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The majority of the world's remaining Greater Adjutants live around the city of Guwahati and rely on a single garbage dump for food and a nearby village for nesting. Through the efforts of one remarkable conservation leader in India, and the villagers she has inspired, the birds are now protected, celebrated, and increasing their numbers locally.
ARCTIC COASTAL PLAIN
The Arctic Coastal Plain of Alaska is an international hub of avian abundance, productivity and diversity. It holds some of the most important wetlands on earth for migratory shorebirds and waterfowl, great caribou migrations, and is home to a number of species that breed nowhere else in the United States. Most of its lands are under increasing threat of industrial oil development and very little of it has been protected.
Izembek National Wildlife Refuge is a spectacular wilderness along the Bering Sea coast of the Alaska Peninsula. A large lagoon holds vast beds of eelgrass, making it one of the most important waterfowl migration sites in the U.S. There has been pressure for many years to build a road through Izembek’s federally designated wilderness - an unprecedented act.
The Spoon-billed Sandpiper is one of the world's most critically endangered bird species. Extreme habitat loss along its migratory route through the Yellow Sea and coastal bird trapping by subsistence and market hunters on its wintering grounds have caused its precipitous decline.
THE LIVING BIRD
Watching and listening to birds leads us into a greater understanding of their environment — and of ours. Images from my book, The Living Bird.
The critically endangered Araripe Manakin was discovered in 1996 and is one of the world’s most striking songbirds. It inhabits an extremely small range in northeast Brazil on the slopes of the arid Araripe Plateau. Less than 1000 individuals remain in 11 square miles of fragmented, second-growth gallery forest surrounding spring-fed streams where they nest.
BERING SEA ISLANDS
The nutrient laden waters of the Bering Sea are the foundation for a tremendous abundance of marine life. Each summer, millions of seabirds and marine mammals return to the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands to raise their young and feast on the bounty of the sea. These islands host many of the largest seabird colonies in the world. Among them, the Pribilof Islands are often referred to as “The Galapagos of the North.”
The 19 million acre Yukon Delta NWR protects one of the largest delta systems in the world and is completely free flowing. It contains 75% of all coastal wetlands in Alaska and the largest single intertidal expanse in the Americas. It has some of the highest breeding densities of shorebirds and waterfowl anywhere on earth.
American Flamingos gather in the tens of thousands every year to court, feed, and nest in the hypersaline estuaries of Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula.
Each summer, long distance migrant shorebirds from around the world arrive on arctic breeding grounds. They migrate vast distances from southern wintering areas as far away as Tierra del Fuego, Southern Africa, and New Zealand. Their migrations include the longest known non-stop flights of any birds on earth - and some of these species weigh scarcely more than two nickels.
Owls are remarkably diverse in their habits and form. Some, like the Great Horned Owl, are large and powerful; others could fit in the palm of your hand. Some species are nomadic and migrate long distances, while others may occupy the same woodlot for a lifetime. Owls have evolved to fill their particular niches, whether grasslands, forests, deserts, or the Arctic.
NORTHERN GREAT PLAINS
With nearly a third fewer breeding birds across North America today than in 1970, grassland birds are some of the most urgently threatened and rapidly declining. More than half have already disappeared, and three quarters of all grassland bird species are in decline. The Northern Great Plain of the United States is an epicenter of these declines.
A survey of subsistence activities in the coastal areas of Rakhine State, Myanmar.
The rapidly vanishing intertidal mudflats of the Yellow Sea contain the most important stopover sites for migratory shorebirds in the East Asian-Australasian Flyway - a flyway that has transported birds from breeding grounds in the Russian and Alaskan Arctic to wintering areas in Southern Asia, Australia and New Zealand for hundreds of thousands of years.
America’s vast western sagebrush steppe is one of our most romanticized and enduring landscapes but they are in danger of being degraded by human use to a point where they can no longer sustain the unique wildlife species that have occupied them for hundreds of thousands of years. None typify this landscape more than the imperiled Greater Sage-Grouse.
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