An American Robin and a lament

Growing up in Chicago, American Robins (Turdus migratorius) were a favorite of mine. How could they not be? Robins are adaptable, resilient, and plentiful. As a little kid, they were an easy bird to observe even in the very urban area that I grew up. There was even one spring in third grade when a pair of robins made a nest just outside our window sill, giving the budding little naturalist in me a wonderful chance to observe them.

Watching this particular robin in my parent’s backyard made me a bit sad, honestly. For they are songbirds. The extinctions and habitat destruction that happened in Hawai`i over the last several centuries have left the current situation where the average person living in the state will never see a native songbird in their backyard. An exquisite radiation of honeyeater, honeycreepers, thrushes have either become completely extinct or extirpated from the areas where most people live.

`I`iwi, `Akohekohe, `Akikiki should be as easy to see and film in Hawai`i as this robin. Instead there is a very real chance that some of these species may go extinct in the next few years. We will never see them again. For all the talk of people caring for the planet and saving the environment we have still ended up in this very grave situation.

There are measures going on right now to use a naturally occurring bacteria to help alleviate the pressure mosquitoes and the diseases they pass on to the birds. There are some… let’s call them well-meaning folks opposed to this. They are worried about perceived threats vs. these very real extinction possibilities. It is not hypothetical at this point.

Is there a last minute, last ditch effort that will save these birds? Maybe. People will still give their all on even the slimmest chance that we can save these birds. I wish I could say that it should have never gotten this bad. But it has and now we have to hope that all the dice roll our way and that someday these birds will be like American Robins once again.

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