Allison's Book Bag

Saving the Red Knot

Posted on: March 7, 2014

In 2010, a rufu red knot carrying the band of B95 but more affectionately known in the conservationist world as Moonbird became the oldest of his kind on record. Why does this fact matter? When B95 was first banded, scientists estimated there were about 150,000 rufu in existence. Now due to changes in their migratory stopover sites and even in the air through which they fly have plummeted their numbers to less than 25,000. Scientists wonder how has this one bird kept going year after year, when so many of his companions have died? Moonbird has inspired action across the world to help save the rufu from extinction.

Calidris canutus rufa, breeding plumage
photo from Wikipedia

Yesterday I posted an interview with Phillip Hoose, the author of Moonbird: A Year on the Wind with the Great Survivor B95. Tomorrow I’ll share my review of his book. In the meantime, here are some ways that you can help all birds, including the red knot and other shorebirds. Please note that all these ideas are from Hoose’s well-researched book and none are my original ideas.

Know your birds.

Learn to identify birds, starting with the common birds that come to your yard. Make a list of those you recognize. Pick up a field guide and try identify other birds. You might even learn to identify their songs. Study with ones who best know the birds, such as a local Audobon Society, which you can find by clicking on this link: Location Search

Get involved in projects.

  • Shorebird sisters program Some years ago an Alaskan schoolteacher decided to build an information sharing email network linking schools across the Pacific migratory flyway. Students from each migratory stopover site could report their observations by sending emails to all schools participating in the program. Starting in 1994, seventeen schools were connected. The network is now managed by the US Fish and Wildlife Service and includes schools from Latin American countries, Japan, and Russia, besides the United States.
  • Wandering wildlife: This project of the Alaska Science Center uses satellite technology to track migrating animals. Included among the animals tracked are shorebirds, as they migrate across oceans and continents. When you click on the indicated species, it will load a series of migration routes. Once you get the message “Why is this study important?” you can click on an individual bird and watch where it traveled from on a daily basis.
  • RARE Pride campaigns: The organization trains local conservation leaders to change the way communities relate to nature.
  • Friends of the Red Knot: Spearheaded by Mike Hudson, the club was formed when some students from Maryland decided to unite to find ways to help the Red Knot bird.
  • Scientific Studies of Birds: Hoose writes that the “opportunity to work with birds in the wild, to witness their activities up close, or even to hold them in your hand can change your life”. For those who live in the northeastern United States, one way to experience first-hand involvement is through the banding program of the Manomet Center for Conservation Studies.

In his appendix, Hoose also emphasizes the importance of showing respect to shoreline birds. Observe them at a safe distance. Don’t spook them. Remember that every time shorebirds are flushed from a feeding position or roosting spot, they burn energy that they will ultimately need to replenish.


  • FOLLOW the arrival of Moonbird and rufa red knots on Delaware Bay
  • READ MORE about the Rufa Red Knot and the organizations that help them
  • VISIT the Nature Convervancy’s Rufa Red Knot page
  • SUPPORT Moonbird and rufa red knots

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