From the Climate Action Team

Let Us Love Back the Birds

According to a recent survey by a team of university researchers, government agencies, and non-profit organizations the bird population has dropped by 2.9 billion in the last 50 years. “Common bird species are vital to ecosystems, controlling insect populations, pollinating flowers, and regenerating forests.”[1] And forests are needed to help counteract the effects of climate change.[2] What is happening to cause such a decline in bird populations? According to the researchers, it is the usual suspects: climate change and changing habitat, habitat loss due to deforestation, and increased pesticide use. For eagles, falcons, and waterfowl, conservation measures made it possible for them to thrive after being threatened with extinction. To save the hundreds of bird populations from extinction, we must defend their habitats, restrict chemical use, and redesign our structures and cities.

Varied thrush, Bellevue, WA

There are practices we can engage in to show our love for birds, forests, and nature. Locally, we can help revitalize bird populations in many ways. We can support bird friendly restoration practices and increasing native habitat for birds in urban areas and in our city parks. We can also: talk to friends and family about our love of birds and how climate change threatens them; take responsibility for our carbon pollution, and; “create safe places for birds to rest and nest in our yards and community by using fewer pesticides, letting dead trees stand, installing bird baths, and converting lawns and gardens to native plants. School grounds, parks, vacant lots, and common areas can all be “bird-scaped,” too.”[3][4]

Such Singing in the Wild Branches
It was spring
and I finally heard him
among the first leaves––
then I saw him clutching the limb
in an island of shade
with his red-brown feathers
all trim and neat for the new year.
First, I stood still
and thought of nothing.
Then I began to listen.
Then I was filled with gladness––
and that’s when it happened,
when I seemed to float,
to be, myself, a wing or a tree––
and I began to understand
what the bird was saying,
and the sands in the glass
for a pure white moment
while gravity sprinkled upward
like rain, rising,
and in fact
it became difficult to tell just what it was that was singing––
it was the thrush for sure, but it seemed
not a single thrush, but himself, and all his brothers,
and also the trees around them,
as well as the gliding, long-tailed clouds
in the perfect blue sky–––all of them
were singing.
And, of course, so it seemed,
so was I.
Such soft and solemn and perfect music doesn’t last
For more than a few moments.
It’s one of those magical places wise people
like to talk about.
One of the things they say about it, that is true,
is that, once you’ve been there,
you’re there forever.
Listen, everyone has a chance.
Is it spring, is it morning?
Are there trees near you,
and does your own soul need comforting?
Quick, then––open the door and fly on your heavy feet; the song
may already be drifting away.
~Mary Oliver

[1] Zimmer, Carl, “An Ecological ‘Crisis’ as 2.9 Billion Birds Vanish,” New York Times, September 20, 2019.
[3] National Audubon:
[4] Audubon Washington:

1 Response

  1. Nick Barnard says:

    Its worthwhile mentioning that house cats are also a huge threat to wildlife: