In January National Geographic announced that 2018 would be the Year of the Bird. It would be a year-long effort dedicated to celebrating and protecting birds. I’m all for celebrating birds and am so happy that 2018 is considered the Year of the Bird.
We have been long time bird watchers. In fact when I was growing up if we ever found a bird that had died hitting a window we would collect the bird and bring it to the Peabody Museum in New Haven, CT. As a result you often found frozen birds carefully wrapped in our freezer! Apparently the Peabody Museum encouraged this practice and I often had to explain to my friends why we had dead songbirds in our freezer!
There were songbird charts in our dining room and my mother fully expected my siblings and I to be able to identify every bid that came to our feeder. Luckily my husband is also an avid bird watcher and we went on many Audubon Bird Watches as a young married couple. We learned so much and it was a wonderful inexpensive outing.
Since moving to Vermont almost twenty years ago we have been feeding the birds. They provide so much entertainment. It is also very interesting to see which birds come to the feeders each year. We now have a pair of cardinals that have been visiting our feeder all winter. Although we have had them visit in the past they have never stayed around.
The Barred Owl is a frequent visitor; I think they like to look for the mice as they run across the snow!
Thomas Lovejoy, a famed biologist and conservationist says, “If you take care of the birds, you take care of most of the big problems in the world.” It’s important that we keep an eye on the birds, Thomas Lovejoy long predicted that by early 21st century, the Earth would start losing a dramatic number of species, a prediction, unfortunately, that is turning out to be spot-on.
National Geographic is joining the National Audubon Society, Birdlife International and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology to examine how our changing environment is leading to dramatic losses among bird species around the globe. They will also document what we can do about it.
This year we have noticed a big decrease in the number of chickadees we have at our feeder. In years past they have been frequenting the feeder in great number but this year we only have a few. I hope this is just a fluke and we will see an increase in the months to come.
It is good to celebrate the year of the bird. Read the essay “Why Birds Matter” written by Jonathan Franzen. Why do birds matter? Among his eloquent answers: “They are our last, best connection to a natural world that is otherwise receding.”