It’s summer and I delight in the antics of fledgling birds. They land on our feeders, but despite the proximity and abundance of food, they beg from their parents, mouths open and wings fluttering. Soon they will be ready for autumn activities, which for many birds involve a migratory journey. Let’s do what we can to keep birds safe along their passage.
On July 20th, participants in the Lane Audubon canoe/kayak Third Saturday bird trip paddled north on Coyote Creek to Fern Ridge Reservoir, departing from the Cantrell Road put-in at 8 am. We had a good morning of birding with really nice weather except for a little head wind early on. Our 9 watercraft (3 canoes and 6 kayaks) held 14 people. The participants’ ages ranged from 4 years to mid-70s, and it was a fun day for all!
Birds help farmers. They control pests, sow seeds, pollinate flowers, and fertilize soils. Unfortunately, the reverse is not true; common agricultural practices do not help birds. Often they have led to devastating bird population declines. The North American Breeding Bird Survey data shows that 74 percent of farmland-associated species decreased between 1966 and 2013.
We are pleased to announce that the City of Eugene and the University of Oregon have received official bee-friendly designation! The Bee City USA program (beecityusa.org) helps us institutionalize the community’s commitment to pollinator protection, provides accountability, and helps raise awareness. The City of Eugene invests in the creation and restoration of native pollinator habitat.
Most of us are aware of the alarming decline in populations of pollinators and other beneficial insects. This affects all of us, our food supply, and the birds that we love. In addition to habitat loss, pesticides use is a major culprit. Recent investigations have found pesticide residue everywhere, in the body tissues of people and animals, in the food we buy at our supermarkets, and even (sorry about this) in our beer and wine.
The percentage of people who think global warming is happening is now five times greater than that of people who don’t, according to a recent survey conducted by Yale University.
by Dick Lamster, Count Coordinator
The 27 observer teams in the 77th ECBC mobilized on Sunday, December 30. For the first time in recent memory, the Eugene Christmas Bird Count (ECBC) had good weather—a day with no ice, no snow, and no wind! The sun even came out for a short time. And just to remind us it was December in Oregon, it did rain for a few minutes mid-afternoon.
The 155 Field Observers, along with the 76 Home Counters, identified 131 species of birds, plus three more during Count Week. That’s a total of 77,239 individual birds. These numbers are about average for the past few years. Our species record of 140, plus 2 more during Count Week, was set in 2005. Our record of 129,874 individual birds was set in 2000. A complete listing and analysis by the Species Compiler, Vjera Thompson, can be found on this website under Resources/Christmas Bird Counts.
In last month’s column, I reported some bad news on the conservation front, but noted that there were ways that we, as individuals, could help. That’s still true. Sitting at my computer, I find myself, again, mired in more bad news, and I worry about losing my sense of humor.
Bad news first:
- The Peregrine Fund has found that 52 percent of raptor species are declining around the globe.
- According to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), we have seen an overall 60 percent decline of mammals, birds, fish, and reptiles since 1970.
- A report on high-elevation species of birds show population declines. Their ranges have shrunk due to climate change, and they have run out of usable mountain habitat.
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.