One Bird in the bush is better than any in the hand   Leave a comment

Here are some names you don’t see everyday: Esmeraldas woodstar; Fringe-backed fire-eye; Heinroth’s shearwater; and the most descriptive of all, Southeastern rufous-vented ground cuckoo! 

At first we thought these were hot new bands, or summer television reality shows, or even new iced coffees from the corner cafe. But no, they are all tropical birds that are threatened or endangered not only in their own countries, but throughout the world. And they are all now listed as Endangered Species here in the United States. None of these birds migrate to North America; and none of them live in any any long-lost forests in the US, or can even be found in most US zoos and parks. So if they never lived here, why are they on the endangered list? Sadly, because people capture and try to bring these rare birds into America for pets or other human use.

Many birds – particularly those from tropic environments – are very colorful and unlike most any birds native to North America. Millions of bird-enthusiasts spend their lives watching birds, and listening for birds, and travel long distances to see birds they’ve never seen before. But for some people it’s not enough to watch and photograph exotic birds; they want to own these unique animals and keep them in their homes and feel it’s more important for the birds to be ‘safe’ in a cage than in their natural environments.  So, people around the world have found they can make fast and easy money by capturing exotic birds – often hurting other plants and animals in the process – hiding the birds in crates and barrels, often without food or water – and shipping the animals to illegal pet suppliers in the US and other countries. Of course we’re talking about birds, but these same hunters also catch and ship turtles and lizards and other reptiles; and invertebrates and fish and even mammals. Some of the animals survive the trip.

Importing non-native animals into the US is against the law in any situation, but because many of these animals are rare and endangered the US government is adding them to the Endangered Species List so anyone caught trying to sneak the animals in will be in a lot of trouble. Since 2003 the US Fish and Wildlife Service – the government department responsible for identifying and classifying endangered species – has added almost 100 tropical birds to the list, with more under review and hopefully will be added soon. Just being on the list won’t keep people who think it’s their right to try and own these rare and unique species – and won’t stop hunters and dealers from looking for ways to capture the animals and illegally ship them around the world. But maybe being recognized as Endangered is enough for most people to remember every species has it’s own environment, and our living room is not their natural home.

Esmeraldas woodstar

“Free refills all summer, and I don’t even need a special cup!”

Posted August 8, 2012 by ECOVIA eco-adventure® in ECOVIA Central

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