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Friday, October 12, 2007

Dark Clouds

As a professional bird conservationist, I spend most of my time looking for ways to help people and birds co-exist. That's because I love birds, and people. I'm not a misanthrope. I believe in the innate goodness of most people.

But every once in awhile I have blue moments. Today, as I read the latest BirdLife International assessment of the impending loss of the Spoon-billed Sandpiper--a bird I've dreamed of seeing since I was a kid--its hard not to be depressed. These little birds depend on a world that modern societies are hell-bent on taking away, a world of extensive coastal estuaries and mudflats. What most politicians and developers see as inexpensive flat land to be drained and converted into cash producing real estate, have been the migratory haunts of these unique little animals for millions of years. Now there are less than 300 pairs left.

What do we do, as a species, when a small bird gets in our way? While most people as individuals would never knowingly back their car over a small bird in their driveway, when a whole bird species can be wiped out by headless economic development, as a society we lament the loss but do little to prevent it.

I like our modern world. I like being able to travel and enjoy a comfortable existence. But when a whole species like this is threatened, we need to take it as a sign that we need to find another path--a path that will allow us to enjoy the luxuries that we've created over the past few decades, while allowing Spoon-billed Sandpipers and countless other species to enjoy the type of life that they've enjoyed for millions of years.

To help save critical habitat for the Spoon-billed Sandpiper, read the story here, and then go here to send an email of support.


Anonymous said...

Truly saddening. As far as I am aware the reclaimed passage feeding grounds in Korea are lying empty - just a great big flat area with a security guard. Pathetic!

A few wintering birds still turn up here in Thailand but this year bird trapping by mist net was observed close to the Spoon-billed Sandpiper wintering site. Just one catastrophic netting could wipe out the whole Thai wintering population.

Anonymous said...

Hello from PA!! Today I had the "gift" of seeing one of these wonderful birds in person living next to a creek here by my home. What a charming creature and I had no idea it was so rare!! Hopefully it is one of a pair and I will continue to keep my eyes peeled for it - but of course respecting it's space. How Cool.

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