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Nature

A Few Words In Praise of Birds

Birds can soar overhead and they can cover great distances. They are privy to a "bird's eye view" of a single building, a park, an entire city or landscape, making them a perfect metaphor for obtaining a fresh perspective on a situation, or for taking a larger view of an issue.

Crow

Why do birds appeal to us? Most people enjoy the sight of birds, even people who have never been active birdwatchers. Although birds are less like us in appearance and habits than our fellow mammals, birds undeniably hold a special place in our hearts.

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The demise of the Amazon rain forest is just a breath away At 2.6 million square miles, the South America's Amazon rain forest is a little less than the size of the United States. It is fringed by Bolivia, Peru, Colombia, Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana, but 70% is within Brazil. The Amazon River slices it from west to east where it flows into the Atlantic. Situated on the equator, the doldrums, it has an average annual precipitation of 50 to 260 inches a year, the highest and most extensive in the world (only a small area in Africa competes). The tropical rains pour abundantly, but the trees release moisture that returns as rain and provides nearly half of the rainforest's water needs. Emitting significant amounts of oxygen that animals require for their own metabolism, the Amazon rain forest is a blessing to all life, including humans, or so you would think. Although the indigenous people living there have treated the forest with reverence, modern, civilized people have come to destroy it for their profit. Today, the Amazon rain forest is under attack. Once it was entirely rain forest, with mahogany it's most coveted tree. Its trees, as well as the plants that are used as pharmaceuticals, are what first attracted corporations, the principle enemy of the Amazon rain forest. With its wealth of timber and global demand, the rain forest offered irresistible profits to logging companies. From the 1970s to the present day, 20 percent of rain forest trees have been felled by power chain saws. Twenty years from now, another 20 percent may suffer the same fate. When that feat is accomplished, the rain forest may not produce enough rain from its own moisture and the remaining flora could die from the ensuing drought. Even with its high rainfall levels, the trees are not secure. Drought has occurred in the Amazon Basin. It did in 2005. With global warming changing weather patterns, another drought is likely again. Without the rain, the Amazon Basin could become the largest tinderbox in the world. A mere forty years ago the rain forest was standing tall, despite occasional wildfires that were unable to prevail beneath the plentiful rain. With the reduction of rain, the trees are now more at risk. While half of the fires were started unintentionally, the other half are fully intentional; burning trees is the easiest way to clear land to use for planting. Because a new predator, the farmer, has joined the loggers, particularly the soy farmers and cattlemen, vast tracts are being burned. So extensive is the burning, the carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere by these fires has made the Amazon Basin a major source of greenhouse gases and an accelerator to global warming. Once a source of the oxygen, the Amazon Basin is starting to choke the animal kingdom. With its limited resources, the government of Brazil is attempting to put the brakes on this horrendous free fall. Laws protect millions of acres of [...]

I know a lot of people who like birds, and most of them love to feed them in one way or another. Most have birdfeeders that hang from a tree, or they scatter seed outside when there is snow on the ground for the birds that have stuck around for the winter. However, there are some very cool feeders out there that can bring you even closer to the birds that you love. You can get window bird feeders that will allow you to view them without scaring them off. I first saw window bird feeders when I worked as a student cleaning pools while going through college. I had no idea that they existed until I saw one, and I thought it was one of the coolest things I had ever seen. These window bird feeders were right up against the window, much like a half a bowl. You would think that would scare the birds, but they were rather calm. The window had tinting on it near the feeder that allowed people in the house to watch without the birds even knowing they were there. Window bird feeders are really great, but they do look as if they cost a pretty penny. If you want to invest in one, I can’t imagine that you would be sorry that you did so. However, if you want something similar, but you don’t want to spend quite as much, you can make your own. You can have your window tinted and hang a few regular feeders out there. The birds will come but will not be disturbed when you come close to the window. You can find either type of window bird feeders in stores near you, or you can find them online. Don’t forget to get some hummingbird feeders as well, as those can be a lot of fun to own, and the hummingbirds seem to love them. You may want to put different types of bird seed in your bird feeders so that you can attract more than one type. If you have squirrels in your garden try to find seed they don't like. Squirrels can be distracted by offering them their own food in squirrel feeders, set far away from your bird feeders. That usually keeps them away from the birds.