By Cholla Nicholl, BRN Wildlife Intern
In May and October the bird lovers among us celebrate International Migratory Bird Day. These special days have been set aside to recognize the unique and still mysterious journeys many of our feathered friends take each year. Created in 1993 and now organized by Environment for the Americas, International Migratory Bird Day focuses primarily on conservation and education. The conservation of migrating birds has been a priority for Americans for over a century.
The Migratory Bird Treaty Act was passed back in 1918 in response to over hunting and poaching birds. Birds at the time were killed primarily for use of their feathers in fashionable hats. Today the MBTA protects 1,093 bird species along with their eggs and nests. This powerful law now includes four international conservation treaties with Canada, Mexico, Japan and Russia. This international effort to protect migrating birds has prevented extinctions and saved billions of birds worldwide.
The Borderlands Wildlife Preserve that sits just north of Patagonia, AZ serves as a much needed refuge for migrating birds. Habitat restoration work taking place within the preserve includes vital and permanent wildlife drinking stations. These drinking stations are monitored with trail cameras to ensure they are a safe and effective area for wildlife to frequent. On rare occasion a photo of a migrating bird is captured in the vicinity of the drinking stations. This spring a Gray Hawk just happened to enjoy a cool drink at one of those monitored sites.
The Gray Hawk (Buteo plagiatus ) is one of the many species of birds protected by the MBTA. Patagonia, AZ is located at the northernmost range for the migratory Gray Hawk. The Gray Hawk prefers to live in riparian areas with permanent sources of water. Riparian areas in Arizona are exceedingly rare and we are truly privileged to have a glance at this species who primarily resides south of the US/Mexico border.
Viewing the Gray Hawk should be done with a very respectful distance as according to the Audubon Society website “no more than 50 pairs nest north of Mexico”. Protecting these amazing and beautiful animals requires more of a migration then perhaps a marathon. Rather than just a race to a finish line we need movement followed by rest and creation followed by more movement.
Borderlands Wildlife Preserve is happy to provide one of those much-needed places of recuperation for both migrating birds, and their conservationists.
Visit our website and check out our other activities and information for Migratory Bird Day where we turn our attention to another migratory bird, the hummingbird!
By: Lynn Davison, BRN Board Chair
When people ask me why I am so invested in our work at Borderlands Restoration Network, the answers come easily. It all starts with the land, the Madrean Sky Islands of the southwest US and northern Mexico. E. O. Wilson includes our region in the top 10 for preservation in the Americas due to its remarkable biodiversity. The land and the multitude of plants and animals that live here are currently at risk due to the combination of climate change, overgrazing, and impacts of extractive industries. It is so important now to actively restore land, water, and habitat and to protect critical lands from future degradation. We know how to do that! If you doubt it, just consider what has happened at Cuenca Los Ojos, our network partner, over the last 30 years…..return of amazing riparian areas with year-round water and lush habitats to support the biodiversity our region is known for.
For me, however, the real hook is the combination of restoring the land AND fostering a restorative economy which supports livelihoods of people living in the borderlands. At BRN, this is not either or, it’s both. We are an ecologically based organization that also directly contributes to the restorative economy and partners with others in the region to collectively advance an equitable and inclusive economy that protects our precious natural resources and builds on the history, cultures, and skills of our people.
Our business model is grounded in partnerships within the tri-national region where we work. We place a significant focus on education with the goal of supporting the next generation of leaders to expand and carry on the work. We have a strong reputation with the public agencies, private foundations, and individuals that support out work.
I am proud to be part of the Borderlands team. The current coronavirus pandemic has given us a real incentive to expand our work. The world economy, based on growth at any cost, devours the earth and creates greater and greater inequities between a small concentration of the very rich and the growing number of the very poor, a perfect condition for a pandemic. We can and must do better.
By: Cholla Nicoll, BRN Wildlife Intern
It seems that the only thing on everyone’s minds these days is a pesky little virus. Current events are not just overwhelming they are humbling in a tragic manner. With humility comes wisdom. Wisdom tells us to slow down, stop moving and remember what’s most important. It’s important to recognize we are a part of the animal community. Our shared biology means we are subject to the same struggles they face. In these times of climate change and disease the facade that humans are more powerful, or somehow separate from nature is rapidly dissipating.
The use of wildlife trail cameras allows us to glimpse into a world that few of us modern humans ever see. Our perception of who and what lives on a landscape can be dramatically off base as wildlife has adapted to avoid our presence. The Borderlands Wildlife Preserve provides a wonderful opportunity to view wildlife in a non-invasive manner using trail cameras. Trail cameras have been placed throughout the preserve and are now being used to collect data on what species frequent the area. In the near future many of these images will be utilized to educate the public on the importance of our animal neighbors.
Since school is out, on one of these such days I allowed my 9 year-old daughter to join me. We climbed trees and talked to flowers and learned that sometimes the best days are not the days we see something extraordinary, but the days we have time to just be free. This freedom is the gift we give to our wildlife community each time we employ technologies enabling our choice to be unseen.
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