Dear Audubon Member,

Photo by Monte Costa

Birds are an excellent barometer of the health of our air, land, and water. In 1962 Rachel Carson published her landmark book, Silent Spring, warning that we were poisoning our air, land, and water with DDT and other toxins. Her evidence rested on declining populations of bald eagles, peregrine falcons, ospreys, brown pelicans, and other birds.

Despite fierce opposition to Carson's plea, she showed us that people were causing the problems—and that people could solve them. And we did, by enacting the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act, the Endangered Species Act, and similar landmark legislation. Now our air and water are cleaner. DDT was banned in 1972, and since then most of those birds are rebounding.

Today we face different threats to our air, land, and water. Once again, birds are the barometer. Audubon Washington recently published a State of the Birds report that documents the conservation status of all bird species in that state. The results are troubling. Of the 317 species found there, 93 are either on the endangered list, in serious decline, or otherwise at risk. This time the causes are different—primarily habitat loss—and the solutions are different. One thing is still the same. People are causing the problems, and people can solve them.

Washington State responded by passing legislation to take a first step toward protecting the state's most important bird habitat; New York State has enacted comparable legislation. Audubon will continue to push for laws to help protect birds, but we also need your help. You can be part of the solution, both for birds and for your own health and safety.

From what plants we use to landscape our yards, to when we water our gardens, to how high we mow our lawns, we are making decisions every day at home that affect the health and quality of not only our private space but also the larger environment—our local ecosystems, watersheds, and beyond.

If homeowners, for example, used native plants in their yards—which would enable them to control pests without using pesticides—it would represent the largest habitat-restoration program for birds ever undertaken. And their homes would be healthier for people at the same time. Further, homeowners could avoid using invasive ornamentals, which threaten nearby natural habitats when they spread beyond backyards, overwhelming the native vegetation so crucial to birds and other wildlife. Or, by disposing of yard waste and excess fertilizer properly, they could prevent runoff that can contaminate local streams, rivers, lakes, and coastal waters located miles from their homes.

For more information on what you can do, go to www.audubon.org and click on "Audubon at Home."


is to conserve and restore
natural ecosystems, focusing
on birds, other wildlife, and
their habitats for the
benefit of humanity and the
earth's biological diversity

John Flicker
National Audubon Society

© 2004 National Audubon Society

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