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Celebrating Alaska’s Important Bird Areas
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Celebrating Alaska’s Important Bird Areas

Image of map of IBAs of Alaska

As part of BirdLife International, we’re celebrating the recent publication of a map of the Important Bird Areas (IBAs) of Alaska. Extensive identification efforts by Audubon Alaska have resulted in the designation of 145 IBAs for birds such as Kittlitz's Murrelets, Emperor Geese and Bar-tailed Godwits. With 69 IBAs of global significance, Alaska has the highest number of globally significant IBAs of any US state.
These sites join a network of thousands of IBAs stretching throughout the hemisphere and around the world, including close to 600 IBAs that we've identified in Canada. By identifying the world’s sites that are critical to the survival of birds, the BirdLife partnership highlights their importance and is taking concrete steps to ensure that these sites continue to play their vital roles for the conservation of global bird species. You can download a copy of this map (including stunning original species illustrations by renowned bird artist David Allen Sibley) here.
Bravo Audubon Alaska!

Put Away the Party Hats: New Wildlife Law Already Being Watered Down
News

Put Away the Party Hats: New Wildlife Law Already Being Watered Down

As Parliament gears up to review Canada’s 5-year old Species at Risk Act, Ontario’s own wildlife protection law, the Endangered Species Act, came into force this week. When this act was passed a year ago, it was hailed as a victory for species and their habitats because of the law’s strong habitat protection focus and mandatory science-based listing of species at risk. For some Ontario species though, this legislation comes too late. And much of the early promise of this legislation is fading – yesterday the Ontario government approved more than two dozen exemptions to the act that will exempt forestry, aggregate extraction, hydro, and other development from the law.

Meanwhile, Canada’s federal law has not lived up to its promise. Its 5-year anniversary is not much of a celebration: listing and recovery deadlines are routinely missed, adequate critical habitat protection is rarely extended, and the federal government refuses to use the act’s emergency and safety net powers to protect species in provinces where they are losing ground.

More Signs Birds Affected by Climate Change
News

More Signs Birds Affected by Climate Change

Image of a flock of birds flying over water

These days, we hear a lot about the effects of climate change on species and habitats. Scientific studies looking for a link between climate change and animal behaviour often focus on birds, and for good reason. Birds are one of the best known groups of species on the planet, they are found in virtually every habitat, and much of their life cycle (like egg laying and migration) is often intimately linked to climatic conditions.
A new study in Global Change Biology provides more evidence that a warming climate is directly affecting bird behaviour. Researchers found that many birds migrating to or through the eastern U.S. are arriving earlier. This times their arrival to correspond to optimal food and habitat conditions like insect emergence and leaf budding which occur earlier in the spring as the climate warms. (News Report: Science Daily)
Interestingly, this study also finds that long-distance migrants don’t migrate earlier. They aren’t able to use local climate cues to time their migration departure in the same way that shorter-distance migrants do. As a result, birds that winter in South America may face conditions along their migration route and on their breeding grounds which are far less than optimal, particularly in warm years. It’s not a pretty picture to imagine the all too plausible scenario of our boreal warblers returning to their breeding grounds only to have missed the massive pulse of insects on which they depend.

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