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president’s Message

Presidents Message April 2018

I bet we’re all asking the same question…..where is spring? I’m writing this as I sit watching the Masters, drinking hot tea and wearing a turtleneck…..& FLANNEL!!!  Migration has begun, and the ospreys have returned in full force. I counted 12 yesterday just where I live by Nomini Creek. I know of 5 specific nests that are under construction. A pair of Carolina wrens has laid 4 eggs in a nest on the ground but covered with ivy. It seems like a risky location because of snakes. 2 of my 4 bluebird boxes have nests, and each nest has 4 eggs apiece.  So, spring has definitely sprung, but it sure doesn’t feel like it. I worry that the crazy weather will affect the birds. But that’s silly, they’ve been doing this for eons!

What DOES affect the birds even more than the weather is the activity of mankind.  So much so, that when the plume trade was decimating bird numbers, Audubon chapters were pushing Congress to pass the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. It was passed in 1918, 100 yrs. ago and it has been a great success. 100 years later, National Audubon has partnered with National Geographic, Cornell Lab of Ornithology and many other organizations to make 2018 The Year of the Bird.  

For me personally, it’s always about birds, so I have to ask, what does this mean, “The Year of the Bird”?  I need to quote the Audubon magazine for an answer. David Yarnold writes in the Winter 2017 issue,  ”Bringing the combined strengths of all of these organizations to bear on bird conservation is a type of collaboration that happens frequently – but often under the radar – in the NGO world. In truth it’s the only way that any of us can realistically tackle the scale of the threats that birds face.   The Year of the Bird will celebrate the importance of birds in our lives: the wonder and passion, … the roles they play in the web of life. The Year of the Bird gives us all an opportunity to recommit to our promise to protect birds and the places they need for the next century”.

“Recommit”, “protect”….those are the words that stand out for me. The MBTA protected birds in 1918, DDT was banned in 1972, it’s time for another big win for birds. Maybe legislation to mandate less reflective glass in large buildings, or turning off large building lights during the night? Perhaps a ban on lead ammunition and fishing tackle? For now, we need to do what we can, wherever we are.  We can put stickers on large picture windows to prevent bird strikes. Here’s a tough one – stop using lead fishing tackle and ammo (if you’re a hunter), then try to convince your friends to change over. (Here’s a secret, non-lead ammo is NOT that much more expensive).  Try letting your grass grow longer before you mow it, and don’t fertilize.

The NNAS website has links to many of these resources. Check them out, get educated, find out what you can do, recommit to protecting birds. Then join us on a walk, at a meeting, at the Heathsville Earth Day event later this month or the Wild One event in May. We hope to see you out there, taking care of the birds, or just watching them for fun.

Melissa Gross - President