This year we’re celebrating the centennial of a treaty of importance to everyone interested in conserving birds — the Migratory Bird Treaty. To mark the occasion, we asked Terry Rich to write about the treaty, its enforcement, and its impact.
Terry is an Honorary Member of the Cooper Ornithological Society and a Fellow of the American Ornithologists’ Union. He served as the national Migratory Bird Program Coordinator for the Bureau of Land Management from 1992 to 2000, and as Partners in Flight National Coordinator from 2000 to 2014. In short, he knows what he’s talking about.
In our article, he points out that the MBTA has real teeth, due to a combination of strict liability and criminal penalty provisions. And he describes how the treaty became the basis for all bird and wildlife legislation that followed, including the Duck Stamp Act, the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, and the Endangered Species Act.
Then he tackles a question we’re particularly interested in: So if the MBTA is so great, why are bird populations in North America continuing to decline? Terry’s answer is worthy of a cover story, in my opinion. Unlike most of what is being written on the subject this summer, his article is a must-read.
Also in the August issue:
• Don Freiday, program director at the Cape May Bird Observatory, gives an insider’s view of this year’s successful Champions of the Flyway bird race. Don was a member of the Leica Cape May Bird Observatory American Dippers team that tied for fourth in the event. The race raised over $70,000 to be used to help prevent the illegal killing of birds in the Mediterranean region.
• Erika Zambello, a National Geographic Young Explorer grant recipient, describes why more and more Black Skimmers and Least Terns in Florida are leaving the sandy beaches and choosing to nest on gravel rooftops and bridges instead. She also lists three ways you can help the beach-nesting birds you spot in Florida this summer.
• In Hotspots Near You, we present four more places to go birding. Experienced local birders give driving directions, tell the best times to visit, and list the birds you’ll see at hotspots in British Columbia, Arizona, Missouri, and Indiana. See every hotspot we’ve written about in Hotspots Near You.
• And in Birding Briefs, we share important news about Puerto Rico’s vanishing warblers, Red-tailed Hawk migration, nest piracy by Eurasian Collared-Doves, nest predation by American Crows, and seven simple ways we can make wind and solar facilities that kill fewer birds.
From our contributors:
• Pete Dunne writes about the birds and biting insects of Delaware Bay’s coastal marshes.
• Julie Craves gives answers to readers’ questions about what kestrels eat, why gulls dance in shallow water, whether kingfishers that vomit are actually ill, and the purpose of hornbills’ huge bills.
• Kenn Kaufman describes how to identify Harris’s Hawk and speculates about what it is that makes the bird adapt so well to working with people.
• Eldon Greij explains why it might make sense for one chick to kill one of its nestmates. The behavior is known as siblicide, and it’s not unusual in egrets, herons, pelicans, boobies, and eagles. See our archive of articles by Eldon Greij.
• Laura Erickson writes about the skunks, squirrels, rabbits, deer, bears, and other wildlife that may be attracted to the feeders in your yard.
• And in “ID Toolkit,” David Sibley gives practical advice about using your binoculars to find more birds. It’s all about scanning with care, David writes. He illustrates his column with a painting of a countryside filled with distant birds that you might not notice unless you look carefully.
The August 2016 issue of BirdWatching, containing Terry Rich’s important article about the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, is on sale now at Barnes & Noble and other newsstands. The issue is also available on your favorite digital device. Please contact me if you have questions or comments. Or write a letter to the editor. I look forward to hearing from you. — Chuck Hagner, Editor
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