“The least I can do is speak out for those who cannot speak for themselves.”
― Jane Goodall
“Nature doesn’t need people – people need nature; nature would survive the extinction of the human being and go on just fine, but human culture, human beings, cannot survive without nature.” Harrison Ford
“Hundreds of species are facing extinction due to human impacts on the environment.” – Elizabeth Marshall Thomas
“If we pollute the air, water and soil that keep us alive and well, and destroy the biodiversity that allows natural systems to function, no amount of money will save us.” –David Suzuki
“Humans regard animals as worthy of protection only when they are on the verge of extinction.” – Paul Craig Roberts
“This seedeater is a common to abundant bird in lowlands and foothills up to 1,500 m (4,900 ft) altitude in semi-open areas such as forest edges, roadsides, low scrub and gardens. It also flocks with other species of seedeaters in pasture, weedy fields and other grassland…This species feeds mainly on grass seeds but also takes other seeds, berries and some insects.” Wilkipedia
Poza Honda Ecuador – Last year while participating in the bird census for Global Big Day, friends and I noted the strong aroma of 2,4-D pesticide that had recently been sprayed on the pasture by the road. The aroma lingered for months, and sensitive broad-leaved plants continued to die or curl for several more months. The young balsa trees showed lingering effects half a year later.
I’m not sure when I noted the Variable Seedeaters’ absence, but their numbers declined rapidly – and have been almost absent until recently. It’s been sobering to note the perfect seed heads on the pasture grasses, and to listen for the birds’ sweet songs but find there were none.
I rationalized: “Perhaps they are nesting. Perhaps they went elsewhere for seeds. Or they are molting.”
Month after month, I rarely spotted a seedeater or grassquit.
The cutting of trees, bamboo, the fire that morphed into a larger one – surely all played into the disappearance of those precious little birds. I wondered if the hotter climate pushed them to cooler areas. We’ve not had as many cool days/nights as the year before.
I began actively searching for the missing birds, but no. They remained MIA. Month after month after month I hoped for their return; I was thrilled to spot one or two.
Sometimes it takes a while to notice what’s absent from the normal scene. Another species was often missing: the Ecuadorian Ground Doves. (featured below and in the header image.)
Even the most-predictable Puffbird was missing. No longer did it perch in its easy-to-see preferred seating overhanging the road. Last year the cutting of balsas affected the termite nest, which was most likely the Puffbird nesting site as well. Hopefully they relocated to a not-so-disturbed area.
“The most alarming of all man’s assaults upon the environment is the contamination of air, earth, rivers, and sea with dangerous and even lethal materials. This pollution is for the most part irrecoverable; the chain of evil it initiates not only in the world that must support life but in living tissues is for the most part irreversible.” Rachel Carlson
The abundance of rain produced ample grasses and seeds. For several months the grass seeds remained ‘perfect,’ which worried me. Those seeds should be gone; the grass stalks should be bent and altered from the perching birds. Where were the birds? The area was too silent. I yearned for their sweet songs.
Was I witnessing Rachel Carson’s greatest fear? Where were the seedeaters, grassquits and doves? Recently a few have returned to the area.
A new disappearance adds a greater weight of concern. My neighbor Jorge manages two bee hives; he told me a few weeks ago that one hive has been lost (No obvious dead bees near the hive) and that the other hive is sick. He is nursing Hive 2 back to health (we hope!)
It’s easy for many to dismiss the absence of a petite little bird, but when honey bees start vanishing, a greater percentage of people are alarmed. I now search for honey bees while walking and taking the bird census inventories. So far, I have seen zero.
“We have the choice to use the gift of our life to make the world a better place–or not to bother” ― Jane Goodall
Thank you Harrison Ford for speaking up! David Attenborough’s voice is also respected:
With concern I photographed a discarded packet of dry-powdered pesticide, then pondered what I was witnessing. I looked across the lovely-to-the-eye green pastures. What did it look like with the original habitat, and what animals might have lived where I was standing… Those species continue to be squeezed out of areas until there are no new places to go. Those species, in a way, are immigrants as well.
I rarely eat meat any more, but I do love cheeses, and milk in my coffee. I too am contributing to this ‘need for pastures’ as long as I’m a consumer of dairy products. I wondered how many people knew that we were losing species – and I was witness to it on an intimate level. I thought about those cattle eating the sprayed grasses, of the chemical going into the meat, the milk, the cheeses.
I didn’t want milk or cheese. I had zero appetite. I wanted to cry, then cry more – all because of the absence of the tribes of grassquits and seedeaters that once thrived in that area.
Some people shrug about a 2-degree change in temperature. Since my fever reached 104 with my first case of Dengue Fever, I easily use that example – what’s the difference in having a fever of 100.8 and 104? It’s huge. (2 celcius = 3.6 F)
“We can put solar panels on every house, we can turn every car into an electric vehicle, as long as Sumatra burns, we will have failed.. So long as the Amazon’s great forests are slashed and burned, so long as the protected lands of tribal people, Indigenous people, are allowed to be encroached upon, so long as wetlands and bog peats are destroyed, our climate goals will remain out of reach… and we will be shit out of time.” Harrison Ford
My favorite Jane Goodall quote is one she often states in her speeches, ” …the-most-intellectual-creature-to-ever-walk-earth-is-destroying-its-only-home
Spend two minutes to hear this lovely-woman’s words.
Comments are closed; please take a few moments and ponder how fragile our planet is, and what life might be like if you realized that the sparrows or wrens were gone. Would you miss them?
“What is the extinction of a condor to a child who has never seen a wren?”
— Robert Pyle