Birding Today: Man continues to endanger birds, animals

The Grasshopper Sparrow, an iconic grassland bird, shows how bird populations continue to plummet due to lack of habitat.

Joni Mitchell sang about paving paradise and putting up a parking lot. Maybe she knew that she was correct in writing "Big Yellow Taxi," as she was on the trail to what would become reality for birds, insects, and other animals.

Rising temperatures, increasing rain, and more violent storms are not just something that we are going through this year, this is something that we have been told was going to happen for years, plain as the nose on one’s face.

We were also told that cats and other invasives were going to be detrimental to the populations of birds, but they now affect people’s safety in the swamp.

Superman leaped tall buildings with a single bound, but that reflective glass caused us to do a double take when we discovered dead migratory birds beneath them. We slowly started turning off the lights in those buildings to save millions of birds during migration, when we could have been more energy conscious for years.

We tore up the plains land, hardwood forests, used stronger pesticides on croplands while we shipped the old, ineffective ones to Central and South America. Then those countries shipped fruit and vegetables back here containing the chemicals that we thought were part of the past.

Everywhere we look, there are pump jacks pocketing the landscape, flat mountaintops in Appalachia and other locations for natural gas, and animals are fleeing to the northeast on a trajectory that may buy them a little time to continue breeding as they know it. Mercury continues to waft on the winds and end up in our lakes to be ingested by fish, which we still consume, and then we hear that the coal miners need work. Mesothelioma and dirtier energy raise their ugly heads, and coal-fired plants like those at our Sooner Lake continue to operate, but what about life, the common good, and retraining miners for safer jobs?

The Boreal Forest and Arctic are threatened by clearly warming temperatures, as the ice melt has brought forth waterways for more oil drilling, and coastal lands continue to lose acreage where excess water from ice grows.

We must band together to do what is best for us and our environment, or we will not be on this earth long. The canary in the coal mine will stop singing with the poison gas emitted from there, which in turn spreads further out to animals, who must go farther north to raise young. We will follow, as our southern crops will continue to burn in the desert that will no longer support them, and the house that Jack built will continue to be left behind in ghost towns, while we plan to colonize another planet. Then the whole scenario will be repeated once again, because by the time Silent Spring happens, it is too late.

Now we are kissing our prairie chickens, sparrows, Cerulean Warbler, and Sage Grouse goodbye instead of embracing the future of better life. Do we fear change that much?

Deb Hirt is a wild bird rehabilitator and professional photographer living in Stillwater.