Decline or Extinction: What can we do?

Common Grackle (photo by Chuck Tague)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)

p.s.  To save grackles, we'll have to get farmers and the USDA to stop poisoning them.

3 thoughts on “Decline or Extinction: What can we do?

  1. Kate – Thanks for writing about this thought-provoking subject. Doing our little part for the environment, we had already replace most of the bulbs in the house with CF’s, lowered the temperature of the water heater and furnace, put our outdoor lights on sensors, and we’re about to buy a long-overdue refrigerator (you can be sure that it will be Energy Star rated). After reading today’s blog, I re-joined the Audubon Society. These things seem so small, but it all adds up, doesn’t it?

  2. EEEEKKK! And here when I moved to Pittsburgh I just thought grackles weren’t as abundunt in these parts as they are in IL (where I grew up practically tripping over them). Very scary indeed!

  3. Another easy way to help birds, for those of us who drink coffee, is to buy shade-grown, organic coffee. It is grown naturally in the forest, which saves habitat for our migratory songbirds, and it doesn’t require the use of chemical fertilizers the way sun-grown coffee does. It’s delicious and fair trade as well, which makes life better for the farmers who grow it.

    There is a company that has beautiful illustrations of birds on the bags of coffee it sells, and I believe the company is called Thanksgiving Coffee Co. They donate some of the profit they make on each bag to organizations which help birds. Shade-grown coffee is available for purchase online, but I’ve also found it in stores as well.

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