Division of Bird Habitat Conservation

Birdscapes: News from International Habitat Conservation Partnerships

In an Eggshell

Sea Ducks: The Stars of an International Conference

Sea ducks have been the subject of increasing conservation concern over the past decade. To facilitate information exchange among researchers and managers, the North American Waterfowl Management Plan’s Sea Duck Joint Venture hosted the North American Sea Duck Conference—the first meeting of its kind—in Victoria, British Columbia, in November 2002. Joint venture partners, including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Canadian Wildlife Service, U.S. Geological Survey, Ducks Unlimited, Inc., and the Atlantic and Pacific Flyway Councils, along with the Pacific Coast Joint Venture, sponsored the event.

Although the conference focused on North American sea ducks, participants came from throughout the Northern Hemisphere. More than 200 scientists representing the United States, Canada, Russia, Japan, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Norway, The Netherlands, and Lithuania attended, highlighting the shared nature and broad concern for sea ducks in the northern latitudes. In addition to scientific presentations made over 3 days, a series of workshops offered new information on satellite telemetry technology, sea duck genetics, industry relations, effects of contaminants, survey techniques, sea duck diving and foraging, and effects of aquaculture.

Conference Chairman Dr. Dan Esler and his staff from Simon Fraser University in British Columbia received well-deserved kudos for what several attendees described as the “perfect conference.” A second sea duck conference is tentatively scheduled for the fall of 2005.

Abstracts of papers and posters presented at the conference are available at the Sea Duck Joint Venture Web site: www.seaduckjv.org.

Tim Bowman, Sea Duck Joint Venture
(907) 786-3569, tim_bowman@fws.gov

National Environmental Methods Index

On the 30th Anniversary of the Clean Water Act, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) announced a new, standardized, Web-searchable database of environmental methods that will allow scientists and managers monitoring water quality to compare data collection methods at a glance and find the method that best meets their needs. Called NEMI (National Environmental Methods Index), this free online resource also allows water-quality monitoring data to be shared among different agencies and organizations. The NEMI is accessible with standard Internet access and browser. The USGS developed the database in conjunction with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and other partners in the federal, state, and private sectors.

The NEMI contains chemical, microbiological, and radiochemical methods summaries of lab and field protocols for regulatory and non-regulatory water-quality analyses. In the future, NEMI will be expanded to include biological methods along with additional field and laboratory methods.

The index is a powerful tool, providing a summary of the procedures and performance data needed to assess methods. Critical data on sensitivity, accuracy, precision, instrumentation, source, and relative cost are produced as tabular reports, and full methods are linked to the summaries.

Said Dr. Robert Hirsch, USGS Associate Director for Water: "This will save a lot of time and effort for everyone, offering a single place on the Internet where people can search for information about suitable, well-documented methods of monitoring, and it will add to everyone's ability to share the results of their monitoring programs."

Visit www.nemi.gov to delve into water-quality databases that can help you with your conservation projects.

Butch Kinerney, U. S. Geological Survey
(703) 648-4732, bkinerney@usgs.gov

Name That Raptor

You hear a raptor call from above; you look up; the Sun is shining in your eyes; all you see is a silhouette. Can you name that raptor? Answers are found after the quiz.

A. Red-shouldered hawk B. Cooper’s hawk C. Osprey
1. A. Red-shouldered hawk B. Cooper’s hawk C. Osprey

A. Black vulture B. Northern harrier C. Merlin
2. A. Black vulture B. Northern harrier C. Merlin

A. Red-tailed hawk B. Northern goshawk C. American kestrel
3. A. Red-tailed hawk B. Northern goshawk C. American kestrel

A. Rough-legged hawk B. Golden eagle C. Turkey vulture
4. A. Rough-legged hawk B. Golden eagle C. Turkey vulture

A. Bald eagle B. Sharp-shinned hawk C. Golden eagle
5. A. Bald eagle B. Sharp-shinned hawk C. Golden eagle

A. Peregrine falcon B. Golden eagle C. Cooper’s hawk
6. A. Peregrine falcon B. Golden eagle C. Cooper’s hawk

A. Cooper’s hawk B. Osprey C. Red-tailed hawk
7. A. Cooper’s hawk B. Osprey C. Red-tailed hawk

A. Northern harrier B. American kestrel C. Red-tailed hawk.
8. A. Northern harrier B. American kestrel C. Red-tailed hawk.


Keith Bildstein, Hawk Mountain Sanctuary
(570) 943-3481, bildstein@hawkmountain.org

Prairies to Patagonia

Shorebirds certainly didn’t earn their moniker by swarming the prairies, but they’re not all at the coastal shores, either. Millions of them use the less heavily traveled route through the continent’s interior to migrate between the Canadian Arctic and the tip of South America.

This lesser known fact is no secret to those involved in the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network and the North American Waterfowl Management Plan’s Prairie Pothole Joint Venture. For years, they have tracked these birds’ movements through the heart of the hemisphere—from the prairies to Patagonia—and have established a Web site to share what they’ve learned.

Their site, “Shorebirds: Prairies to Patagonia,” is loaded with interesting information about these shorebirds, and will appeal to environmental educators, students, natural resources managers, children, and birders alike. The site offers nine main pages, each addressing a different topic: Shorebirds answers an array of your most basic questions about these birds; Education and Resources informs teachers about shorebird-related publications, maps, posters, videos, programs, and events; Habitat describes shorebirds’ habitat needs and how different ecosystems along the central migration route meet those needs; Images contains a shorebird “Hall of Fame,” with photos of several of the species found in the Prairie Pothole Region, basic statistics on each, and links to information about their wintering sites; Maps houses examples of various maps available that depict shorebird migration routes, species distributions, and conservation areas; Fun Facts offers shorebird factoids and tests your knowledge with entertaining quizzes; Go International lets you click on a map of the Western Hemisphere and find out which shorebirds are found in each country and what type of habitat they’re using; What Can I Do? helps you to become involved in shorebird conservation, at any level; and Links directs you to other related sites.

Visit http://www.manomet.org/WHSRN/Prairies to start your virtual, winged journey through the Western Hemisphere.

Timber Company Keeps Oklahoma Acres Open

The Hancock Timber Resource Group (Hancock) will keep Oklahoma sportsmen smiling another year. That’s because the 7-year partnership agreement between the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation (Department) and Hancock will provide public access to more than 215,000 acres of Hancock’s privately owned Honobia Creek Wildlife Management Area for hunting, fishing, and recreational trail riding.

Hancock has chosen to collaborate with the Department, which helps regulate and maintain the habitat for public use. The Department sells some 17,000 use permits annually. Oklahoma residents pay $16 for a permit, nonresidents, $25. Hunters generally account for 75 percent of the purchases. “For hunters to have access to so many acres for such a small fee is unique,” said Kyle Johnson, a Department biologist at Honobia Creek.

Other organizations such as the National Wild Turkey Federation are contributing to the partnership’s efforts. The Federation’s Oklahoma State Chapter has funded the installation of gates and signs and has purchased seeds and fertilizer for plantings along the roadsides of walk-in turkey areas. These areas are open to turkey hunters during the spring and fall seasons. State-chapter volunteers also funded prescribed burns, painted gates, and provided equipment for habitat enhancement. They raise money for such projects through banquets, individual donations, and corporate sponsors. Proceeds are deposited in the Wild Turkey Super Fund, which supports a variety of projects in the State.

“Hancock and the Department have really given sportsmen a chance to enjoy the outdoors for a small price,” said Dr. James Earl Kennamer, the Federation’s senior vice-president of conservation programs. “We hope to help strengthen this relationship and enhance habitat for the wild turkey and other wildlife species.”

Jason Gilbertson, National Wild Turkey Federation
(803) 637-3106, jgilbertson@nwtf.net

Endangered Parrots Score Major Victory

November 12, 2002, marked a day of victory for endangered parrots. That was the day that the more than 100 member-nations attending the 12th Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) of Wild Fauna and Flora voted to ban the commercial trade of yellow-naped parrot (Amazona auropalliata), yellow-headed parrot (Amazona oratrix), and blue-headed macaw (Ara couloni). Formerly, such trade was allowed by permit with restricted quotas.

Flashy plumage and the ability to imitate human speech have long made these parrots attractive pets. The harvesting of adult birds and poaching of nestlings for the pet-bird trade are the primary reasons these species’ populations are in decline, followed by habitat destruction. Their survival is further challenged by small clutch sizes (just two to four eggs) and nestlings that require intense care and and can take up to 3 years to reach reproductive maturity. The yellow-headed parrot population alone has suffered a 90-percent decline since the 1970s. Only an estimated 7,000 individuals remain in the wild.

The celebrated outcome of this United Nations-sponsored meeting in Santiago, Chile, is largely the result of the diligent efforts of Dr. Eduardo Iñigo-Elias, a parrot specialist and head of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Neotropical Bird Conservation Program. He assisted several countries’ governments in developing the body of technical information needed to support the ban. “The CITES decision is glowing proof of the good that can happen when nations pull together,” attests Dr. Iñigo-Elias.

Allison Wells, Cornell Lab of Ornithology
(607) 254-2475, amw25@cornell.edu

2003 Conservation Stamp Coming

Ron Louque of Charlottesville, Virginia, has been entering one of the Nation’s most prestigious wildlife art contests each year for the past 30 years. Patience and persistence, not to mention talent, gave him the long awaited prize: his artwork appears on the 2003 Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp. More popularly known as the “Duck Stamp” by hunters, other conservationists, and philatelists, the current year’s stamp features two snow geese, kissed by early evening light, flying over Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge.

Law mandates that hunters aged 16 years and older purchase the stamp. Philatelists purchase the stamp because of its intrinsic value as a collectible. Others purchase the stamp because they know that 98 cents out of every dollar spent on the stamp goes directly into the Migratory Bird Conservation Fund to conserve wetlands and associated habitats for inclusion in the National Wildlife Refuge System. So, whether you are a birder, a stamp collector, a hunter, or someone who just enjoys visiting our national wildlife refuges, the stamp is a good conservation investment. Since its inception in 1934, the Duck Stamp Program has raised more than $600 million to conserve more than 5 million acres of habitat for America’s refuge system.

The 2003 stamp can be purchased beginning July 1. It only takes $15.00 to make a significant contribution to wildlife conservation. By adding your stamp purchase to that of others, we can expand familiar havens and establish new ones, so that our Nation’s wildlife, and those passing through, will always have a place to raise young, feed, and rest.

For information on how to purchase a Duck Stamp, visit duckstamps.fws.gov, or in the United States, call Amplex toll free at (800) 852-4897 or the U.S. Postal Service at (800) 782-6724.

Terry Bell, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
(703) 358-2002, terry_bell@fws.gov