Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Pigeons of the Beaches

"Pigeons of the beaches" is writer Karen Nelson's colorful and evocative description for gulls, what with their abundance and omnivorous diets, in an article that explores the varying degrees to which different species of colonial-nesting marine birds may be able to adapt to the changes wrought to the barrier islands of Mississippi by Hurricane Katrina. The article includes quotes from Mark Woodry, an ornithologist with Mississippi State University, and Mississippi birder Judith Toups. Brown Pelicans were hit particularly hard; the breeding population in the Chandeleur Islands is down from 12,000 nests six years ago to less than 1,500 this year.

3 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

John,

Have you ever done a post on the remarkable environmental success stories that have occurred? You may have. I just don't know.

I don't think we celebrate our successes enough. For instance, the Brown Pelican was extirpated from Louisiana in 1963. And then last year, before Katrina, we had 12000 nesting pairs just in the Chandeleurs? Amazing.

I remember one year when only 6 Brown Pelicans were counted on the entire Texas coast. Now we have 1000's nesting.

All because we bit the bullet and banned the persistent pesticides that hindered egg production. An amazing success story that all Americans should be proud of.

Ok, back to gloom and doom. Which I sometimes feel just like everyone else in the field.

August 30, 2006 9:40 PM  
Blogger John L. Trapp said...

Yes, I remember vividly the early '60s, when Brown Pelican, Bald Eagle, and Double-crested Cormorant populations were plummeting because they weren't producing young because DDT-contamination of their food supply caused them to lay thin-shelled eggs that cracked before they hatched. We've come a long way, baby! That old adage about "eternal vigilance" applies equally well to environmental conservation and a clean environment, and my fear is that the American public has grown way too apathetic. As a matter of fact, we have many more chemicals polluting our air, lands, and waters now than when Rachel Carson wrote "Silent Spring." We are now witnessing a growing clamor about the wonderful benefits of DDT accompaned by renewed calls to bring it back into production. While I don't think I tend to dwell on "gloom-and-doom" stories, I'll continue to point them out when I fell compelled. And I won't be reluctant to highlight success stories, such as the recovery of the Bald Eagle and the proposal to remove them from the protection of the Endangered Species Act.

August 31, 2006 8:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

John, john, john.

I couldn't agree more. When I wrote the above, I at the same time was thinking about John Stossel and his book. About how enviros are killing millions in Africa by banning DDT. Ouch. What an ignorant puss!

Of course, he's totally ignorant of the past. They stopped using DDT in most places around the world because the damn critters got immune to it. As if enviros could have influenced all the dictators of the world?! Sheeesh. But we did do the right thing for the right reason here in the US and some good countries followed our lead. That should be celebrated

But facts don't sell bad books. And we enviros don't celebrate enough.

But my main point was really a nuance to something you brought up. If we only feed gloom-and-doom to the public, when will they see enough hope to make a change? Whereas, I see in the banning of DDT etc., the hope to do again what we did then with the "....many more chemicals..." that you mention that persist in the environment.

Your "eternal vigilance" must come from a hopefully public.

Good blog, BTW.

August 31, 2006 10:26 AM  

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