Millions of Missing Birds, Vanishing in Plain Sight – New York Times

Verlyn Klinkenborg has a new piece out. His observations on humanity and our relationship to the natural world do not put humanity in the best of lights…Rightfully so in my humble opinion.

Millions of Missing Birds, Vanishing in Plain Sight – New York Times
Last week, the Audubon Society released a new report describing the sharp and startling population decline of some of the most familiar and common birds in America: several kinds of sparrows, the Northern bobwhite, the Eastern meadowlark, the common grackle and the common tern. The average decline of the 20 species in the Audubon Society’s report is 68 percent.

Forty years ago, there were an estimated 31 million bobwhites. Now there are 5.5 million. Compared to the hundred-some condors presently in the wild, 5.5 million bobwhites sounds like a lot of birds. But what matters is the 25.5 million missing and the troubles that brought them down — and are all too likely to bring down the rest of them, too. So this is not extinction, but it is how things look before extinction happens.

I was raised in the suburbs. Luckily, most of my relatives live in rural or small town settings so I was able to get regular doses of country living. My summers were generally spent roaming from relative to relative for a week here and a week there. While no one in my circle was a birder, birds were always a part of the background of my life.

Like Verlyn, much of what I read these days talks of the death and destruction of species, plants and animals. From the forest species of my beloved Blue Ridge Mountains to the Mockingbirds in my backyard. all are in decline. I guess the question I have to ask is what can I do…we do to stop this? Can we stop the juggernaut that seems to be rolling toward all of our doom? Do we even know enough to start to change?

This paragraph says it better than I can is this…

Agriculture has intensified. So has development. Open space has been sharply reduced. We have simply pursued our livelihoods. We knew it was inimical to wolves and mountain lions. But we somehow trusted that all the innocent little birds were here to stay. What they actually need to survive, it turns out, is a landscape that is less intensely human.

Go read the piece, it’s worth the time…

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