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InsiderOnline Blog: September 2004

Darn Activist Birds

The mainstream press in Georgia is reporting that the changing nesting habits of the state bird (brown thrasher) prove-- prove I tell you!-- the existence of global warming. The National Wildlife Federation sounded the alarm and local news picked it up, according to Harold Brown of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation.

In a global-warming editorial, one newspaper noted the thrasher is returning from winter migration 21 days earlier than it did 20 years ago.

Problem is, all the alarmists are ignoring the changing nesting habits of a handful of other Georgia birds doing exactly the opposite.

In contrast to this suspicious behavior of the brown thrasher, other species have been nesting progressively farther south for more than half a century; not as if our climate is becoming warmer, but as if it is cooling.

Confirmation comes from the annual North American Breeding Bird Survey, conducted every year across the country by the U.S. Geological Survey. In Pike County near Griffin, the survey has found an average of 21 robins per year since 1994, one third more than the count of brown thrashers. During those years, two robins per year were counted in Wrightsville, well into the Coastal Plain. So, although robins have always migrated north across Middle Georgia in late winter, in recent decades they have been nesting there during summer, and even farther south. In August, I saw robins in Statesboro, where my brother said they nested in his yard.

The song swallow, barn swallow and other northern forest birds have been seen moving farther south as well. The conclusion? Either the brown thrasher is not exactly the smoking gun the media believes it to be or the state bird was not picked for its smarts. Brown offers a solution:

It would pain me to think that the bird we have elected to represent our state is dumb enough to hurry North earlier each spring because it supposes the world is getting warmer, when another splendid flock is headed South. I would lead a campaign to vote ’em out and elect the chicken: It has stayed put for 200 years, and whoever heard of southern fried brown thrasher?

Or, the robins are part of a vast, Rovian right-wing conspiracy. Developing...

Posted on 09/28/04 03:28 PM by Mary Katherine Ham

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