Recent News

If you’ve heard of clapper rails, you may know they are not very agile fliers and tend to quietly prod around within the coastal salt marsh where they were born, or released into. But the endangered Light-footed Ridgway’s Rail in Southern California and Baja California is not so much of a “home body” as originally thought. We now have ample proof that rails can also move between wetlands, with one bird named “Amelia” travelling a whopping 160 miles. If you give the rail a chance, it will establish new territories in supportive habitat. So how do you give the rail a chance, when over 90% of its habitat has been destroyed?

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In September 2017 waterfowl and wetlands biologists and managers, social scientists, and others with an interest in waterfowl conservation gathered in Shepherdstown, West Virginia for the Future of Waterfowl Workshop 2. The goal: plan for the 2018 update to the North American Waterfowl Management Plan (NAWMP). After the release of the 2012 Plan, the NAWMP Committee formed a Human Dimensions Working Group and a Public Engagement Team (SJV Coordinator Jennie Duberstein participates in both and leads a team focused on engaging the birding community). The 2018 plan update will continue to focus on learning how to better engage people in waterfowl and wetland conservation.

Despite having lost roughly 80% of historical wetlands in the Colorado River basin, about 100,000 acres remain. These are the most important wetlands in the Sonoran Desert, providing vital habitat for resident and migratory birds. Pronatura Noroeste created a long-term coordinated bird-monitoring program across the Colorado River basin, and contributes to the conservation and restoration of key sites, the protection of fresh water flows, and the harvest of water by reforestation.

North American monarch populations have decreased drastically over the last decade, and are threatened by habitat destruction in all parts of their range, and a changing climate. The Sonoran Desert region plays a role in monarch migration, and residents are fortunate to be able to see them. However, much is still not known about monarchs in Arizona and information about these butterflies in northern Mexico is scant. In an effort to reverse its decline and restore healthy populations throughout North America, this amazing insect has brought together the governments, scientists, and citizens of three nations.

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Have you heard of geocaching? The folks at eBird have taken this fun idea and made it better—by including birds! Stay tuned for the January/February 2018 issue of the SJV eBulletin for the official launch of our Avicaching game.

The Poo Poo Project Takes Over

Vault toilets, used in remote areas with no plumbing, have an unintended consequence for birds—Ventilation pipes, which help keep smells to a minimum, can trap and kill cavity-nesting birds that enter seeking shelter or nesting areas. The Teton Raptor Center’s Poo Poo Project and its many partners are taking huge strides to keep that from happening.

The Shrinking Salton Sea

Once a vibrant tourist destination and thriving wetland habitat that supported millions of birds annually, the Salton Sea is now experiencing ecological collapse. Without regular freshwater inputs, the increased salinity and concentrations of pollutants are killing fish, reducing bird populations, and posing health risks to the local communities. Read more about the history of the Salton Sea, the conservation challenges, and what the SJV and its partners are doing to help.

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Increasing demand for alternative energies like wind and solar bring increasing pressure on wildlife and their habitats. Finding a balance between the need for more sustainable energy sources and conservation of the delicate desert ecosystem of the southwestern U.S. is an ongoing challenge.

The Sonoran Institute’s Colorado River Delta Program takes a three-pronged approach to their habitat restoration efforts — Restore, Reconnect, Renew. Read about how community engagement plays a key role in the long-term success of their projects.

In our last newsletter, we introduced you to the danger that open vertical pipes represent for birds. Now learn more about open pipes, mining claims, and the people and organizations working to address this issue.