Why Birds?

Why not mammals, asks Simon Barnes in The Meaning of Birds. He doesn’t use the example of dogs and cats, but these do illustrate our affinity for our fellow warm-blooded, lactating fur-balls. Of course, these are domesticated animals, tamed for precisely their human-philic characteristics. Wild mammals, which we nevertheless try to cute-ify and commodify, know better. They don’t want much to do with homicidal maniacs. Except for a few exceptions (and places), mammals are quite scarce to the eye. Cagey, elusive, nocturnal. (Did you know that the majority of mammal species, by far, are bats?)

Most birds, on the other wing, are diurnal. They’re found everywhere. They’re beautiful, sing marvelously, and fly, all extremely powerful attractions that have pulled us towards them for a very, very long time.

This is, in short, a book for the bird or nature skeptic in your life.

The forces of death — really, there’s no other way to describe them in 2019 — want to dump toxic dredging material in Jamaica Bay, a vital area of habitat in New York City. A bill before Governor Cuomo to extend the anti-dredging law awaits his signature. He must be waiting to see if the people can talk louder than money over the issue. Here’s more about the issues and the legislation, which has passed both houses in Albany.

I’ve cut and pasted this letter from Joshua Malbin on the nysbirds-L/ebirdnyc mailing lists for inspiration if you’d like to add your voice communicating to the governor. As always, personalizing such things is the best way to go.

“I am writing to urge you to sign S.4165/A.5767 into law. This important bill would extend permanently protections for Jamaica Bay against dumping hazardous dredged material that are currently set to expire in 2022.

The Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge is one of the most widely acknowledged and respected bird sanctuaries in the Northeastern United States, and the bay itself is an ecological treasure all New Yorkers can enjoy. People fish in its waters year-round.

The constant threat from city, state and federal agencies to use the deep portions of Jamaica Bay as a garbage dump for contaminated sediment has long been one of the biggest threats to the future of the bay. While these threats started to appear decades ago, they have found new supporters as various dredging projects around the city have created a need to get rid of sediment that is often contaminated. In addition, the research that has more recently come to light highlights the amazing role that the deep portions of the bay play in supporting massive amounts of marine life that would cease to exist should they be filled in.

Please sign sign S.4165/A.5767.”

Incredible that we have to keep on doing this, right?

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