Although, it is sad we don't notice the decline of birds, or anything else.
The book "Whittled Away" has a fantastic description of how ridiculous it is people where I live think the fisheries are abundant. They're a wasteland compared to what once was, but since humans have short lives and shorter memories we don't know what we're missing.
Same goes for light pollution (how many stars is a lot? I still can't quite make out the milky way in a field an hour from the city), or noise pollution (how many birds were driven from the city by the infernal noise of cars?) or just... sight pollution, I guess (how few leaves do you see in a day?)
The main drivers I think are plain habitat loss, pesticide use (associated decline in insect population), and large scale change in available food and climate.
I think the easiest to address would be pesticide and herbicide use -- widely known to have other negative side effects, such as effect on bees, possible human effects, biodiversity loss, etc. Hopefully it can be replaced by techniques like crop diversification and maybe robotic/biological pest control.
> Feral cats on islands are responsible for at least 14% global bird, mammal, and reptile extinctions and are the principal threat to almost 8% of critically endangered birds, mammals, and reptiles.
- How Cats Used Humans to Conquer the World -
-- Ancient DNA from 209 cats over 9,000 years tell the story of their dispersal.
- The End of Cats: An Interview With the New Zealand Economist Calling to Eliminate All Kitties
-- "The cat lobby here is just as feral, self-centered and as balmy as your gun lobby is"
Damn, that is quite the quote. I imagine he's not quite being fair (though I admittedly have little exposure to the pet politics of New Zealand", but I have noticed a strong and immediate current of defensiveness among cat owners whenever anything negative about cats is brought up (in a way that's absent when say, domestic dogs as a vector for disease are brought up). Though it's perhaps a little understandable that cat lovers would be a little thin-skinned due to the general bad rap that cats get.
> the felines kill between 1.4 billion and 3.7 billion birds and between 6.9 billion and 20.7 billion small mammals, such as meadow voles and chipmunks, each year.
But since free-roaming dogs are very uncommon in the US (and most of the developed world), they have to jump to strays and owned free-roaming dogs across the world to make their comparison.
To be clear, the latter is on point relative to what we're discussing in this thread (eg the feral cats statistic). But there are solutions in reach that would be acceptable for dealing with strays (eg, what we do for dogs in the US), that apply to both dogs and cats. The difference is that this would cause dogs' threat to the local environment to nearly vanish, while cats would still pose a massive threat to local wildlife due to owners that let their cats roam.
As if the problem is the loss of birds in Manhattan or Queens, and not the loss of birds in millions of acres of rural USA (where cats are not really the problem), for example...
Responsible people don't let their dogs roam the streets as they can be a threat to strangers, children etc.
why should we treat cat's any differently especially when cats kill far more.
I understand the argument and it’s reasonable, but in the case if each activity under consideration, they have to be assessed relative to the total harm to the environment, not to directly against each other individually. But there could be a hierarchy of comparison.
Still, as I said this is the inverse case to the one I was replying to, which I still think is completely unreasonable.
Sorry, what point were you trying to make?
Essentially, it's hypocritical to talk about environmental dangers on one activity when performing a much more environmentally destructive activity.
I do not support a cat ban, but that argument is not a good one.
I have a early stage startup that has this as one of its long term goals. But to be honest there are other lower hanging fruit in agriculture that makes more sense to start with—the startup is more of an "idea" bank than a business at this point—and I won't be quitting a job in finance for a risky "smart farm" idea any time soon.
EDIT: By the way, Johannesburg and Pretoria are bird paradises. There are even feral populations of lovebirds (indigenous to Namibia) that fly around outside my office as we speak.
Fragmentation is also an issue people don't think enough about. You see percentages of forested ground and think "well that looks pretty good" but when you go check it out it's disparate strands with fields inbetween, or thin rows of trees a few meters wide. This means only "edge" species have a habitat, and even for them their domain is not really a boundary with a flux between different ecosystems anymore, they've got identical open areas on both sides. It also means the bigger species don't have the room to live there anymore.
I'm guessing as those little rural towns in Japan become increasingly abandoned, animals are moving in.
I understand that what I see is already a pale comparison compared to 200 or 10,000 years ago, but the numbers are still impressive. I am also aware of how little attention my fellow citizens pay to the variety of bird life around them. But it is still surprising to me that people can talk about cities having few birds and little diversity.
The first year here, we didn't feed them at all- there's really no shortage of natural foraging for them. We hardly saw any of the smaller birds, and truth be told I didn't think we had many around.
Then we had an unusually brutal winter, and started putting out suet to help. Sure enough, all kinds started showing up. They stuck around through the spring, but we stopped feeding them in part because the suet was attracting unwanted attention from other animals. Since then, they've mostly "disappeared" again, though I know now they're not gone.
It's worth pointing out that I live in an area that is predominantly farmland, rural homes, and some nice forested spots. We don't have a shortage of insects or really any other wildlife, either, in spite of the horrors that pesticides are supposedly wreaking upon them.
If I go walking in the nearby bushland (in Australia) I will notice small honeyeaters and other bird life that doesn't come into the suburbs at all. It's amazing what secrets life keeps so close to us!
Compared to Australia, Europe is a wasteland: we do have birds but not as many. I guess you can't have both a lot of people and a lot of animals. When there are many of us there isn't enough space left for them.
Something I’ve always wondered is whether this has to be true, or if we’ve decided as a society that it should be true, and if we decided that we wanted to attract more birds into our world, if we really could.
Pigeon spikes are everywhere in San Francisco. I’ve even seen them positioned on security cameras. Now I get that we have a lot of rats with wings flying around, but that seems like a feast for falcons, if we wanted to employ more falcons as we do around City Hall.
Around the beach I’ll occasionally see hawks, and generally the biggest danger to them comes from the ravens flying around not wanting any hawks. If you go around Golden Gate Park, there’s an enormous variety of bird species flying around and roosting. I’ve seen a turkey vulture roosting on the signs and a goddamned peacock LARPing as a roadrunner in the morning. I am more amazed it has neither been eaten by coyotes nor hit by a car yet. Seriously, I took my first picture of it two years ago and I still see it a few times a month around the same area.
There’s also the parrots of Telegraph Hill, an escaped domestic population that turned wild and has managed to sustain itself. We just built the Transbay Park (“Salesforce Park” since Salesforce owns the naming rights, but I’ll stick with the generic name), the bus terminal below has just entered service, the park has only been open a bit longer than that and already I see numerous small birds up there every time I go up there.
Down by the waterfront I saw an owl flying around right by Aquatic Park. I was pretty lucky to see it at all since it was going for a kill and the wings don’t make a sound.
This is just in one city! I think if we stopped behaving in an actively hostile way towards birds, save some falconry for population control, we might see the diversity of urban bird populations increase. If we actually introduced niches into our infrastructure for them to roost, managed our urban forests a bit better and planted some more trees while we’re at it, we could maybe even see them thrive here.
Speaking of current attitudes towards wildlife, I find it interesting how we are so keen to promote biodiversity but usually unwilling to consider invasive or introduced species as a way of achieving more stable biodiversity. I think with the ongoing threats to our environment and how this impacts us, we will turn more and more to using invasive species to save our natural and urban environments. I hope we stop thinking of nature as a static thing unable to adapt in ways beyond the limited scope of human imagination.
In short, we simply don’t understand the ecosystems that exist well enough to begin to try to make any positive changes to it. However, I think the Parrots are okay if they stay in the city because San Francisco is an almost entirely built environment.
I have a pretty routine suburban backyard in South Australia and there are loads of birds, as with your experience - lorikeets, wattlebirds, etc.
But even here, especially in larger cities they seem to be fewer and fewer and less diverse.
You won't be able to find a single sparrow today. Not one. There is a also a noticeable decline in other bird population and diversity. Mostly because Bangalore's lakes are gone. There was a lake called Hebbal Lake where migratory birds would visit from Australia every year. They've stopped coming.
Yes many lakes are destroyed in Bangalore and there are no sparrows. Its doubtful that mobile towers have anything to do with it though.
More like Hebbal Pool. You call that a lake? It was way bigger when I was a kid. The other side where Lumbini gardens exists now is literally reduced to a recreational pool.
And yes birds from Australia indeed used to visit Hebbal Lake. I guess that very memory is erased and sounds largely alien to people now.
"birds are public animals of capitalism"
Hongkong has the advantage that it is actually very small and dense with nature (in hills and parks) never far away, which I'm guessing helps a lot in sustaining a more abundant and diverse bird population.
The future does not look so good for us.
Might need a headline change back to its original “Birds are ‘winged words’“, though I probably wouldn’t have read it then honestly.