Is it hard to get moved about birds? Perhaps, if we take them for granted. We are not bird lovers in this house, although we have an owl – or perhaps, the offspring of an owl – who greeted us here in broad daylight the first day we came to view our forested home. We’re pretty fond of that owl. To hear its call always seems like a stroke of good luck, or some kind of sign.
North America is currently staring the possible loss of more than one-third of its bird species straight in its pointed, beaky face. A staggering 37 percent of the 1,154 native North American bird species are currently at High Risk for extinction and need “urgent conservation status.”. 49 percent of birds were at Moderate Risk and a mere 14 percent were categorized as Low Risk. This is according to the North American Bird Conservation Initiative in its annual “State of the Birds” report released Sunday.
The causes of the aviary extinction were identified as climate change and human-made factors, arguably one in the same. Rising sea levels, changes in the birds’ food supply, deforestation and disturbance from human recreational activities were cited as specific threats to the birds. Monoculture subsidies, such as those for growing corn, are also problematic in that they disrupt natural environments by reducing the variety of what’s growing and depletes soil in the long term.
The most pronounced of the dismal outlook for birds – the worst of the worst, you might say – are those in oceanic and tropical forest climates. The outlook for birds found only on islands off the Mexican coast is especially grim.
Fuck it, I can hear you say. We’re dying. Here it is, starting with the birds. Not even starting, just continuing. We’ve got far too many people on the planet. Too much disparity. No hope. No future. No meaningful change.
Maybe . . .
But we’re still here for now.
J.D. Bergeron, Executive Director of International Bird Rescue, called the findings of the North American Bird Conservation Initiative consistent with his group’s findings.
What do we do? It’s not going to get any better on our current trajectory, unless that trajectory is altered. So, what are we going to do?