Headstarting is a collaborative effort between WWT, BirdsRussia and the RSPB, and occurs as part of the International Arctic Expedition mounted each year by BirdsRussia under the leadership of Dr. Evgeny Syroechkovskiy.

“do I detect a faint whiff of speciesism here?”

Commenting on spoon-billed sandpiper story in The Guardian and picked up in the Readers’ Room, reader mjback makes the comment:

Am I being cynical or do I detect a faint whiff of speciesism here? Would the same effort have been made if the bird didn’t have an interestingly shaped beak? Birds of paradise have no more intrinsic value than sparrows, but we’re always going to get more upset about their demise because we find them prettier.

I doubt anyone involved with saving the spoon-billed sandpiper could dispute mjback’s assertion that all species have the same intrinsic value. However, millions of birds, not just spoon-billed sandpipers, are threatened by the loss of intertidal habitat along the East-Asian Australasian Flyway. We have to do what we can to save this Critically Endangered species from extinction. If this one species’ (extrinsic) good looks brings this massive problem to people’s attention, we might save far more than just the spoon-billed sandpiper.

Nigel Clark, wader expert at the BTO, explains:

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