What Our Animals Are Telling Us This Earth Day
Apr 16, 2020
On this Earth Day – 50 years from its founding in 1970 – it is reassuring to see nature continue its springtime rituals – flowers bloom, animals are born, water thaws and the air warms – as we humans are changing our behavior in ways we never could have imagined.
National parks report that the animals who inhabit these spaces are coming out of their usual hiding spots and roaming the parks freely in the absence of millions of visitors. Images from above show that the skies are clearing -- we can see stars at night that were previous hidden. Fish can now be seen, and birds are returning to cleaner waterways.
These are glimpses of what it might look like if we take better care of our planet. We can start by celebrating the space around us by nurturing a healthy habitat for our backyard birds.
Take notice of what’s in your backyard and neighborhood – do you have a mix of species? The more complex the species mix, the more balanced (and healthier) the habitat. Do you have birds that feed on the ground and birds that feed in the trees? Do you have birds that eat seed and birds that eat bugs? Do you have birds that eat fruit and berries? How about cavity-nesting birds, as well as cup-nesting birds? Do you have woodpeckers? Hawks? The more often you say “yes,” the more likely you are to have a well-balanced yard.
If not, you can encourage diversity by making these improvements:
1. Feed migrating and year-round birds with feeders filled with fresh seed, suet and nuts - the energy they need to see them through mating season.
2. Offer a bird house, nesting material and native plantings – secure spots to raise their families.
3. Let your lawn grow naturally, cut it a little higher and skip the pesticides. It saves water, essential insects and promotes a healthy lifestyle.
4. Add some water. A bird bath, mister or dripper will attract a variety of birds and help keep them hydrated and clean.
Birds are part of the web of life – a mixture of hunters and gatherers, predators and prey. Each animal has a role to play, and our actions make a difference in their – and our – survival. Nearly 30% of North American birds have disappeared since 1970. Our warming climate is forcing birds to winter and breed farther north than in the past.
According to the National Audubon Society, two-thirds of North American birds are at increasing risk of extinction from global temperature rise and many will be forced to relocate to survive. Based on 140 million observations, the Society’s project – “Surviving by Degrees: 389 Bird Species on the Brink” at https://www.audubon.org/climate/survivalbydegrees -- allows us to see the potential climate impacts on the birds where we live.
It is more important than ever to celebrate and support our wildlife and their vital contributions to our shared world. With cleaner air, water and room to roam, the earth’s wildlife’s actions during these times are speaking loudly.
If we listen, we can make a difference.