Tuesday, August 6, 2013
The Moonbird, also known as B95 for the bracelet it wears around his foot, is a Rufa Red Knot shorebird. It is called the Moonbird because scientists have estimated that B95 has flown the distance to the moon and back, an estimated 325, 000 miles in his long life. The Rufa Red Knot is a shorebird that flies a distance of approximately 18, 000 miles per year round trip, from the southern most tip of South America to the Canadian Arctic to breed, and then back to Tierra Del Fuego.
The Rufa Red Knot species of shorebird is amazing. They can fly for 4000-5000 miles without stopping for rest, food or water. They spend a week or two fattening up and refueling stopping about 3 times on their 9000 mile trip one way. Their bodies are amazing and can grow a gizzard when they need it, they re-grow their feathers twice a year.
This amazing bird has been studied for about 20 years and in that time around 80 percent of the population has disappeared. The reasons they shorebirds are dying is because the food sources on the migratory route have been declining due to human influence. In Delaware Bay the shorebirds feed on horseshoe crab eggs but people are killing the horseshoe crabs and the birds die of starvation and can't get enough fuel to make it to the Canadian Arctic.
B95 is the one of the world's most famous birds because it is one of the oldest surviving Rufa Red Knots. This is the first time I have learned of this amazing bird because I read this amazing book by Philip Hoose. I am now a fan and have searched to see if B95 was spotted this spring in Delaware Bay, NJ and he was! He was seen in May of 2013.
Hoose tells the story of the Rufa Red Knots and B95 in eight chapters full of maps, pictures, and graphs. I learned so much from this little book. Hoose teaches the reader about each stopover place in the migratory route and it's food source and why it is important to the Red Knots. At the end of each chapter Hoose profiles an important person/scientist/activist involved in the quest to protect this bird from extinction. The Last chapter contains groups and ways to get involved to save the shorebirds from extinction.
Moonbird is a perfect book for bird lovers but teachers, parents, teenagers and kids would also love it. It is informative, action-oriented and discussible. OK, time to get out my bird book and my binoculars and look at the birds.