Iliana Peña, director of conservation for Audubon Texas, is concerned about where wind farms are located since habitat destruction is a major threat to gravely endangered lesser prairie chickens.
Each spring diminishing numbers of male lesser prairie chickens gather on traditional dancing grounds, or "leks," on the southern Great Plains. There they perform elaborate displays to attract females. Posturing with feather tufts erect, stamping and rushing and gobbling, the males will even leap several feet ino the air at the peak of their courtship frenzy.
Along the Florida-Georgia border are 80 quail hunting plantations that make up 300,000 acres of accidental nature reserve. Each year scientists and land managers burn tens of thousands of acres and use various other means to mimic natural conditions, preserving a wealth of biodiversity, including the embattled bobwhite quail.
One of the world’s greatest wildlife spectacles takes place every autumn as millions of hawks and other soaring birds funnel through Veracruz, Mexico, where a pioneering program aims to keep them flowing for millennia to come.
Although the lovely cotinga ranges from Mexico to Panama, this highly prized and beautiful neotropical bird is rarely seen. Some, in fact, consider it Honduras’ “holy grail.” Between early December and mid-March, however, lovely cotingas are commonly seen around the Lodge at Pico Bonito.
Inca tern. It’s hard to miss this gull cousin, with its snow-white curlicue moustache. The ornament, prominently displayed during mating, actually indicates reproductive strength; the longer the moustache, the stronger the bird. The extraction of guano—bird excrement used as fertilizer—disturbs nesting colonies off Peru and poses a real threat.
Roseate spoonbill. The oar-shaped beak of the aptly named roseate spoonbill doesn’t just look cool; it actually serves a purpose, helping the wading species spoon up small food from the water below. While it may appear the flamingo’s doppelganger, the two species share little besides their blush-tinted hue and come from different families altogether.
Blue-fronted Amazon. Since the early 1980s, when the blue-fronted Amazon was listed in Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna, CITES has confirmed more than 400,000 seized from the wild. Despite their popularity as pets, these birds, which have at least nine different vocalizations, are neither endangered nor threatened.
Red-legged seriema. Run, don’t fly, from a threat. That’s the unofficial motto of the red-legged seriema, which can travel short distances in the air bet prefers darting from predators at 15 miles per hour. Above all, these birds, one of just two species in the South American Carimidae family, favor ambling from meal to meal and performing duets to showcase their distinctive yelp-like calls.
King bird-of-paradise. At only six inches long, the male king bird-of-paradise pales in size to its larger New Guinea brethren. What it lacks in bulk is offset by its rainbow physique: a red, orange, and yellow head, green neck and tail-streamer feathers, and blue feet. Plus, the less colorful females tend to the species’ tree-cavity nests.
Victoria crowned-pigeon. A flashy regal crest and masked red-orange eyes befit this sociable but laid-back bird, which spends its days on the forest floor looking for food. Despite unknown population estimates, logging and hunting in Indonesia and Papua New Guinea have made the species vulnerable to decline. Hunter seek both the pigeon’s feathers and its meat.
When it comes to protecting natural havens for bird species, shade-grown-coffee farms are second only to virgin forest. A writer’s journey through Nicaragua illustrates just how key coffee farms can be for the well-being of a certain warbler.