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BSC Selects New Board, President Emeritus
At Bird Studies Canada's Annual Members Meeting on September 20, five vacancies were filled on the Board of Directors and Dr. George Finney was selected as Bird Studies Canada's first President Emeritus

First American Birding Expo is One Year Away
The inaugural American Birding Expo, a commercial event is designed to bring together nature-oriented consumers with companies, destinations, organizations and their products and services, which are aimed at birders and nature enthusiasts will take place on the weekend of October 2-4, 2015, in Columbus, Ohio.

Schlitz Audubon Nature Center Celebrates Fall with Festival
Schlitz Audubon Nature Center in Milwaukee, Wis. celebrates the beauty of the fall season with a festival for adults and children on Sunday, October 19.
Weekend of Cranes, Sparrows and Optics in Wisconsin
Bird Watcher's Digest and Eagle Optics will host a weekend of birds and optics with birding-optics-testing experts Diane and Michael Porter, October 17-19, 2014, in Middleton, Wisconsin. A few spots remain available.
The Big Sit is Approaching!
The Big Sit, the world's most sedentary annual birding event organized by Bird Watcher's Digest and sponsored by Swarovski Optik, takes place Oct. 11 or 12 (you pick) this year.
North America's Oldest Bird Festival Turns 68
The year was 1946, the year after World War II ended, that New Jersey Audubon began hosting its iconic festival in the resort town of Cape May, and 2014 will mark its 68th anniversary.

Leica Sport Optics Seeks Sales Agency
Leica Sport Optics is seeking a professional, highly motivated sales agency to represent its growing line of products in Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana and Oklahoma.

'Bird Protection Act' Proposed in Colorado
The "Bird Protection Act," first-of-its-kind legislation to require wind energy and other renewable energy producers to ensure their facilities protect birds and other wildlife resources has been drafted by Colorado Republican State Senator David Balmer and will be introduced to the state's legislature in January 2015.

Marine Monument Expansion Includes Seven National Wildlife Refuges
The expanded Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument protects nearly 490,000 miles around the islands and atolls, which are also protected as seven national wildlife refuges (Wake, Jarvis, Howland and Baker Islands, Johnston and Palmyra Atolls, and Kingman Reef).
Duck Stamp
Neonics Banned at NWRs
Our friends at the Birding Community E-Bulletin report that by January 2016, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will ban the use of the nerve insecticides neonicotinoids, often called "neonics," at National Wildlife Refuges across the country.

Universities Compete for 'Most Outdoorsy' Title
Ten universities across the US are engaging in the Outdoor Nation Campus Challenge, an initiative of the Outdoor Foundation in which schools will go head-to-head for the title of National Champion - the most 'outdoorsy' school in America.

Habitat Loss Impacting Scarlet-breasted Dacnis
Never considered a common species, the colorful, thin-billed Scarlet-breasted Dacnis (a member of the tanager family) is now listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List and is found only on the Pacific slopes of Ecuador and Colombia.
Black Rails: The Atlantic Coast's Most Imperiled
This past summer, researchers for the Center for Conservation Biology (CCB) embarked by boat almost every night in a race to help the Atlantic Coast's most imperiled bird.

The Birding Wire Photo Gallery

This male Broad-billed Hummingbird is being banded, weighed and having other vital data recorded by Sheri Williamson, author, naturalist and director of the Southeastern Arizona Bird Observatory (SABO) during a recent banding session at the San Pedro House located in the San Pedro River Valley. Watch for an upcoming feature on Ms. Williamson and the banding program she oversees (along with additional photographs) by Birding Wire editor J.R. Absher in coming weeks.


Do you have a favorite photo you'd like to share with thousands of Birding Wire readers? Send an electronic image, along with the species, location, date, additional details and technical data to birdingwire@gmail.com.

Ortolan Buntings Targeted by French Poachers, Served Poached by French Chefs
Global bird species are placed at risk by a varying assortment of environmental and human-caused factors in our modern times, but very few (if any) likely can match the unique situation experienced by the Ortolan Bunting, a species indigenous to European and Scandinavian counties.

Though not as colorful and striking as other Buntings, the Ortolan instead is known - albeit quite provincially - as a highly desirable dinner entree.

Bird Studies Canada reports the migratory songbird is regarded as a delicacy by French gourmets, and it is served by some of the country's finest restaurants - despite the fact that its is strictly forbidden under both French and EU game laws.

In the last 30 years, the European populations of the Ortolan Bunting have declined some 84 percent, according to the Ligue pour la Protection des Oiseaux (LPO, BirdLife in France). It is estimated that thousands of Ortolan Buntings are still illegally poached and killed annually in France, where fewer than 15,000 pairs remain, and the species' population has decreased by 42 percent in the past 11 years.

An important reason the species' decline is believed to be poaching, which at one time was responsible for the disappearance of 50,000 individuals annually; a number equivalent to 10 times the species population in Germany, Belgium or the Netherlands.

The Ortolan Bunting has been protected in France since 1999, meaning that its killing, transportation, use, sale or purchase is strictly forbidden, with violators of the law are subject to fines of 15,000 Euro (or around $19,000). Yet, conservation groups say that between 10,000 and 30,000 Ortolan Buntings continue to be trapped, blocking the efforts undertaken by the EU to reverse the decline of the species.

The tradition surrounding the capture, poaching and preparation of this French gourmet delight is as bizarre as the custom of dining on the tiny bird.

Traditionally, a live decoy Ortolan is placed in a small cage to attract its wild counterparts with its singing. When a wild bird approaches the trap, it is netted.

Captured Ortolans are kept and fed heavily for at least three weeks until they resemble a small fat ball. Once they reach a specific weight, the unfortunate birds are drowned in a French liqueur called Armagnac, before being prepared or sold. In France, the price for such a peculiar "delicacy" easily reaches €150 ($189 US).

Despite its illegality, some of the finest French restaurants continue to offer it on their menus.

In an effort to draw more national and media attention to the plight of the Ortolan Bunting, the LPO launched an orchestrated raid in the early morning hours of Sept. 4, when conservationists descended on poaching locations to free caged live decoy Ortolans. The birds, which had been mutilated so they could not fly, were then presented to the French authorities.

According to the LPO, it will remain vigilant and intends to inform the European Commission of the location of any poaching facilities throughout the coming poaching/migration season, so that sanctions may be taken against France for infringing its obligations under Article 5 of the Birds Directive (2009/147/CE).

- J. R. Absher


If your company, agency or organization is involved in the business of birding, we invite you to consider The Birding Wire for advertising or Corporate Membership. Please contact editor J.R. Absher at birdingwire@gmail.com for complete information.

Oct. 2 - Oct. 4
Oct. 2 - Oct. 5
Oct. 3 - Oct. 5
Oct. 3 - Oct. 5
18th Annual Bridger Raptor Festival
Bozeman, Mont.
Oct. 3 - Oct. 5
Kansas Ornithological Society Fall Meeting
Lakewood Discovery Center, Salina, Kan.
Oct. 10 - Oct. 12
Oct. 11
Bellevue, Mich.
Oct. 11 - Oct. 12
Oct. 17 - Oct. 19
Oct. 19
Schlitz Audubon Nature Center Fall Festival
Milwaukee, Wis.
Oct. 24 - Oct. 26
68th Annual Cape May Autumn Birding Festival
Cape May, NJ
Oct. 29 - Nov. 2
Yellow Rails and Rice Festival
Jennings, La.
Nov. 18 - Nov. 23
27th Annual Festival of the Cranes
Bosque del Apache NWR, San Antonio, NM
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