Several Birds for "Winged Wednesday.
"The spectacular Blue-throated Macaw is one of two highly threatened macaws endemic to Bolivia. It inhabits scattered “islands” of palms and riparian areas amidst the wet savannas of the Beni department in northeastern Bolivia. These macaws feed primarily on the fruits of the Motacú Palm, sometimes flying miles over open grassland to find fruiting trees.
One of the chief threats to the Blue-throated Macaw, poaching, has been addressed by legislation outside of Bolivia. Both the U.S. Wild Bird Conservation Act of 1992 and Europe’s 2007 ban on the import of wild birds have helped halt the trafficking of this and other endangered birds.
ABC and partners have also worked to educate local communities about the plight of this species. ABC’s Bolivian partner, Asociación Armonía, and the European conservation group Loro Parque Fundacion have successfully promoted the creation and use of attractive, colorful, artificial feathers for use in ceremonial headdresses in Bolivia, traditionally made with the central tail feathers taken from multiple parrots.
ABC also helped Armonía create and expand the 11,555-acre Blue-throated Macaw Reserve, where the largest population of the macaw is located. A recently built field station houses researchers conducting studies on fire management, the use of nest boxes, and other conservation techniques. Plans are in place to build an ecolodge that will contribute to the reserve’s financial sustainability."
"The Waved is the only albatross species that breeds in the equatorial region. It prefers to nest in sparsely vegetated areas maintained by native giant tortoises. However, the tortoises have declined throughout the Galápagos, and the albatrosses are now forced to nest in ever-thicker scrub, which may entangle and trap chicks.
The bird is sometimes captured for human consumption in Peru, though this practice seems to have declined steeply in recent years thanks to the concerted efforts of ABC partner Pro Delphinus. Accidental bycatch has also been found to be a major source of adult mortality. Since 2007, ABC has been working with Pro Delphinus and Ecuadorian NGO Equilibrio Azul to collect data from the observers aboard the fishing fleets of northern Peru and southern Ecuador, where significant Waved Albatross bycatch was documented for the first time in 2009.
ABC and partners are now working to develop bycatch reduction strategies with the fishermen and the Ecuadorian government. ABC, Equilibrio Azul, and Island Conservation have also collaborated on local education initiatives and invasive species removal on Isla de la Plata.
Conservation of the Waved Albatross is an important focus of the international Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels (ACAP), which is having its annual meeting in Ecuador for the first time in September 2011, but to which the U.S. has yet to become a party."
More about The Waved Albatross
Photo: Robert Medina, fisheries technician, preparing to begin the haul, with an hake fisherman from Santa Rosa, Ecuador. Note the Waved Albatrosses in the water, waiting for the action to start. Darquea, Equilibrio Azul, November 2010.
"The Waved Albatross has a global population estimated to be fewer than 35,000 individuals. The species was recently uplisted to Critically Endangered under IUCN World Conservation Union criteria due to evidence of a 42% decline between the years 1994-2007. Although lacking definitive evidence, ABC suspects that accidental bycatch on the hooks of small, artisanal South American fishing boats could have a significant impact on adult survivorship.
In 2007, ABC collaborated with Equilibrio Azul to gather the first data from fishermen in southern Ecuador. Approximately one-third of the fishermen interviewed said that they had accidentally caught an albatross while fishing. With this new information, ABC and Equilibrio Azul went on to identify the fisheries that have the most seabird interactions and when they occur, and to develop mitigation measures that will help lessen the bycatch.
Since 2008, Equilibrio Azul has operated an on-board observer program out of Ecuador’s largest artisanal port, Santa Rosa.
They have observed more than 600 line sets, and documented the accidental deaths of more than a dozen Waved Albatrosses, indicating a rate of accidental capture may easily explain the decline in adult survivorship.
In the fall of 2010, Equilibrio Azul conducted a series of lineweighting experiments designed to reduce bycatch by making the gear sink faster and reducing gear tangles and handling time during the haul, when the most birds are caught. Throughout 2011, ABC and Equilibrio Azul will be disseminating the best practices they have developed through a fishermen education campaign, and working with the fishermen and authorities to ensure that the modifications are adopted."
Providing a Safe Haven for Migrants
"While Protecting the Worthen’s Sparrow in 2005, ABC helped the Mexican conservation organization Pronatura Noreste acquire 585 acres of high-elevation grasslands to form the El Cercado Reserve, located in the northeastern region of Chihuahua.
These once-flourishing grasslands had been grazed down to bare, dusty ground by cattle and other introduced livestock, leaving only a few scraggly yuccas and cacti behind.
Conservation of this area was of special concern to ABC and other organizations due to its importance as a wintering site for the AZE-listed Worthen’s Sparrow, which forms flocks of up to 100 individuals there in the fall and winter, but also because of its significance for many species of U.S. migrants.
El Cercado lies within a larger region of grassy plains known as the Chihuahuan Desert Grasslands. Over 75 percent of the migratory grassland birds from the northern Great Plains, including Mountain Plover, Longbilled Curlew, Upland Sandpiper, Burrowing Owl, Loggerhead Shrike, three species of Sparrows (Grasshopper, Baird’s, and Lark), and Chestnutcollared Longspur, spend the winter in this region, which encompasses the southern United States and northern Mexico. Severe population declines in many of these species over the last four decades – some by as much as 80 percent – are probably due at least in part to loss of this critical wintering habitat."
Photo: Grasshopper Sparrow: Bill Hubick
"Wintering and resident birds alike must compete with agricultural interests for habitat here, since these broad, flat lands are highly sought after by farmers for growing potatoes. These grasslands will – with enough irrigation – produce only a few crops of potatoes before salts accumulate in the soil and the land becomes unfarmable. The continued use of groundwater for irrigation is unsustainable, however, as very little rain falls in this arid climate."
Photo: A 2010 satellite tracking project conducted by José Ignacio González of the University of Nuevo León and funded in part by a Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act grant, showed that wintering Long-billed Curlews spend most of their time in the remaining grasslands and little in areas developed for agriculture.
"When spring arrives and neotropical migrants return to their nesting grounds in the U.S., flocks of Worthen’s Sparrows disperse to find suitable breeding sites. Although not a migrant, the Worthen’s is a “rainfall nomad”, appearing to seek out spots throughout the region that get the most moisture.
They will breed in brushy or weedy areas near grasslands created and maintained by endemic Mexican prairie dogs, (photo) which play an important role in creating and maintaining this ecosystem. In addition to the Long-billed Curlew, protection of these expansive areas also safeguards essential winter"
Photo: Wintering Long-billed Curlews, Nuevo León, México. Photo: Gabriel Ruiz, Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León
"With 8,000 Long-billed Curlews (40% of the U.S. population) and over 1,500 Mountain Plover recorded wintering in the Chihuahuan Grasslands, it’s no wonder that they have been recognized by the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network (www.whsrn.org) as a site of international importance, and by the Commission for Environmental Cooperation as a Grassland Priority Conservation Area for the North American Bird Conservation."
"The male Baltimore Oriole is an especially striking bird, sporting a vivid plumage of
flame-oranges, snowy whites, and deepest blacks. These colors resemble those on the coat-of-arms of Lord Baltimore, from which the bird takes its name.
It is the state bird of Maryland, and even has a baseball team named for it (go Baltimore Orioles!). Each spring, the male’s melodious, flutelike whistles proclaim its return to its nesting grounds in the treetops of deciduous woods throughout the eastern and central United States.
Their tightly-constructed, purse-like nests, woven primarily by the female from long plant fibers, vine bark, hair, and sometimes yarn, are lined with hair, wool, and fine grasses, and are a common sight throughout the summer as the birds hatch and rear the
The Baltimore Oriole’s diet consists of caterpillars, moths, beetles, ants, and other insects. They will also consume fruits and nectar, and regularly appear at hummingbird
and fruit feeders.
This oriole is a true neotropical migrant, making the long and perilous journey each spring from non-breeding grounds in Mexico, and Central and South America to breeding territories in the United States, then back again when the nesting season is over.
Human-caused hazards, such as collisions with buildings, towers, cars, and windows, take their toll on this species, along with loss of habitat on their wintering grounds."
Misty rode in the van's passenger seat when I went to pick up Jay She had never done that before, as the other time she was in the van was when I took Misty and Paco, in carriers, to my daughter's lake house at Lake Somerville. That got her exited, as she thought she was going on a road trip. I had to take the van, so we could load Jay's mother's dishwasher in the back, so Misty was mystified when we arrived at the same old place that we go most mornings.
With Ray's washer and Claudia's dishwasher both acting up, we removed the second two-seater bench seat out of my van, and loaded them both in there. (The third three-seater bench seat was taken out and stored as soon as I bought the van) I can haul one large appliance, but with two that second seat had to come out. As the dishwasher didn't have a shut-off, we took a 1/2" threaded plug back down to their house, so that Claudia could have the water turned back on. Don't ask why it didn't have a shut-off, some drunk must have installed it. Supposed to have shut-offs on everything.
By then it was already about 11.00 AM, so Jay and I headed straight to the repair shop all the way on the east side of Conroe, and dropped off the appliances. Jay ate at, gasp, Jack In The Box, as he had a coupon.
As we hadn't planned on going shopping until today, my shopping list was still on the magnetized note pad on my fridge, so I had to try to use my memory. Another gasp!
It was hot and humid so we didn't do much else except find a tree-shaded parking spot at Kroger's to pick up a few things to tide us over until today.