Birds at My Feeders
By Margaret DiBenedetto
Birds come to my feeders. I generally do not know what kind they are, unless they are the obvious ones: Cardinals, Chickadees, Juncos, Morning Doves, Blue Jays. The warblers and wrens and finches tend to confound me – I cannot see muted colors from a distance, so I refer to the grey or yellow-green and brown birds as “Little Twitterers”.
I am not a birder, except for studying Eagles, both kinds: the balds and goldens who have come to our study sites during the cold winters. I love and handle many raptors, but can barely tell them apart as they flit through the sky or sit on branches high above. Kestrels, and Red-tails, yes, but the banded tails of others confuse me. If I can gauge the size of a Sharp-shin or Cooper’s I can tell them apart, but I can never remember how large the Goshawk really is.
I am not a birder, although I have worked near and as far as the Caribbean for bird causes. I am a Conserver. A Conservationist. For although I cannot very well tell them apart, I know that each bird species has a role to play in this world, occupies a niche in some ecosystem that will be set off-balance when a piece is removed. I know for a fact that the daily cutting of trees in the Caribbean will mean that we will lose the populations of the songbirds we cherish in the Catskills every summer, yet we barely give it a thought. One would suppose that those of us who count on these birds to wake us up, provide serenades on our daily walks and as we work in our gardens and sing lullabies to us at dusk, all as they keep our summertimes quite free of mosquitoes and other pests; one would think that we would be investing to protect huge tracts of land where our precious, fragile friends spend the other 8 months. It is mainly in the Caribbean islands, Central and South America that they will falter, that their numbers will decline. What we do to further bird conservation here, in our backyards and in our nation, is somewhat helpful, but will never be enough to counter the threats they face in the tropics.
One day, we will wonder where that thrush is that sang every dusk and dawn, what happened to the bluebirds? The warblers? The wrens?
Dig deep, bird-lovers, and push harder to make bird conservation a priority. Sooner than later, or we will find that there are precious few bird species to conserve.