Articles

Conservation Column: Helping Migratory and Native Birds

The bad news first. The conservation group BirdLife International’s latest report found that 40 percent of the world’s 11,000 bird species are in decline. The good news is that many people are seeking to protect nature in a myriad of ways. They develop conservation programs to protect ecosystems and for various specific species. Some of this is done in the field, some through communication with policy makers, and some in the courts. It’s easy, but deceptive and disempowering, to think that we as individuals can’t make a difference. One of the most important things we can do now is to vote and let our representatives know that we value laws that protect species and habitats. Protective laws can work: 70 percent of the birds listed as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) have populations that are now stable, increasing, or have recovered enough to be delisted.

Some of the many other things we can do as individuals to make a difference are listed below.

Conservation Column: Oregon Forests Promote Planetary Health

Good reasons to conserve the forests always include concern for the welfare of birds and other living beings. But that’s just the beginning. Two recent scientific reports highlight important roles that birds play in the world. And birds need healthy forests.

The first report (Science, 2018) warns that a warming climate will mean a significant increase in losses of major food crops to insect pests. Increased temperatures mean more insects, resulting in greater crop losses. The losses for wheat, an important Oregon crop, will increase 46 percent for each rise of 2 degrees Celsius. A second report (The Science of Nature, 2018) documents the importance of birds in controlling insect populations—insectivorous birds consume between 400 and 500 million tons of insects per year. Forest-dwelling birds consume around 75 per cent of that total. So it makes sense to conserve bird habitat, due to the vital role of birds in the food web (including insect control), as well as for their pollination prowess and seed dispersing skills.

Conservation Column: Administration Busy Weakening Our Environmental Protections

I prefer bird tweets to presidential tweets. It’s too easy to get distracted by the rhetoric and scandals, which may lead to the false impression that not much is getting done. However, while we are distracted, the current administration has sought to roll back many bedrock environmental protections. The vast scope of these changes and proposals makes it difficult for me to read or listen to the news. The following is a sampling of the more than 60 policy changes. Some are in the proposal stage, while others have been enacted.

  • The federal government is reversing a policy that would have increased vehicle mileage standards for cars made over the next decade. The standards that were to go into effect would have limited vehicle emissions of greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change. They would have also lessened other forms of pollution, reduced the need for fossil fuels, and saved people money at the pump.

Conservation Column: Take Time to Focus on Bees’ Needs

bumble beeYou might have heard a little something about the birds and the bees. But maybe you haven’t heard that what’s good for bees is good for birds as well. Because that’s true, Lane County Audubon has joined the Eugene Pollinator Protection Committeein collaboration with the Xerces Society, Beyond Toxics, Walama Restoration Project, GloryBee, and the City of Eugene Parks and Open Spaces. By helping to protect native bees, we also secure resources, habitat, and health for our bird populations and other wildlife.

Unfortunately, pollinator populations have declined dramatically. A 2017 report revealed that over 700 species of native bees are in trouble.

Thank You Audubon Adventures Sponsors!

This school year, Lane County Audubon Society has put a record number of Audubon Adventures kits in classrooms! We couldn’t have done this without our generous sponsors. Thanks to them, we were able to place 62 kits in 51 classrooms across 21 Lane County schools! That’s about 1,275 students that have been enriched with standards-based science content about birds, wildlife, and their habitats.

LCAS Big Day, May 5, 2018

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Conservation Column: Help Stop the Cormorant Killings

Fom Portland Audubon: East Sand Island was once the largest Double-crested Cormorant colony in the world, home to more than 28,000 cormorants representing 40 percent of the entire population west of the Rocky Mountains. However, for the past three years, federal agencies have been waging a relentless and inhumane war on Double-crested Cormorants, shooting thousands of the birds out of the sky with shotguns and destroying their active nests. More than 5,000 cormorants have been shot, and more than 6,000 nests have been destroyed. Because of this, the world’s largest colony of Double-crested Cormorants has collapsed. The birds abandoned the colony at the peak of nesting season in 2016, and only a couple hundred birds returned to nest in 2017.  

The collapse of the entire colony went far beyond what was allowed under the Corps permits and puts the entire western population of Double-crested Cormorants at risk. Yet, the US Army Corps has applied for permits to continue destroying cormorant nests on East Sand Island if the birds return in 2018, and has plans to modify their habitat to limit nesting in the future. This kind of activity could precipitate another colony collapse in 2018.

Conservation Column: Updated Rocky Shores Protection Urgently Needed

Oregon’s rocky coastal shores are not currently receiving sufficient analysis or protection. Oregon Shores and Audubon chapters, along with the other organizations that cooperated to institute Oregon’s marine reserves, share this concern. These groups believe that more up-to-date information is needed to make strategic plans. Specifically, we need well-defined objectives, based on scientific data about marine resources and uses.

Observation by John Polo

On Friday, March 2, there was a Hermit Thrush in our yard apparently foraging. It was the first time I saw “our” thrush move to the ground of all its visits (I’m assuming it was the same bird I was seeing a couple of months ago). While it was searching, I noticed its legs shivering. I was close, I was just on the other side of a glass door to the yard, and could see the bird quite well. The shaking was unmistakable.

Conservation Column: Migratory Birds Need Our Help

Many of us share an appreciation for migratory birds. One hundred years ago (that’s 1918), people recognized the need to protect migratory and native species. The Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) that resulted is one of the finest and most far-reaching environmental laws ever passed in the United States. Now it’s in trouble.

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