What bird is that? Where do they come from? Where are they going? How do they survive? I never tire of answering the questions of beginning birders because I never stop asking the same questions myself. To stay attuned to the play of avian migration coursing all around us is to stay attuned to the seasons' pulse on a global scale. I'm one of an ever-growing community of nature watchers following this wilderness of birds connecting our hemispheres each spring and autumn. By continually asking those deceptively simple questions, we gather vital information regarding the health of forests, rivers, and shorelines.
These amazing bi-annual migrations are an extrordinarily daunting physical challenge and indeed the most perilous time in the life of a bird. The dangers posed by habitat fragmentation and glass collison are well known. Less well known are the hazards birds share with humans made apparent by wildlife rehabilitation. Birds suffering from exposure to controlled pesticides reveal illegal usage and improper deployment. When New York city street pigeons are brought to rehabbers at The Wild Bird Fund, they're checked for lead exposure and when present, the results are reported to public health officials. Afflicted wildlife under care, presents us with the toxic legacy we've hidden, ignored, and forgotten. "Take care of the environment and the environment will take care of you." Amen.
I am a member of Food and Water Watch, New York City Audubon Society, The Linnaean Society of New York, The Wild Bird Fund, and a host of other environmental and conservation groups working in the field, with legislation, and in education. At Linnaean, I attend lectures by scientists engaging in important research. At Food and Water Watch, I do my small part to forward their vitally important mission of safeguarding the water and agriculture infrastructure locally, nationally, and in partnership - internationally. At the Wild Bird Fund and the New York City Audubon Society, I volunteer as a guide, introducing beginners to the surprizing richness of our local natural history and to the conservation programs they conduct and sponsor. A single membership in these and other organizations supplies modest monetary support, but in numbers, our memberships are crucial. My modest time spent volunteering is repaid by a much greater measure of satisfaction, and learning.
I'm a blue-collar kid from the Pacific Northwest with lumberjacks and farmers in the family, and we've learned a lot through the generations. We are well acquainted with short-sighted cut-and-run recklessness and sloppy industry. We know what rolls down hill, and it's usually untreated industrial waste. Our folks' generations' greatest threat was WWII, and they won it because they had to. They just had to. We have to steer our country back to the general acceptance of scientific reason, to a culture of problem solving, and to the clear realization of a common purpose. The fight to save the world's environmental integrity and climate stabiltiy is a fight we have to face, and that we have to win. We just have to.
As I travel around the country I find many great landscape and habitat areas saved by their local birders, environmentalists, and watershed protectors. Active citizenship has made a positive difference for future generations. Thank you Americans. Below are the contact web addresses for my favorite national and local folks.