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!
SEARCH OUR BLOG