Conservation the Key to Sucess

by: Sophia Davis

Ivory Billed Woodpecker: What Conservation Could Have Done

Ivory Billed Woodpeckers were admired by all. It is nicknamed the Lord God Bird because when seen people exclaimed "Lord God the Bird." It is about the size of a chicken. The largest woodpecker in North America, it's appearance is a mix of the Pileated, Lineated, and Pale-Billed Woodpeckers. The bird was once widespread but due to: starvation from habitat loss, over hunting (the birds heads and beaks were worn by Indians), early Ornithology, where the only way to study the bird was to shoot the bird, its conservation status is Critically Endangered or possibly extinct. A breeding pair of Ivory-Billed Woodpeckers need six square miles of nearly uncut or uncut forest to harvest enough grubs to feed a small brood. That is 36 times more space than a Pileated Woodpecker needs and 126 times more space than a Red-Headed Woodpecker needs. Sweet Gum and Nuttall's Oak trees are the Ivory-Billed Woodpecker's favorite trees to eat grubs, but these trees are also the most money making trees, so they were cut down. Ivory-Billed Woodpeckers needed dead upright trees to eat. Then, World War II happened, and German captives came into America to work. They primarily cut down trees. They cut down every tree in sight, destroying the Ivory-Billed Woodpeckers habitat. Singer Tract, the Ivory-Billed Woodpeckers main habitat was turned into a soybean field. The last sighting of an Ivory-Billed Woodpecker in America was by Gene Laird, in 1944, who checked on a female Ivory-Billed Woodpecker daily, until the tree she was roosting in fell down in a windstorm. The Ivory-Billed Woodpecker also had a small habitat in Cuba, and the bird that resided in that habitat was called the Cuban Ivory-Billed Woodpecker. But, relations with Cuba were cut off, and the chance of saving the Ivory-Billed Woodpecker was nearly gone. The Ivory-Billed Woodpecker wasn't spotted for another 59 years in America. In 2004, a low quality video was taken of an Ivory-Billed Woodpecker, and in 2005, a sound recording was taken of a sound very similar to a sound recording from 1935 of the Ivory-Billed Woodpecker's call. A $50,000 reward goes to someone who can lead a project scientist to a foraging, roosting, or nesting sight of a living Ivory-Billed Woodpecker. In order to collect the reward you must have video, photographic, or other compelling information. The Ivory-Billed Woodpecker is considered the rarest bird in the U.S. and possibly the most important bird, even more important then the Bald Eagle. The ghost bird has become part of the search for an end of habitat destruction. The Search Never Ends!

(Click on the link below to report sightings.)

Organic Cocoa Plantations in Costa Rica

The point of organic Cocoa plantations are to teach tourists about the making of natural chocolate and promote the conservation of land, so there will be habitat for all sorts of animals. When I visited a Cocoa Plantation in Sarapiqui, Costa Rica, I learned about the evolutionary and production stages of chocolate and tasted the cacoa in each of its stages. I also learned that these organic cocoa plantations help the environment develop and create a safe place for animals and birds to live because much of their habitat is destroyed when banana and pineapple plantations are established. (Left: Cacoa Tree with seed pods)

Is It Really Bad?

Not everything that appears bad really is. We just need to look closer at the little things. We constantly are squishing bugs that aren't hurting us. Think before you squish! What are the little bugs doing that helps them without hurting you. Think termites! When we hear the word termite we probably think about little bugs that chew down houses and living trees. Actually termites help lots of animals find homes in Central America. Termites make huge nests out of mud in trees. These large structures make great nests for birds and bats. If you take a closer look at the nests, look for holes in the side or bottom of the nest. If the hole is on the bottom, a family of bats is probably living in there. If the hole is on the side of the nest, there might be Trogons nesting in there! All three Trogons that live in the Sarapiqui, Costa Rica area will nest in the old termite nests. You will mostly see the Slaty-Tailed Trogon nesting in termite nests, but the Gartered Trogon and the Black-Headed Trogon will also. (Right: A family of Pygmy Round Eared Bats nesting in an old termite nest.)

They are not just Pets!

Look closely at the picture at the right. At first glance you will see "pretty leaves." At second glance, you will probably see parrots in the tree. These are White-Crowned Parrots, some of the most colorful parrots, with colors such as blue, green, red, and white. They belong to the Psittacidae family, which also includes: Parrots, Parakeets, Parrotlets, and Macaws, and they are in high demand. These birds have tropical colors and people want them as pets or for their feathers. They are also very intelligent birds. The most famous birds from this family are, by far, the Macaws. They range from the Scarlet Macaw to the Great Green Macaw. The Great Green Macaw is listed as an Endangered Species because of deforestation (they need to nest high up in trees) and the pet trade. If you see one of these birds you should report them on ebird. Great Green Macaws are very rare, and in the Sarapiqui area, they are usually only seen near the La Selva Biological Station. I was lucky enough to get a glance at a Great Green Macaw as it flew over the Sarapiqui River in La Selva. Parrot species are a common pet. Macaws and Parrots can live anywhere between 50 and 100 years. However, that number is very misleading. The number of years parrots and macaws live has a very wide range. According to google, Kakapos, a type of parrot, can live up to 95 years, and Hyacinth Macaws can live up to 50 years. Many are recorded to live longer. Many factors affect how long a parrot or macaw lives. Birds from the Psittacidae family are very social animals and need daily social attention/stimulation and lots of toys to play with. These birds will physically abuse themselves if neglected. They will pluck out their chest feathers and starve themselves, so it is key that you socialize them. If you google, under images, pet birds for sale, and scroll through the pictures you will see that some of the birds appear sickly and sparsely feathered. Experience pet trade first hand--click on the linked titles below to find out how much they cost and the truth about the trade.

Invasive Species

Invasive species are all around you, even if you don't realize it. Some of the most common birds are invasive species, like the House Sparrow and the European Starling. The problem with invasive species is that they kill and take away habitat from other native species that depend on certain plants/animals. Invasive species are very prevalent where they are "invading" but also seem to not be prevalent where they were originally from. For example, the House Sparrow is a very common bird in the U.S., I see about 50 every day. House Sparrows are originally from the U.K. However when I was in London and Wales I only saw one House Sparrow. According to The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) the population of House Sparrows in England and Whales has gone down 71% from 1977 to 2008. (Left: Eucalyptus, an invasive specie in Costa Rica.)

Enjoy Nature!

What Can You Do!

Reduce! Reuse! Recycle!

You hear these words almost daily. But, we never seem to follow the rule of the three R's. The three R's at first seem irrelevant, but they actually should be something that we think of and practice everyday. Here is what you can do:

Reduce: Cut back. Reduce the amount of food you throw away and the amount of containers that you throw away.

Reuse: Use again more than once. Reuse containers. Use permanent water bottles. Use cloth rags as opposed to paper towels.

Recycle: Recycle anything recyclable: plastic water bottles, plastic containers, cardboard, paper, tin cans, glass bottles, paper towel tubes, cereal boxes (and all other boxes from food).

By following the three R's you can make the world a better place, and there will be less trash in landfills and more recyclable materials .

What's in your water?

Water is a common necessity. Everyone drinks it. Water is an easy way of saying recycle because we have been drinking and using the same water for the past billions of years. We usually get our water out of a tap or bottled in plastic bottles. Bottled water is convenient but not so good for you. Plastic water bottles that you buy bottled water in contain BPA, a chemical that is not so good for you and can leak into the water you are drinking. Lots of times these thin, plastic, water bottles will be littered and usually end up in the ocean. Aquatic animals consume the bottles and die. Shores are littered with plastic and dead animals whose stomachs are filled with trash. Plastic bottles for water are considered the biggest problem facing our environment. A group called, Boxed Water Is Better, has found a simple solution. To package water in boxes. The boxes are shipped, compressed, without water and then filled with water at the filling site. You can view their website from the link below. If you are interested in the problems with bottled water you can watch the documentary, Tapped. The other link below will take you to the trailer for the documentary, Tapped.

Get Involved!

Get involved in nature. Go outside, find outdoor activities you can do by yourself or with your family. Appreciate the outdoors and wildlife. Fill bird feeders in your yard and put up nesting boxes for animals. Teach your family about the outdoors. Reduce, reuse, recycle. Don't litter and stop using disposable water bottles.


Works Cited

"Boxed Water | Home." Boxed Water | Home. Boxed Water, n.d. Web. 28 Mar. 2016.

Hoose, Phillip M. The Race to save the Lord God Bird. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2004. Print.

"House Sparrow." The RSPB. Https://, n.d. Web. 03 Apr. 2016.

Ivory-billed Woodpecker (gouache on Paper), English School, (20th Century) / Private Collection / © Look and Learn / The Bridgeman Art Library

"| Tapped the Movie - Official Site |." | Tapped the Movie - Official Site |. Atlas Films, n.d. Web. 28 Mar. 2016.

"The Truth About the Exotic Bird Trade Will Make You Rethink Buying a Parrot in the Pet Shop." One Green Planet. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Mar. 2016.