Be considerate to wildlife and slow down while driving

Posted 20 April 2021 at 10:23 am


What would it take to get someone who had not yet come to the realization that “speed kills” to become convinced that it does?

The latest edition of Living Bird, a magazine sent out to contributors by the Cornell University Laboratory of Ornithology, contains photographs of chestnut sided, magnolia, black and white and other warblers. They are generally not much larger than chickadees, a delightful little bird seen around Orleans County year around. If you hit a chickadee, or any one of over twenty types of warblers, with your vehicle, it would almost certainly die, and you would likely never know it.

As I have mentioned on numerous occasions, six young tree swallows were killed by one vehicle in a single pass as they sat in the road mourning the loss of their mother. It really is sickening when you know that it does not have to be this way. But insects do certainly benefit.

Our “country” road has two American kestrel nests on it. There are bluebirds, catbirds, song sparrows, chickadees, orioles, and innumerable other species of avian delights that speeding vehicles will kill all over Orleans County without denting the machine. Often, all we must do to prevent it is get started earlier, travel more slowly, and think about how our actions impact other living things.

When my good friend, the owner of Hojack’s restaurant, saw his first American redstart up close, as someone without much birding experience, he was nearly speechless. “What the heck is that?” he exclaimed about the bird that was hovering two feet in front of his face.

We were getting firewood when he got his first look at one. Redstarts are one of our migratory birds, as are over twenty different types of warblers. The speed at which we choose to drive impacts how many of them—and dozens of other songbirds—we kill without ever knowing it.

Warblers, redstarts, and chickadees favor woodland habitat.  Driving our vehicles more slowly favors them.

Traveling on country roads as if we have taken leave of our senses really can have consequences we may never have considered. It may increase the rodent population by killing birds such as American kestrels, or result in our descendants never having a chance to hear a bluebird sing, among many other things. Speed may even result in the death of another human being.

So, for those travelers who can only get to 80 miles per hour by the time they get to the railroad tracks, perhaps you should get an electric vehicle with some serious acceleration.

Warbler migration will soon be upon us. Know that responsible behavior can benefit them.

Sincerely yours,

Gary F. Kent