“What if there were 100,000’s?”

This has been bothering me for sometime.

I go out and watch birds. I record my results in eBird. I participate in Christmas Bird Counts and Big May Day Counts. I helped plant trees at an Audubon site back in Illinois one spring. I’ve donated money to conservation organizations. All in the hopes that in someway it will be beneficial to birds.

But I don’t feel it is enough. There has got to be more.

What can I do to help birds and their constant pressures from man? How can I really help?

The media has covered the success stories on the recovery of certain species and their removal from endangered lists. But the stories are usually about the poster children of the birdworld. The Bald Eagles or Peregrine Falcons. Great success stories both. But what about the other 10,000 species?

If you have followed this blog you know I switched jobs earlier this year. And with that came travel. One of the things I do to pass the time is to listen to birding podcasts. I have listened to a couple of US birding podcasts and they were interesting.

Then I found the U.K. based Talking Naturally.  As the tagline says “it is a fortnightly podcast discussing birds, wildlife, conservation and whatever else interests us and we think will interest you.” Even though the topics it discusses are UK-based I didn’t have any problem relating to the birds or topics.

Then the November 6 issue aired and the recent reclassification by the IUCN of the TURTLE DOVE from Vulnerable to Extinction in the medium-term was discussed. According to the website the Turtle Dove “has declined by 90% in the UK since the 1970’s, with the species going into free-fall in the past decade, with numbers falling by a further 77%. Is it too late to save a beloved summer visitor? Of course not.”

Turtle Dove
European Turtle Dove – Wikipedia – Creative Commons BY-SA 3.0 – Uploaded by Yuvalr –  4 June 2010

There was one line in the podcast that stood out. Around minute 13:30 the host Charlie Moores and Jamie Wyver of the RSPB were discussing field biologist’s observations of Turtle Doves on their winter range in Senegal.  The biologists had found a roosting site of 35,000 Turtle Doves, which both agreed was a good number. But Jamie had a couple of points about that number. One, it is still twice as many Turtle Doves than are now found in the UK. And two,

“What if that one roost had hosted 100,000’s like they have historically?”

He then made the analogy to the Passenger Pigeon. And that really made me sit up and think.

With some minor ups and downs we see the same local birds in basically the same numbers from year to year.  But do we really know if one of our local species numbers is in free-fall?

I figured “someone” out there is keeping track so I was going to find out and see what I can do to help.

And so I’m going to start blogging about my journey into what I found out about our local endangered species.  And hopefully at the end I’ll know how I can help.

Next: No better place to start than with H. David Bohlen’s A Study of the Birds of Sangamon County, Illinois 1970–2010.


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