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19 November 2010 @ 07:42 pm
Saving our Long-distance Migrants  

Ohio, during spring migration. Imagine a tiny, brilliant exhausted Blackburnian Warbler speeding across the night skies on the last leg of his journey home to northern Ontario. Ahead, the black abyss of Lake Erie looms, a daunting obstacle in the hour before daybreak; just before the lake lies a large woodland promising refuge, shelter, a place to rest and feed, safety. The lake crossing can wait another night while the Blackburnian Warbler recovers from the long journey from South America. The warbler descends, eager to reach the trees. Then, out of the darkness, a gigantic steel blade appears suddenly, far too close and too quick for the warbler to change its course. Bird and blade collide. The warbler never reaches his breeding grounds in Ontario's boreal forest. As he falls to the ground, a mixed flock of birds - Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, Veeries, Scarlet Tanagers, Bay-breasted Warblers, Black-throated Blue Warblers, Philadelphia Vireos, and more - fly eagerly to the forest ahead, unable to see the deadly threat until it is too late for them as well...

Blackburnian Warbler

Long-time birder, writer and naturalist Kenn Kaufman has written a moving and well-researched article about the dangers posed to migrating songbirds by wind turbines being built close to Lake Erie's south shore. Millions of birds stop along the Ohio shore to rest and refuel before crossing the lake each spring, and no studies have been conducted to determine whether the placement of the wind turbines will cause the deaths of hundreds of birds as they prepare to land in these major migration stopover points. With so many species facing population declines, it is frightening to think that ill-placed wind turbines may decimate species already listed as threatened.

Kenn has created a petition asking for a a three-year moratorium on the building of additional wind turbines within three miles of the Lake Erie shoreline so studies can be carried out. He is hoping for 5,000 signatures. So far he has achieved less than 25% of that goal.

I have already signed, and I am hoping that everyone who reads this and cares signs, too. This is what I wrote:

Many migratory species are already declining because of habitat loss and contaminants in the environment in which they live. For example, as a group, grassland species - which include the Common Nighthawk, the Eastern Meadowlark and Upland Sandpiper - have declined more than any other group. In Ontario's Carolinian zone, recent Breeding Bird Surveys revealed that 79 species had increased while 131 species of birds had decreased in the last 20 years. When protecting species at risk, we must consider ALL the factors contributing to its decline. While I support wind power, I believe we must be responsible and first consider how the turbines will affect the other species with which we share this planet. We must take the time to study the effects the turbines will have on migrating birds to ensure they won't be at risk. I understand that profit is a powerful motive for rushing ahead with this project. But please consider this: any profit is only temporary. Extinction is forever.

Will you sign too?

Link to Kenn Kaufman's beautifully written article
Link to the petition