Friday, January 26, 2018

Why Birds Matter, and Are Worth Protecting

The Technology Revolution That Enabled The World’s First Novel

“The book was written about 1,000 years ago, at a time when a lot of literature was still produced by scribes, collected from various sources and cobbled together by editors. The foundational epics and religious texts in circulation then were very different from the reading material we’re used to. In that context, Murasaki’s diary felt to me like a turning point in the history of literature—it sounds so recognizable, so intimate, so modern.”

 They help the environment, but they also help our souls. In 2018 we’ll explore the wonder of birds, and why we can’t live without them. National Geographic: “If you could see every bird in the world, you’d see the whole world. Things with feathers can be found in every corner of every ocean and in land habitats so bleak that they’re habitats for nothing else. Gray gulls raise their chicks in Chile’s Atacama Desert, one of the driest places on Earth. Emperor penguins incubate their eggs in Antarctica in winter. Goshawks nest in the Berlin cemetery where Marlene Dietrich is buried, sparrows in Manhattan traffic lights, swifts in sea caves, vultures on Himalayan cliffs, chaffinches in Chernobyl. The only forms of life more widely distributed than birds are microscopic. To survive in so many different habitats, the world’s 10,000 or so bird species have evolved into a spectacular diversity of forms. They range in size from the ostrich, which can reach nine feet in height and is widespread in Africa, to the aptly named bee hummingbird, found only in Cuba. Their bills can be massive (pelicans, toucans), tiny (weebills), or as long as the rest of their body (sword-billed hummingbirds). Some birds—the painted bunting in Texas, Gould’s sunbird in South Asia, the rainbow lorikeet in Australia—are gaudier than any flower. Others come in one of the nearly infinite shades of brown that tax the vocabulary of avian taxonomists: rufous, fulvous, ferruginous, bran-colored, foxy…”