from diseases, cars, and other threats, outdoor cats kill an estimated 2.4 billion wild birds each year in the U.S. alone.

Since 1997, ABC’s Cats Indoors program has supported responsible cat ownership that not only protects birds and other wildlife but also supports long, healthy lives for pet cats. Cat owners interested in bringing their cats indoors, or providing safe outdoor time for their pets, can find resources on the Cats Indoors website.

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American Bird Conservancy is a nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving 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.orgFacebookInstagram, and Twitter (@ABCbirds).

 

(Washington, D.C., February 14, 2020) The Commonwealth of Virginia has announced plans to help waterbirds displaced by construction on Hampton Roads’ South Island, which has been used by more than 20,000 birds as annual breeding habitat since the 1980s. American Bird Conservancy (ABC) applauds Governor Ralph Northam and the Virginia Secretary of Natural Resources for their emergency measures, which include the creation of alternative breeding habitat for this critically important waterbird colony.

First, ABC is extremely grateful to the administration for proposing a set of measures designed to help migratory birds both in Hampton Roads and across Virginia. In particular, Virginia’s steps to create a new regulation to protect migratory birds from future industrial development will position the Commonwealth as a leader in bird conservation at a time when federal regulations to protect birds are being weakened.

Second, ABC welcomes the following package of specific measures designed to help Hampton Roads’ waterbird colony, which is the Commonwealth’s largest and includes many declining species:

  • The creation of breeding habitat at nearby Rip Raps Island (formerly known as Fort Wool) and potentially on artificial barges, which is equivalent to the area currently being utilized by terns (Common, Gull-billed, Sandwich, and Royal) on South Island; and a plan to attract the birds to the new habitat and to control predators.
  • The development of a plan to carefully discourage birds from attempting to nest on South Island this spring, since paving and construction activities will render the habitat unsuitable. Instead, the Commonwealth will encourage the birds to move to the newly created nesting habitat at Rip Raps Island.
     
  • A commitment to restore habitat on South Island post-construction to allow birds to return to nest there.
     
  • Plans to create an additional, alternate nesting island in the longer-term, which taken together with the other alternative breeding habitats created will represent a net gain for overall bird habitat in the area.

“We’re optimistic that this plan will effectively provide immediate habitat for the birds to save the 2020 nesting season, as well as a net gain of habitat in the longer term,” said Mike Parr, President of American Bird Conservancy. “Many individuals and groups have participated in the effort to help the Hampton Roads bird colony. We’re grateful for their concern and support, and we look forward to continuing our work with the Commonwealth and other public and private partners to further benefit waterbirds nesting in Virginia and elsewhere.”


American Bird Conservancy invests in on-the-ground conservation for the Townsend’s Shearwater and other endangered species

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The Townsend’s Shearwater, along with several other seabird species, will benefit from on-the-ground conservation work and financial support from American Bird Conservancy. Photo by GECI, J.A. Soriano

(Washington, D.C., May 30, 2019)Today, American Bird Conservancy (ABC) announced awards totaling $100,000 to restore important seabird nesting colonies in Mexico, Peru, Chile, and the Dominican Republic. The awards will leverage additional matching funds, putting a total of $243,000 on the ground for direct conservation. Through this effort, ABC and partners are investing in the future of some of the Western Hemisphere’s most imperiled seabirds, including the Townsend’s Shearwater, Guadalupe Murrelet, Ashy Storm-Petrel, Townsend’s Storm-Petrel, Peruvian Diving-Petrel, and Black-capped Petrel. These species are listed as Endangered and Critically Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Some of the nesting sites where the projects will occur are globally recognized for their unique biodiversity through the Alliance for Zero Extinction.

These restoration grants, the first of their kind offered by ABC, address an urgent need for increased investment in capacity for seabird restoration, particularly in South America, where 38 globally threatened seabirds occur amidst unaddressed and growing threats, such as introduced predators.

Support for local initiatives is a key focus of these awards. “We are pleased to provide funds to dedicated local conservationists, many of whom are the only individuals or groups working to protect seabirds in their countries,” says Hannah Nevins, ABC’s Seabird Program Director.

Awards include:

  • MexicoYuliana Bedolla and Federico Mendez of Grupo Ecología y Conservación de las Islas (GECI) will lead a project focused on restoration and monitoring on seven Mexican islands to protect four globally threatened seabird species. GECI is globally recognized for its expertise in eradicating nonnative species from islands. The project will benefit the Critically Endangered Townsend’s Shearwater and Endangered Guadalupe Murrelet, Ashy Storm-Petrel, and Townsend’s Storm-Petrel. Social attraction and artificial burrows will be used to attract birds to nest sites protected from nonnative predators.
     
  • Peru – This project will support conservation of the Endangered Peruvian Diving-Petrel by providing baseline information on nonnative rodent impacts at the birds’ island nesting sites. It will also create a framework to communicate the need for conservation action, including invasive rodent eradication, on two important seabird islands off the Peruvian coast in the Reserva Nacional de Paracas. This effort will be led by Dr. Carlos Zavalaga of Universidad Científica del Sur, Marine Ecosystems Research Unit - Seabird Group, and Dr. Joanna Alfaro of ProDelphinus, in Lima, Peru.
     
  • Chile – Social attraction techniques that broadcast bird calls to simulate the sounds of an active colony will be used to attract Endangered Peruvian Diving-Petrels to the island of Chañaral, which was formerly home to the world’s largest nesting colony of the species, but is now empty. An earlier project to eradicate habitat-damaging nonnative rabbits has made the island safe for the birds to return. This work will be led by Coral Wolf of Island Conservation in collaboration with local partner Dr. Claudia Fernández Zamora of Universidad Católica del Norte, Coquimbo, Chile.
     
  • Dominican Republic – A team, led by Ernst Rupp of the conservation nonprofit Grupo Jaragua and Dr. Yvan Satgé from the South Carolina Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit at Clemson University, will work in the Sierra de Bahoruco to protect the few known nesting sites of the Endangered Black-capped Petrelby controlling nonnative predators.

“For species such as the Black-capped Petrel, few nesting sites have been found, so it is critical to protect each and every known site. The clock is ticking loudly for this species. Adult birds return every year to the same burrow and are subject to an onslaught of threats — human disturbance, agricultural encroachment, forest fires, and nonnative predators,” says Nevins.

Seabirds are among the most imperiled groups of birds. About one-third of seabird species are in decline worldwide due the above-mentioned threats, along with sea-level rise, reduction of prey due to overfishing, and fisheries bycatch. Most seabirds nest on or under the ground in burrows, where they are especially vulnerable to nonnative predators, including feral cats, mongooses, rats, and mice.

“Through these awards, ABC seeks to promote the kind of coordinated, large-scale efforts needed to conserve seabird nesting colonies,” added Dr. George Wallace, ABC’s Threatened Species Conservation Officer. “The goal is to ensure that our children will see these magnificent species persist into the next century and beyond.”

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American Bird Conservancy is a nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving 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.orgFacebookInstagram, and Twitter (@ABCbirds).

 

                                                                                                      

Greater Sage-Grouse populations remain in serious trouble. Photo by Tom Reichner/Shutterstock

The Administration has finalized major changes to the 2015 Greater Sage-Grouse conservation plans. These changes gut vital protections for the grouse; undermine the deal made by Western states and federal officials; and create uncertainty for millions of Westerners and the bird.

 

The revised plans eliminate vital protections for the sage-grouse. Specifically, most of the Sagebrush Focal Areas — 8.7 million acres of the key habitat for grouse and some 350 other species that were off limits to immediate development in the original plans — are now exposed to increased oil and gas extraction and other energy development.

 

“Federal administrators began dismantling safeguards put in place by the 2015 plans as soon as they could, removing each layer of conservation management and mitigation,” said Steve Holmer, Vice President of Policy for American Bird Conservancy. “Now grouse populations are declining across their range and have nearly disappeared from Washington State and the Dakotas. The trend is ominous.”

 

“These changes will put the grouse back on a path toward needing an Endangered Species Act (ESA) listing,” said Mike Parr, ABC President. “That’s exactly the outcome that the 2015 cooperative plans had sought to prevent.”

 

Please see additional ABC information on sage-grouse:

Op-Ed: Will Federal Policies Doom the Sage-Grouse to Extinction?

Petition to Save the Grouse

 

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American Bird Conservancy is dedicated to conserving 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 FacebookInstagram, and Twitter (@abcbirds).

 

 

 

The Scarlet Tanager is just one of 386 migratory bird species that will benefit from passage of the Natural Resources Management Act. Photo by Dan Behm

(Washington, DC, February 25, 2019) Passage of the Natural Resources Management Act (S. 47), expected tomorrow in the U.S. House of Representatives, will signify a bipartisan win for birds and people, and a step in the right direction toward advancing wildlife conservation and recreation initiatives. The bill passed the Senate with a vote of 98-2.

American Bird Conservancy (ABC) strongly believes that passing this bill is essential to achieving our nation’s conservation goals, which support our environment and our economy, through bird-related recreation totaling billions of dollars annually.

The bill includes permanent reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), which supports the protection of federal public lands and waters. It also designates wilderness areas, monuments, and other public lands that will help conserve habitat for birds and other wildlife.

Birds will also benefit from the bill’s reauthorization of the Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act (NMBCA), which provides direct conservation support for 386 bird species and their habitats in Central and South America, where many birds winter. The Scarlet Tanager, Wood Thrush, and Cerulean Warbler are just a few examples of bird species that benefit from the NMBCA.

“Thanks to NMBCA funding, we have created a network of reserves to provide essential wintering habitat,” said Andrew Rothman, ABC’s Migratory Bird Program Director. “The NMBCA is one of very few sources of funding available to help protect the full life cycle of migratory birds in the Western Hemisphere. These species engage in one of the greatest animal migrations on the planet. NMBCA is the lifeline for our migratory birds.”

Since 2002, the NMBCA has supported 570 conservation projects — including habitat protection, monitoring, research, and education — on more than 4.5 million acres of critical bird habitat across 36 countries.

The 2016 State of the Birds Report found that over one-third of North America’s bird species are in decline or facing serious threats.

“This decline signals a broader crisis that Congress has now, through its support of the Natural Resources Management Act, acted upon to help reverse,” said Jennifer Cipolletti, Director of Conservation Advocacy for ABC. “Birds are sensitive indicators of how we are protecting our environment as a whole, so this is an important step and a big win, not only for birds, but for the economy as well.”

American Bird Conservancy applauds the broad bipartisan support for public lands and migratory birds in Congress and across a diverse coalition of conservation and recreation interests. Thanks to this support, the Natural Resources Management Act will preserve vital conservation funding for the country’s birds and the critical habitats they depend upon.

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American Bird Conservancy is dedicated to conserving 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.orgFacebookInstagram, and Twitter (@abcbirds).

“World’s Rarest Bird” Sighted in Brazil

 

Existence of Female Stresemann’s Bristlefront Renews Hope for Species’ Survival

 

Contact: Amy Upgren, American Bird Conservancy, Alliance for Zero Extinction Program Officer, Phone: 540-253-5780 | Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

 

Alexander Zaidan of Fundação Biodiversitas photographed this female Stresemann’s Bristlefront on Dec. 12, 2018 re-confirming the species’ existence. Hear a recording of the bird.

(Washington, D.C., December 20, 2018) An individual Stresemann’s Bristlefront, one of the world’s most endangered birds, was recently observed in Brazil after months of searches had come up empty. Sightings of the female bristlefront on December 12th and 14th in fragments of habitat in Bahia, Brazil, have renewed hope that there is still time to save this remarkable, ground-nesting songbird from extinction. With only one currently known individual, this may well be the world’s rarest bird — although researchers do hope to find more individuals in the near future.

 

American Bird Conservancy (ABC) and its partner organization in Brazil, Fundação Biodiversitas, have been on high alert about the species’ population, which numbered as few as 15 in recent years. In a bid to assess the current population, Fundação Biodiversitas, supported by ABC, sent a team this fall to scour the species’ remaining habitat, which includes forest within and outside of the Mata do Passarinho, or “Songbird Forest,” Reserve.  After several unsuccessful searches, the female bristlefront was seen outside the reserve’s boundaries by Alexander Zaidan of Fundação Biodiversitas and researcher Marcos Rezende Peres.  The team also obtained a recording of the bird.

 

Alexander Zaidan (left) and Marcos Rezende Peres (right) in the field after finding the bristlefront.

 

Notoriously difficult to detect, the Stresemann's Bristlefront has gone missing previously. It had been undetected for more than 50 years when it was rediscovered in 1995, also in the Brazilian state of Bahia.In 2007, Fundação Biodiversitas, with support from ABC, Rainforest Trust, and other organizations, established the Mata do Passarinho Reserve to safeguard habitat for this and other rare species, such as the Banded Cotinga. The reserve preserves an important fragment of Atlantic Forest — one of the most threatened biomes in the world, with less than 10 percent of its original habitat remaining.

 

About the size of a Gray Catbird or Northern Cardinal, the Stresemann’s Bristlefront is named for the stiff bristles on its face and is classified as a tapaculo — one in a family of 50-plus species found mainly in South America and known for their skulking habits. Unlike most songbirds, this species nests in underground tunnels.

 

Many details of this bird’s life history remain a mystery, but before these details can be studied, the species' drop toward extinction must be halted. For now, the best chance at saving this species is to protect its remaining habitat.

 

With a dangerously small population, even slight disturbances could have major impacts on this species, as recent events have illustrated. Over the last five years, this region of northeastern Brazil has suffered an unprecedented drought so severe that it dried up the reserve’s streams. In 2016, fires spread into the reserve, damaging important habitat. Reserve staff report that they saw bristlefronts after the fires, but additional searches in 2017 failed to detect the birds within or near the reserve.

 

“Although we are relieved that the Stresemann’s Bristlefront continues to survive, the species’ future remains precarious,” said Amy Upgren, Alliance for Zero Extinction (AZE) Program Officer at ABC. “Much more work needs to be done to locate additional individuals and protect additional habitat.”

 

“Conservationists have recovered a number of bird species from tiny populations, including the Seychelles Magpie-Robin, Whooping Crane, and Lear’s Macaw. We are hopeful that if we can find more birds and take significant action quickly, this bristlefront population can also grow,” said Gláucia Drummond, Executive Director of Fundação Biodiversitas.

 

“ABC and our partners across the hemisphere are working hard to conserve this and other bird species on the brink of extinction, and to make sure other species don’t decline to such dangerously low population levels,” said Daniel Lebbin, ABC Vice President of Threatened Species.  

 

Searches are continuing in hopes of locating other bristlefronts, including the female’s mate. ABC and partners are also creating an emergency action plan to protect more habitat. To support these efforts, please contact Amy Upgren.

 

Work to conserve this area and species is supported by a Global Environment Facility (GEF)-funded project, in partnership with UN Environment and BirdLife International, as well as David and Patricia Davidson.

 

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American Bird Conservancyis a non-profit organization dedicated to conserving 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.orgFacebookInstagram, and Twitter (@ABCbirds).

Fundação Biodiversitas' mission is the conservation of Brazilian biodiversity. A nongovernmental organization based in Belo Horizonte, Biodiversitas has promoted science-based conservation in Brazil since 1989 and acts as a reference center for the collection and application of scientific knowledge.

 

 

Fiserv Forum uses glass visible to birds, minimizes disorienting light

 

Contact: Bryan Lenz, American Bird Conservancy Bird Collisions Campaign Manager, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. | Barry Baum, Fiserv Forum Senior Vice President of Communications, 414-908-3781 (office), 917-847-1737 (cell), This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

Fiserv Forum was built with windows that deter bird collisions. Credit: Milwaukee Bucks/Kenny Yoo

 

(Milwaukee, Wisconsin, October 24, 2018) – The Milwaukee Bucks have achieved a first with their new arena: Fiserv Forum will be the world’s first bird-friendly sports and entertainment arena, upon completion of the Bucks’ application for LEED Silver® certification.

 

This is a significant victory for bird conservation because up to 1 billion birds die annually after colliding with glass in the United States. Scientists estimate that this staggering total likely accounts for 5 to 10 percent of the birds in the United States and contributes to ongoing declines in bird populations across North America.

 

Addressing collisions is vitally important not only because of the inherent value of birds, but also because birds reduce pest populations, pollinate plants, disperse seeds, provide other natural services, and captivate tens of millions of Americans with their beauty and fascinating behavior.

 

“The Milwaukee Bucks’ bold decision to build the world’s first bird-friendly arena speaks volumes about the ownership’s character, concern for the environment, and desire to be a part of a green community,” said Bird City Wisconsin’s former director Bryan Lenz, who recently joined the staff of American Bird Conservancy (ABC) as its Collisions Campaign Manager. “The Bucks stepped up for birds in a way that no sports franchise ever has. Hopefully the team’s message, that designing with birds in mind is an achievable goal, will set Fiserv Forum up as a model for arenas, stadiums, and all other buildings for years to come.”

 

The 17,500-seat Fiserv Forum is located in the heart of Milwaukee, which is a Bird City Wisconsin community. The arena was designed to achieve the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program (LEED) Bird Collision Deterrence credit (SSpc55), which was created in partnership with ABC. Credit SSpc55 has already been approved on the pending LEED application for Fiserv Forum.

 

“Bird City Wisconsin came to us three years ago to educate us on migration and best practices,” said Milwaukee Bucks President Peter Feigin. “We were able to integrate many of their suggestions in the design phase of the project.”

 

The American Robin is Wisconsin’s state bird and a member of the thrush family. Thrushes, like Wood Thrush and Swainson’s Thrush, are frequent victims of glass collisions. Photo by Michael Stubblefield

Buildings that achieve the Bird Collision Deterrence credit address the primary reasons that birds collide with buildings: reflective and see-through glass and lighting that disorients birds during their nocturnal spring and fall migrations. Wisconsin Humane Society will also work with the Bucks to monitor Fiserv Forum for collisions, following a plan designed in partnership with Bird City Wisconsin and ABC.

 

“When glass or other glass-like materials are employed in venue design, it’s vital to balance insulation and reflectivity to create an ideal environment both inside and out, for people and for local wildlife,” said Heather Stewart, Senior Associate at Populous, the architectural design firm used for Fiserv Forum. “We are proud to hear that other sports venues are looking toward Fiserv Forum as the new standard for bird-friendly design around the globe.” 

 

Bird City Wisconsin first approached the Bucks about a bird-friendly arena in mid-2015. This community conservation organization, a program of Milwaukee Audubon Society, recognizes communities for bird-focused conservation and education actions that help create a healthy environment both for birds and people. Bird City Wisconsin works tirelessly to help the 109 Bird City communities across Wisconsin do all they can to further bird conservation.

 

A number of organizations played critical roles in the construction of the world’s first bird-friendly arena, including Bucks’ leadership, Populous, CAA ICON, Bird City Wisconsin, ABC, Eppstein Uhen, Mortenson, M-E Engineers, France Sustainable Solutions, and HNTB. All of the partners finished the design process with newfound knowledge on how to build and operate buildings with birds in mind knowledge that they will carry to future projects.

 

“So many sports teams use animals and birds as mascots; this approach just makes perfect sense for them,” said Michael Parr, President of ABC. “Surely no sports teams want to kill wild birds at their facilities. The Bucks are showing the way. I am betting some good karma will head their way for this in coming seasons!”

 

Fiserv Forum is registered with the certification goal of LEED Silver® and includes many other efforts that demonstrate that Bucks’ ownership is serious about reducing the team’s environmental footprint. Among these are landscaping with native plants, operations that avoid use of straws and other petroleum products, a composting program, and low-flow toilets. Fiserv Forum was also built using high-recycled content, regionally sourced materials, and low-emission products that help provide healthy indoor air quality for staff and guests.  

 

During the upcoming season, the Bucks will provide online information about their LEED/Green Initiatives and offer LEED/Green tours of Fiserv Forum.

 

“The Milwaukee Bucks have demonstrated outstanding conservation leadership and shown that it is possible to build a world-class facility with birds in mind,” Lenz said. “We hope that their example will inspire others to take action.”

 

ABC is dedicated to conserving birds and their habitats throughout the Americas, with an emphasis on achieving results and working in partnership. One of ABC’s main goals is to eliminate threats to birds, including collisions with buildings and other infrastructure. ABC has contributed to making facilities safer for birds nationwide, from partnering to develop the Bird Collision Deterrence LEED credit to working on the Federal Bird-Safe Buildings Act that has been introduced in both the House (H.R. 2542) and Senate (S. 1920) in the U.S. Congress. ABC has also helped individual organizations, such as Northwestern University and Key West International Airport, make their buildings safe for birds.

 

Collisions at homes and low-rise buildings combined account for the majority of U.S. bird-glass collisions — and they can be prevented. To learn how you can apply attractive, inexpensive treatments to your windows to reduce the threat that they pose to birds, visit www.birdsmartglass.org.

 

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About American Bird Conservancy

American Bird Conservancy is dedicated to conserving 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).

 

About Bird City Wisconsin

Bird City Wisconsin, a program of Milwaukee Audubon Society, recognizes Wisconsin municipalities for the conservation and education activities that make their communities healthy for both birds and people. Bird City also offers High Flyer recognition for communities that go above and beyond in their conservation and education programs. To date, 109 communities have been recognized as Bird Cities, while 23 communities have qualified for High Flyer status. Find us at birdcitywisconsin.org and on Facebook.

 

About Fiserv Forum

Fiserv Forum is a preeminent sports and entertainment arena in downtown Milwaukee that opened on Aug. 26, 2018. Designed by Populous, Eppstein Uhen Architects, and HNTB, the venue offers incomparable sightlines, customer service, technology, and amenities. Fiserv Forum includes 17,500 seats for basketball and up to 18,000 for concerts, with 34 luxury suites and three clubs. The new venue hosts a diverse variety of events, including the Milwaukee Bucks, Marquette University men’s basketball, major concerts, family shows, and other sports and entertainment events. Founding Partners for Fiserv Forum include BMO Harris Bank, Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin, Johnson Controls, and Miller Brewing Company.

 

For more information on Fiserv Forum, please visit: fiservforum.com.

 

 

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