Tag Archives: migration

Alleged shooter of whooping cranes faces charge under Endangered Species Act

The case against the alleged shooter of two endangered Whooping Cranes in Texas last month has been re-filed under the federal Endangered Species Act, which increases the likelihood of larger penalties for the crime.

Environmental activists were concerned that Trey Frederick might be tried for a Class B misdemeanor under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

“If we hope to deter future shootings, perpetrators must be prosecuted vigorously. In all cases of Whooping Crane shootings, we demand justice for the birds that were killed, restitution for the enormous effort needed to bring them back, and personal penalties that match the seriousness of the crime,” said Rich Beilfuss, president & CEO of the International Crane Foundation.

In the 1940s, there were fewer than 20 Whooping Cranes left in the wild.

With conservation and reintroduction efforts, the crane numbers slowly increased to about 400 total in the wild.

The two cranes shot in Texas were members of the recently reintroduced Louisiana flock which numbers just about 30.

Over the past five years, more than 20 Whooping Cranes have been shot and killed in the United States.

“Whooping Cranes are an iconic species, central to our shared natural heritage. We are grateful to the thousands of citizens who have demanded justice in this case and thank federal authorities for continuing to pursue a just outcome. It’s our hope that by working together, we can prevent future tragedies like these shootings,” Beilfuss said. 

Milkweed seeds planted on Mackinac Island to help struggling monarch butterflies

Mackinac Island, a place known for fudge and horses, is trying to help the struggling monarch butterfly.

Thousands of milkweed seeds have been planted at the end of the island’s airport runway. The goal is to grow milkweed plants, which monarch butterflies use to lay eggs.

Planting the milkweed plants on Mackinac Island is just the latest in a growing variety of efforts to save the iconic black-and-orange butterfly, which has become a rallying symbol for grassroots environmentalism. The butterfly’s population has plummeted 90 percent in the last 20 years, mostly due to habitat loss and toxic chemicals used by factory farms.

The growing number of campaigns to save monarchs range from initiatives launched by President Barack Obama to those by an eastern Iowa Facebook group, from university research scientists to Iowa farmers.

The Environmental Protection Agency recently took steps to withdraw approval of a controversial weed killer in Wisconsin, partly due to the danger it poses for the monarchs.

Monarchs migrate thousands of miles between Mexico and Canada and the United States, and milkweed is an important source of food for butterfly larvae.

Natural historian Jeff Dykehouse says he’s seen clouds of monarchs flying south through the Straits of Mackinac at the tip of the Lower Peninsula.

Phil Porter of Mackinac State Historic Parks says monarchs play an important role in pollinating plants.

‘Rumore’ places refugees’ plight center stage

Turn on the news on any given night of the week and the struggles of the Syrian refuges stare back at you. They are individuals clinging to a hope for survival by crossing the Mediterranean. 

It’s a story that seems far away, a world removed from Milwaukee. Theater Gigante hopes to change that.

On Oct. 1, the company will present the local premiere of Rumore di Acque, a play that puts the struggles of Mediterranean-crossing refugees center stage. 

Written by Marco Martinelli, Rumore di Acque (“Noise in the Waters”) is set against a beautiful Mediterranean backdrop, telling a story that is anything but. The piece illuminates the tragedy of African immigrants who have been found at sea, trying to escape war, hunger and all sorts of terror in their own countries. In the past 20 years, over 20,000 refugees have drowned trying to escape.

Co-artistic director Isabelle Kralj says Martinelli’s piece neither glorifies nor fictionalizes its events. Rather, it draws on true accounts collected by him and collaborator Ermanna Montanari. “This piece is powerful because it takes all the numbers that are thrown at us in the media and humanizes (them),” Kralj says. “It personalizes the story and gives a face to the tragedy that we are seeing in the news on a daily basis.”

Rumore di Acque has previously been performed in Chicago and New York, following the world premiere in Ravenna, Italy, in 2010. New to this production is a score written by composer and accordionist Guy Klucevsek. 

“The music Guy has written for us is very accessible and beautiful. It makes you feel emotions without forcing you,” says co-artistic director Mark Anderson in a recent interview. “The music is tonal while still being avant-garde. It is contemporary but has elements of a truly classical sound as well,” added Kralj.

Original performer Alessandro Renda will be performing the work in the original Italian, with Thomas Simpson (a professor of Italian at Northwestern University in Chicago) translating the words live into English. The partnership will allow the show to move back and forth between Italian and English seamlessly, Kralj says. 

This unique and powerful production provides several opportunities for collaboration, which Gigante is pursuing as part of its mission. Renda will teach acting classes at UWM and in local high schools. Talkbacks will give audiences a chance to ask questions. And following the completion of the show, the cast will record Klucevsek’s original score for performance use overseas. “We are so excited about the reception of Guy’s score and really thrilled that it will be used for future performances. It’s a truly beautiful score,” says Kralj.

The subject matter may seem difficult at times, but it is not as far away from home as the location may seem — Kralj is living proof. “My parents were immigrants,” she explains. “They didn’t have to go through what these individuals in the Mediterranean are facing, but it was hard. A lot of the emotions discussed in this show hit home. This is a powerful work that will resonate with everyone.”


Rumore di Acque will run Oct. 1-4 at UWM’s Kenilworth Studio 508, 1925 E. Kenilworth Place, Milwaukee. Tickets are $25, $20 for seniors, $15 for students. Visit theatregigante.org to order.

Human migration is unstoppable

I’m a history buff, and one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is that the history of the world is the history of migrations. A look at North America is instructive.

The tribes we call “native” to the United States and Canada are descendants of people who crossed the Bering Strait from northern Asia, spreading south and east into the continent. Many centuries later, European migrants seeking greater opportunity — some of them religious zealots, others freethinkers — settled the East Coast. They moved westward over the next two centuries, displacing and, in some cases, annihilating native tribes. 

For centuries, slave traders captured and exported millions of Africans to the “New World” where they were sold as slaves. They were doomed to work as slaves their whole lives as were generations of their descendants. It took one of the most devastating wars in history to end slavery in the U.S. Decades after emancipation, millions of African Americans in the South joined what became known as “The Great Migration,” seeking better jobs and fairer treatment in the North and West.

In the mid-1800s, West Coast businessmen recruited Chinese to lay railroad tracks and work in fields and mines for little pay. Asian women were trafficked as prostitutes to serve men in the bustling cities and mining towns of the West. About 1.5 million Irish fled to the eastern U.S. to escape famine in Ireland.

Some Mexicans who have come to the U.S. in recent years may be the descendants of the Spanish-speaking people who conquered the American Southwest, which became part of New Spain, then Mexico. 

Hundreds of thousands of Cubans migrated to Florida in the wake of the 1950s revolution there, and tens of thousands of Vietnamese “boat people” who fled their ravaged land were welcomed to the U.S. in the 1970s and ’80s.

Every continent and region of earth has its own history of migration, some of it voluntary, some coerced. Migrations are caused by displacement from natural disasters or flight from war or persecution. They result from conquests and coerced resettlement of populations. They are also undertaken for adventure, opportunity and profit. 

Migration occurs without respect to procedures issued by governments. Laws do not deter them. Walls do not block them. Armies cannot shoot them all. Migrants brave deserts, seas, mountains and border guards. Human migration is inexorable.

The refugee crisis caused by chaos in Iraq and Syria has been years in the making. It requires a coordinated plan by the European Union, where refugees are now fleeing, and the United Nations. Negotiations over Syria must resume in Geneva. Until some measure of order is restored in Syria and Iraq, the exodus of millions will continue unabated.

Given the U.S. role in destabilizing the region, it is shameful that we’ve agreed to take in only 2,000 Syrian refugees.

Meanwhile, hysteria about undocumented migrants in the U.S. is being fanned by many Republican candidates for president. Some want to spend billions on a massive wall along our border with Mexico, while our own bridges and schools are deteriorating around us. 

Instead of wasting money and sowing hatred, all candidates should address how migrants and their children can be integrated into American life. All Americans should get used to the inevitability of a more fluid and diverse society.

Illegal logging in Mexico further imperils monarch butterfly

Illegal logging more than tripled in the monarch butterfly’s wintering grounds In central Mexico, reversing several years of steady improvements, investigators announced Tuesday.

Almost all of the loss occurred in just one rural hamlet in the state of Michoacan. Loggers cut down 47 acres (19 hectares) of trees in San Felipe de los Alzati since last year’s gathering of butterflies. A total of 52 acres (21 hectares) of forest in the reserve were lost overall, including losses due to drought or pests.

That’s the highest figure since 2009, well above the 20 acres (8 hectares) lost in 2014, according to the announcement by the World Wildlife Fund and the Institute of Biology of Mexico’s National Autonomous University. The 2014 loss was about 12 acres (5 hectares) due to logging and 8 acres (3 hectares) to drought.

Illegal logging fell to almost zero in 2012, and experts stressed that 31 of the 32 communities in the reserve had kept logging down to very, very low levels.

The forest canopy is a sort of blanket against cold for the masses of orange-and-black butterflies that form huge clumps on tree branches during their winter stay in Mexico.

Loss of that habitat is just one of the threats to the butterflies’ amazing migration across Canada and the United States to Mexico. The migration is an inherited trait: No butterfly lives to make the full round trip, and it is unclear how they find the route back to the same patch of pine forest each year. Some scientists suggest the butterflies may release chemicals marking the migratory path and fear that if their numbers fall too low, the chemical traces will not be strong enough for others to follow.

This year butterflies that reached the wintering grounds covered 2.79 acres (1.13 hectares), a 69 percent rebound from last February’s 1.65 acres (0.67 hectare), which was the lowest since record-keeping began in 1993. Butterflies cluster so closely together that they are counted by the area they cover, rather than by the number of individuals.

At their peak in 1996, the monarchs covered more than 44.5 acres (18 hectares) in the mountains west of Mexico City. But the overall tendency since then has been a steep, progressive decline. Each time the Monarchs rebound, they do so at lower levels. The species is found in many countries and is not in danger of extinction, but experts fear the migration could be disrupted if very few butterflies make the 3,400-mile (5,470-kilometer) trip.

Largely Indian farm communities in the mountain reserve have received government development funds in return for preserving the 139,000-acre (56,259 hectare) reserve in the mountains west of Mexico City that UNESCO has declared a World Heritage site. Some of the communities earn income from tourist operations or reforestation nurseries to grow and plant saplings. Funding for the hamlet of San Felipe de los Alzati has temporarily been suspended due to the logging there.

The fact that most of last year’s loss also occurred in San Felipe indicates a growing problem there, said Omar Vidal, head of the World Wildlife Fund in Mexico.

“The government has to step up enforcement and start talking more seriously with this community, to find out the causes” behind the logging, Vidal said. Some communities have complained that outside loggers _ sometimes armed _ invade local forests without the consent of the community. Other logging, however, has been the work of locals who few other job opportunities.”

After illegal logging felled hundreds of acres of trees in the reserve between 2003 and 2006, authorities cracked down on illegal sawmills and stepped up incentives to encourage communities to preserve the woods.

“The main problem in Mexico is the lack of protection,” said writer and activist Homero Aridjis, who noted that some officials at the reserve were replaced and that President Enrique Pena Nieto recently appointed his cousin, Alejandro del Mazo, to head the agency that oversees Mexico’s nature reserves.

Cold-weather birding often a hot pursuit

In the treetops high above Gardner Park an uncommon visitor is flying about. Its short curved bill is built for feeding on seeds and fruit. Below, near the banks of Bozeman Creek, the bright red hulls of berries litter the snow. It’s these morsels of food, mountain ash berries, for which the pine grosbeak has come.

The pine grosbeak, a robin-sized finch, summers in the boreal forest of northern Canada, except for a small band extending south along the Rocky Mountains where the birds remain year-round. The male has a bright red head, gray breast and gray flanks. Around Bozeman, the pine grosbeak breeds near Hyalite Lake and Emerald Lake in Hyalite Canyon during the summer months. The birds move down into the foothills when the snow flies.

For whatever reason, a flock of pine grosbeaks has moved out into the valley this winter and the birds have been regularly spotted around Gardner Park. It’s a thrill for winter birders like Robin Wolcott, a member of the Sacajawea Audubon Society and an editor for eBird, an online database for submitting bird sightings.

“The pine grosbeak are feeding on those mountain ash berries, but why they are down here this year I have no idea,” Wolcott said Monday. “I’m not sure if pine grosbeak are irruptive, but maybe that is part of the equation as they only show up in the valley like this once every 10 years.”

Irruptive bird migrations occur when there is an irregularity in the food supply. Pine grosbeak typically feed on the seed cones of conifer trees, but may also utilize alders, river birch and Douglas fir.

“Irruption is a mass movement of birds that get into geographic areas you wouldn’t expect to see every year like a typical migration,” said John Parker of Sacajawea Audubon Society. “When it happens it is kind of exciting because it is unpredictable.”

Winter birders looking for unusual birds often pursue irruptive species. Red crossbills, white-winged crossbills and hoary redpolls are irruptive species that have made an appearance in the Gallatin Valley this winter.

While rare and irruptive species are undeniably appealing to avid birders, the winter also provides a great time to see a variety of more common but no less fascinating species. From red-tailed hawks to chickadees, there’s always a bird that piques the interest.

Wolcott said birding during the winter requires a few changes from the warmer months. Instead of being keyed into bird song, Wolcott said birders must listen instead for calls.

“Bird song is breeding behavior,” Wolcott said. “But birds have calls they make at other times of year that alert you to their presence. So we are still birding by ear, but winter birding tends to be a bit more visual.

“In the spring you really want to be out there early because that is when the birds are most active,” Wolcott said. “In the winter they are foraging and talking all day. In the summer I am happy to be out at 6 a.m., but you couldn’t drag me out there in the winter.”

The rise of eBird has made the process of locating birds a communal affair. Birders use the database to enter observations that can be viewed by others. Each entry includes the location, date, time and number of birds seen, along with optional notes added by birders.

As an eBird editor, Wolcott reviews observations made by birders in Gallatin and Madison counties. She said rare sightings cause a buzz among the birding community the way an observation of two sandhill cranes in Belgrade did last Saturday. The cranes, typically long gone by this time of the year, were spotted in flight near Dry Creek Road.

“That was huge,” Wolcott said. “I know the birder that saw those cranes and he is a reliable source. It seems like there have been a lot of interesting sightings this winter.”

Wolcott said eBird has revolutionized birding.

“Instead of writing down an observation that disappears when I die, it is available to the public today and 100 years from now,” Wolcott said. “We all become contributors to the public knowledge and it is making real changes in the world.”

Data from eBird has been used to monitor shorebirds in California’s Central Valley. Conservationists have used the data to identify farmers in the valley and paid them to flood their fields during migration periods, creating a benefit for the landowners and wildlife.

Wolcott said contributing to eBird gives birders purpose, but experiencing nature and the chance to see something amazing are all the motivation she needs.

“I love birding because it gets me outside and gets me exercise,” Wolcott said. “And there is always a rare bird out there and if you get it, it makes you a star.”

An AP member exchange.

Fish and Wildlife protects red knot as threatened species

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Dec. 9 announced the red knot is now protected as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act.

“The eastern Red Knot is a magnificent bird in steep decline,” said Audubon vice president Mike Daulton. “It needs our help, and Audubon supports today’s listing. Human activities have pushed this shorebird to the brink, but we know that we can make a difference if we act now.”

The robin-sized shorebird, which twice a year makes an epic 9,000-mile migration between southern South America and the Canadian Arctic, has declined by 75 percent since the 1980s. Threatened by loss of an essential food, horseshoe crabs, as well as habitat destruction, the bird is also at risk from climate change, which threatens to destroy many of its shoreline stopover areas as well as its breeding habitat in the far north.

The government’s decision was made in accordance with a settlement requirement with the Center for Biological Diversity that requires the agency to make decisions on protection for 757 species.

“With today’s decision to protect the red knot, our children and grandchildren just may have the chance to marvel at one of nature’s greatest spectacles — the marathon migration of the red knot,” said Mollie Matteson, a senior scientist with the center. “Saving the red knot will certainly require stricter restrictions on harvest of horseshoe crabs for both bait and the medical industry, highlighting how connected the world we live in is.”

Red knots fly 9,300 miles from the southern tip of South America to the Arctic, making a major stop along the North American mid-Atlantic coast to regain their strength by feeding on calorie-rich horseshoe crab eggs. However, since the 1990s, the eel and conch-fishing industries, which use the crab for bait, and the biomedical industry, which uses the crab’s unique, copper-rich blood to test drugs and medical devices for bacterial contamination, have caused severe declines in horseshoe crabs — themselves unique animals that have been on the planet for hundreds of millions of years. 

Fisheries managers in mid-Atlantic states have begun to address the over-harvest of horseshoe crabs with new regulations, but it is unclear if those rules go far enough, and it may be years before crab populations recover. The biomedical industry releases most horseshoe crabs after extracting some of their blood, but many crabs die after handling and losing as much as a third of their blood.

The extensive mudflats and beaches of Delaware Bay are the most significant stopover for migrating red knots. Scientists have estimated that nearly 90 percent of the entire red knot population can be present on the Delaware Bay in a single day.

Delaware Riverkeeper Network and other groups sent a petition to the Fish and Wildlife Service for emergency listing of the red knot in 2005. A year later the Service determined the birds warranted protection, but did not provide that protection due to lack of resources. Under the center’s settlement, the agency proposed the knot for protection in 2013 and is now finalizing that protection. To date 141 species have been protected under the agreement, including the red knot.

The American Bird Conservancy, Defenders of Wildlife and the Natural Resources Defense Council welcomed the announcement from the FWS but urged FWS to quickly designate critical habitat to better protect the bird.

Darin Schroeder of ABC said, “While the decision to list the rufa Red Knot was certainly a protracted process, we do now have hope that future generations of Americans will be able to witness this migratory marvel.”

Climate change threatens 314 North American birds

The golden-winged warbler — a striking silvery-gray bird with golden flashes on the head and wings — frolics in the shrubby tangles of the upper Midwest in the summer. But the “tzip” notes the warbler sings during courtship are becoming increasingly rare.

And in the decades to come, 100 percent of the bird’s summer range and breeding zone may be lost.

Climate change threatens nearly half the bird species in the continental United States and Canada, according to a study released in September by the National Audubon Society.

“Millions of people across the country will take this threat personally because birds matter to them,” said Audubon president and CEO David Yarnold. “For bird lovers, this issue transcends nasty political posturing. It’s a bird issue. And we know that when we do the right things for birds, we do the right things for people, too.”

According to the study, 126 species will see at least 50 percent of their current ranges lost by 2050, and some of the birds will lose 100 percent of their range by the middle of the century. Another 188 species face more than 50 percent range loss by 2080.

“It’s a punch in the gut,” said Gary Langham, the Audubon scientist who led the investigation.

Birds that are common to Wisconsin that could lose 100 percent of their summer range include the Bohemian waxwing and the golden-winged warbler. Other birds considered common to the state — the evening grosbeak, mourning warbler, Nashville warbler, scarlet tanager, hooded merganser and American redstart could lose more than 90 percent of their summer range.

Dozens of other species familiar to Wisconsin birdwatchers — the bobolink, the bank swallow, the hairy woodpecker, the American kestrel, even the common raven and the wild turkey — could see their ranges vastly diminished.

“The prospect of such staggering loss is horrific,” said Yarnold.

Langham and other Audubon scientists analyzed 30 years of climate data. They also analyzed data and observations from Audubon Christmas Bird Counts, as well the U.S. Geological Survey’s North American Breeding Bird Survey to connect where birds live with the climatic conditions that support the species. The scientists made determinations and projections about where birds are likely to survive and where they are likely to cease to exist.

Nationally, Audubon’s researchers are concerned about the consequences of climate change on iconic avian species — the bald eagle, the Baltimore oriole, the brown pelican and the common loon. The loon may no longer be able to breed in the lower 48 states by 2080 and the Baltimore oriole may no longer to nest in the mid-Atlantic but will shift north to follow the climatic conditions it requires.

Yarnold said the study, the result of seven years of research, serves as “a roadmap and it’s telling us two big things: We have to preserve and protect the place birds live and we have to work together to reduce the severity of global warming.”

Said Langham, “Global warming threatens the basic fabric of life on which birds — and the rest of us — depend and we have to act quickly and decisively if we are going to avoid catastrophe for them and for us.”

Call for birds

The National Audubon Society, when it released its report on climate change, issued a call for people to help protect and create habitats in their communities. “Everyone can do something,” says Audubon president and CEO David Yarnold, “from changing the plants in their backyard to working at the community and state level to protect the places birds will need to survive and promote clean energy.”

Also, the 115th Christmas Bird Count will begin in mid-December and continue through Jan. 5. Audubon will release opportunities for those interested in participating in the citizen-science project in mid-November.

Audubon: Glassy new Vikings stadium poses serious threat to birds

The National Audubon Society says the new Minnesota Vikings stadium poses a serious threat to migratory birds and calls for quick action by the team and the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority to protect animal welfare.

State guidelines require bond-funded buildings to protect birds from window collisions, but the Vikings and the MSFA have rejected calls to use safer types of glass that could help prevent birds from colliding with the stadium’s huge glass windows.

“We’re talking about a billion dollar stadium here, and the cost to save perhaps thousands of migratory birds  — and make the Vikings a global leader in green stadium design — is about one-tenth of one percent of that,” said Audubon Minnesota executive director Matthew Anderson. “Hundreds of millions of dollars of public money is going to build this stadium, and we know the people of Minnesota do not want their money killing birds. The Vikings recently approved spending millions and millions of additional dollars to make sure the stadium is ‘iconic’ — surely they also want to make sure it’s not a death trap. We’re asking them to change their minds and do the right thing.”

According to scientists from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Smithsonian Institution, up to 988 million birds are killed annually in the United States by collisions with buildings, especially glass windows. The new Vikings stadium will feature nearly 200,000 square feet of glass.

Audubon, in a news release, said it has worked with building owners and managers in Minnesota and nationally for many years to reduce bird collision mortality through its BirdSafe/Lights Out program. As part of this program, Audubon volunteers survey downtown buildings in the Twin Cities and have found more than 125 species of native migratory birds that have fatally collided with windows since 2007.

Audubon first met with MSFA and the Vikings in May 2013, after the stadium design was unveiled.

As early as December 2012, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources had urged the stadium to incorporate bird-safe design into the new building. A few months later, a special committee of the Minneapolis City Council recommended that the stadium adopt Audubon’s suggestions to create a bird-safe structure through glazing techniques and special site lighting.

Audubon staff communicated regularly with stadium developers until this April, when they were told that another meeting would be scheduled before a July 15 decision on the type of glass to be used. That meeting was canceled, and Audubon staff were told on July 17 that there would be no change in the stadium glass choice to protect birds.

“We are grateful that the MSFA will be incorporating some of our recommendations regarding lighting design and operations, but lighting is just one part of the problem,” said Joanna Eckles, bird-friendly communities manager for Audubon Minnesota. “The huge expanses of glass, especially facing a new park, are a real cause for concern. Our request was that they meet either the state requirement or the nationally recognized LEED standard for bird safety. In the end, they did neither.”

Report: Mining Tar Sands threatens migratory birds

Destructive mining and drilling practices in the heart of Canada’s boreal forest are putting millions of America’s migratory birds at risk and have already resulted in potentially hundreds of thousands of fatalities, according to a report from the National Wildlife Federation and the Natural Resources Council of Maine.

Among the imperiled birds is the critically endangered whooping crane, considered a symbol of previous conservation success after it rebounded from a population low of just 15 cranes in the 1940s to more than 600 today.

Now this species’ precarious comeback is at risk from tar sands expansion, according to scientists.

Other migrating species threatened by Tar Sands activity include white-winged scoters, surf scoters, buffleheads and red-necked grebes, which nest in and migrate over the tar sands region.

Songbirds such as blackpoll warblers, Swainson’s thrushes, and yellow-rumped warblers also nest in and migrate through northern Alberta.

“Migrating birds don’t understand national boundaries and freely pass between Maine and Canada, leaving our nations and people with a shared responsibility,” said Lisa Pohlmann, executive director of the Natural Resources Council of Maine. “Tar sands mines and associated industrial development threatens the lands many birds rely on.”

The U.S. Department of Interior is under a legal obligation — known as the Pelly Amendment — to determine whether tar sands mining and drilling in Canada is undermining a century-old international treaty to protect North America’s shared songbirds and waterfowl.

“Unchecked tar sands development is turning a vast, irreplaceable breeding ground into a toxic wasteland,” said National Wildlife Federation senior counsel Jim Murphy. “Many of the birds Americans watch, enjoy, and hunt fly to and rely on this area.  The Canadian Government has vowed to protect these birds, but it is turning a blind eye.”

As the report details, tar sands development sits in the heart of the previously pristine boreal forest, which provides important breeding habitat for birds. But now an area the size of Florida is being destroyed by huge open-pit mines, toxic waste tailings ponds that can be seen from space, extraction wells, noisy compressor stations, refineries, and networks of new roads, drilling pads, seismic lines and pipelines.

Oil-laden tailings ponds have resulted in the deaths of countless waterfowl.

In 2008, 1,600 ducks died in Syncrude tailings ponds.

An October 2010 storm resulted in hundreds of ducks landing on a Suncor tailings pond near Fort McMurray — at least 550 birds were too oiled to save.

As of 2010, 43 species of internationally protected birds had suffered fatalities from exposure to tar sands tailings ponds.

Unabated tar sands development could result in the reduction of 70 million hatchlings over a 40-year period.

Of the 130 internationally protected American migratory and songbird species listed in the report as threatened by tar sands development, many are familiar names, including: snow goose, American goldfinch, evening grosbeak, great blue heron, common loon, Northern pintail, wood duck, pine siskin, trumpeter swan, cedar waxwing and the pileated woodpecker.