Owls are great favorites of mine, and I’ve had the good fortune to work with and observe many species in both captivity and the wild (please see articles below). One of my most memorable wild owl experiences occurred, surprisingly, in the Bronx, when I was but 6 years old. A huge Snowy Owl perched on the roof of my home for 4 hours, awing me as had nothing else. I quickly learned that Snowy Owls travel south from their Arctic haunts when their primary prey (a small rodent known as the Lemming) is in short supply. Now biologists are finding that the close ties between Lemmings and Snowy Owls may provide important information concerning climate change. Read More »
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The animated movie Rio tells the story of the last 2 “Blue Macaws” on earth, and their adventurous efforts to save their species from extinction. The touching yet realistic conservation story has captivated adults and children alike, and the movie posted ticket sales of $40,000,000 on its first weekend…a record for this year. Many fans may not realize that a real endangered species – the Spix’s Macaw, Cyanopsitta spixii, and a real individual bird – Presely, inspired director Carlos Saldanba to create the movie. Read More »
One of the USA’s most hotly-debated conservation questions seems finally to have been answered. For years, ornithologists have considered the huge Ivory-Billed Woodpecker, Campephilus principalis, to be extinct, but many well-respected biologists continued to report sightings. Down to an estimated 30 birds by the 1930’s, none had been observed for decades despite intensive searches and rewards, including one of $50,000 posted by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Recent video and acoustic recordings (Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, please see below), however, seem to establish that this magnificent bird is still with us. Read More »
Finally, conservationists and bird enthusiasts have some promising news regarding the fate of wild parrots. Mexico’s recently imposed ban on collecting and exporting wild parrots (please see article below) appears to be having its intended effect. Confiscations are at an all-time low, the public is cooperating, and birds in neighboring Guatemala may be benefitting as well.
A Bad Year for Smugglers
Despite increased attention to parrot smuggling, last year (2010) saw only 568 parrots confiscated in Mexico…less than any time in the past decade, and down 1/3 from 2009. As Mexico has long been an outlet for birds illegally trapped in neighboring Guatemala, it is believed that the ban is having a positive effect there as well. Read More »
I’ve been writing quite a bit about the trade in wild-caught African Gray Parrots in recent weeks. In stark contrast to most countries inhabited by parrots, several African nations still allow the capture and sale of wild birds. In others, lax enforcement renders existing laws useless. There has, however, been a recent spate of confiscations in Africa, but not all have turned out well….in one instance, government officials of the Democratic Republic of Congo actually returned hundreds of illegally collected parrots to poachers (please see article below)! Today I’ll highlight some good that may have come from a particularly sad situation. Read More »