Slowing down on roads can make a difference for birds, living environment

Posted 5 August 2020 at 1:22 pm


This is not meant to inform readers who “get off” on killing things or just do not care. Many of us are not aware of how our hurried existences can impact other living things.

On July 30th I found a yellow shafted (Northern) flicker that had been killed by a vehicle not 50 feet from a railroad crossing earlier that morning. Its long beak was still dirt-stained from probing the ground for ants. Its long tongue glistened where it protruded from that beak. Did it have young to feed in a nearby nest? Perhaps they had fledged already.

Flickers are among the many native birds extremely beneficial to humans. They are also something to see, especially when alive and doing their “thing”. Though they are the size of more common red-bellied woodpeckers, they may not leave a dent in a fast-moving vehicle.  And it is true that songbirds can be killed by vehicles traveling at reasonable speeds. Nonetheless, the probability of death increases with speed and recklessness.

Did the driver of the vehicle that killed two Canada geese in front of Walmart recently not see them? Of course, they are not in the same category as Northern flickers, tree swallows, Eastern Bluebirds and American kestrels. And no, they were not in the crosswalk.

Most of your readers want to avoid unnecessarily killing things that cross the roads we travel. And we do have things we must do and places we need to get to. Hopefully, this missive will increase awareness enough to get us to adjust our driving habits a bit without laying a guilt trip on anyone.

Sincerely yours in the spirit of live and let live,

Gary F. Kent