I used to be a member of Audubon Society, in fact, up until 2021. We are a funky lot of people who devote time and energy into identifying, feeding, studying and talking about birds. Our back deck is usually a minor mess, as birds are not careful when feed is available. It is a tiered ecosystem where birds at the highest perch use their beaks to scatter seed below, looking for the most desirable morsel. Down below birds that are ground feeders hunt and peck. Seed that ends up below the deck accumulates until a doe or buck passes by.
Why, I was asked, do we care about these species? “Unconditional love” was the only answer I could muster. They show no gratitude, in fact do not even know we are caring for them. A bird pecking away at a seed bell strung from a wire has no clue he is not on a tree, one with abundant mealy worms.
While a resident of Montana I participated in the annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count. Our group of people would walk an eight-mile stretch of the Yellowstone River, where species and counts were many and high. As a CPA, my job was to keep track of all of that so that at the end of the day when we gathered at Helen Carlson’s home for homemade stew and Christmas treats, we could entertain each other with our exploits of the day. I remember one year when maybe thirty of us were held in rapt attention by a man who knew how to play the room. He prolonged his story about how he spotted and finally identified a certain bird, and with expert timing finally did the big reveal … he had seen a Varied Thrush, a rare sighting. There was a palpable exhaling of breath in the room. We were stunned, and he was front and center, a man of the moment.
I participated in our local Evergreen Audubon in various outings, walking along the shores of the Platte River, and in 2019 did the Christmas Bird Count, me and a friend, Mike. We started out at a local feeder, and since we were a group, I took no credit for sightings, knowing that someone would account. When a young man who turned out to be quite an expert asked the group if we would mind if he “Psst”, I misunderstood. “We’re all guys here, no problem,” I said. But “Psst”ing is something else, making that sound to draw birds closer. Many consider it bad manners, as birds should only be seen and enjoyed without any human interference. I was not aware.
Mike and I had a long day, and at the end walked a long corridor down to Beaver Creek reservoir. We saw only two birds, which I labeled crows. No, said our “Psst”er friend. Those were not crows. They were ravens. As I told our group leader, I was not of much use, seeing only two birds the entire day, and misidentifying them.
2020 was a different story. The organizer for the Bird Count made it clear that all participants would be masked all day long. “Bullshit!” said I, not willing to submit to such insanity. Even if masking had a purpose beyond psychological conditioning, we were outdoors! But no. I was asked the damning question in my refusal, “Do you trust scientists?” Why should I trust anyone? I have a brain, I can think for myself. I indeed trust many people who have talent and skills, civil engineers, for example. But public health officials with a hidden agenda? No way.
2021 saw the worst of it. Evergreen Audubon announced that no member could participate in any sanctioned activity unless that member was vaccinated. I emailed them, suggesting that the great bison and wildebeest herds would not exist if there were such a thing as pathogenic viruses. In return, the Sound of Silence. I resigned Audubon, after 20+ years. These are crazy folks, I always understood. I was part of that delightful craziness. But crazy, stupid and scared? Enough. I was done.
Wind Power and Birds
Properly sited wind power can help protect birds from climate change.
By National Audubon Society
July 21, 2020
Audubon strongly supports wind energy that is sited and operated properly to avoid, minimize, and mitigate effectively for the impacts on birds, other wildlife, and the places they need now and in the future. To that end, we support the development of wind energy to achieve 100% clean electricity.
Did I mention that word, “stupid”? Windmills are bird choppers, and the bigger, more glamorous species are hardest hit. These are our raptors, accipiters, owls, high flying birds whose internal timing cannot calculate the speed of a turbine blade. They are being decimated. Audubon approves.
This article makes note of something I have long noticed, that large environmental groups are most often mere magnets to attract activists and defang them. Audubon, in terms of preserving large bird species, is now officially useless. When I first became active in wilderness preservation, I deliberately avoided The Wilderness Society, a national group where I knew I would drown. Instead I chose Montana Wilderness Association, a local group that was doing useful work (at that time). “Think globally, act locally” was the catchphrase. But none but a few of us are really equipped to think globally. All we can do is to act locally.
One of the worst examples is a large national group known as the Sierra Club, whose members have unknowingly been whored out to the fossil fuel industry, and shamelessly used as a vehicle to shut down the nuclear power industry in California. That state now has one remaining nuclear plant, Diablo, and I read where it too is on its way out, to be replaced by solar panels. Good luck with that, you f****** morons.
Audubon, Shmodubon, a big and well-financed tool used to fight the very purpose for which it claims to exist. As with Sierra Club, I am proud not to belong.