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WEDNESDAY, MARCH 4, 2015
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CONSERVATION
Peruvian Tree-Planting Tops One Million Mark
In an effort that is ultimately expected to benefit several imperiled bird species, more than 900 people from four central Peruvian communities came together recently in a tree-planting festival that resulted in 57,100 saplings being planted in a single day, bringing the total number of trees planted in a larger reforestation effort to over one million.

EAGLE WATCHING
March Madness Eagle Watch at Salamonie Lake, Ind.
See Indiana's largest documented wintering eagle roost during the March Madness eagle watch at Salamonie Lake, March 8.

EXHIBITIONS
'Impact' Examines The Reality of Bird Collisions
"Impact: Birds in the Human-Built World" is on display at the Bell Museum of Natural History on the University of Minnesota campus through April 19.

HUMMINGBIRDS
Reasons to Not Use Red Nectar in Hummingbird Feeders
It won't be long and it will time to dust off your stored hummingbird feeders for the coming season. It's also a good time to inform those new to feeding hummers not to use commercial red nectar or to place dyes in their feeders.
Duck Stamp

INTERNATIONAL
Ecuadorian Reserve Expanded to Protect Rare Bird Species
Fundación Jocotoco, an Ecuadorian conservation organization, has collaborated with American Bird Conservancy (ABC) and Rainforest Trust to purchase 104 acres of land that, although representing a small area, will help ensure a future for one of the world's most endangered bird species.
Bill Reinstates Protection for Panama Bay
Panama Audubon Society (BirdLife in Panama) is celebrating after winning a hard-fought effort to reverse the Panama government's 2012 decision to withdraw protected status for the Bay of Panama Important Bird and Biodiversity Area (IBA), a site of international importance for migratory birds.
Rare Zapata Rail Documented in Cuba
BirdLife International reports an ornithological search-team has caught a glimpse of one of the world's most threatened waterbirds, the critically endangered Zapata Rail Cyanolimnas cerverai, marking the first sighting in more than four decades.

JOBS
National Wildlife Refuge Association Seeks Grant Writer
The National Wildlife Refuge Association is seeking a part-time freelance grant writer for a position that could become full-time and permanent.
Louisiana Waterthrush Avian Field Technician: West Virginia
One avian field technician is needed to assist a West Virginia University graduate student for a long-term project on its final year investigating the response of Louisiana Waterthrush (Parkesia motacilla) to oil and gas development in the central Appalachian region.

MILESTONES
National Wildlife Refuge Association Celebrates 40th Anniversary
The evening of February 26, the National Wildlife Refuge Association celebrated its 40th anniversary with more than 100 friends and family in Washington, DC, including the board and staff from the Department of the Interior, and leadership of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Wildlife Refuge System.

NEW PRODUCTS
Cotton Carrier StrapShot EV1 Now Available
The new StrapShot EV1 is thinner than the original StrapShot from Cotton Carrier, and includes a redesigned tether and wrist strap that also acts as a safety leash against accidental drops.

NWR SYSTEM
Refuge System Marks 112 Years
President Teddy Roosevelt created the first national wildlife refuge on March 14, 1903, at Pelican Island, Florida, to protect brown pelicans from market hunters looking to profit from their slaughter.

ONLINE
Complete Audubon 'Birds of America' Available Digitally
As part of its newly redesigned website, the Audubon Society now makes available high-resolution images of the 435 plates and descriptions of John J. Audubon's "The Birds of America."

RECOGNITION
2015 National Wildlife Refuge System Awards Announced
The 2015 winners of the National Wildlife Refuge Association's annual National Wildlife Refuge System Awards exemplify the outstanding conservation management skills and volunteer leadership that make the Refuge System the world-class conservation network it is.

REPORTS
S. Florida Wading Bird Nesting Plummets 28 Percent
One of the nation's largest and most important wading bird breeding areas—south Florida, which includes Everglades National Park—has seen wading bird nesting plummet 28 percent below 2013 levels and about 18 percent below the nine-year average for the area.

SPECIES
The Evening Grosbeak: 'Kernel Cracker'
In the last 20 years Evening Grosbeaks have been declining throughout its range, which led to the species' inclusion on the State of the Birds 2014 Watch List for the first time, along with other at-risk species such as Chuck-will's-widow and Bobolink.

SPONSORSHIPS
ZEISS Continues Sponsorship of Cornell Lab of Ornithology Programs
Carl Zeiss Sports Optics, a leading manufacturer of high performance sports optics for birders and nature enthusiasts, is continuing its partnership with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology through collaboration on several key projects, including eBird and the Young Birder's Event.

STATES
First Georgia Golden Eagle Added to Regional Tracking Project
A high-tech research project helped along by a middle Georgia hunt club recently began tracking one of the state's most rare raptors – a golden eagle.
Cool Things to Know About 'Hawkeye State' Hawks
Of Iowa's regularly nesting daytime raptors, five of these are considered to be hawks: the red-tailed hawk, northern harrier (marsh hawk), red-shouldered hawk, Cooper's hawk and broad-winged hawk.
Michigan Peregrine Fundraising Event March 28
Peregrine Partners of Southeast Michigan and the Macomb Audubon Society will sponsor a party for peregrine falcons Saturday, March 28.
Ohio Wildlife Diversity Conference March 11
The process of creating these productive connections between humans and wildlife is the theme of the 31st annual Ohio Wildlife Diversity Conference on Wednesday, March 11, at the Aladdin Shrine Center in Columbus.
Barn Owl Nesting Box Program Successful in S. Carolina
Because one S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR) employee decided to invest his time and talent, barn owls on the South Carolina coast are thriving and contributing to the knowledge of another species.
Spring Brings the Call of the Crane in Nebraska
Standing four-foot tall, sandhill cranes travel through Nebraska as part of their migration from areas in Texas, New Mexico and Mexico to their nesting areas in the upper United States, Canada and as far North as Siberia.

The Birding Wire Photo Gallery


This highly animated Chihuahuan Raven put on quite a special performance for Birding Wire editor J.R. Absher at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge near San Antonio, NM Feb. 28. Absher used his Canon 7D with a EF 75-300mm lens, ISO 1000, @f/5.6 and 1/2000 sec.

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If you have a unique or favorite photo of a bird, birding event, scenic or wildlife, submit it for consideration in an upcoming Birding Wire. Be sure to include a description of the scene, location and other details, as well technical information. Send it to birdingwire@gmail.com.

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Great Backyard Bird Count Sets New Species Record
Nearly half the world's species identified in four days

Northern Flicker by Linda Izer, Arkansas, 2015 GBBC.
Participants from more than 100 countries submitted a record 147,265 bird checklists for the annual Great Backyard Bird Count and broke the previous count record for the number of species identified. The 5,090 species reported represents nearly half the possible bird species in the world. The four-day count was held February 13-16, the 18th year for the event which is a joint project of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society with partner Bird Studies Canada.

The information gathered by tens of thousands of volunteers helps track the health of bird populations at a scale made possible by using the eBird online checklist program. A sampling of species found by intrepid counters include Ibisbill in India, Bornean Bistlehead in Malaysia, and Magellanic Plover in Chile, complete with amazing photos. GBBC participants even reported two species, Millpo Tapaculo and Santa Marta Screech-Owl that have not yet been described in the official scientific literature.

Bitter Weather
The bitter cold, snowy weather in much of the northeastern United States and much of Canada was a major factor in this year's count. In much of the Northeast, Sunday was particularly frigid and windy, and the number of reports showed an obvious dip as some counters were forced indoors. As one participant in Quebec noted, watching birds came with a price as wind chill temperatures rarely topped -20 degrees Celsius (zero degrees Fahrenheit).

For those who did brave the cold, the GBBC data will help to better understand the impact of the cold on birds and bird populations. For example, scientists will be able to compare the abundance of some so-called "half-hardy" species, such as Carolina Wren and Yellow-rumped Warbler, to see if this cold winter has affected their populations.

Snowy Owl Echo
Snowy Owls are one of the most charismatic and emblematic birds of winter. They breed in Arctic regions worldwide and drop south in some winters ("irrupt"), depending on food supplies and their breeding success in the previous summer. The winter of 2013-14 was a huge year for these owls, which appeared in amazing numbers across the Great Lakes states, Northeastern U.S., Atlantic Coast, and southern Canada. GBBC reports for 2015 also show a surge in Snowy Owl sightings across the same range, though the frequency of reports is about half of last winter's. This is a well-known phenomenon with Snowy Owls, with the year after a very large invasion often being referred to as an "echo flight."

Winter Finches
Winter finches—such as Evening Grosbeaks, Pine Siskins, redpolls, and crossbills—are popular among GBBC participants. These birds also "irrupt" south of their usual haunts depending on food supplies, so their numbers in a given region may change widely from year to year.

2015 was a banner year for Pine Siskins, which are reported on 10.5% of GBBC checklists so far. Compare that to 1.2% of checklists in 2014 when most siskins stayed far north in Canada. Siskins will likely be hanging around through April and May, especially if the feeders are stocked with their favorite nyjer (thistle) seed.

GBBC Top 10 Lists
Indian Golden Oriole by Sumit Sen, West Bengal, India, 2015 GBBC.
Surprisingly, a Eurasian species, the Brambling, appears on the Top 10 list of most reported species for the first time ever. Since November, some of these birds have been spotted on the West Coast and others strayed even farther by turning up in Montana, Wyoming, and Ontario, with one 2015 GBBC record in North America from Washington state. But the Brambling's appearance among the Top 10 can be traced to one checklist from Germany reporting a flock estimated at one million birds. Up to three million Bramblings have been known to gather at that site.

In North America, California sits atop the leader board with the most checklists submitted and the greatest number of species, followed by Pennsylvania and New York. Ontario, Canada, is in the Top 10 for the second year in a row, nudging past Ohio and Georgia.

Outside of the U.S. and Canada, India was once again a star performer, nearly doubling the number of checklists submitted to more than 6,800 and reporting the greatest number of species so far with 717.

Top 10 most frequently reported species (number of checklists reporting this species):

SpeciesNumber of Checklists
Northern Cardinal59,083
Dark-eyed Junco59,074
Mourning Dove48,313
Downy Woodpecker45,399
Blue Jay41,671
American Goldfinch39,880
House Finch39,241
Tufted Titmouse38,191
Black-capped Chickadee36,363
House Sparrow34,564


* All Top 10 species are North American, reflecting high participation from this region.

Top 10 most numerous species (sum of how many individuals were observed across all checklists):

SpeciesNumber of Individuals
Snow Goose1,494,937
Canada Goose1,110,946
Brambling1,000,047
European Starling630,610
Mallard579,330
American Coot501,152
American Robin488,063
Dark-eyed Junco465,939
Red-winged Blackbird432,513
American Goldfinch364,963

* All Top 10 species are North American, reflecting high participation from this region.

Top 10 states/provinces by checklists submitted

State/ProvinceNumber of SpeciesNumber of Checklists
California3768,453
Pennsylvania1417,120
New York1636,615
Florida3095,478
Texas3665,256
Virginia1804,672
North Carolina2014,497
Ontario1374,216
Ohio1254,190
Georgia2004,017


Top 10 countries by checklists submitted

CountryNumber of SpeciesNumber of Checklists
United States671108,396
Canada24110,491
India7176,810
Australia524812
Mexico653425
Costa Rica559303
Portugal197193
New Zealand126161
Ecuador784138
Honduras353133


Explore what's been reported on the Great Backyard Bird Count website. See what species are being reported and how many checklists are being turned in at the county, state/province, and country levels. Check out a sampling of the photos submitted for the GBBC photo contest.

The GBBC is made possible in part by sponsor Wild Birds Unlimited.

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Mar. 4
Mar. 5 - Mar. 8
San Diego Bird Festival
Mission Bay Park, Calif.
Mar. 6 - Mar. 8
Mar. 7
Mass Audubon Birders Meeting
Waltham, Mass.
Mar. 11
Ohio Wildlife Diversity Conference
Aladdin Shrine Center, Columbus, Ohio
Mar. 13 - Mar. 15
Monte Vista Crane Festival
Monte Vista, Colo.
Mar. 13 - Mar. 15
Mar. 19 - Mar. 21
2015 Wisconsin Bird Conservation Initiative Annual Meeting
Avalon Hotel and Conference Center, Chippewa Falls, Wis.
Apr. 9 - Apr. 12
Galveston Feather Fest
Galveston Island, Tex.
Apr. 10 - Apr. 12
Olympic BirdFest
Sequim, Wash.
Apr. 15 - Apr. 22
Apr. 23 - Apr. 26
Apr. 24 - Apr. 26
Wings Over the Hills Nature Festival
Lady Bird Johnson Park, Fredricksburg, Tex.vvvvvvvvv
Apr. 24 - Apr. 26
Point Reyes Birding and Nature Festival
Point Reyes Station, Calif.
Apr. 24 - Apr. 27
Balcones Songbird Festival
Marble Falls, Tex.
Apr. 27 - May 2
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