Why should we care if species become endangered? After all, there are lots of species left.
We should care because losing species could affect our food, medicine and clean water. In a report online dated just recently, of 63,837 species counted, 19,817 are threatened to become extinct. That Red List of Threatened Species, provided by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), includes 41 percent of amphibians, 33 percent of corals that build reefs, 25 percent of mammals, 13 percent of birds and 30 percent of conifers. This report was published just before the U.N. Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
The IUCN has suggestions for decreasing greenhouse gas emissions. This is extremely important because those emissions cause climate change, which in turn affects all living plants and animals. Cutting down forests is a major cause of greenhouse gas emissions. Forests, peatlands and mangroves store much carbon. That helps us deal with climate change.
Pictured is a peregrine falcon. The endangered bird has been sighted in the area.
Saving biodiversity would also really help. Experts suggest that 17 percent of greenhouse gas emissions are caused by deforestation. We need to learn to grow shade-loving plants, so that we don't have to cut down the trees. When I was in Costa Rica, the folks were learning to do just that in raising coffee beans. Good for them.
We have two endangered birds which cause great excitement when seen in Chautauqua and Cattaraugus counties. First, the golden eagle. This bird breeds in the western hills and mountains of our country and Canada.
However, folks have seen it fly over the western edge of Allegany State Park. Usually, the wings, when gliding, are in a V-formation like those of the turkey vulture. However, it also sometimes holds them flat. Compared to the agile peregrine falcon, it has been known to dive faster when hunting in the air.
Amazingly, this huge bird can capture animals bigger than it is. Granted, it is rare, but it has been known to kill coyotes, deer, pronghorn antelope, foxes and bighorn sheep. The large birds it has hunted include sage grouse, Canadian geese and whooping cranes. These are unusual occurrences. Mostly it feeds on rabbits of all kinds, marmots, ground squirrels or other small mammals.
The nest, built like those of other raptors, is built on the edge of a cliff or in the nest previously built by ravens. One to three eaglets are raised.
The second endangered bird that has been sighted in our area is the peregrine falcon. Several times, it has been spotted at Dunkirk Harbor, looking down from a perch at the power plant.
Currently, this bird winters along the eastern coast from New York through South America. Other subspecies winter in Alaska to southern areas and in the tundra to Central and South America.
This bird mostly eats other birds. However, it would certainly catch a bat, if one were seen in the daylight.
Don't be fooled in identifying this creature. It is about the same size as a northern harrier. Check for the broader wings and shorter tail of the peregrine.
Like eagles, it mostly builds its nest on cliffs. However, it has been known to employ somebody else's stick nest in a tree, on building ledges and under bridges.
The passenger pigeon used to be its favorite food. This is an example of how man's behavior affects birds. After it became extinct, the population of peregrine falcons declined. Naturalists have tried to introduce more of these birds in the east.
A peregrine's hunting ability is a sight to behold. It seems to often do a long chase over open country and then powerfully descends, or stoops, from very high to get its prey.
Don't forget to live simply in this fast-paced society. Just eat, sleep and bird. Most importantly, for the birds, take care of their habitats.