These last few years have been some of the hardest on North American birds in history. Wildfires raged like never before across the West Coast as well as in the Amazon Rainforest where many birds spend their winter. Many wildlife refuges, both public and private, were threatened. Trump has made it his goal to create a wall on our Southern border and it is terrible for wildlife. A wall will make it harder for butterflies and large mammals to migrate, and destroy lots of bird habitat and irreversibly damage the Rio Grande. At the same time, another Administration goal has been to increase fossil fuel drilling, which has caused damage to our parks service. Trump recently decided to open up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling. This refuge happens to be a major breeding site for birds. If a spill were to occur, it would be devastating. A similar spill to this hypothetical one happened earlier this year in the Russian arctic (the Russians deny this but evidence says otherwise) and it killed a large portion of the area’s seaside, with videos taken by divers of beaches and sea floors literally covered by animal corpses. There have been some victories in the arctic, a massive pebble mine that would have destroyed one of Alaska’s largest fisheries was widely protested against, and plans to build it were abandoned. Also, early attempts to destroy the Migratory bird Treaty Act were prevented, although the Administration continues to attack this bill.
It is not just the government that has endangered birds. As the pandemic raged, oil companies took advantage of the panic and used it to create a pipeline through the Golden-Cheeked Warbler habitat with little resistance or public knowledge. Earlier on, Texas real estate officials unsuccessfully attempted to get the bird off the endangered species list so they could bulldoze its habitat to build houses. Parts of the Dakota Access Pipeline have been built, and nothing stands in its way. In the North, oil pipelines have been unopposed by the government. Even the fires in Brazil may have had corporate/government causes. President Bolsonaro of Brazil refused aid from other governments to fight the fires and the fires themselves may have been started by cattle ranchers, hoping to burn the forest down so they could claim it for grazing, something that Bolsonaro empowered them to do. All in all, the last 4 years have been tough for North America’s birds. No matter where they fly to, they can’t seem to catch a break. That being said, there are ways to protect them. Protest against environmental rollbacks, sign petitions, fund organizations that protect birds, like the National Audubon Society, limit how much beef you eat, fight for climate justice, and most importantly of all, vote.