You see, birds recognize their special, yet delicate relationship with humankind. For most people, birds are THE wild species they interact with most often. If one pays attention at all, it’s hard to pass a day without taking notice of at least one bird variety or another. In many ways humankind’s relationship to the avian kingdom is a microcosm of its relationship to the natural world as a whole. It’s that old “canary in the coal mine” thing. Bird population health is a gauge of ecosystem (and human) health. Losing the bird(s) is a sign of danger to all.
And a precarious relationship it is. As we humans become more and more successful at exploiting the most remote regions of this planet, birds often pay the price. Human expansion has driven nearly 200 species to extinction. Hundreds more are listed as critically endangered.
After Barney wrapped up his remarks, several workshops were offered. Rufous Hummingbird attended a sobering talk on expanding avian threats including agriculture & logging, hunting & trapping, and commercial & residential development. Pinky Flamingo gave a presentation about positive trends in rainforest conservation, grassland preserves, backyard habitat development and bird feeding. The largest crowd gathered to hear Baldy Eagle describe efforts to rein in the “loose cat” population and the need for more feral feline neutering programs.
That evening Scarlet Tanager gave a moving and hopeful keynote address. “We know that humans are and must be our allies if we are to survive as a species. In many ways, we exemplify the very soul of humankind. It’s a soul that values beauty, diversity, and environmental balance. Quoting author Jonathan Franzen, ‘Taken all together, the flight paths of birds bind the planet together like100 billion filaments, tree to tree and continent to continent.’
“May efforts to preserve our species be a catalyst that binds the people of the world together. Because, after all, this is our only home. We and the humans are here forever… Earthbound.”