Urban Sprawl and Development Make Life as Bird More Trecherous
According to a Forbes Magazine article dated February 18, 2017, "a recent study of songbird survival during heat waves in America's desert Southwest finds that birds are at greater risk of lethal dehydration and mass die-offs when water is scarce, and this risk is predicted to worsen as climate change progresses."
Whether you subscribe to the theory of man-man climate change, or believe that climate change is happening because the Earth is a living, breathing organism, we can all agree that the concrete jungle has displaced a lot of wildlife, including both native and migratory birds that used to be common place.
A Bird's Plight
Imagine that you're a migratory bird. You embark on your annual migration flight. In years before, you've had places to stop, rest, eat, and drink. Now, all you see is concrete, steel and glass. You find an occasional swimming pool or spa, but the water has been poisoned and killed by chemicals. The estuaries, riparian respites, and oases that used to exist have been plowed under. The only thing now are houses, dead-water pools, chemically-treated lawns, and rock. Where do you stop? What do you eat? How can you quench your thirst?
Or imagine that you're a native desert bird. Blair Wolf, a Professor of Biology at the University of New Mexico, states: "When it's really hot, they simply can't evaporate enough water to stay cool, [so they] overheat and die of heat stroke. In other cases, the high rates of evaporative water loss needed to stay cool deplete their body water pools to lethal levels and birds die of dehydration; this is the stressor we focused on in this study." Desert birds are losing their natural habitats to urban sprawl and development.
Homeowners Can Provide a Respite to Native & Migratory Birds!
As individuals, we can't stop climate change alone. And we don't have much say in urban sprawl and development matters. But we CAN do something! According to the above-mentioned Forbes article: "We must do other things to help desert-dwelling birds. For example, we can identify and conserve areas that are home to diverse plant and animal communities that provide essential shelter and water to desert birds; areas such as ravines where shade is available during the heat of the day, and riparian habitats that have open water."
So what can we do to help out native desert birds, as well as the migratory birds passing through? You guess it -- provide them with organic, living water sources right in our own back (or front) yards! Just from personal experience, I can tell you that we've seen some AWESOME wildlife in our yard. And, yes, we're part of the urban sprawl and live in a planned HOA-run community. So, what's the difference between our yard and our neighbors'? We have living water features! We've watched hawks bathe (yep, they take water baths), Northern Cardinals drink from our front stream, Orioles hang out on our back yard waterfalls, hummingbirds drink & bathe from our fountain heads -- well, you get the idea.
Want to be part of the solution? Add a living water feature to your yard today! This can be something as simple as a re-circulating fountain that doesn't use chemicals to keep it clean, to a boulder waterfall, to a re-circulating stream, to a gorgeous living pond.
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Barbi Holdeman, co-owner of The Pond Gnome, enjoys sharing their 20+ years of education & experience with you! She writes about Phoenix Ecosystem Pond Installation, Pond Maintenance, Wildlife around the Pond, Koi and Goldfish in the Pond, and the Pond Lifestyle. If you enjoy what she writes, please share it!