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by Anna Morris
2018 marked the centennial of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, the most powerful and important bird-protection law ever passed. In honor of this milestone, nature lovers around the world joined forces to celebrate 2018 as the “Year of the Bird.” Now that the year has come to a close, we at VINS would like to celebrate 2018 with a list of some good things that happened this year for the birds.
1) Here in Vermont, it was an excellent year for nesting Bald Eagles. Though the Bald Eagle is still listed on the state’s endangered species list, this year’s crop of young eagles may see the species down-listed or de-listed entirely.
2) In California, a second-generation wild California Condor chick was born, the first in over 50 years.
3) We were treated to the sighting of a very rare bird visiting our northern climes from the tropical south. A Great Black Hawk arrived in Portland, ME in November, a bird normally native to Peru.
4) Detection of migrating raptors at wind farms is getting better and better, thanks to AI technology. The program IdentiFlight could help wind farms prevent the deaths of hundreds of eagles, while producing clean renewable energy.
5) Cities around the United States banned the use of plastic grocery bags, following several states and countries that have already done so, or begun taxing the bags to prevent this waste product from ending up in our ecosystems.
6) We learned about bird migration and helped birds at the Tribute in Light in NYC. This gorgeous memorial poses problems for migrating songbirds, but by collaborating with the city, the Audubon Society and Cornell Lab of Ornithology have been able to make it an opportunity for learning and for conservation.
7) Finally, Wisdom, a 68-year-old Laysan Albatross who is the oldest known wild bird, laid another egg on Midway Atoll. She was banded originally in 1965 and returns to the island every year to raise one chick.
We’d also like to give a big thank you to everyone who made the Year of the Bird possible, including National Geographic, BirdLife International, the Audubon Society, and Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Thank you for getting us thinking about the ways in which we can live our lives a little better for birds. Happy New Year!
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