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Looking Through Falcons’ Eyes

On December 30, falcon 130393 finally arrived to its winter home in Madagascar, crossing the Mozambique channel on the last leg of its two-month journey. It is one of five sooty falcons fitted with tiny solar-powered transmitters that set out from Oman at the beginning of November on their enormous yearly migration—and it is the only bird that now remains in satellite contact.

A small team of scientists working with Oman’s Office for Conservation of the Environment set up the tracking project to try to figure out what is causing the falcons’ sharp decline. Sooty falcons are now listed as a threatened species, and scientists hope that with more data, they can better protect the birds. Since October 30, as the falcons winged their way across Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, South Sudan, Uganda and Tanzania, the scientists have been picking up their location signals from passing satellites and mapping their progress in a blog.

The falcons cover huge distances: in 2008, the first one tracked along its whole route flew 6,700 kilometers across seven countries. Hopefully, falcon 130393’s safe arrival will help scientists understand how to increase other falcons’ chances of doing the same in the years to come.

For more info – Sooty Falcon blog

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Jennifer MacKenzie

Poet, writer and teacher Jennifer MacKenzie grew up on Bloomcrest Dr. in Bloomfield Hills, MI, which inspired her to wonder about places with patterns other than floral. Following her education at Wesleyan University's College of Letters and the University of Iowa's Writers Workshop, she followed a zig-zag course that included a pilgrimage across the top of Spain and a long sojourn in Syria in pursuit of the language of Muhammad al-Maghout and Moudthaffar al-Nawwab. While in Damascus she completed the books of poems "Distant City" and "My Not-My Soldier" (forthcoming from Fence Books) and edited the magazine Syria Today. Her poems and essays can be found in numerous journals including the Kenyon Review online, Guernica, Quarterly West, and Lungfull. She currently lives in New York.

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