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A BirdWire News Bulletin from American Bird Conservancy August 25, 2005 9:22 AM

First South American Reserve for North American Songbird

American Bird Conservancy (ABC) and Colombian conservation group, Fundación ProAves, announce the creation of South America’s first protected area for a songbird that breeds exclusively in North America. The reserve will protect wintering habitat for the Cerulean Warbler, a striking bright blue and white migratory bird that has experienced significant population decreases in recent years, mainly due to loss of habitat on both its nesting grounds in North America and wintering grounds in South America.

The Cerulean Warbler nests in the eastern United States and Canada from the lower Great Lakes region, southern Quebec and New England, south to northern Louisiana and northwestern Georgia. The species also ranges east to New York, Maryland, and Virginia.

The new reserve currently includes 500 acres of subtropical forest in the Rio Chucurí basin of Santander, Colombia. The area, one of the last natural remnant forest fragments in the region, shelters high populations of wintering Cerulean Warblers. The reserve also contains three Critically Endangered bird species: the Gorgeted Wood-Quail, Mountain Grackle, and Chestnut-bellied Hummingbird, along with many other threatened and endemic birds.

The Rio Chucurí reserve will form the central core of a continuing regional conservation campaign for the warbler. Another key area for wintering Ceruleans, southwestern Antioquia, Colombia, has been targeted by ABC for further conservation efforts. Join ABC to support work on this and other important projects. To join on our secure online server, go to: www.abcbirds.org/membership

Call for Horseshoe Crab Take Moratorium

The rufa subspecies of the Red Knot is in danger of extinction, according to Larry Niles, Chief Biologist for New Jersey’s Department of Fish and Game, and many other scientists. The decline of this shorebird is due primarily to the overfishing of horseshoe crabs for use as bait in conch and eel pots, prompting conservationists from around the world to call for a moratorium on the harvesting of these ancient creatures.

Each spring, the Red Knot undertakes a nearly 10,000 mile migration from its wintering grounds at the southern tip of Argentina to its breeding grounds in the Arctic. Along with other migrating shorebirds, the knot times its migration to coincide with horseshoe crab spawning in Delaware Bay. In a matter of days, the birds must double their weight by gorging themselves on crab eggs if they are to complete the final leg of this marathon journey.

The decline in the Red Knot tracks the dramatic increase in the take of horseshoe crabs that started in the early 1990s, and the resulting decrease in the supply of crab eggs. According to scientists, the number of Red Knots stopping in the bay has dropped from approximately 100,000 in 1989 to fewer than 15,000 in 2004.

Conservation organizations, led by ABC, New Jersey Audubon, and Defenders of Wildlife, have called for an emergency moratorium on the take of horseshoe crabs in Delaware Bay, to be kept in place until both the horseshoe crabs and the knot have recovered. There is currently a ban on the take of horseshoe crabs during the peak shorebird migration period and horseshoe crab spawning season, but conservationists believe this is insufficient to save the knot. Although New Jersey responded to the crisis by extending this year’s ban by two weeks, this extension has now ended and crabs are once again being caught, diminishing the supply of egg-laying females for next year.

Some 1,900 emails supporting the moratorium were sent to the Governors of Delaware and New Jersey by concerned BirdWire subscribers. On June 30, New Jersey legislators sent a letter to Interior Secretary Norton requesting immediate action to prevent the extinction of the Red Knot.

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 August 25, 2005 9:23 AM

To support the campaign visit www.saveourbirds.org.

BirdWire is a free service provided by American Bird Conservancy. ABC's is a non-profit organization whose mission is to conserve wild birds and their habitats throughout the Americas. To join ABC click here. To unsubscribe, click here and scroll to the bottom of the page.

New Nature Reserve in Abra Patricia, Peru

Partnering through their joint initiative Conserving Biodiversity in the Tropical Andes, ABC and the Peruvian organization Asociación Ecosistemas Andinos (ECOAN) have created a new reserve in the Northern Andes for the conservation of the endangered Long-whiskered Owlet and other rare birds.

Encompassing nearly 1,250 acres of pristine Peruvian yungas forest located in the buffer zone of the Alto Mayo Protected Forest, the reserve at Abra Patricia is the only known site for the owlet, conferring upon it status as an Alliance for Zero Extinction site (see www.zeroextinction.org). The reserve is also home to several other rare and endemic bird species such as the Ochre-fronted Antpitta, Royal Sunangel, and Lulu’s Tody-tyrant, along with migratory songbirds that breed in the U.S. and Canada. 

The land purchase was made through a generous grant from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, and became a possibility because six local farm families elected to negotiate a deal with a conservation organization rather than a timber company that also offered to buy the land. This bold action has since generated the interest of other stakeholders who see an opportunity to protect significant tracts of natural forest in the upper watershed of the Nieva River.

Plans for the reserve’s expansion are underway, including the acquisition of new private lands and the potential for conservation concession on public lands, pending negotiations with national authorities. Soon a management plan will be prepared with the participation of local authorities, community leaders, and conservation groups.

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