Common grackles aren't so common any more. In the last 40 years they've declined 61%.
Sadly, the grackles' situation is not unique. As I mentioned in my last blog, one in eight species face extinction and many common birds are in decline. The reasons vary but they come down to a few basic things: climate change, loss of habitat, and direct human threats.
When it comes to climate change, my home state of Pennsylvania plays a pivotal role. We're the 22nd largest producer of carbon dioxide in the world (page 10 here), so anything we do to reduce our emissions will improve conditions worldwide.
Still, the problem seems immense. I'm only one person. What can I do?
- Use less electricity. We retired our old refrigerator and were amazed how much it saved on our electric bill! Click here for all the tips.
- Drive less. Eighteen months ago I decided to get more exercise by walking to work three days a week. The walk takes 40 minutes and there's a side benefit: I see more birds.
- Drive a hybrid car. Save money on gas, too.
- Buy electricity that doesn't emit greenhouse gases. Despite the billboards that claim coal is "clean and green with new technologies," our coal-fired power plants don't use those technologies and they don't capture their carbon dioxide. Click here to find out how to buy low-emission electricity in PA.
- Help those who help birds. There are lots of organizations to choose from. I joined Audubon. You can too.
Of course there's a lot more we can do. This is just a start.
Do what you can and don't give up. It took generations to get where we are today, it will take generations to undo it. Bird by bird we can make sure their fate will be only decline, not extinction.
(photo of a Common Grackle by Chuck Tague)