FATAL FLIGHT of MIGRATING BIRDS

migratingbirds

Best place for observation of migrating birds is the Los Banos Wildlife Preserve of over 200,000 acres, it is the largest wetland in America outside the Florida Everglades.

Conservaton has come a long way since the late 1800s when the Snowy Egret was nearly hunted to extinction.  Threats to birds continue to exist today.  Natural-gas burning flares singe the Red-eyed Vireos who are attracted to the light.  Oil pits from mining drown roadrunners, and wind turbines down pelicans and more.  All told, modern industry kill hundreds of MILLIONS of birds each year.

Simple, inexpensive changes could address the threats and conserve countless birds.  Voluntary guidelines for utility companies and the wind industry include bird-friendly steps such as limiting the height of power lines and putting hoods over turbine lights.

As the days grow shorter and food sources deminish, bird migration is a regular seasonal movement, often north and south along a flyway.  Migration occurs mainly in the Northern hemisphere, where birds are funnelled on a specific route by natural barriers such as sea and mountains.  Within a bird population, it is common for different ages and/or sexes to have different patterns of timing and distance.  For example, the female chaf finch migrate eariler in autumn than the males. A common pattern of migration in North America is a clockwise migration, where birds flying North tend to be further West, and birds flying south tend to shift Eastwards.

Most birds migrate in flocks. For large birds, flying in flocks reduces energy.  Geese may conserve 12-20% of the energy they would need to fly alone. Some birds have been found in radar studies to fly 3.1 mph faster in flocks.

Birds fly at varying altitudes, with most flying between 490 to 1,970 feet. Bird strike from aviation show most collisions occur below 2,000 feet, and almost none above 5,900 feet.

Several international treaties have been signed to protect migratory birds including the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of  1918 of the United States, and the African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbird Agreement.  The US Migratory Bird Treaty Act prohibits the capture or harming of more than a thousand migratory species, and prohibits the posessing or selling any of the bird parts.  The Treaty has been amended several times to impliment bird-protection treaties with other nations. In May 2015, the US Fish and Wildlife Service announced plans to create rule-strengthening protections under the act. Proposed is a new permit process for industries who unintentionally kill species of protected birds listed in the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA).  The new permit would allow a legal “take” of birds as long as certain measures are followed to minimize deaths. An industry whose operations kill lots of birds might be required to pay a fee.  Revenue from these fees and from permit applications could help the US Fish and Wildlife Service better protect migratory birds.

 

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