From my garden: A silent spring, summer, fall and winter
by LINDA MARRONE
Published - 09/24/17 - 02:17 PM | 0 0 comments | 16 16 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Cooper Hawks were once a regular visitor to La Jolla's shores./ PHOTO PROVIDED BY NATIONAL AUDOBON SOCIETY
Cooper Hawks were once a regular visitor to La Jolla's shores./ PHOTO PROVIDED BY NATIONAL AUDOBON SOCIETY
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There was a time that I would wake up to the sounds of singing birds, but now my garden is silent most days.  About four years ago, the crow and seagull population increased in my neighborhood and the songbirds just seemed to disappear.  This past spring, I noticed some of my favorite birds reappear and after a short spring, silence returned.  

When we first moved to our home 30 years ago, I enjoyed the presence of many different types of birds in our garden and since I don't use pesticides, I rely on the birds to help keep the insect population down and now I miss not only hearing them but also seeing them at work.

Hawks used to summer along the coastline near our home and visit a large tree in our backyard.  Mother hawks would teach their young how to hunt here and they would circle the neighborhood surveying their seaside domain.  

About five years ago, I noticed that the hawks were no longer coming for their annual visit and then the population of crows and seagulls began to increase. Neighbors complained about a seagull invasion and I heard that the White Sands even hired a falconer to release his hawk around their grounds to help deter the gulls. Nature was clearly out of balance. This year I noticed a lone hawk in my tree, which was a welcomed surprise and at least in my immediate area, there have been fewer crows and seagulls. 

Owls used to appear around dusk and dawn and once I had to take a wounded crow to Project Wildlife after it was struck by an owl and fell into my garden with a broken wing. Sometimes, I would get annoyed by the constant crowing that silenced all the other birds, but when this incident happened I had a new appreciation for the crows. As their wounded friend hopped around our garden unable to fly, several crows flew down and tried to assist him. They stayed by his side until I was able to approach him and take him for help.  

Birds are a critical part of our ecosystem and we need them to eat insects, move seeds and pollinate plants. Other birds such as hawks and owls help to reduce the rodent population. As I researched the recent decline of birds, I sadly realized that many places throughout the world are experiencing the same phenomenon. Researchers believe that habitat loss, climate change and the overuse of herbicides and pesticides are the main reasons for the alarming decrease of the bird population.

Many of these same problems were written about by Rachel Carson in her 1962 book, "Silent Spring," which is still a good read today. Her book helped ban the use of DDT and assisted putting laws into place to protect our air, land and water.  

As I sit at my desk with all the windows open it is eerily silent and the sounds of nature I used to enjoy are gone.

Reports show that we have lost over half of our songbird population in the past 40 years and the decline is steadily increasing year after year and is affecting all bird species. Laws that were put in place to protect our environment are now under attack and the silence, instead of the songs of birds, should be our wakeup call.

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