Audubon View

Photograph by Eliot Porter

Audubon View

To hear nature's voice, simply follow the birds.

By David Yarnold
Published: March-April 2013

In the March-April issue, you will find a range of voices answering the question "Why do birds matter?" For me, it is very simple. Birds are a great way to understand ecosystems. If you want to hear nature's voice, all you have to do is follow the birds.

In my travels across the Audubon network, I have met a wide variety of birders. What they have in common is that they are all great conservationists. I see that with our Chapters, at our Centers, in our state offices, and across all four flyways. Audubon staff and members share a passion for conservation.

What it comes down to is this: Birds are good at taking care of themselves, but only we can take care of where they live. That is what has driven us to fight for some of our biggest conservation victories, including the passage of the RESTORE Act, which ensures that BP's penalties will be largely turned into funding to rebuild the Gulf Coast; our victory in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, which protects 11 million acres in America's Arctic; and our leadership role in wind-siting efforts that balance conservation and America's energy needs.

If you believe, as I do, that only humans can protect habitat, then you have to ask yourself, "What can I do about it?" All across Audubon people are engaging with our ever-growing network and creating a force for real and lasting change at the local, state, and national levels. 

In Dayton, Ohio, with the help of Toyota TogetherGreen, the Aullwood Audubon Center and Farm created a 37-acre urban prairie on a former brownfield and restored creek habitat, planting 10,700 native wildflowers and grasses grown from seeds collected and germinated by students at a nearby university, providing a green oasis for nesting and migratory birds.

Audubon New Mexico and the state's Chapters partnered with our D.C. office to apply pressure to New Mexico decision makers that resulted in the state changing how it evaluated the Gila River--and temporarily averted construction of a dam or diversion that would destroy riparian forest that's home to one of the highest concentrations of breeding birds in America, including yellow-billed cuckoos and common black-hawks.

And Audubon California was instrumental in the approval of sweeping new protections for the state's marine areas, from the Oregon border to Point Arena. An area of 137 square miles with five special closures around key seabird colonies will safeguard important breeding spots and food sources for 40 percent of California's seabirds.

Change is possible. But we have to be there for the birds.

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Author Profile

David Yarnold

David Yarnold is the president and CEO of the National Audubon Society.

Type: Author | From: Audubon Magazine