[Tweeters] Quibbling over the absence

Ed Newbold ednewbold1 at yahoo.com
Wed Jul 31 22:39:18 PDT 2019

Hi all,


The biologists who are working in the Wildlife Dept andfederal bureaucracies trying to figure out which species to help and then doingthe heavy lifting to get these conservation efforts underway are some of thegreatest heroes of our time and they are carrying out a daunting, nearlyimpossible task. Kim Leonard and Kelly McAllister are to be vociferouslythanked whenever the opportunity arises. I am totally in awe of both, andothers in those jobs, they are truly my heroes.

Before they can move person-hours and spend tax-money, theyneed hard data and scientific proof. Absolutely, and more power to them in thatquest.

But I have a friendly quibble with a statement Kelly made to tweeters--not the one about rodenticides, which was typically very helpful, but that, and I’m paraphrasing, before he signs on to the idea thatthere have been major anthropogenic losses, he would need to see some prettygood data.

That’s a totally valid point for anyone in his position but itshouldn’t blind the rest of us, who are only trying to understand what is goingon, to changes that may have occurred in the absence of rigorous data-gathering.

The Common Nighthawk is in my opinion a most dramatic example,where an entire breeding population of Puget Sound, Willamette Valley andLowland BC roof-nesting birds was obliterated between the early 70s probablyand 1981.  I have testimonials fromvarious people who were alive at the time, saved to my computer, that I couldshare.  A memory is “anecdotal,” but atthis point it’s digital.  If you rememberbreeding Nighthawks in Seattle and you are not demented or a liar, (I’m onlydemented) that can scientifically be compared to the fact that there are nobreeding Nighthawks in Seattle now.

We are currently losing Barn Swallows.  Driving around Beacon Hill, I havememory-imprints of many of the traditional sites which I would always seeoccupied year-to-year for much of my 36 years on the Hill.  I remember fall gatherings on the Hill ofmultiple birds.  Now other than the Jeff Parkbirds, I’m not sure there are any.  I thinkCrows drove out the Nighthawks--I won’t go through my reasoning--but theculprit with Barn Swallows is more inscrutable, and I haven’t searched the literaturewhich I suspect is inconclusive anyway. Violet-green Swallows are also collapsing, although there seem to be afew families left on the Hill.  As withNighthawks, I presume no one has ever collected data on Seattle’s uplandSwallows in a scientific fashion--or any fashion--over the appropriate time period.  

If anyone has evidence to prove I am being overly gloomy, there is nothing I would rather be than proven wrong.


Thanks all,


Ed Newbold, ednewbold1 at yahoo.com on residential Beacon Hill where the yardlist has, unprecedentedly, for two years not had a Barn Swallow on it.

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