BirdLife: The Magazine Apr-Jun 2018 - Page 14

Depiction of a Passenger Pigeon shooting in northern Louisiana, 1875 Credit Smith Bennett 0 oil spill, and Duke Energy was fined $1 million after failing to build windmills out of the way of migratory bird flightpaths, despite being warned by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “Birds are doing their best to find ways to live among people, but they are birds after all — they don’t know how to navigate human-dominated landscapes” says David Yarnold, CEO, Audubon. “Hazards birds face today include oil pits, gas flares from drilling, oil spills, power lines, communication towers, improperly-sited wind turbines and solar arrays to name a few. The penalties under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act are critical incentives for companies to take actions to help reduce these kinds of bird kills.” However, the latest twist in the 100-year history of this proud old environmental act could turn the clock back on a remarkable century of progress for America’s birds. In December 2017, the Trump Administration “If you take care of birds, you take care of most of the environmental problems in the world.” Thomas Lovejoy Biologist and Godfather of Biodiversity 14 issued a new interpretation of the law, that no longer holds industries to account in the event of incidental bird deaths relating to otherwise lawful activities. The reading comes as birds are more in need of our protection than ever. Migratory bird populations are now far lower than they were when the MBTA was first passed – threatened by habitat loss, hunting and modern technologies including wind farms and power lines. Internationally, BirdLife estimates that more than forty percent of migratory bird species are declining. It has never been more important to communicate to the public the importance of our feathered friends. Which is why, on the centennial of the MBTA’s passing, BirdLife International has joined forces with National Geographic, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Audubon to declare 2018 the ‘Year of the Bird’. Together, these four organisations are pooling their collective passion and expertise to heighten awareness of the wonder of birds, and the importance of protecting them, through a dedicated year of storytelling. This is a multi-layered initiative that runs across the full suite of National Geographic media outlets, including the magazine, its website and its YouTube and television channels. Two new books will be published: Birds of the Photo Ark, a compilation of charismatic bird portraits, and The Splendor of Birds, a look back at 130 years of bird photography. But there’s also a conservation component: a recent livestreamed Facebook event saw key figures, including BirdLife CEO Patricia Zurita, discuss solutions to the problems faced by the world’s birdlife • apr-jun 2018