Archive for American Bird Conservancy

First-ever Reserves Established to Protect Brazil’s Araripe Manakin

The first-ever bird reserves have been created for the critically endangered Araripe Manakin, a six-inch bird only discovered in 1996 that numbers fewer than 800 individuals and survives in the smallest of areas – 11 square miles – in northeastern Brazil. Continue reading

First Predator-proof Fence on Kaua’i Completed at Kīlauea Point National Wildlife Refuge

Rare native plant and animal communities that have inhabited a roughly eight-acre area at the Kīlauea Point National Wildlife Refuge—including imperiled bird species found nowhere else on earth—will be protected from predators thanks to the completed installation of a predator-proof fence that stretches almost a half-mile in length.

The effort is a collaboration that includes the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Kaua’i National Wildlife Refuge Complex, American Bird Conservancy, Pacific Rim Conservation, and the Kaua‘i Endangered Seabird Recovery Project (a Hawai’i Department of Land and Natural Resources Division of Forestry and Wildlife/Pacific Cooperative Studies Unit project). The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation provided critical funding support.

The state-of-the-art fence took about three months to construct and will keep introduced mammalian predators, including cats, dogs, rats, and mice, out of the area so that native species such as the endangered Nēnē (Hawaiian Goose), the Mōlī (Laysan Albatross), and rare plants can flourish again in a protected environment. In addition, the absence of introduced predators make this restored site an appropriate translocation site for the threatened ‘A’o (Newell’s Shearwater) and for the reintroduction of rare native plants.

Black Noddy © Quentin Paynter, from the surfbirds galleries.

This type of fencing has been used with great success in New Zealand and on the island of O’ahu at Ka’ena Point, where predator exclusion resulted in record numbers of seabird chicks fledging in the year immediately following the project’s completion, as well as natural colonization by Black Noddy, a seabird species not previously recorded breeding on O’ahu, in its third year. It is hoped that similar outcomes will be achieved on Kaua’i.

“To have planned, broken ground, and finished construction in a two-year timeframe is a phenomenal success and an incredible accomplishment that our partners, ABC and Pacific Rim Conservation, have made possible,” stated Shannon Smith, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Project Leader.

The planned translocation of Newell’s Shearwater is a particularly important aspect of the project. “We have seen a dramatic decline in the population of Newell’s Shearwater in recent years due to a range of issues, with an estimated 75 percent decline in the last 15 years,” said Dr. André Raine of the Kaua’i Endangered Seabird Recovery Project. “The establishment of a new colony using predator-proof fences is an important management tool to help reverse this decline.”

“Predator-proof fencing is a conservation strategy that we are going to see used more and more in Hawai’i as we struggle to deal with widespread non-native predator populations on very large islands,” said George Wallace, Vice President of American Bird Conservancy. “One of those species that may particularly benefit is the Newell’s Shearwater, which is threatened by non-native predators in their montane nesting areas. Creation of a colony protected from predators will be a major step forward in recovering the species.”

Stretching  for about .45 miles, the fence is approximately 6.5 feet tall and encloses an area of 7.8 acres. It is built entirely of stainless steel to resist the harsh marine environment. The main panels of the fence are made with mesh so fine that even mammals as small as a two-day-old mouse cannot enter. The top of the fence has an arched hood that extends outward to prevent animals from climbing over. It was constructed by Honolulu-based JBH, Ltd., the contractor that also built the Ka’ena Point fence.

Now that the fence is in place, work can begin to humanely remove non-native predators from the enclosure and restore native plant communities. Nēnē and Laysan Albatrosses that previously nested in the now-fenced area will immediately benefit from protection from predators, and their numbers are likely to increase over time. The team plans to use recorded calls and translocation to bring threatened and endangered seabirds, including Newell’s Shearwater, to the site beginning in 2015.

“We are very excited to be moving into the next phase of the project by removing the existing predators from within the reserve and beginning active restoration of the native species,” said Lindsay Young, the project coordinator with Pacific Rim Conservation. “We hope this is the first of many projects like this on Kaua’i.”

Red Knot Shorebird Listed as Threatened by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

American Bird Conservancy (ABC), Defenders of Wildlife, and the Natural Resources Defense Council welcomed today’s decision by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to formally list as threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) the highly imperiled rufa Red Knot, a shorebird that flies more than 9,300 miles from south to north every spring and repeats the trip in reverse every autumn—one of the longest migrations in the animal kingdom. Continue reading

Congressional Riders Gutting Sage Grouse Protections

A leading bird conservation group, American Bird Conservancy (ABC), says that two recent Congressional actions will thwart west-wide efforts to protect iconic grouse species, the Greater and Gunnison Sage-Grouse, and may eventually doom the birds. Continue reading

Massive Huron County, Michigan Wind Development Planned for Key Migratory Bird Corridor

American Bird Conservancy (ABC) has raised serious concerns about a plan by Heritage Sustainable Energy, DTE Energy, Exelon Corporation, and NextEra Energy to construct additional commercial wind turbines in Huron County, Michigan, which could eventually result in up to 900 turbines in the area. Continue reading

New Study Says “Very Large” Number of Birds May Be Killed by Open Pipes on Western Landscape

Open pipes, widely used for a variety of purposes across the western U.S. landscape, have been reported as a “potentially very large” source of bird mortality according toresearch by scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL). Continue reading

Major Expansion of Ecuador Reserve Will Better Protect Over 360 Species of Birds, Other Wildlife

A joint effort among Fundación Jocotoco, Rainforest Trust, American Bird Conservancy (ABC), World Land Trust (WLT), and March Conservation Fund has added 1,187 acres to the Río Canandé Reserve, bringing protection to more than 6,100 acres of forest in the highly threatened Chocó region of northwestern Ecuador. Continue reading

Threatened Listing Good News for Western Yellow-billed Cuckoo

American Bird Conservancy (ABC) applauds the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) decision to list the western population of the Yellow-billed Cuckoo as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. Continue reading

Leading National Bird Group Challenges Army Corps Plan to Kill 16,000 Birds

American Bird Conservancy (ABC), a leading national bird conservation organization, has raised multiple objections to assertions by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in their proposal to kill 16,000 cormorant birds on East Sand Island (ESI), in the Columbia River Estuary, as part of a plan to reduce predation of juvenile salmonids including salmon smolt by the birds. Continue reading

Federally Protected Birds at Risk from Expansion of Wind Development Near Lake Michigan

Two bird species federally listed as endangered, the Piping Plover and Kirtland’s Warbler, as well as many other federally protected birds are at risk from the proposed expansion of Heritage Sustainable Energy’s (HSE) Garden Peninsula Wind Energy Project near Lake Michigan, according to American Bird Conservancy (ABC). Continue reading