Airdate: Sep 21, 1999
Scientist: Scott Weidensaul
BIRD MIGRATION- Conservation
This season, billions of birds will cover every square foot of the Americas on their Fall migration. So how can we conserve enough resources to accommodate them?
Migrating birds will cross entire continents and thousands of miles this season, as they journey to winter spots where food is plentiful. But with birds competing with humans for resources, how can we hope to preserve their habitats in the future?
I'm Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet, presented by the American Museum of Natural History.
"That's the tremendous challenge; that's what makes migratory bird protection one of the stickiest issues the conservation movement has ever faced."
Scott Weidensaul is the author of Living on the Wind, a book about bird migration.
"It's not just one or two discreet little individual places. It's not like you can dedicate a refuge and put a fence around it and dust your hands off and go home at the end of the day. Bird migration covers every square foot of North America, South America, Central America, the islands of the Caribbean. Pretty much every place is at least marginally important to some species of bird. And the challenge is figuring out where the very prime locations are. What are the spots that are most important to the greatest number of species at what time of year. And insuring that we don't inadvertently damage those. There's no reason why we can't co-exist with migratory birds. You have places like Central Park in New York that are very important to migratory birds as a stop over point. That was entirely accidental. And with a little bit of foresight and planning, we can identify those places that are essential for migratory birds at every stage of their life cycle and protect them for their benefit and also for ours."
There's a full moon later this week, and it's a good time for watching migratory birds. You can train a pair of binoculars on the moon and watch for the silhouettes of birds as they carry out one of the world's oldest seasonal rituals.
Pulse of the Planet is presented by the American Museum of Natural History. Additional funding for this series has been provided by the National Science Foundation. I'm Jim Metzner.