Yesterday I got an email from one of our local stations asking if I had time to talk about the changes the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources made to the state endangered species list. There were several animals and plants that had and adjustment but including birds. You can view the segment here. The reporter from KSTP wanted to know if we could meet someplace close by to see any of the species that had a change in status:
Northern Goshawk went from no status up to Special Concern Boreal Owl went from no status up to Special Concern Henslow's Sparrow went from Endangered down to Threatened Lark Sparrow went from none (not even records maintained by the DNR) up to Special Concern Trumpeter Swans went down from Threatened to Special Concern Peregrine Falcons went from down Threatened to Special Concern Bald Eagle went down form Special Concern to None Loggerhead Shrike went up from Threatened to Endangered Horned Grebe went up from Threatened to Endangered Purple Martin went up from none (not even records maintained by the DNR) to Special Concern Bell's Vireo went up from none (not even records maintained by the DNR) to Special Concern
I figured that evening news probably doesn't want to take the time to track down a Henslow's sparrow and that the birds I knew on the list in the Twin Cities easiest to find would either be a bald eagle, peregrine falcon or trumpeter swan. I told them that we should meet at Lock and Dam 1. Eagles fly over there regularly and there's a peregrine falcon nest box. The young falcons have fledged by now and are out hunting on their own, but sometimes they hang out there. I knew actually seeing a peregrine was going to be a slim possibility but it was the best I could do on short notice.
We arrived and there were lots of turkey vultures but no peregrines. Just as we were setting up the camera, I heard a peregrine screeching. It got louder and the bird flew over us and perched on one of the walls along the river.
It was one of the young of the year and had a kill. It looked like it was eating an American robin--and it stayed for the whole segment. The camera man lamented not having his longer lens but I had my iPhone, Swarovski scope and PhoneSkope adapter. I took a few shots and video through my scope and they used it in the segment.
Birds are so unpredictable, but it's so fun when things come together just right and you get to show people something super cool like a young peregrine falcon with its own kill. Though, I do worry that some tv stations get the impression of--"oh yeah, she can get us any bird at any time."
I thought the DNR changes were interesting. I'm thrilled to see birds like trumpeter swans, peregrine falcons and bald eagles being downgraded in their status--that's good, the populations are recovering, the program works. I also found it interesting that some birds like purple martins were added and that their population had never been monitored before. Here's a quote from the assessment:
"Purple Martins are readily observed by participants in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Breeding Bird Survey, and BBS data show a population decline of 5.4% per year in Minnesota during the period 2000-2010. This is one of the largest declines of any bird for which the state’s BBS data are statistically significant. Due to the documented decline in Purple Martins over the past three decades, as well as the continuing threats to the state’s population, its designation as a Species of Special Concern is needed and reasonable. "
So it's good to keep an eye on them now, especially as they are seemingly abundant, rather than when it's too late and they are too far gone.