How would you feel about never seeing these beautiful creatures again except in a museum? Unless we take action, this is a real possibility.
This Spring I’m seeing and hearing only a few birds in my garden instead of the usual sightings of many different bird species and choruses of melodies. We are losing more of our birds every year. Why is this? One cause is mass die-off.
A very sad thing happened in August 2020. As people were dying of covid, birds were dying too. Migratory birds were literally dropping out of the sky by the hundreds of thousands in New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, and Nebraska. Scientists say it’s the largest die-off in recent history. Dr. Martha Desmond, a professor in the biology department at New Mexico State University, calls it a national tragedy.
“Many of them have little to no fat, many are underweight, and there’s not a lot of external signs that they have been inhaling a lot of smoke,” Jenna McCullough, a doctoral ornithology student from NMSU said.
Allison Salas, an NMSU graduate student who has been collecting carcasses said, “If we don’t do anything to protect their habitat we’re going to lose large numbers of the populations of several species.”
Possible causes for the loss are ongoing wildfires and climate crisis. Yet this is only a partial explanation explain of why so many birds died of starvation. Doug Tallamy, PhD, University of Delaware entomology professor, has another answer; birds are starving because there is not enough for them to eat.
Home gardens consist of lawns, invasive plants, and the usual plants sold at garden centers (Dr. Tallamy calls them alien plants), which offer no nourishment for birds or insects. Dr. Tallamy hopes to reverse that unfortunate situation with his Homegrown National Park project.
Homegrown National Park is a grassroots call to action to restore biodiversity and ecosystem function by planting native plants and creating new ecological networks. Why? Because just like birds, we humans need highly productive and diverse ecosystems to survive.
Dr. Tallamy says, “In the past, we have asked one thing of our gardens: that they be pretty. Now they have to support life, sequester carbon, feed pollinators and manage water.”
April 2021 is National Native Plant Month. You can make a difference by planting natives in your garden. Even container plants on your apartment balcony would help.
Now is the time to take action! We all need to become stewards of our land. Let’s create a food corridor to save our feathered friends. Email Kelsey or Marion at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out how. Or attend our Native Plants for Biodiversity Zoom webinar on Sunday, April 25 at 3 PM. Register to receive the Zoom link by emailing email@example.com.