This August, after a spring and early summer packed with migrating and breeding, birds and bird news quieted down. However, while parents were busy raising their young, the RCC found some important headlines for you.
Bird populations continue to be battered by worsening environmental dangers. August is an important month for baby birds, but, this year, their health was threatened by extreme heatand pesticides. On August 9th, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change published their AR6 report, in which scientists announced more unequivocal evidence of the danger that humans and birds face as a result of human-caused climate change and its consequences. However, with the bad news comes some good. At the very end of July, Representative Alan Lowenthal (D-CA), Representative Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), and 46 other co-sponsors introduced the Migratory Bird Protection Act (MBPA) in the House to restore and strengthen bird protections. Keep an eye out for RCC action alerts about this bill!
From late June through mid-July, climate change caused an extreme heat wave in the United States with areas in the Pacific Northwest experiencing record breaking temperatures in the 110’s. This heat wave endangered houseless people, fieldworkers and laborers, and individuals without air conditioning. In fact, the heatwave in Oregon and Washington State alone killed 200 people and heat-related deaths increased overall. As humans faced this climate disaster, so did birds.Hawk chicks and other birds of prey were found injured or dead beneath trees after leaping from their nests to escape the heat.Across the world, other bird populations suffered through other climate-related crises such as migrating birds and the drought in California and shorebirds and severe red tides across Florida’s coasts. As a result, July bird news was marked by headlines about dangerous and deadly climate conditions.
June Bustled With Bird News.
From newly-published research on bird behavior to state-of-the-art birding technology, this issue of the RCC’s Bird Watch and Wonder is packed.
In early June, the RCC joined others in observing Black Birders Week, a celebration of Black birders that works to make birding inclusive. However, there is still a long way to go before the activity is truly welcoming to everyone. In June, birders, activists, and journalists spoke up about the racist legacy that many birds carry. Rather than having names based on appearance, behavior, or song, bird species often carry the names of those who discovered them. Some of these have racist and violent histories of terrorizing indigenous and black communities.
The American Ornithological Society is creating a committee charged with developing guidelines to identify and reform harmful English bird names in response to suggestions fromactivist groups, including Bird Names for Birds.
May marked a month of migration for bird species across the United States. As they escaped the cold winter months and completed their journeys to breeding grounds in early June, stories of lively birds, birders, and activism flooded the news. One prevalent theme in these stories was the diversification of birding. As you read through this issue of the RCC’s Bird Watch and Wonder newsletter, look out for stories about historically unnamed women receiving the recognition they deserve, the creations of young people as they enter the world of birding, and events for Black birderswho are fighting for equal access to nature and beloved species. Learn about birding events that are for everybody and every body and about the connection between bird and human migration.
Birds are on the move! In most parts of the country, so are those of us who think its fun to get a sore neck looking up into the trees for warblers. But along with spectacular migrations, the decline of birds and their habitat continues. So, in this May issue of RCC’s Bird Watch and Wonder, we offer actions you can take to protect our avian friends, as well as victories achieved such as Virginia’s new regulation to stop the deaths of migrating birds by “incidental take.”
There is also growing interest nationwide to improve the habitat of birds as in North Carolina’s famous barrier islands where Rachel Carson roamed and wrote. Urban and suburban environmentalists, too, are planting more and more pollinator and rain gardens to help butterflies and bees. But we are reminded that putting in shade trees like themighty oak is not only good for butterflies, bees, and climate change, but for birds and other animals as well.
With Silent Spring (1962), Rachel Carson alerted Americans to the threat of a time, in the words of Keats, when “no birds sing.” The beloved American Robin, the harbinger of spring, was dying on lawns, on campus quadrangles, on the front porch of families. The majestic bald eagle, soaring ospreys, and the spectacularly swift Peregrine Falcon were endangered, too.
Carson aroused the public, stirred an environmental movement. The Rachel Carson Council, many, many other organizations, writers, scientists, and ordinary citizens were moved to action.