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article image‘B95’ bird alive and well in Delaware, en route to Nunavut

By Igor I. Solar     May 23, 2013 in Environment
Toronto - A migratory shorebird known as ‘B95’, from the identification mark on a band attached to his leg, has been flying each year since 1995 between Patagonia and Canada’s Arctic; so far, it has flown the equivalent to the distance from Earth to the Moon.
The Red Knot (Calidris canutus) has six sub-species one of which is known as Calidris canutus rufa, or the “red knot rufa” (a.k.a. Robin Snipe). This species performs one of the longest migrations known among the birds. Red knots spend the winter (Northern Hemisphere) on the big island of Tierra del Fuego, Patagonia region, at the southern tip of South America; in autumn (Southern
The blue arrows show the migration route of the Red Knot rufa between the Chilean/Argentinian Patago...
The blue arrows show the migration route of the Red Knot rufa between the Chilean/Argentinian Patagonia and Canada's Central Arctic. They make an important feeding stop at Delaware Bay in the USA.
Shyamal
Hemisphere), the birds migrate north along the coast of Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil; then fly along the east coast of the United States towards Canada. They nest and breed in Canada's Central Arctic, around Southampton Island in Nunavut. The distance that these birds travel is approximately 16,000 kilometres (about 9,900 miles) each way.
In order to study their biology, population abundance, survival mechanisms and migration routes, some of the birds in a population are marked with a band around their leg allowing individual identification.
In 1995, scientists in Tierra del Fuego placed on one of these birds a leg band with the identity “B95”. It was a two or three-year-old male. Since that date the specimen has been observed several times in Patagonia, and as he passed through Delaware Bay where the red knot rufa birds usually stop for some time to feed before continuing their long migration to the Arctic.
The last sighting was in Tierra del Fuego in December 2011; however since then the bird seemed to have disappeared. Upon reaching 2013, scientists began to suspect that B95 might be gone; dead of old age or because of predators. However, to the delight of the observers in Delaware Bay, the bird was seen again on May 16.
B95  the remarkable red knot rufa who has flown the equivalent of the distance from Earth to the Moo...
B95, the remarkable red knot rufa who has flown the equivalent of the distance from Earth to the Moon.
Jan Van de Kam
These birds are known to have a lifespan of about 13 years. B95 should already be almost 20 years old. This makes him one of the longest-living specimens of its kind known to date. In terms of human age, that equals almost 100 years old, explained Allan J. Baker from the Royal Ontario Museum - University of Toronto, who has been monitoring this bird since 1995.
The survival of this particular bird is remarkable because he represents a species that, within the past decade, has had a decline in population abundance of nearly 70 percent. Since 2005, there is a request of several ornithological and environmental organizations to include the red knot rufa in the U.S. Federal Endangered
Cover of the book  Moonbird: A Year on the wind with the great survivor B95 .
Cover of the book "Moonbird: A Year on the wind with the great survivor B95".
Amazon
Species List and to design important marine areas along their migration in the United States, including Delaware Bay, as critical habitat for the survival of the species. The Canadian government listed red knots as a “threatened species” in 2013, and conservationists hope the U.S. will do likewise.
The surprising longevity of B95 has made him a true celebrity as a member of the species. The writer Phillip Hoose wrote a book on B95 published in July 2012 with the title "Moonbird: A Year on the wind with the great survivor B95".
To date, B95 has traveled at least 20 times between its nesting area in Canada and his southern destination in Patagonia, Argentina; that’s nearly the equivalent of the distance between Earth and the Moon. That is an amazing feat for an aging bird who weighs only about 140 grams.
"B95 represents, hope, grit, adaptability, strength, determination. We need to respect and learn more to help the little shorebirds with whom we share the worlds shores. They are among the most marvelous athletes in existence." (Phillip Hoose).
More about Red Knot, Calidris canutus rufa, Nunavut, Canada, canadian arctic
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