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Shorebird Migrations Cut Short by Hunters

As the Caribbean and southeastern U.S. brace for Tropical Storm Isaac, scientists are reporting that some migrating shorebirds survive flying through hurricanes for hours and even utilize the back end of a hurricane to shoot them toward land, according to the American Bird Conservancy.

Biologists at the Center for Conservation Biology in Virginia have been following the migration patterns of Whimbrels, which travel from the northeastern parts of South America to the Arctic. Last year, one of the birds, named Hope, flew nonstop 27 hours at 9mph into the eye of a hurricane and then flew nearly 100mph for about an hour and a half out the other side.

So not only do these amazing birds travel thousands of miles every year but they also brave the powerful winds and conditions of hurricanes.

While this story of physical endurance is one to marvel at, it also comes on the heels of a very negative story that some of these tracked Whimbrels ended up being killed, not by a hurricane or adverse weather but by hunters.

The migration pattern of one of the Whimbrels that was eventually killed by hunters.

Here’s more from the ABC:

Some locals gather at recreational shooting swamps in the Caribbean to slaughter with impunity everything that flies by. They claimed perhaps their most notable bird victims last year: two Whimbrels named Machi and Goshen that were being tracked by Smith’s team. Over a lifetime Machi is estimated to have flown 27,000 migration miles and made it through Tropical Storm Maria; Goshen had flown 14,000 miles including several hours battling Hurricane Irene. Forced to land in Guadalupe, an area they had avoided in previous recorded migrations, they were then killed by the unregulated hunters.

It’s awful to find out that after the birds traveled such astonishing distances and through destructive hurricanes, they were killed by hunters.

The conservation group has sent a letter to the French Ministry of Ecology—which has control over Guadeloupe—highly encouraging restrictions be put on hunters on the island.

Hopefully, the governments in charge of these areas impose regulations against killing migratory birds.

Timothy Martinez Jr. is a writer and freelance journalist. His work has been published in The Times-Picayune in New Orleans, Remapping Debate in New York City and other publications. He’s been a bird lover since he was young and currently lives in New Orleans, L.A.

1 Comment

  1. […] birds even fly directly through a hurricane. Two months ago, I wrote about an amazing Whimbrel that flew 27 hours nonstop into the eye of Hurricane Irene and was flung out the other […]

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