Juvenile Northern Bald Ibis photo by Mich77/Wikimedia Commons

Among the most critically endangered birds on the planet is the Northern Bald Ibis. With wild populations in the Middle East estimated in the mere hundreds, any and every threat can have devastating results to the species’ long-term survival. Add to hunting, poisoning, and habitat loss and disturbance yet another man-made danger: war.

A breeding program in Turkey has been successful, but civil war in neighboring Syria seems to have posed a significant hazard. For the past few years, many of the Ibises that migrated southward, across Syria, haven’t returned. As a consequence, Turkish conservation officials say they will cage the birds during migration season, to keep them from harm. It’s a sad state of affairs, but drastic times may call for such drastic measures. Hopefully, while the human conflict rages on, the Ibises in Turkey can cope with their unexpected captivity and look forward to someday once again following their zugunruhe.

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Written by Meredith Mann
The lowly Red-winged Blackbirds in suburban New York triggered Meredith Mann's interest in birds. Five years later, she's explored some of the the USA's coolest hotspots, from Plum Island in Massachusetts to the Magic Hedge in Chicago to the deserts of Fallon, Nevada. She recently migrated from the Windy City (where she proudly served as a Chicago Bird Collision Monitor, rescuing migrants from skyscrapers and sidewalks) to Philadelphia, where she plans to find new editing and writing gigs; keep up her cool-finds chronicle, Blog5B; and discover which cheesesteak really is the best. And she will accept any and all invitations to bird Cape May, NJ.