This past spring, while addressing press on the White House lawn, President Bush received the brunt of "Operation Shock and Awe." Mid-grammatically-incorrect-sentence, Bush was attacked by a passing bird. The sparrow unloaded a blitz of mushy droppings on his left suit sleeve. The conference continued without pause. Later, Bush had the sparrow tailed (no pun intended) on suspicion of ties with Al-Qaeda.
Despite this terrorist attack, President Bush loves birds. And by birds, I mean the ones with plumage, not large breasts and Miss Hawaiian Tropic titles (although that may be true, too). In fact, the President loves birds so much, that he recently expressed deep and sincere concern for the plight of our nations migratory bird population. While visiting a wildlife research refuge in Maryland, Bush said, "I've come to discuss a strategy to enhance those habitats, without which many birds could become severely challenged."
Hmmm, "severely challenged," eh??
Bush went on to make a joke that the Secret Service has prohibited him from hunting with Cheney . . . yuk, yuk, yuk . . . what a bunch of monkeys.
No, it's not funny! Birds are in trouble. According to environmental reporter Dan Shapley and the Daily Green, the National Audubon Society has announced research stating American bird populations are in decline. While some are diminishing by as much as 80 percent, others are flirting with extinction. All are facing loss of habitat from a surge in suburban sprawl development, energy exploration, mining, farming, logging and government subsidized ethanol production.
In addition to an overall population report, the Audubon Society recently released a list of the ten most common birds showing the greatest decline over the past 40 years. Species from the Eastern Meadowlark to the Northern Bobwhite are in grave danger. While the Egretta caerulea, Aythya marila, and as Anas acuta (aka Northern Pintail . . . duh) are facing annihilation.
Given such moribund and Bush's love for his feathered friends, what can we dutiful citizens do to help waning bird populations? For one, leave that sliding glass door open! Then, there's always the Audubon Christmas Bird Count . . .
The Audubon Christmas Bird Count is an annual census in which volunteer citizens identify and tally their community's local bird populations. The results are then compiled into the longest running database in ornithological history, representing over a century of continuous data for early-winter bird populations across the country.
Each winter, thousands of bird lovers gather to embark on this bird counting mission. And the best part--many don't even like birds--they just like counting! If you want to participate, simply team up with some local bird-ies on the Audubon"s website. Last year, more than 58,000 people counted nearly 70-million birds in all 50 states and beyond. The event runs through January 5, 2008.
Though a ton of fun, the Audubon Christmas Bird Count is more than some carefree duck hunt. By counting birds, ornithologists can identify those birds at greatest risk of extinction. Once a species is discovered to be in danger, conservationists take the first steps to build public policies, fund support, and garner the public commitment needed to prevent extinction. In other words, the Audubon Christmas Bird Count establishes an "industry agenda," from which conservation organizations and government agencies prioritize their efforts.
So why not participate in the count this Christmas season? I would join you but . . . well . . . problem is, I have a paralyzing fear of birds. I find them terrifying--vermin with wings really . . .
Source: Sesame Street