Birding, Sustainability and Conservation

A little poem

I recently found a poem that I wrote three years ago in eighth grade. Keeping in character, I chose to write about birds in an endeavor (that is ongoing to this day) to inject birds into as many of my school assignments as possible. This assignment in particular asked for a “reverso” poem, one that when read line-by-line forwards and backwards would have two different meanings. I can only imagine that I wrote this with an archetypal bird-hating city-dweller in mind, the enemy to my innocent infatuation with birds.

These days, though, I feel like I’m seeing more and more of this clash between people who love nature and those who either don’t see nature as a marketable commodity or view it as an obstacle to progress. With the current administration’s opinion on birds so spitefully on display with their exploitation of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918, this poem seemed oddly fitting for the times. Anyways, here it is:

The Birds
See the birds.
Who would want to
get rid of them?
Why not just
admire their plumage?
You’d be hard pressed to
see the flaws.
Easily one can
admire their grace.
How can anyone
call them sky rats?


Call them sky rats!
How can anyone
admire their “grace”?
Easily one can
see the flaws.
You’d be hard pressed to
admire their plumage.
Why not just
get rid of them?
Who would want to
see the birds?

Angst aside, there are actions we can take to combat the pervading indifference towards our avian cohabitants. On the heels of the recent study that showed that a staggering 3 billion birds have been lost from the United States and Canada in the last half-century, seven simple recommendations have been proposed that any of us can do to lessen our negative impact on the declining bird populations.

I will not be able to vote for the next few years, so I implore those of you who can to make sure your voice is represented. These recent rollbacks on monumental environmental legislation did not happen by accident. The appointments of individuals with questionable motives and dubious qualifications to positions of great environmental import did not happen by coincidence. These are the consequences of our democracy, and inevitably, they will either endure or falter through democracy.

I guess what I’m trying to convey is that I’m terrified. When I first got interested in birds, I could have never imagined that they would have ever faced the perils that they currently do. The sort of casual disdain I portrayed in the second half of my poem has real consequences on the future of birds and our natural resources. I can only hope that humans come around fast enough to do something to save them.

We stand now where two roads diverge. But unlike the roads in Robert Frost’s familiar poem, they are not equally fair. The road we have long been traveling is deceptively easy, a smooth superhighway on which we progress with great speed, but at its end lies disaster. The other fork of the road — the one less traveled by — offers our last, our only chance to reach a destination that assures the preservation of the earth.

Rachel Carson, Silent Spring

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