Mission Statement

Bearing Witness to Local Natural History-- from the wildness of Indiana

Friday, May 27, 2011

A Reminder Why Bearing Witness Is Important

Bobolink by Steve Gifford
Photo used with permission
Copyright Steve Gifford

The posting was one among many that arrived in my email a couple of weeks ago. The Birding Listserv consists of posts bird sightings within Indiana. This one was different and it caught my eye.

The posting came from a resident of southern Indiana. He wrote of sightings but included a lamentation about the loss of breeding territories for Bobolinks near his home.  A few years ago, he had discovered four breeding locations for these beautiful birds of tallgrass prairies, fields, and grassy pastures.This represented some of the most southern breeding territories for Bobolinks in our state. In subsequent years he discovered two of the four areas devoid of the nesting birds.  The land owners had released cattle or cut hay during the breeding season. Gone were their warbling, bubbling songs.

A couple of years later, two immense churches with large parking lots, were built and an adjacent field planted in winter wheat. No Bobolinks. There is now only one location left of the original four. The Bobolinks, Grasshopper Sparrows, and Savannah Sparrows found these areas unique enough to meet their needs for nesting and raising young. But no more.

 Loss of habitat. It continues. Perhaps for some it is simply a lack of knowledge. What if we educated the public about the seasonal activities of wildlife in their areas and how human actions can impact the flora & fauna? What if the landowner was aware of the species his/her land supported? It likely would not halt the construction of churches, subdivisions, and strip malls. But what about the farmer or landowner? Would the farmer or landowner wait to mow? Could he/she wait a few weeks to release cattle? Could they afford to alter their schedule or methods? Would the education make a difference?

I replied to the poster the following-- "You are bearing witness to those local areas that are priceless in a way few recognize. It is important that you record, share, and continue to bear witness . . . for when they are gone, you will have made them at least a part of your history & with those you share the story."

In these current times, the pursuit for "more", the swell of greed, and the disconnect from the earth, the one hopeful act we can choose is to bear witness. I believe in education and bearing witness. What about you?

I invite those who read this blog to participate in dialogue. Feel free to comment.

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