A little bird told me…
May 24, 2010 by emily
I’ve mentioned my growing interest in local birds, especially songbirds, and the variety of pressures that contribute to their decline. I’ve finished another bird painting, this one considering the phenomenon of urban sky glow and light pollution. In my research about birds, I came across some upsetting information and statistics about the effect communication towers and other lit features of the urban night sky have on night migratory birds. A report compiled by the American Bird Conservancy in June 2000 analyzed data relating to the number of birds killed by communication towers, tower lights, and surrounding wires and structures. The report showed that 230 different kinds of birds were killed by the towers and a conservative estimate of the number of birds killed each year is about 5 million. One little songbird, the Tennessee Warbler, has a declining population and is also the third most commonly killed bird at the towers. The understated little bird was also the subject of my latest bird painting.
It’s hard to deny the beauty of city lights at night and this tiny little bird seems pretty insignificant compared to our urban centres and the communication of millions of humans. I wanted to emphasize that vulnerability. Much like the canary in the coal mine, I also wonder if these little birds might be trying to tell us that all these lights at night aren’t so great for us either.
Hope this hasn’t been to rant-y for you!