By Gundhramns Hammer
November 5, 2013
It is estimated that between 300 million and one billion birds die each year from collisions with glass (Fig. 1) in the United States, says Dr. Christine Sheppard, Birds Collisions Campaign Manager for American Bird Conservancy (ABC). Considering that many bird populations are declining, this is a tremendous loss which sooner or later will eventually lead put more pressure upon the survival of migratory species.
|Figure 1. Bird collision. Source: Philadelphia Zoo.|
Autumn is the most critical and dangerous season for migratory birds heading south. This situation is aggravated by the artificial lighting from cities at nighttime (Video 1), causing disorientation and an attractive trap for migrating birds.
Video 1. U.S. seen at night from the International Space Station.
If this were not enough, birds are also facing with the destruction of the habitats (Fig. 2) in their own wintering grounds in Mexico, Central and South America, and the Antilles.
Since birds are exhausted upon arrival, they must immediately find something to eat otherwise they will find only death by starvation at the end of their trip. This is sad, indeed.
So that after a long trip of hundreds and hundreds of kilometres, North American birds north of Mexico may find that the woody spot where they wintered the previous year is no longer available.
They only find an empty lot full of grass with hundreds of heads of cattle grazing on it or rows upon rows of monocultures of oil palm (Elaeis guineensis) or Eucalyptus trees.
Cattle whose meat (Fig. 3) will become hamburger and will find its way to the United States´ market. The palm oil (Fig. 4) will also end on the shelves at the stores as cosmetics or food items in the U.S. And the Eucalyptus trees will become paper cups, tourism pamphlets, cardboard, amongst other things.
|Figure 3. Cattle ranching in the Neotropical Region. Source: Climate Connections.|
|Figure 4. Palm oil and fruits (Elaeis guineensis). Source: Inhabitat.|
So the more consumers eat beef and use palm oil in foods, cosmetics or as fuel to squander it cruising around, the more they put the migratory birds´ future in danger, besides affecting the environment in other ways.
And we all earthlings cannot afford to lose any spoke of the Wheel of Biodiversity. Each one has an important role to play in the drama of life. Each one counts.
Many efforts are being made and implanted to reduce the number of bird collisions. To begin with, architects, designers and developers are joining efforts to create a bird-friendly glass.