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Tragic ending for a mega-rare marsh harrier


    Each incidence of a hen being hit by an plane is unhappy, however this story is especially stunning.

    On November 19, 2022, a United Airways flight from Chicago was on its last method to Newark Worldwide Airport in New Jersey at 3:45 p.m. when it hit a hen about 9 nautical miles from the runway at about 3,000 toes above floor.

    The aircraft was not broken, and after it landed, some feathers and different stays of the hen (often called “snarge”) had been collected and despatched to the Smithsonian Establishment’s Feather Identification Lab.

    The lab, which exams hundreds of such samples yearly from industrial and army airplanes, later decided that the hen was a Western Marsh Harrier (often known as Eurasian Marsh-Harrier, Circus aeruginosus).

    The raptor is a widespread species all through Europe, Africa, and Asia, and it’s thought-about a mega-rarity in North America. One particular person was noticed in December 1994 at Chincoteague Nationwide Wildlife Refuge, on the coast of Virginia. Since then, the species has turned up on just a few Caribbean islands and, in 2015, on Bermuda.

    In late August 2022, the North American mainland recorded its second ever Western Marsh Harrier when a person was discovered close to the coast of central Maine. After a few days within the space, the hen was not seen once more.

    Western Marsh Harrier. Photograph by Dave DeReamus

    Then on November 8 in northern New Jersey, birder Chuck Hantis noticed and photographed a Western Marsh Harrier at Troy Meadows Pure Space, roughly 350 miles southwest of the Maine sighting. Over the following few days, a number of birders noticed the harrier at Troy Meadows, till November 12, when it was final reported on eBird. (Birder Jeff Ellerbusch recounts the sequence of sightings on this eBird guidelines.) The hen was broadly believed to be the identical hen that was seen in Maine.

    Troy Meadows is positioned about 15 miles northwest of Newark Worldwide. Tragically, the hen hit by the United aircraft was virtually definitely the identical marsh harrier.

    The Federal Aviation Administration’s Wildlife Strike Database confirmed that the hen was recognized “by each DNA and entire feathers.” The FAA report provides that “this was [a] B-737 plane that solely flies in USA. Thus, all knowledge point out this strike occurred on method to” Newark.

    For the reason that information of the marsh-harrier’s identification and demise broke on January 30, a number of birders mourned the scenario on social media and in feedback on eBird. Birder Anthony Ferino, who noticed the hen on November 9, wrote on eBird: “A extremely unhappy ending to the story of a tremendous rarity that appeared prefer it had potential to stay in North America for years, stamping its passport in who-knows-how-many completely different states. The strike occurred at an altitude of round 3,000 toes, a testomony to this hen’s high-soaring conduct talked about in my notes.”

    And Dave DeReamus, a Pennsylvania birder who additionally noticed the hen on November 9 and whose photographs illustrate this story, wrote on his weblog:

    “The final eBird report of the hen is listed because the twelfth, so this rarity was looking that space for not less than a week-and-a-half. The chances of this occurring to this specific hen are astronomical. It’s a really unhappy ending to a hen that survived a visit from one other continent, solely to fulfill its demise whereas hovering within the New Jersey sky.”

    Learn concerning the Smithsonian Feather Identification Lab

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