Monday, January 6, 2014

Going Cuckoo for Beaver

(c) PhotosbyJoe
I want to introduce you to a bird, a bird you may not have even known existed in southern California- the Western Yellow Billed Cuckoo, Coccyzus americana. Yes southern California actually has a cuckoo and the western distinct population segment is what we are talking about here because it has different habitat requirement than the eastern population. It is a secretive bird, predator of large insects and small vertebrates, has a distinct call, and is one of the latest arriving migrants to America from its wintering grounds in South America. It lives in deciduous woodlands and, specifically for the western population segment, riparian habitats. Areas with stands of cottonwoods, willow, and sycamore. Sounds like it prefers the habitat of something else we talk a lot about here that happens to be the namesake of this blog. And surprise, surprise it is a rare bird. So rare in fact that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is moving to list this bird as a Threatened Species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). And here is what the American Bird Conservancy group has to say about that:

"The draft rule only proposes to list the species as threatened rather than as endangered, and doesn’t address the threats or propose more effective conservation measures such as removing cattle from riparian areas and restricting the use of pesticides in adjacent agricultural areas,” said Steve Holmer, senior policy advisor with American Bird Conservancy.

But wait there is more:

"Federal agencies must address water diversion and grazing policies that are disastrous to the cuckoo. They need to reverse direction, stop the degradation, and develop a plan to restore riparian areas and regrow lost Yellow-billed Cuckoo habitat," Holmer added.

Ok so it appears this bird has a lot of obstacles in its way. Getting agriculture to go pesticide free, not likely for big agriculture. Removing cattle from riparian habitats, again gonna be a tough one. But that last sentence: "They need to reverse direction, stop the degradation, and develop a plan to restore riparian areas and regrow lost Yellow-billed Cuckoo habitat." That last bit about restoring and regrowing riparian areas yeah beaver can take care of the that part. The pesticides and the cattle- that is difficult but restoring the habitat beaver can go a long way towards that end.

Hopefully you are seeing a theme here. Steelhead salmon, yellow billed cuckoos, western pond turtles, red-legged frogs, willow flycatchers and even the beaver themselves- it is not really about any one of these species individually. It is about finding the most economically sound, viable, repeatable and observable tool that can at least give all of them a fighting chance- let the beaver do the work of habitat restoration for us.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is taking public comments on the listing of the western distinct population segment of the yellow billed cuckoo until February 24, 2014. I suggest you drop by and give them your thoughts.

Ventura River riparian forest

Support me on Patreon.
Like antediluvian salad on facebook.
Watch me on Deviantart @NashD1.Subscribe to my youtube channel Duane Nash.

No comments:

Post a Comment