One hundred years ago, the last passenger pigeon, named Martha, died in captivity at the Cincinnati Zoo. Not long before Martha died, passenger pigeons flew in packs so large over the U.S. and Canada they could block out the sun for days. Mindy Todd talks with author and naturalist Joel Greenberg about what lead to the extinction of the passenger pigeon and what it teaches us about the importance of conservation.
Ospreys, “the Cape and Islands harbinger of spring” returned on Saturday afternoon, March 15th, in at least 5 places almost simultaneously. This is very early and all these reports and careful, excited observers were accompanied by photos indicating they knew what a big deal this is. Ospreys were reported from Orleans, Dennis, Falmouth, West Barnstable and Nantucket from 2:30-4 P.M. on March 15th, which is really early. Just knowing these birds are back brings a smile to not only my face but to all happy to see that the winter is finally going to come to an end.
It enabled the industrialization of agriculture, led to the discovery of El Nino, helped spawn the modern environmental movement, and lay at the heart of the War of the Pacific. What is it?
Guano, the excrement of South American seabirds.
Guano isn't just any bird poop. (Actually, the word has come to refer to feces of any flying animal, including bats.) Along with mineral nitrates found in the Atacama Desert, the South American seabird variety of guano is the richest source of nitrogen on the planet.