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Every Thursday, Zengage brings you a classic correspondence from the Write The Company archives. (For more, see our interview with Write The Company.)
Watching for Bird Droppings
There is a lot of upside to being a bird. However, my observations of birds got me thinking about the downside risks. Rather than take sides about something I know nothing about, I consulted American Bird Conservancy to get their side of the story related to the what-goes-up, must-come-down theory of bird flight
Dear American Bird Watchers:
Since youre the experts when it comes to bird habitats, can you please answer something about birds that baffles me? Theres so many of them around, but you never see them die. How come you never see birds free falling from above or keeling over from ledges of buildings or telephone wires?
Dont birds ever suffer heart attacks in mid-flight or pass out from overexertion? Do they have a special mystical place to die like elephants when the big aviary in the sky squawks out their number? Is it someplace in New Jersey?
Keep flying high and helping us conserve our birds!
An American Bird Conservancy Conservation Biologist responded with
As you may guess, birds are not immortal and die of many causes but dead birds are hard to find. They dont usually die of exertion, unless caught in a bad storm during migration. Major sources of bird mortality do include natural predators as well as anthropogenic sources, such as collisions with buildings and other man-made structures, predation by house cats, introduced diseases (like West Nile Virus), pesticide poisoning and other pollution issues, and other causes associated with habitat loss invasive species.
Live birds can also be hard for birders to find, but we dont usually look for dead ones. Dead birds are quickly scavenged and cleaned up by predators, so they dont present themselves to be found for long. We do, however, find dead birds when we search for them. For instance, volunteers in several cities monitor buildings early in the morning during migration to count dead birds that collided with buildings. Here is a photo of such a dead bird (Lincolns Sparrow) in Baltimore!
Meanwhile, you have some great birding spots in Delray to see live birds. I love Green Caye, Wakodahatchee, and Loxahatchee. Please consider joining ABC to support our important conservation programs.
Unfortunately, as proven by the photo of the cute little sparrow that bravely took on a building and lost, birds definitely die. While rushing to many meetings, Ive crashed into plenty of glass and elevator doors. Although I cant imagine how painful it is to fly beak-first into a building at full speed. Plus, Baltimore appears to be a trouble spot for birds. Not only did the sparrow meet its demise there, but the Baltimore Orioles have been dying there for years and the Ravens struggle to survive every season. Effective immediately, all Baltimore birds should be rerouted to St. Louis and Arizona where Cardinals flourish. In the meantime, I appeal to everyone in Baltimore buildings to keep their windows open until further notice.
The ABC Conservation Biologist was very gracious with his time and knowledge, which demonstrates the not-for-profit organizations dedication and passion for birds. American Bird Conservancy is on a mission to conserve native wild birds and their habitats throughout the Americas. The photo, this response, and information on ABCs website moved me to support their conservation programs by making a donation. Heres where you can learn more about American Bird Conservancy.
Going through life relying on two wings and a prayer is a tough way to go. Before you fly off into any activity involving an organization, a company, or its office building, gain a solid understanding of the obstacles and forces of nature youre up against. Unfortunately, due to limited research skills, birds cant always do that. But one way you can get a better idea of what youre dealing with is to Write The Company.
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