For The Birds: It will take our entire flock to help the birds solve challenges that may destroy them
October 14, 2016
Each year after the spring migration moves out of my yard I start watching the calendar and anticipate the coming of the fall migration.
It starts in August and continues on into September now because of climate change. This year the birds must have flown around or over my yard. Upon reading the National Geographic report it answered my questions and saddened me deeply.
It is very sobering. If the birds are declining, then the environment is in trouble. They are like the canaries in a mine, broadcasting that there is a problem with our world. Ornithologists as well as casual birders are noticing the decline.
Cats, wind turbines, climate change and habitat loss are the big causes. Domestic cats contribute to a bloody death of millions of birds (it's happening in my yard as well). The American Birding Association is starting a campaign to convince cat owners and politicians that cats belong inside. It is better for the birds as well as the cat.
Birds flying into wind turbines kill millions. There is a proposed regulation to put wind turbines away from migration paths, wetlands and wildlife areas. Another study shows that steady red lights of airports confuse birds, so they fly into towers or in circles until they die from exhaustion. Replacing the lights with strobe lights would be the solution.
Habitat decline is a large cause. Birds return from Central America to find their habitat is destroyed to build a housing area or a mall. Much habitat is being plowed and turned into farms. The National Audubon Society reports that the common birds that we thought were safe have declined 80 percent since 1969. I have about 15 migrating robins in my yard this fall. About 15 years ago, 35 or more lined up to drink at the water.
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This fall 16 species of birds came to my yard and only one of most species. This is something that we all have to work on. It is our Earth, and we are going to lose the beauty of the natural world. All of the above causes of bird loss is also destroying our other animals and plants. Think about it. What can each person do to help to change this. In 1962 Rachel Carson wrote a book "Silent Spring." She described a spring with no bird songs. Many of the older generation remember her prediction of disaster if we did not stop using the killer pesticides. A public outcry to out law DDT resulted in the saving of the Bald Eagle. However the company still sells DDT to countries south of our border. That kills the birds that migrate back to us to nest. More than 20 yyears ago when we had one Bald Eagle nest in Colorado, the state would not reveal its location because it was so rare. Now we have several nests around Greeley. This problem will take all of us working together to save all of our environment including the birds.
Norma Erickson is a longtime bird watcher who lives in Greeley and loves watching her feathered friends in her yard.