Monday, November 10, 2014

Dead bird mystery... or not

dead avocet

Oh, dear!

As I was walking around San Elijo Lagoon last August I encountered this dead bird. Do you recognize it by its long blue-gray legs, upturned bill, and white body with black wings? That's right. It is an American Avocet. How did it die? The clue is in the next photo.

dead avocet
Dead American Avocet. San Elijo Lagoon, California. August 17, 2014. Greg Gillson.
Unfortunately, power lines cross the mouth of the river, separating the ocean beach from the lagoon, a major flight path. It's a poor location choice for the placement of those power lines. Young birds, such as this juvenile avocet, are unfamiliar with the hazard that wires present. Experienced birds can still strike the wires if frightened or flushed at twilight or dark.

Birds strike man-made objects frequently. Many smaller birds migrate at night, navigating by the stars, and are confused by bright lights on the ground.

Annual bird mortality estimates for the United States only:

Bird deaths from power line collisions and electrocution: 12 to 64 million
Bird deaths from antenna towers: 5 to 50 million

Bird deaths striking glass (all buildings): 300 million to 1 billion

Even "environmentally friendly" sources of energy kill an unknown but growing number of birds:
Solar energy farms cook birds in flight
Wind turbines are giant "bird blenders"

You know what? By and far, most people do not care. It's true.

Take for example this blog post about a request to change the proposed Minnesota Vikings football stadium to make it more bird friendly. The author thinks the topic of bird collision deaths is joke-worthy. The comments from readers are generally disgusting and show a real lack of compassion, respect, or understanding for the other living creatures that share our planet.

 Want further proof that people don't really care about the earth and its life?

Outdoor cats in the United States alone kill up to 3.7 billion birds annually. Yet the resistance to keeping cats indoors is strong. No, they are not "natural," a common excuse. Birds are no match for domestic feline killing machines.

How long do you think bird populations can withstand the mortality of almost 5 billion annually--in just the United States--from the causes listed above?

One would think the blood of 5 billion Passenger Pigeons would be enough to fill our ignorance, indifference, selfishness, and greed. But apparently not.

(Sorry to be so depressing...)