Migrating to What End?

Technical details: Canon EOS 7D camera, EF400mm f/5.6L USM lens, ISO 100,  f/5.6, 1/320 sec

The Snow Goose ranks right up there with the warblers, in my opinion, in a peculiar sector of the natural world that lie conspicuously under the noses of the vast majority of our neighbors who have no idea they even exist.  Take one of your friends outside for a spring-migratory birding experience.  Explain to them that the population of the bird we call Snow Geese stands at more than five million and that the majority of these birds travel twice a year through the Mississippi River Flyway Migratory Corridor, which ranges from eastern Nebraska and Kansas to Eastern Illinois.  In February and March, find a nice open piece of high land within 50 or so miles of either side of the Mississippi River and let them watch with binoculars or scope as groups of birds ranging from 50 to 5000 birds or more travel back to Canada for their nesting season.  Similarly to the beautifully colored and tiny wood warblers who travel through Missouri northward bound mainly during the months of April and May, your friend or neighbor will most likely tell you that they had no idea these beings even existed, much less spent some time in the trees or skies right outside their own front doors.

The Snow Goose population may actually be a harbinger of things to come for the human species.  Low numbers of traditional predators combined with the fact that these birds are both extremely difficult to hunt (compared to other water fowl) and are not a source of desirable meat are resulting in this species’ increasing population to a critical mass.  These birds taste for a particular diet in their nesting grounds and as stated above, low levels of predation, are pushing this species very close to a population crash.  Current research is showing that Snow Geese are currently experiencing increased levels of starvation and disease incidence.

In my opinion, this could be analogous to the human population’s pace of continued growth with too little concern for population control and resource management.  As long as political “leaders” focus the majority of their efforts on up to the minute economic concerns, rather than the long-term prosperity of our planet and the resources of the commons, we will continue towards a similar state.


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