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Acting Purposefully

Bayou-Diversity (5 May 2019) That a female indigo bunting recently struck the window beside my desk and didn’t survive bothers me now much more than it once would have. I live in the woods purposefully and choose to have big windows purposefully to quench my thirst for trees when I can’t be outside. Having tried all the rational suggestions to prevent bird strikes, I still kill a few, maybe a half dozen or so a year. Most of the mortality occurs during spring migration, and I am not selective as to species that I dispatch – ruby-throated hummingbird, wood thrush, red-eyed vireo, red-breasted nuthatch, worm-eating warbler.

In my head I justify these deaths by the fact that I have registered the large tract of property where I live as a “Natural Area” with Louisiana Department of Wildlife & Fisheries. It’s a volunteer program of citizen-based conservation in which landowners agree to protect an area and its unique natural elements to the best of their abilities. A very old and diverse upland hardwood/pine forest blankets part of our property, a kind of habitat now scarce in these parts as millions of acres have succumbed to pine plantations. This uncommon forest is the type of quality habitat needed by various songbirds for nesting, wintering, or migration stopovers. I am purposefully inviting them here.

In the field of wildlife management we tend to manage populations of animals instead of individuals within the population. For instance, regarding deer we try to maintain a healthy herd in balance with the habitat. It’s more practical than focusing on specific animals. The same is true for songbirds; provide the preferred habitat and don’t worry about the occasional baby bird that falls from the nest. On a landscape scale this has proven to be an effective approach, indeed the only possible tactic in most instances.

Now, though, as I am approaching seven decades of a life that has also included many migrations, individuals of all species seem more important. Maybe it’s a softening of my hard science outlook, or perhaps it is because I’ve had a couple of near window strikes myself that I made the effort to bury the indigo bunting beneath my favorite wild azalea, purposefully.



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