(Washington, D.C., March 22, 2018) The $1.3 trillion spending agreement reached by Congress this week contains good news for birds and bird conservation. Legislators increased funding for State of the Birds activities to $3 million, giving a boost to the conservation of endangered forest birds in Hawaii, including the creation of safe nesting areas. Congress also indicated that funding levels for work to support migratory bird conservation will remain at or be set above 2017 levels.

"This agreement boosts funding for critically endangered birds in Hawaii and supports programs essential to migratory bird conservation," said Steve Holmer, Vice President of Policy for American Bird Conservancy. “Our thanks to Senators Brian Schatz (D-HI) and Mazie Hirono (D-HI), and to Representatives Colleen Hanabusa (D-HI) and Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), for their support and leadership to restore State of the Birds funding.”

Other positive steps for birds include preservation of conservation programs supported by the Farm Bill, America’s largest single source of conservation on private lands; full funding for the Cooperative Endangered Species Conservation Fund; and $425 million for the Land and Water Conservation Fund.

Greater Sage-Grouse will continue to receive $60 million in conservation funding. However, the species is still exempted from listing under the Endangered Species Act in the new budget agreement — at a time when this iconic species is at greater risk than ever.

"The agreement leaves the Greater Sage-Grouse in peril by eliminating the safety net of the Endangered Species Act,” Holmer said. “Given the renewed threat to priority sagebrush habitat from oil leasing, this rider should be eliminated.”

Forest habitat conservation will see some positive gains under the spending bill. It includes a “fire funding fix” for the U.S. Forest Service, which will prevent over-budget fire-suppression efforts from being funded at the expense of other agencies’ conservation projects.

It also includes an extension of the Secure Rural Schools program that supports sustainable forest management in Northern Spotted Owl habitat, as well as rural development and restoration. However, the bill also features provisions weakening the protection of endangered species in federal forests by allowing development projects to proceed without review by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

(Photo: 'I'iwi by Robby Kohley)

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American Bird Conservancy is dedicated to conserving birds and their habitats throughout the Americas. With an emphasis on achieving results and working in partnership, we take on the greatest problems facing birds today, innovating and building on rapid advancements in science to halt extinctions, protect habitats, eliminate threats, and build capacity for bird conservation.

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Talkin' Pets News

March 17, 2018

Host - Jon Patch (The birthday boy today)

Co-Host - Jillyn Sidlo - Celestrial Custom Dog Services

Producer - Lexi Lapp

Network Producer - Quin McCarthy

Executive Producer - Bob Page

Special Guest - Dr. Mitsie Vargas, author of Alt-Vet: The Revolutionary Pet Care and Longevity Solution by Dr. Vargas will join Jon and Talkin' Pets 03/17/18 at 5pm EST to discuss and give away her new book

Cat Page-A-Day Gallery Calendar 2018

A gift of pure pleasure for the cat lover, Cat Gallery Calendar is a year of enchanting photographs in color and black-and-white, printed to the exacting standards of a fine art book. Each image showcases the beauty, grace, and mischievous spirit of a unique cat: A beautiful tabby exploring a rocky seashore. A wide-eyed black cat peeking out from behind the couch. An elegant Siamese sunbathing by a patch of flowers. It’s a loving, day-by-day tribute to our most beguiling and delightful animal companion.

The Rolex of calendars, the Page-A-Day Gallery Calendar elevates what a calendar can be, incorporating engaging content with the weight, style, and visual richness usually reserved for art books. A sophisticated gift for collectors, connoisseurs, and aficionados—and an aesthetic upgrade for any desktop.

 

Dog Page-A-Day Gallery Calendar 2018

 

The ultimate gift for the dog lover: a year of extraordinary canine portraits, in color and black-and- white. A joyous spaniel bounding across an open field. A Bosnian Coarse-haired Hound standing in the falling snow. A Goldendoodle waiting eagerly by the front door for his morning walk. Plus a Shar-Pei enjoying a day by the ocean, a German Shorthaired Pointer with her favorite tennis ball, and a Corgi playing in a pile of autumn leaves. Each image captures its subject in beautiful detail, reminding us why the dog is man’s best friend.

The Rolex of calendars, the Page-A-Day Gallery Calendar elevates what a calendar can be, incorporating engaging content with the weight, style, and visual richness usually reserved for art books. A sophisticated gift for collectors, connoisseurs, and aficionados—and an aesthetic upgrade for any desktop.

The Dogist Wall Calendar 2018

 

Nobody captures dogs like The Dogist, aka photographer Elias Weiss Friedman. Author of the New York Times bestselling book The Dogist and Instagram phenomenon with over 2 million followers and climbing, Friedman has a gift for getting down on a dog’s level and, in a few quick snaps of his camera, finding the indelible, individual spirit of the animal he’s photographing. The result: warm, heartfelt, arrestingly beautiful candid portraits of dogs on the street in all their variety and glory. Now in its second year, with each month featuring a new themed collection of main and supporting images, including Portable Pooches, Dogs of Summer, Besties, Two of a Kind, and more.

Bad Cat Wall Calendar 2018

 

Bad Cat is a rude walk on the feline wild side. Here are cats going rogue in places where they shouldn’t be—in sinks, in toilets, in houseplants. Here are cats plotting escapes, warding off children, scamming their owners, yet still expecting to be spoiled rotten! Sneaky cats, fat cats, naughty cats, bored cats, and—perhaps worst of all— cats plotting revenge for all those costumes they were forced to wear during the holidays. With bonus features such as Bad Cat Beauty Secrets, Least Wanted Bad Cats, Bad Cat Diet Secrets, Who’s Who in Bad Cats, and Bad Cat Early Warning Signs.

Unlikely Friendships Wall Calendar 2018

 

The Unlikely Friendships book series has charmed readers with its tender tales of love between animals of all shapes and sizes. The Unlikely Friendships Calendar features 12 stories of heart-tugging interspecies friendship, each accompanied by a charming, full-color photograph of the pair. A large capybara is groomed by a crew of monkey stylists. A dachshund snuggles up to a hedgehog. A Belgian Malinois and an owl defy expectations and find common ground in play. A calendar that the whole family will love.

Audubon Nature: A Birder's Wall Calendar 2018

 

Audubon Nature is the definitive wall calendar for nature lovers, birders, environmentalists, and travel enthusiasts alike. Here are glorious sites in nature—and the birds that inhabit them—across seasons and locales. Discover the beauty of a Trumpeter Swan gliding in Wonder Lake, Denali National Park. Behold the amazing Dalmatian Pelicans at Lake Kerkini, Greece. Take a peek at the secretive Northern Goshawk sitting among aspens in Dixie National Forest, Utah. Printed on responsibly sourced paper, this wall calendar provides transporting and awe-inspiring views of the great outdoors.

1,000 Places to See Before You Die Picture-A-Day Wall Calendar 2018

 

It’s a yearlong journey of a lifetime, and your expert guide is Patricia Schultz, author of the phenomenally successful 1,000 Places to See Before You Die® travel series. Each month, discover a new extraordinary location, from the Czech Republic to Buenos Aires to Italy’s glorious Amalfi Coast. Exceptional full-color photographs—one large image at the top of each page and smaller ones throughout the grids—are accompanied by detailed trip itineraries, maps, and captivating text that highlights local history, travelers’ tips, and more.

365 Cats Page-A-Day Calendar 2018

 

The all-time bestselling cat calendar is packed with full-color photographs to feed the cat lover’s obsession. Here they are: the playful, mischievous, and lovable winners of the 2018 Cat Calendar Contest. A gray cat with striking orange eyes. A Ragdoll-Himalayan living the good life on a tropical beach. A patriotic tabby posing with Old Glory. Plus a cat hitching a ride on a donkey, oodles of adorable kittens, the spotted Savannah, and other unusual breeds; trivia—Did you know that when a cat blinks or looks away, it is feeling affectionate?—and cat lover quotes: “I wish I could write as mysterious as a cat.”—Edgar Allan Poe

365 Dogs Page-A-Day Calendar 2018

 

Starring the charming winners of the 2018 Dog Calendar Contest, 365 Dogs Page-a-Day Calendar is the bestselling calendar that provides season after season of poodles romping in the snow, retrievers fetching in flower beds, Rottweilers doggy-paddling through pools, and terriers diving into leaf piles. A Cocker Spaniel basks in the sun. A Lab dives underwater in pursuit of a ball. Plus, meet shiny-coated Dobermans, fluffy Samoyeds, pouty Pugs, mutts of all kinds, and even lesser-known breeds like the adorable and spirited Japanese Chin.

Audubon Birds Page-A-Day Calendar 2018

 

The Audubon BirdsPage-A-Day Calendar is a celebration of gorgeous and diverse species from around the world, photographed in their native habitats. Whether it’s the grace of a swan gliding across the water, the sleek outline of a hunting hawk’s wings, or the striking palette of a painted bunting, each photograph captures the unique spirit and beauty of the featured bird.

Cat Page-A-Day Gallery Calendar 2018

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Dog Page-A-Day Gallery Calendar 2018

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The Dogist Wall Calendar 2018

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Bad Cat Wall Calendar 2018

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Unlikely Friendships Wall Calendar 2018

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Audubon Nature: A Birder's Wall Calendar 2018

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1,000 Places to See Before You Die Picture-A-Day Wall Calendar 2018

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Price: $14.99 (US)

365 Cats Page-A-Day Calendar 2018

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Price: $14.99 (US)

365 Dogs Page-A-Day Calendar 2018

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Audubon Birds Page-A-Day Calendar 2018

Link: https://www.workman.com/products/audubon-birds-page-a-day-calendar-2018

Price: $14.99 (US)

(Washington, D.C., Dec. 1, 2017) Conserving Greater Sage-Grouse requires more habitat protection, not less. That’s the message conservation groups are delivering to the administration as it considers potentially devastating revisions to the landmark 2015 Greater Sage-Grouse conservation planning initiative. The revisions, if enacted, would come at too high a cost to the sage-grouse and the remaining sagebrush habitat on public lands, sending the future of both the bird and its iconic landscape back into uncertainty.

More habitat protection is needed to conserve sage-grouse. Photo by Warren Cooke“Because of these proposed backward-looking changes and new development plans for public lands in the region, the grouse is once again at risk of extinction and in need of stronger protection,” said Steve Holmer, American Bird Conservancy’s Vice President of Policy. “The stability and certainty provided to local communities and land users by the federal management plans and other grouse conservation measures are also now at risk of being lost if these changes are put into place.”

Instead of changing direction, the federal government should live up to promises it made in 2015 to ensure sage-grouse protection — promises that formed the basis for not listing the sage-grouse under the Endangered Species Act. The coalition of conservation groups, which includes those most focused on sage-grouse protection over the past decade, are gravely concerned about the recommendation made in the Interior Department’s Sage-Grouse Report to roll back those vital protections and eliminate Sagebrush Focal Areas.

“We oppose the administration's plan to roll back these protections, and also oppose efforts to reduce sage-grouse habitat by further reducing protected habitats, reversing adaptive management that occurs when habitat or population triggers are tripped, or eliminating general habitat management areas in Utah,” said Rebecca Fischer of WildEarth Guardians. “It's also appalling that the planning effort is occurring on a state-by-state basis. This ignores the need to consider the species’ needs at a range-wide scale and will result in the failure to apply strong and consistent protections.”

The Greater Sage-Grouse has become a wildly popular and iconic symbol of the American West and its wide-open sagebrush basins. Year after year, sage-grouse gather in the spring at small arenas in the sagebrush called leks to dance, display, and mate. Their mating dance is one of the great natural spectacles of the West.

“The protections which the administration appears ready to eviscerate are essential, not just for sage-grouse but for a broad diversity of wildlife and the health of public lands in the West,” said Erik Molvar of Western Watersheds Project. “Sagebrush Focal Areas are the only habitats where the land-use plans even come close to the protections recommended by scientific experts, so at minimum all of the priority habitats should receive this level of protection.”

The groups are urging Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke to adopt the scientific recommendations of the Bureau of Land Management’s own science team on sage-grouse. Those recommendations include refraining from fluid-mineral leasing in priority habitats, buffering leks by four miles to prevent any impacts from known disturbances, ensuring that all grazing allotments are meeting science-based standards for sagebrush habitat integrity, ceasing vegetation treatments that degrade sagebrush habitat, preserving winter habitats, limiting disturbances to one per section and 3 percent of each square mile of priority habitat, and withdrawing sagebrush habitats from mining. The agencies’ analysis should preserve priority habitats through a network of areas of critical environmental concern and zoological areas managed to protect sage-grouse, according to the groups.

John Fitzpatrick, Director of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, said: “This ill-timed revision of federal sage-grouse management plans, before they have had a chance to work, runs counter to the best available science.”

Instead of balancing development with conservation, the administration has adopted a policy of “energy dominance,” prioritizing fossil fuel development over other uses on western public lands.

“This attack on sage-grouse conservation is part of a larger trend of plundering public lands and resources,” said Michael Saul of the Center for Biological Diversity. “Secretary Zinke’s proposed gutting of the sage-grouse plans reads like an oil and gas industry wish list, and is a recipe for accelerating the decline of Greater Sage-Grouse across the West.”

Photo of Greater Sage-Grouse by Warren Cooke

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American Bird Conservancy is dedicated to conserving birds and their habitats throughout the Americas. With an emphasis on achieving results and working in partnership, we take on the greatest problems facing birds today, innovating and building on rapid advancements in science to halt extinctions, protect habitats, eliminate threats, and build capacity for bird conservation.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.5 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology is a membership institution dedicated to interpreting and conserving the earth’s biological diversity through research, education, and citizen science focused on birds.

Western Watersheds Project works to protect and restore western watersheds and wildlife through education, public policy initiatives, and legal advocacy. WWP works to influence and improve public lands management throughout the West with a primary focus on the negative impacts of livestock grazing on 250 million acres of western public lands.

WildEarth Guardians is a nonprofit environmental advocacy organization dedicated to protecting the wildlife, wild places, wild rivers, and health of the American West. Guardians has worked for years and continues to work to protect the Greater Sage-Grouse and the Sagebrush Sea so that future generations might continue to enjoy this spectacular species.

NEW YORK – November 2, 2017 – Siestas are key, especially in the fast-paced lives of some of the world’s most active animals. The fascinating sleeping habits of the animal kingdom hint at a complexity humans are only just beginning to unlock. From birds that take micro-naps mid-flight to dolphins who half-snooze while underwater, Smithsonian Earth examines the myriad ways animals sleep with the new animated, short-form series, THE SECRET WORLD OF ANIMAL SLEEP. Narrated by journalist and science communicator Cara Santa Maria, this new series offers a captivating glimpse into the way animals restore energy and get ready for their next day or night on the prowl – all through a series of beautiful picture-book, hand-drawn animations. The premiere episode, SLEEPLESS ON THE SAVANNA, is now available for free at SmithsonianEarthTV.com/Sleep. The five additional episodes will be available on Smithsonian Earth tomorrow, November 3rd. Smithsonian Earth is available on Apple®, Roku®, Amazon, Android™ and SmithsonianEarthTV.com.

Episodes of THE SECRET WORLD OF ANIMAL SLEEP are:

SLEEPLESS ON THE SAVANNA

The higher up on the food chain you are, the more sleep you get. That’s why prey species like giraffes can only afford mere minutes of sleep at a time, while lions revel in over 20 hours of luxurious slumber a day. Take an eye-opening look at sleep as a survival strategy.

DOZING DOLPHINS

Marine mammals like dolphins need air to breathe, but what happens when they rest? The solution is a fascinating form of half-sleep that allows them to emerge for air without waking up. Dive into the weird world of underwater slumber.

ASLEEP ON THE WING

When birds need sleep, they do it on the fly – quite literally. They’re able to enter a special kind of half-sleep state that lets them rest midair, which is especially important for migratory birds, like the Alpine swift, clocking thousands of miles at a time. Glide into the astounding world of avian sleep.

SLEEPING LIKE A BABY

Owls and foxes are born with undeveloped brains. To grow, they need a special kind of deep sleep known as REM, or rapid eye movement – a state marked by brain regeneration, memory development and a lot of movement. Take an intriguing look into the role of sleep in helping different species develop into adults.

MYSTERIES OF HIBERNATION

Arctic ground squirrels survive harsh Canadian winters through skilled hibernation. Entering a state of controlled hypothermia, their body temperatures drop to 27°F – the lowest ever recorded in a mammal. This suspended animation isn’t sleep exactly, but it’s an equally vital part of their unique survival plan.

STRANGE SLUMBER

All animals sleep – but few do so in exactly the same way. Horses snooze standing up and snakes sleep with their eyes wide open. As for some species of jellyfish, they sleep despite lacking a brain. Uncover some of the more unusual features of animal slumber, many of which still remain a mystery.

Cara Santa Maria is a Los Angeles Area Emmy and Knight Foundation Award winning journalist, science communicator, television personality, producer and podcaster. She is the creator and host of a weekly science podcast called Talk Nerdy with Cara Santa Maria and cohosts the popular Skeptics' Guide to the Universe podcast. She is a founding member of the Nerd Brigade and cofounded the annual science communication retreat #SciCommCamp.

Smithsonian Earth is a subscription streaming video service specializing in original nature and wildlife programming shot in stunning 4K Ultra HD resolution that’s available through Apple®, Roku®, Amazon, Android™ and at SmithsonianEarthTV.com.

Smithsonian Networks™ is a joint venture between Showtime Networks Inc. and the Smithsonian Institution. Smithsonian Networks operates Smithsonian Earth, through SN Digital LLC. Smithsonian Networks also operates Smithsonian Channel, the place for awe-inspiring stories, powerful documentaries and amazing entertainment across multiple platforms. To learn more, go to www.smithsonianchannel.com, or connect with us on Facebook//twitter.com/@SmithsonianChan">Twitter, and Instagram.

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“America Loves Pets” Study Finds Most Talked-About Pets on Social Media 
To learn more about the relationship between Americans and their pets, TrustedHousesitters analyzed a year’s worth of social media conversation, including Twitter, Facebook and Instagram (March 2016-March 2017) to identify the most popular pets in each state. Visit the interactive graph to learn which pets are most popular in your state. Key findings include: 
- Californians talk the most about pets on social media
- Dogs hanging out with donkeys, cats nuzzling up with hamsters, budgies perching on the house rabbit and other harmonious pairings received more than 124,000 mentions  
-  The hashtag #crazycatlady has been used nearly 3.5 million times worldwide on Instagram
-  The most popular pet across the United States is the bulldog. However, most popular varied by states—in California and Texas, the most popular pet is the chihuahua; in Maine and South Carolina, it’s the Labrador; in Alaska and Ohio, it’s the husky
-  Nevada’s most popular pet: lizards
-  Cats are the second most talked-about pet in nearly every state, with Persians most popular overall (though, in Maine, the Maine coon is tops) 
 
About TrustedHousesitters.com 
TrustedHousesitters is a global community of pet lovers helping each other travel the world by connecting pet owners with a network of verified pet sitters. Since its 2011 launch in the U.K., TrustedHousesitters has grown into the world’s largest house sitting business, facilitating over two million nights of house and pet sitting globally and saving its members an estimated $218 million in accommodation and pet care costs. The site’s community of nearly half a million members is spread across 140 countries.

 

U.S. Senate to Consider Issue for the First Time

Contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Director of Public Relations, 202-888-7472

(Washington, D.C., Oct. 6, 2017) The U.S. Senate will have an opportunity to act to make all new federal buildings safer for birds. This week, Sen. Cory A. Booker (D-NJ) introduced the Federal Bird-Safe Buildings Act (S. 1920) — the first time such a bill has been proposed in the Senate. A version of the legislation was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives earlier this year by Rep. Mike Quigley (D-IL) and Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-VA).

https://abcbirds.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/Wood-Thrush_Ryan-Sanderson_U_PR.jpgAmerican Bird Conservancy (ABC) thanks Sen. Booker and Reps. Quigley and Griffith for encouraging the federal government to lead by example in addressing one of the biggest human-caused threats to birds. As many as a billion birds a year are killed in the United States when they collide with glass on all kind of structures, from skyscrapers and office buildings to homes and bus shelters.

Many existing federal buildings already feature bird-friendly design. Both the House and Senate versions of the bill call for the General Services Administration to require new federal buildings to incorporate bird-safe building materials and design features.

“While this legislation is limited to federal buildings, it’s a very good start that could lead to more widespread applications of bird-friendly designs elsewhere,” said Christine Sheppard, Director of ABC’s Glass Collisions Program.

“Now is the time to proactively avoid continued impacts to bird populations from building strikes, which only compounds losses from other threats such as habitat loss and climate change,” said Eric Stiles, President and Chief Executive Officer of New Jersey Audubon. “We applaud Cory Booker for introducing the Federal Bird-Safe Buildings Act.”

Many species of birds fall victim to collisions. The species most commonly reported as building kills in the United States include White-throated Sparrow, Dark-eyed Junco, Ovenbird, and Song Sparrow. Several other species of national conservation concern suffer disproportionate casualties, including Painted Bunting, Canada Warbler, Golden-winged Warbler, Canada Warbler, Kentucky Warbler, Worm-eating Warbler, and Wood Thrush. Learn more about bird collisions and bird-friendly building design here.

(Photo: Wood Thrush by Ryan Sanderson)

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American Bird Conservancy is dedicated to conserving birds and their habitats throughout the Americas. With an emphasis on achieving results and working in partnership, we take on the greatest problems facing birds today, innovating and building on rapid advancements in science to halt extinctions, protect habitats, eliminate threats, and build capacity for bird conservation.

 

Dangerous Pesticides Kill Wildlife, Harm Unique Ecosystems

Contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Director of Pesticides Science and Regulation, American Bird Conservancy, 202-888-7475, or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Staff Attorney, Earthjustice, 415-217-2000

(Washington, D.C., Sept. 20, 2017) On behalf of American Bird Conservancy (ABC), the nonprofit environmental law organization Earthjustice has petitioned the California Fish and Game Commission to adopt a statewide prohibition on the use of neonicotinoid pesticides in the more than one million acres of wildlife habitat under its jurisdiction. “We need to be sure that these lands remain safe havens for birds and other wildlife,” said Cynthia Palmer, ABC’s Director of Pesticides Science and Regulation.

Neonics are a relatively new class of chemicals with the potential to derail California’s efforts to safeguard its unique ecosystems. Neonics are deadly to pollinators and other wildlife, including birds. For example, a single seed coated with neonics is enough to kill a songbird, and exposure to just one-tenth of a coated seed per day during the egg-laying season is enough to impair reproduction. Even tiny doses can cause birds to lose coordination and the ability to fly. Neonics are also lethal to many of the terrestrial and aquatic invertebrates — including butterflies, bees, earthworms, and mayflies — that are critical food sources for birds and other wildlife.

“What’s so stunning about these pesticides,” said Palmer, “is the fact that they can actually exacerbate the pest problems they were meant to solve. By harming pollinators like bees and butterflies, as well as natural pest control agents like birds and beneficial insects, neonics are sabotaging the very organisms on which we all depend.”

Europe has enacted a moratorium on the use of neonics, and Canada has proposed a nationwide ban on the most widely used neonic, imidacloprid, given the risk it poses to birds, insects, small mammals, and other wildlife. In addition, many U.S. companies such as Home Depot, Lowe’s, Walmart, True Value, and BJ’s Wholesale Club, as well as state and local legislatures, are reining in the use of neonics. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service banned neonic use on National Wildlife Refuge lands as of last year.

“We hope that the California Fish and Game Commission will follow the lead of the federal Fish and Wildlife Service and prohibit any use of neonicotinoid pesticides on the important network of wildlife refuges it oversees throughout California, one of the nation’s most biodiverse states,” said Trent Orr, the Earthjustice staff attorney who worked on the petition.

“It’s time for the agencies managing state refuges across the nation to join in protecting our endangered species and other wildlife from these poisons,” Palmer stated. “California has long been an environmental standard-bearer for the other states on everything from auto emissions to building codes. We urge the California Fish and Game Commission to lead the way on pesticides, as well, by adopting a statewide prohibition on neonicotinoid insecticides.”

(Photo: Banning the use of neonics on Califonia's public lands would benefit songbirds such as Horned Lark and many other species. Photo by Tom Grey)

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American Bird Conservancy is dedicated to conserving birds and their habitats throughout the Americas. With an emphasis on achieving results and working in partnership, we take on the greatest problems facing birds today, innovating and building on rapid advancements in science to halt extinctions, protect habitats, eliminate threats, and build capacity for bird conservation.

Earthjustice, the nation’s premier nonprofit environmental law organization, wields the power of law and the strength of partnership to protect people’s health, to preserve magnificent places and wildlife, to advance clean energy, and to combat climate change. Because the earth needs a good lawyer.

American Bird Conservancy’s Statement on New Bills to Ban Chlorpyrifos

(Washington, D.C., July 25, 2017) We applaud the U.S. Senators who today introduced a bill to ban chlorpyrifos, a widely used pesticide that has been killing birds and poisoning the environment for the past half-century: Tom Udall (D-NM)Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Kamala Harris (D-CA), and Edward J. Markey (D-MA). We’re also grateful to Representatives Nydia Velazquez (D-NY) and Keith Ellison (D-MN), who have offered a companion bill in the House.

The “Protect Children, Farmers & Farmworkers from Nerve Agent Pesticides Act” would prohibit all chlorpyrifos use by amending the U.S. Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act that oversees food safety.

Chlorpyrifos, an organophosphate related to sarin nerve gas, is used in production of common crops such as strawberries, apples, citrus, and broccoli. In addition to the pesticide’s well-known threats to human health, American Bird Conservancy (ABC) is concerned about the pesticide’s effects on birds, including to declining species like the Mountain Plover (shown). A recent draft biological evaluation from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) stated that chlorpyrifos is likely to adversely affect 97 percent of all wildlife, including more than 100 listed bird species listed under the Endangered Species Act.

ABC has been calling for a ban on the use of chlorpyrifos for years. EPA scientists agreed and were on course to ban the pesticide from use on all crops. In March 2017, however, the EPA administrator reversed the recommendation of the agency’s own scientists and extended chlorpyrifos’ registration for another five years.

"It’s high time to outlaw the use of chlorpyrifos. It’s well known that this pesticide is lethal to birds, other wildlife, and people,” said Cynthia Palmer, ABC's Pesticide Program Director. “We’re encouraged by the leadership shown today in Congress.”

(Photo: Mountain Plover by Greg Homel/Natural Elements Productions)

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American Bird Conservancy is dedicated to conserving birds and their habitats throughout the Americas. With an emphasis on achieving results and working in partnership, we take on the greatest problems facing birds today, innovating and building on rapid advancements in science to halt extinctions, protect habitats, eliminate threats, and build capacity for bird conservation.

Feared Extinct, the Táchira Antpitta Has Been Found in Remote Andean Region

 

(Washington, D.C., July 25, 2017) An international team of researchers has solved one of South America’s great bird mysteries. Working deep in the mountainous forests of western Venezuela, they have rediscovered the Táchira Antpitta, a plump brown bird species not seen since it was first recorded in the 1950s.

The 7.5-inch-long Táchira (TAH-chee-rah) Antpitta had not been spotted since 1955-56, when ornithologists first recorded and described it. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) lists the species as Critically Endangered, and many feared it was lost for good.

Last year, scientists of the Red Siskin Initiative (RSI) — a conservation partnership between the Smithsonian and several scientific organizations in Venezuela — organized a team to go in search of the antpitta. The team was led by Jhonathan Miranda of RSI and Provita, and included colleagues Alejandro Nagy, Peter Bichier of the University of California at Santa Cruz, and Miguel Lentino and Miguel Matta of the Colección Ornitólogica Phelps (COP). American Bird Conservancy (ABC) provided financial support through a William Belton Conservation Fund grant as part of its ongoing Search for Lost Birds.

The team set out in June 2016, knowing that several factors were likely to make the antpitta especially challenging to find, if in fact it still existed. The species inhabits dense undergrowth at altitudes of 5,000 to 7,000 feet in a rugged and hard-to-reach region of the Andes. Difficult to identify visually, the bird differs in coloration in subtle ways from related species.

Antpittas are also easier to hear than to see. But without sound recordings, nobody knew what to listen for.

The researchers had an advantage: They knew where to look.  “We followed the route described in the earlier expedition’s field notebooks to locate the original site of the discovery,” Miranda said.

To reach the remote location, part of what is now El Tamá National Park, the team traveled by foot on steep and narrow Andean trails, with a mule train to carry their gear. From their campsite, the team hiked two hours in the dark to reach appropriate habitat at dawn, the best time to hear the birds sing.

The first day there, Miranda and Nagy detected the distinctive song of an antpitta they had not heard before. “We were thrilled to re-find the Táchira Antpitta during our first day in the field,” said Miranda, “and we think they persist in more places we have not yet searched.”

Over the next week, the team was able to confirm the mysterious song as that of the long-lost Táchira Antpitta, obtaining the first photographs and sound recordings ever made of the living bird.

“The rediscovery provides hope and inspiration that we still have a chance to conserve this species,” said Daniel Lebbin, ABC’s Vice President of International Programs. “We hope this rediscovery will lead to improved management of and attention for protected areas like El Tamá National Park.”

“El Tamá National Park is an important part of Venezuela’s natural heritage and recognized by the Alliance for Zero Extinction as a critical site to protect for the Táchira Antpitta and other biodiversity,” said Jon Paul Rodriguez of Instituto Venezolano de Investigaciones Científicas (IVIC, the Venezuelan Institute of Scientific Research), Provita, and the IUCN Species Survival Commission.

“Jhonathan Miranda and his RSI colleagues have resolved one of South America’s great bird mysteries, and we hope their findings will contribute to a renewed effort to conserve this species,” said Lebbin.

In the coming months, the team plans to publish the full details of their findings in a scientific journal, including how the Táchira Antpitta’s voice and visual characteristics distinguish it from other similar species. Additional field work is necessary to learn more about this mysterious bird. Similar habitat can be found nearby in Colombia, and the species might also occur there. Better knowledge of the species’ vocalizations and the visual identification gathered in this study will help researchers determine the species' full range, ecology and habitat requirements, and how best to ensure its conservation.

“This species was originally described by William H. Phelps, Jr. of the COP and Alexander Wetmore, former Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution,” said Michael Braun of the RSI and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History. “It is fitting that the Red Siskin Initiative, in which COP and the Smithsonian are key collaborators, has been instrumental in the rediscovery. We invite those interested in helping us learn more about this species to join us.”

The Venezuela search team owes its success to a number of individuals and institutions. Logistical support came from ABC, RSI, IVIC, COP, Provita, INPARQUES, Ascanio Birding Tours, the Smithsonian Institution, and the following individuals: Carolina Afan, Miguel Angel Arvelo, David Ascanio, Michael Braun, Felix Briceño, Brian Coyle, Dan Lebbin, Cipriano Ochoa, Tomás Odenall, Jorge Perez Eman, Jon Paul Rodriguez, Kathryn Rodriguez-Clark, and Bibiana Sucre.

(Photo: Táchira Antpitta by Jhonathan Miranda)

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American Bird Conservancy is dedicated to conserving birds and their habitats throughout the Americas. With an emphasis on achieving results and working in partnership, we take on the greatest problems facing birds today, innovating and building on rapid advancements in science to halt extinctions, protect habitats, eliminate threats, and build capacity for bird conservation.

Colección Ornitólogica Phelps (Phelps Ornithological Collection) is a private organization aiming to know the diversity, distribution, taxonomic and systematics of the birds of Venezuela. It is the largest and most complete collection of birds in Latin America, and among the 20 largest collections in the world, which has allowed Venezuela to be the country of Latin America best known in birds.

Provita is an NGO devoted to conservation of Venezuela's environment in its widest sense, using multiple fields of knowledge and innovative approaches to achieve integral solutions. In our almost three decades, we have successfully completed hundreds of projects, ranging from recovery of emblematic endangered species, to developing alternative livelihoods for indigenous and rural communities.

The National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, is the largest natural history museum in the world, with more than 140 million cataloged specimens, and annual visitorship of more than 7 million. The Museum conducts natural history research and fieldwork around the globe.

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