Here are eight recent stories from the world of birds and birding, some of which are updates of news we’ve previously covered.
French president approves bird poaching
From BirdLife Europe and Central Asia: “Unbelievable but true: French President Emmanuel Macron is endorsing bird poaching! The day after the World Conservation Union’s World Congress in Marseille, where he declared his determination to raise the stakes of biodiversity protection to the level of the battle against climate change, and on the eve of his presidency of the European Union, the French President is preparing to authorize the trapping of more than 110,000 wild birds, even though the French Council of State and the European Court of Justice have recently declared this practice illegal.”
The draft orders authorize people to trap Eurasian Skylarks, Northern Lapwings, Song Thrushes, and a few other species. Read more here.
Here’s background info about the songbird poaching crisis in the Mediterranean.
AOS update on bird names
In a blog post published Thursday, the American Ornithological Society provided an update on the issue of changing the common names of birds that are named after people (eponyms or honorific names). In describing an ad-hoc committee that will address this topic, which we reported on back in May, AOS said: “The general charge of this new committee is to develop a process that will allow the American Ornithological Society to change harmful and exclusionary English bird names in a thoughtful and proactive way for species within AOS’s purview. The committee will investigate, evaluate, and determine best practices for broadening participation and perspectives in the process of changing English bird names.”
The AOS also says in bold letters, “we need to get this right.” So, things are moving forward, but slowly.
Audubon employees approve union
On Thursday morning, workers at the national headquarters of the National Audubon Society voted overwhelmingly in favor of forming a union, 90-14, in an official National Labor Relations Board election, capping the workers’ year-long effort to secure stronger healthcare, job security, and a voice at the table for all workers regardless of race, gender, or background. In total, 131 Audubon workers in New York, Washington, D.C., and remote offices will join the Communications Workers of America (CWA), which will represent them in upcoming contract negotiations.
Audubon joins several other environmental groups, including The Center for Biological Diversity, Sunrise Movement, the Sierra Club, 350.org and Greenpeace, whose workers have recently formed unions. Audubon workers add to the growing number of conservationists and climate activists paving the way for a stronger alliance between labor and environmentalism.
“This union isn’t just a win for workers — it’s a win for the birds as well,” said Shyamlee Patel, a finance associate at Audubon. “The protections provided by a union will give us the peace of mind in our personal and work lives so that we can focus on the original mission of Audubon that we are all passionate about: protecting birds and their ecosystems.”
And speaking of Audubon, its first ever virtual convention is scheduled for October 1-2.
Lawsuit threatened over bird-killing lights
About a week ago, conservation groups in Hawai‘i represented by Earthjustice sent a notice of intent to sue the a resort for violations of the Endangered Species Act if the hotel does not fix its lights that are killing native seabirds.
For more than a decade, bright lights at the Grand Wailea Resort on Maui have harmed endangered ʻuaʻu, or Hawaiian Petrels, by disorienting the seabirds as they navigate between breeding colonies and the ocean.
“After decades of Endangered Species Act violations, it is well beyond time for the Grand Wailea Resort to change its ways. There are commonsense fixes the Grand Wailea can make to become a responsible neighbor and protect Hawai‘i’s imperiled seabirds,” said Leināʻala Ley, an attorney in Earthjustice’s mid-Pacific office. “Otherwise, we risk losing species like the Hawaiian Petrel, a unique bird that lives nowhere else on earth.”
The petrel’s world population is estimated somewhere between 7,500 and 16,600 mature individuals.
Barred Owl carried poison before being hit by vehicle
As reported this week by The City, the Barred Owl of Central Park in New York that died on August 6 after being hit by a park maintenance vehicle “carried a potentially lethal level of rat poison that could have impaired her flying, a necropsy shows.”
While the owl died of blunt-force trauma, “veterinarians who performed the necropsy also found high levels of rat poison in Barry’s bloodstream, putting her at risk for a ‘fatal hemorrhage’ even without the collision, the report found.” The City also quotes the necropsy report: “The bromadiolone [rat poison] level is potentially lethal but it is unclear if it played a role in the death of this owl, i.e. was the anticoagulant affecting the owl’s ability to avoid collision with the vehicle?”
Texas bird preserve spared from wall construction
An article by KRGV, the local ABC station in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas, says that the nonprofit Valley Land Fund will not lose the Salineno Bird Preserve, which the federal government had attempted take through a condemnation order for border-wall construction.
Valley Land Fund Director Debratee Garcia-Rodriguez told the station: “When you think of the Valley and how we only have 3 to 5% of native habitat… it is a big deal. Whether it’s a bird and amphibian or the Texas tortoise, they need the habitat to survive in.”
Global Bird Weekend is coming up
Global Bird Weekend is happening in two weeks: October 8-10. On Friday, October 8, Swarovski Optik will host a Birding Live on Location session on Facebook. It’ll begin at 7:30 a.m. Eastern time. Here’s the description: “In the first half of the show, we will be in Sri Lanka, India, South Africa, England, Scotland, and Spain, before moving to Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, and the USA for the second half. We expect the show to be action-packed and wonderfully diverse.”
And Sunday is the day for sharing birds with others. The organizers write: “We share this day with the World Health Organization’s World Mental Health Day. If you have any plans for sharing your passion for birds on Sunday, such as taking a group out for a guided walk in your area or sharing your photography or other creative skills, that would be incredible. It would be amazing to give someone new to exploring birds a chance to experience the benefits of nature alongside valuable knowledge and guidance.”
Birdability Week slated for mid-October
Our friends at the wonderful Birdability nonprofit group are planning for October 18-24 as its second annual Birdability Week.
“Birdability Week is a celebration of birders with disabilities and other health concerns, and an opportunity to share resources and ideas to help the birding community be accessible, inclusive and welcoming to everybody and every body! An annual event held in October and supported by National Audubon, it was inspired by #BlackBirdersWeek, Latino Conservation Week and Let’s Go Birding Together.”