TEST TIDBITS: HAVE YOU BEEN MISSING YOUR FAVORITE BIRD?
A lot of us have been taking birds for granted. Sure, we love to hear the sounds they make as we awake or go off about our day, but are we hearing and seeing them less often? The answer is yes. Bird population has been in decline over the past fifty years. A study led by Ken Rosenberg of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology & Conservation and team members from the Smithsonian biology Institute, the U S Geological Survey, The Canadian Wildlife service and others, have found that we have lost nearly 3 billion birds from North America over these five decades. A breakdown according to habitat type, the Grassland Habitat (our area) has lost over 720 million (a variety of bird families) since 1970—a 40% loss. Each habitat has had losses from 20% to 30%. There are two areas of gain, however. The Wetland Habitat gained 20 million and raptors, especially Bald Eagles. It is no coincidence that conservation action has concentrated on these areas in the recent past. Since birds are like the “canary in the coal mine” in studying the health of our ecological systems, we should seriously take notice. It isn’t just because of birdsong. Birds are great pollinators and eat a lot of insects and, of course, are part of this glorious world God has created.
What can we do to help the situation? Disappearing habitat is one of the reasons for decline. We can support conservation efforts, and provide backyard habitats for birds. Go to www.audubon.org or hints on the native plants, bird nesting boxes, bird feeders and birdbaths. We can eliminate pesticide use in our yard and properly dispose of any chemicals we do use. We can put up decoys on large windows to keep the birds from hitting them. We can turn off night lighting for spring migration time. We can keep our sweet (but deadly) cats indoors. We can inform ourselves on the birds of our area and join others in advocating for parks, wetlands, wild areas and pocket parries. We do not want to lose anymore of our fine-feathered friends. It isn’t an extinction crisis yet, but it certainly a biodiversity crisis and it is being made worse because of ongoing climate crisis.
EARTH STEWARD ACTION: Make your backyard an inviting place for birds this winter. Plan for spring plantings that will attract and feed birds and other pollinators.