As I was filming a Great Blue Heron, and standing as still as a tree, the beautiful Rusty Blackbird flew on the scene, not four feet away! My heart skipped a beat and I quickly turned my camera on the little blackbird. It’s foraging habit of flipping leaves to uncover insects and plant matter was fascinating and my only wish was that he stayed longer than a brief minute.
Scientists only relatively recently became aware of the dramatic decline of the Rusty Blackbird. Reports show that the population of the RB has plummeted between 80 and 99 percent.
As is the case with so many creatures the whole earth wide, two of the greatest threats facing the Rusty Blackbird are loss of habitat and climate change. The birds are elusive, nesting in remote areas of the great northern boreal forest and wintering over in the wet woodlands of the southeastern United States. Over 80 percent of their winter habitat in the southeast has been lost to development. Changes in the ecosystem of the boreal forests has affected nesting and foraging.
Without doubt, global climate change is the greatest challenge of our day. All living life as we know is in danger. Millions of human lives have been directly impacted by the Earth’s warming temperature. We are at risk of losing thousands of species of flora and wild creatures.
Three years ago (!) almost to the day, Deborah Cramer’s NY Times op ed , “Silent Seashores” was published and her horseshoe crab and Red Knot poetic missive “The Narrow Edge: A Tiny Bird, an Ancient Crab, and an Epic Journey” advanced a global ecological message to the masses. “I hope I never walk beaches empty of sandpipers and plovers. But it is possible that may happen. In the case of some shorebirds, it is increasingly likely. This is why we must commit the money and muscle needed to give these birds safe harbor. If we do, we just might keep our shores teeming with shorebirds.” Deborah Cramer is a visiting scholar at M.I.T., and resides in Gloucester.
April 28, 2018
The New York Times, published another mighty call to arms making use of today’s improved visual storytelling tools. “Shorebirds the world’s greatest travelers, face extinction”is breathtaking and devasting digitial photojournalism about shorebird extinction by John W. Fitzpatrick (Director Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology) and Nathan R. Senner (scientist University of Montana). Stuart A Thompson designed the superb interactive graphic element. The indeliable header pulses with a bird on a wire, a “common snipe” it’s captioned, peering, chest beating, and then a sickening struggle. The bird’s caught, and we’re its snipers. Do. Not. Look. Away.
While you’re checking out this NY Times must read on line, think about Gloucester, Deborah Cramer, and Kim Smith. How one person can and continues to make a difference. Among many other projects, Smith is leading the effort to protect piping plovers at Good Harbor Beach. Let’s support the laws in place to safeguard the natural world. No dogs year round may be easier to remember. Honor system, volunteers, and enforcement (without “teeth” and more funding) are not working. If compassion, art, rules, and legacy aren’t persuasive, there’s always the bottom line. Natural culture all about us is a strategic resource.
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