Is This It?

I intended this to be a humorous send-off to summer. The Turkey Vultures were cleaning up the day after some jumped-up apes — reader, you know the species intimately — partied on the beach at Croton Point.
Species that eat our garbage may be doing ok, but others not so much. God-damn, we are doing such a number on our only planet!

You saw the news? Bird populations have plummeted in North America. Here’s the actual study in Science.
Warblers are particularly hard hit.
This really isn’t news to birders. We live on anecdotes, and the veterans will tell you that there used to be more. Ebird and spring radar say the same thing.
This is a Cape May Warbler, spotted yesterday in Green-Wood.

We keep destroying habitat. Right here, for instance, in NYC, the “economic development” and “parks” people do it all the time. Two of the endless cases: wetlands imperiled in Staten Island and habitat for endangered Rusty Blackbirds threatened with paving in the Bronx.

We keep poisoning the food chain.

We keep heating the atmosphere, which has effects throughout the biosphere.

The outdoor and feral cat fans, who all claim to be “animal lovers” (ok, they love one invasive species, I’ll give the fuckers that) keep up the murderous pressure.
Common Yellowthroat.

Remember the baselines: kids today will think this is all normal tomorrow.

4 Responses to “Is This It?”


  1. 1 Francesca Jones September 23, 2019 at 9:38 am

    Impossible to not be depressed by “news” of bird declines ..but we all must keep doing what we can to stop it …..the osprey recovery is a tiny glint of positivity

    • 2 mthew September 23, 2019 at 11:06 am

      Absolutely! Ospreys, Peregrines, Bald Eagles, among others, show that conservation and restoration work. As does the century old Migratory Bird Treaty laws. It’s political, as always.

  2. 3 alaspooryorick September 23, 2019 at 9:58 am

    so true-the natural world one is born into becomes the norm, no matter how despoiled. Re-reading “The Invention of Nature: Alexander von Humboldt’s New World” by Andrea Wulf. Humboldt (1769- 1859) was an early witness to the way the walking apes despoiled their surroundings, leading to disaster and loss of both human and animal life. He was a genius who enlightened the world. A fabulous book.

    • 4 mthew September 24, 2019 at 5:44 am

      A very interesting character, old Alex. Did you know there was a bust of him at Central Park’s Naturalists’ Gate across from the AMNH?


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