Nature Notes: The days of wine and roses

Pairs of ducks come in for a landing on warm, orange Loomis Lake evenings. MARSHA SPARKS photo

Migrations of all the world's life, from the smallest hummingbird to the largest animal, the blue whale, run in endless and spectacular varieties. Whales have eased past this coastline for millions of years. The gulls and seabirds have soared and squawked their way above the surf for even longer than the graceful whales.

From salmon to sardines, and from vultures to robins the sheer movement of Mother Nature's creatures is a powerful force, at once old and tried, yet completely able to flex and change, adapt and surprise.

The whole process of migration is so large and so old and so well patterned that we have difficulty getting our minds around the concept. How can humpback whales find Maui year after year without fail, or how does a northern fulmar make it's way to New Zealand and not miss? How do locust swarms happen?

The environment the hummingbirds (or eagles or hawks or elk or bats) must pass through as they move north and south each year is changing fast. Development is destroying their food supplies, their required habitat is shrinking by the day and what of the fragile ones, the majestic monarch butterflies?

Fact: This administration is in the process of approving genetically modified corn which actually kills monarch butterflies (as well as lots of other beneficial insects) as they migrate across what was not so long ago prime wildlife habitat but is now becoming literally a killing corn field.

When we stop for a moment and take in the size and scope of the migrating world around us, it is simply awe inspiring. The sheer balance of it all is in itself fantastic. But to not see a tree as a lifetime of songbird homes and a lifetime of cover from storms and lashing rains, to not see that tree as feeding the passing migrations, to not see the endless procession of deer and mice, bear and fox, sparrow and raccoon, dove and hawk, is to not see at all. What a horrible condition for those who are blind!

The times are solemn, and there is no slack in the lifeline. We work at what we can to ease the burden on these migrating beauties, but there are dangerous forces working against these harmless and innocent migrateurs and the outcome, if we continue to stand by and simply wait and watch, will be horrific.

There is much that can be done, and much that must be done, and it might help to remember that the purple martin has survived solely because we cared enough to help them survive. And for the bulk of the migrating wildlife, we must look after them or they, too, will fall to the hook or the bullet or the corn field.

The protection of Mom Nature's migrating best starts one tree, one backyard, one bat house, one hummingbird feeder, one membership in PETA, one donation to the Humane Society, one afternoon volunteered, one beach at a time cleaned by walking, smiling, non-beach driving caring folks, like you and I, and of course, your casting of one all important vote.

• Check out our new weekly Nature Movie at: http://home.pacifier.com/~sparks/wildlife!!.html

• Craig Sparks is director of NAWA, a filmmaker, freelance writer and wildlife rehabilitator.

• Found injured wildlife? Questions? Call The wildlife center at 665-3595 or send an e-mail to: sparks@pacifier.com.

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