Monday, June 21, 2010

Way Offline

Monday, June 21, 2010

Dear BOTB Readers:

Apologies for the break in the posting here. I was out in the Great Plains at a birding festival and then totally disconnected from the world for a week in the western mountains—which felt really wonderful. The first week was devoted to birds and native prairie. The second week was more devoted to mega-fauna mammals and mountains.

I'll post some of the images and stories from the trip soon. But first I have to get back online (like this western kingbird) and catch up with e-mail and all the other distractions of this thoroughly modern world we inhabit.

As a side note, being disconnected from the news cycle meant we enjoyed a week free from the crushingly sad updates about the BP/gulf oil disaster. I was very much hoping to come back to the "connected" world to find that the gusher had been fixed and all resources were being focused on the clean-up and restoration efforts. No such luck.

Here are two ways you can help birds and wildlife of the gulf coast region by supporting efforts to restore habitat and monitor bird populations.

The National Wildlife Federation text message donation campaign. This is as easy as sending a text message via your phone to 20222. You will be charged $10 on your phone bill. Here is how these donated funds will be used.

American Birding Association's Gulf Coast Bird Monitoring Fund. The ABA is working with local organizations to monitor local bird populations.

I've learned from reliable sources that very few birds that are severely oiled recover, much less survive. The physical trauma of being oiled, combined with the stress of being captured, restrained, and cleaned has got to be terrifying. It's no wonder there are so few happy stories of recovery for badly oiled birds.

What's going to be more important (after getting the gushing of oil stopped) is getting the habitat restored, so that future generations of pelicans and terns and shorebirds can live in and migrate through the gulf region.

Then we as a nation need to figure out a way to be less reliant on oil and other non-renewable sources of energy. That's going to be a hard one.

Some people choose to scream for a boycott of BP. I'm OK with that. But I'd prefer to figure out a way to reduce our oil consumption overall.

I don't like to preach to others about what they should and should not do. So instead I'll offer this suggestion—which perhaps comes to me in the clarity following a week of being way offline—do the little things that you can do to conserve and preserve. Every little thing each of us can do will help because every thing in this world is connected. Grow a garden. Recycle what you can. Share a ride. Think about your impact on the planet.

And see if you can't disconnect for a while from the devices and technology and "connections" that eat up so much of our time and energy. You might be surprised at how quickly your brain and body adjust to rhythm of the actual world—and how wonderful (and natural) that feels.

Don't worry—we'll still be here when (if?) you come back!



On June 22, 2010 at 2:37 AM Kathiesbirds said...

Dear Bill, a very thoughtful and timely post. I love to blog and write but now with a Facebook page, email and a blog I can feel so obligated and pressured to write something new and keep up with everything. I have had to learn to pace myself and give myself a break to just enjoy my birds and my life. The Tragedy of the Gulf Oil Spill is overwhelming and like you, I wake up everyday and just wish it would STOP!

I know it is not until it is stopped that we can truly start on the road to recovery. My heart breaks with every picture of an oiled bird and how I wish I could rush down to the gulf and help, but I have had to console myself by doing what you suggest: I count birds each day in my own back yard and submit that count to eBird. I provide food, water and habitat for these birds and I try to educate myself and my neighbors about birds and their habitat. I also volunteer with Tucson Audubon in their IBA survey of Sabino Canyon. With all this tragedy I try to focus on the things I CAN do so that I will not feel so helpless, but I still feel bad for the people, the birds,the turtles and the ocean. When will it end and will this be the newest "new normal" for us? Glad you got a break from it all.

On June 23, 2010 at 1:59 PM Bill of the Birds said...

Kathie: Thanks for your nice comment. It's really hard ignoring all the bad news sometimes, but it sounds like your coping strategy is working well.

On November 27, 2012 at 5:59 PM Anonymous said...


My name is Lydia Roush and I am working for a small non-profit organization called the Pacific Rim Institute for Environmental Stewardship. We are creating a field guide of local prairie plants, butterflies, and birds for the local middle school in our town. I was wondering if I could use your picture of the Western kingbird? The guides are being donated and will not gain any sort of profit.
Feel free to contact me at
Thank you for your consideration.
Lydia Roush