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Birding Business

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This month’s bird

The Hairy Woodpecker


Compiled by the Birding Business Staff

Birder Breaks 9,000 Species Life List

BRITISH BIRDER TOM GULLICK has set a new life list record of 9,000 birds after seeing a Wallace’s fruit dove in Indonesia. Gullick is 81 and has been birding since 1971, when he left his native country to become a birdwatching guide in Spain. Mr. Gullick plans to retire from listing, even though there are about 1,500 bird species left to see.

The previous record of 8,400 species was held by Phoebe Snetsinger, an American who died in 1999.

“Oldest Known” Bird Found in Wild, Raising Chicks
THE U.S. GEOLOGICAL SURVEY team reports that the oldest known wild bird ever tracked, a Laysan albatross named “Wisdom,” has been rediscovered near Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge in the North Pacific, where she was incubating a chick. Wisdom was first banded in 1956 when she was also incubating a chick, making her over 60 years old. The long-lived bird has been found several times over her lifespan, and has worn out an astonishing five metal birding bands.

Study: Canadian Homes Could be Killing 22 Million Birds per Year

UNIVERSITY OF ALBERTA RESEARCHER ERIN BAYNE has released a study that estimates 22 million birds a year are killed when they strike homes. The study, conducted in Edmonton, used reports from over 1,700 homeowners who completed an online survey where they had to recall fatal bird strikes from the previous year.
From these reports, the U of A team extrapolated that the 300,000 homes in the study could be responsible for 180,000 bird fatalities in a year, and that all the homes in Canada would cause 22 million bird deaths, if the data was the same for every area of the country.

For those homeowners who reported strikes, one of the main factors that contributed to higher numbers was the presence of birdfeeders and birdbaths in their yard.  Bayne concluded that a feeder set 9-12’ away from a window was a poor choice, because a bird flying away in a panic (due to a predator or another bird driving it off) had enough space to build up speed for a fatal collision with a window. She recommended placing the feeder either closer to the house (giving any window strike less force) or further away (giving the bird more room and time to maneuver).

“Focus on Diversity” Conference Held in Minnesota

HOPING TO DISCOVER the reasons for and address the lack of diversity among the birding community, the second Focus on Diversity conference brought together birdwatchers and nature lovers from many walks of life to discuss how to bring minorities into the activity.  Sponsored by the American Birding Association, the one-day conference was also live-streamed on the Internet for those who were unable to attend. An archive of all the panels can be watched online at

According to a 2006 Department of the Interior survey, 24% of whites identified themselves as birdwatchers. Conversely, only 8% of Hispanics, 7% of Asians, and 6% of African-Americans did the same.

Over 3,500 Cases of West Nile Virus Reported in U.S. in 2012

THE CENTER FOR DISEASE CONTROL has announced that as of September 25th, there were 3,545 cases of West Nile Virus reported in the U.S., with 147 fatalities. These are the highest numbers since September of 2003. The most affected states were Mississippi, South Dakota, Michigan, California, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Illinois and Texas, which reported 70% of the infections.

The disease is transmitted to humans by mosquitoes who feed on infected birds. While many who are infected will survive, a small percentage will develop West Nile Fever, or catch the neuroinvasive version of the disease, which can lead to permanent neurological damage. Children and the elderly are especially at risk.

Birding Club Elections End up in Court
WHEN THE MADISON AUDUBON SOCIETY held its annual elections, they probably didn’t imagine the results would have to be verified by a state Court of Appeals. But that’s what happened after the incumbent candidates, led by president Peter Cannon, faced off against a takeover slate led by Robert Packard.

The group, which had about 70 existing members, more than tripled in size when a member of the Packard group presented a cashier’s check to pay for the membership dues for 173 new members who wanted to vote in the evening’s elections.

When the votes were tallied, Packard was the winner, 188 to 55. But since there were more voters than expected, the MAS ran out of pre-printed ballots and used slips of white paper. Cannon, however, declared the white ballots invalid and his group the winner. The Packard group sued.

Both the Circuit Court and the Court of Appeals agreed with Packard that the votes were valid. The MAS bylaws state that upon application and payment of fees, a person gains immediate membership in the group, including the right to vote for officers.

Bills Before Congress Would End Tax-Free Online Shopping
THREE BILLS currently before Congress, the Marketplace Fairness Act in the Senate, the Marketplace Equity Act, and the Main Street Fairness Act, could spell the end of online shopping free of state sales tax, provided the business makes more than $500,000 in sales. Businesses below that threshold would be unaffected.

All three bills seek to end what brick-and-mortar retailers see as an unfair advantage for online stores—using the lack of sales tax, which local stores are legally required to collect, as another method of underselling them. State governments are also anxious to generate another revenue stream for their cash-strapped budgets.

WBU One of 10 Best in the Country

EVERY YEAR Franchise Business Review surveys thousands of franchise owners, and Wild Birds Unlimited this year was rated one of the ten best opportunities in North America by their own franchisees. Right up there beside Sotheby’s International Realty and the Weed Man, two of the best-known and progressive franchise groups in the world, WBU is celebrated as a leader in its field. There is a great deal more to the story, but you’ll have to wait for our Spring issue to read about it.