If you haven’t yet heard of B95, he is the oldest-known migratory shorebird of the rufa subspecies of Red Knot (Calidris canutus rufa) who, now 19 years old, has flown the distance from the Earth to the Moon, cumulatively, and then some. Scientists first banded him in 1995 on wintering grounds in Tierra del Fuego, Argentina, when he was approximately 2 years old; in recapturing him years later, the same scientists gave him an orange leg band inscribed with his now famous moniker, “B95.” He migrates back and forth between southern Argentina and Canadian Arctic breeding grounds every year, with a critical stop in Delaware Bay (New Jersey, USA)—his fame growing with every recapture or resighting.
His story of survival against what scientists and conservationists know to be extraordinary odds inspired the book Moonbird: A Year on the Wing with the Great Survivor, B95 from National Book Award-winning American author Phillip Hoose. The book, released summer-fall 2012, was designed for young readers but quickly became a favorite of all ages.
We’d like to congratulate our friend and colleague Phil on the numerous (17+) awards and honors received for Moonbird to date. Here are just a few:
2013 ALSC* Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Medal Honor [*Association for Library Service to Children]
2013 National Science Teachers Association’s Outstanding Science Trade Books for Students Award
2012 John Burroughs Association’s Riverby Award for Young Readers
Finalist, 2012 YALSA** Excellence in Nonfiction Award [** Young Adult Library Services Association]
Finalist, Science Magazine’s Science Books & Films Children’s Prize
The Washington Post’s Best Children’s Books 2012
Los Angeles Public Library Best of 2012 Children’s Books
In related news…B95 himself recently received a great honor too! The Rio Grande Municipal Council (Tierra del Fuego Province, Argentina) declared B95 as the City’s “Natural Ambassador,” to symbolize its citizens’ care and respect for their environment. The unprecedented Municipal declaration was approved and made an Ordinance by Council during its 7 December 2012 meeting. Article 2 of the Ordinance calls for a monument to be constructed in B95’s honor.
The story of B95 has been covered by local, national, and even global news media; however, this status of ambassadorship is undoubtedly the most extraordinary recognition to date within B95’s “home hemisphere.” The Ordinance will also help to galvanize a sense of pride in the local community towards shorebirds, their epic migrations, and the need for their conservation.
For more information about B95 or Phil Hoose, or to order a copy of the book, visit the Moonbird website. More articles about B95 are available in the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network (WHSRN)’s online newsletter “WHSRNews” – his most recent re-sighting is in the July 2012 issue.