ARTISTS AND BIRDS
by Marilyn and Keith Davis
"When There’s Fire"
On the National Evening News they keep talking about the huge fires in the western USA. New Mexico fires alone last year burned more than 500,000 acres. Across the whole of the Western States conditions are ripe for another record season of major wild fires with lots of dried vegetation and very little rain. Think about these fires from a human’s point of view. But more important for this article, what would be a birds point of view?
Human: You are out of milk, bread, and low on groceries in your pantry. Besides that, you only have an ‘almost empty’ tank of gas. So you drive down to the local store and they tell you the shelves are bare, and the nearest place to buy food and gas is about 70 miles away. What do you do? We have lots of options.
Birds: What happens to birds is that they have been flying the same established migration route for hundreds of years with stopover areas where they can rest, find food, water, and then continue on. But, in the middle of their migration, they arrive at one of these fire sites, tuckered out, tired, in need of food, water, and shelter and find a large, burned-off black area that goes as far as the eye can see. Birds cannot turn back, and the burned area is too large to go around. They must continue on, for there should be plenty of food, and water ahead.
Birds cannot stay where they are, for they have already eaten the food where they spent the last season and the available food along their migration route. Most of the birds facing this situation will never make it because their migration route no longer exists.
People are fortunate in the United States for our food can be trucked in from halfway across the country or even flown in from some other parts of the world. Our next meal doesn’t have to come out of our back yard.
Here in southern Utah we have gone a long time without moisture, and winds seem to be blowing constantly. This will be a year to be extra cautious with fires. Lets protect our way of life and the birds way of life
If you wish to read more of the Artists and Birds articles, they are listed below.
- Red Cliffs Audubon