Hello, you’ve got mail!
From: Passenger Pigeon
To: Me and You!
I’ve been thinking lately, that many of us don’t know that birds are truly the messengers of the natural world. When you think of a bird messenger, if you’re like me at least, then you think of a pharaoh from ancient times, in his robes made of the finest silks and gold, delicately placing the characters of an urgent message on a papyrus scroll, which he then rolls up to give to his falcon as it flies off into the distant desert sunset. Very Hollywood right? But in reality while historically there has been some “avian delivery,” the real message that they bring is more subtle and of greater importance.
They are, in some cases, the sole indicator of the overall health of an ecosystem; a task that is so perfectly achieved by them. Everyone has heard of the ‘canaries in the mine’ reference, so it’s known that birds are greatly affect by there surroundings. With that being said, do you wonder how many researchers are looking at the responses that birds are having to the environment?
Well many actually, I was lucky enough to be able to sit in on a Webninar hosted by Allison Vogt, Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and Ken Rosenburg, Cornell Lab of Ornithology where they went over the NABCI State of the Birds Report for 2014. For those of us who don’t know what the State of the Bird Report or the NABCI are, let me shed some light. The State of the Bird Report is one of 5 yearly reports that goes back to 2009, which uses data from citizen science groups like North American Breeding Bird Survey and the Audubon Christmas Bird Count to analyze the populations of birds in distinct ecological habitats as a way of understanding the trends of the populations in those habitats and the environments themselves. NABCI is a congregation of federal agencies, conservation organizations and others that together work to maintain happy and healthy bird life in North America; and thanks to all the hard work and collaboration we now have a “report card” as Allison put it, for how effective our conservation efforts are. There are people looking at the affects of our environmental manipulation on birds, and while many species are in decline there are still some hope.
So I encourage you to read the report if you haven’t already, it isn’t technical, long or confusing; it’s main audience is policy makers and the general public. Learn about what habitat you belong to and the severity of the decline of species. Understand how appropriate governmental policies can bring about change for birds, the environment and yourself. Don’t let the messages that our feathery friends are sending go unread.