Their Fate Is Our Fate: How Birds Foretell Threats to Our Health and Our World

Pandemics 101
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Similarly, the US birding community is making every effort to ensure the survival of the lesser prairie chicken.

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“Their Fate Is Our Fate employs authorial charm and real-world anecdotes to present a compelling, engrossing case for paying careful attention to our avian. Their Fate Is Our Fate book. Read 13 reviews from the world's largest community for readers. At the heart of this book by Nobel Prize–winning immunologis.

Such initiatives depend, of course, on the work of volunteers. All that is required is a passion for nature and a commitment to being involved.

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Though the catastrophic effects of dramatic events like oil spills are obvious, other issues may not be so familiar unless we are directly involved. Members of organisations like the Audubon Society, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, and BirdLife Australia are being recruited to monitor the effects of habitat degradation and climate change on migrating and sedentary bird species, but this kind of systematic approach attracts minimal media attention and so mostly goes unnoticed.

During the course of our Alaska vacation, we visited the wonderful Raptor Center at Sitka and saw the consequences of what happens when powerful birds fly into power lines or get caught up in discarded fishing gear. Some of the eagles, hawks and owls that the centre had treated were so severely damaged that they would never be returned to the wild.

The efforts to minimise the use of plastic bags are more familiar. Floating plastic entangles seabirds.

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Balled-up and mistaken for food, plastic can choke the birds and their chicks. Much less in the public eye are aspects of the avian—human interface that are part of my professional world. About four decades back, virologists and epidemiologists began to understand that the influenza A viruses that can be so dangerous to humans are maintained primarily in waterfowl, a finding that has profound implications for human and animal disease.

And the massive increase in both the human and domestic chicken population since the mid-twentieth century is influencing the balance between the influenza viruses, wild birds and many mammalian species. The Dean, pharmacologist Gerry Swan, told me about the mysterious dying off of Indian vultures and described what he and his colleagues had done to help identify a solution. Then there are the intriguing and little-known tales of how studies in birds and chick embryos have led to massive advances in the understanding of infectious and other human diseases, including cancer.

This book is thus conceived as an exploration of the interactions between the natural world, birds and humans—an exploration that goes beyond the more familiar social and environmental themes in order to discuss a further, darker realm of pathology, poisons and pestilences.

Their Fate Is Our Fate: How Birds Foretell Threats to Our Health and Our World

This theme will recur through the chapters that follow. Birds play a central role in this: Our free-flying, wide-ranging avian relatives serve as sentinels, sampling the health of the air, seas, forests and grasslands that we share with them and with the other complex life forms on this planet. Some of what I relate in the pages that follow will be relatively unfamiliar to even the most committed bird enthusiast.

So this is my best hope: that you will be entertained, informed and even challenged to take action. But why is the canary more susceptible? The idea that birds act as sentinels providing us with early warning of potential dangers in the natural world raises some immediate questions: How are avian species similar to mammals like us?

And how are they different? But reflecting the demands imposed by an aeronautic lifestyle, the bird skeleton is quite different from the mammalian model. Though birds can be long-lived, with some parrots surviving more than 70 years, they would experience much less back pain than we do, as their lower spinal cords are fused with an extended pelvis. This anatomy helps them to deal with the stresses associated with landing, and gives the structural rigidity necessary to support the powerful movement of muscle, tendons, bones, skin and feathers that enables flight.

Also, though humans, birds and some dinosaurs like Tyrannosaurus rex all share the characteristic of being bipedal walking on two legs , there is a major difference in the way that this upright stance is achieved. While our organs, spine and legs align in a vertical plane, the bodies of birds including the flightless emu and ostrich and the bipedal dinosaurs are horizontal. As a consequence, birds have more cervical vertebrae 13—25, as opposed to our seven , producing a very flexible neck, which allows the head to swing widely. When on the ground, the bird balances by extending its neck upwards, by using its tail and by bringing the supporting legs to somewhere around the mid-point of the body.

Though penguins may have the appearance of vertically organised humans wearing dinner suits, the way that their bones are aligned is essentially birdlike. The design of any creature or machine that flies must take serious account of power-to-weight ratios. The wings replace the mammalian forelimbs. Although they are flightless, penguins retain that enlarged sternum to support the muscles they use for swimming.

What Birds Tell Us About Our World

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Es wurden noch keine Bewertungen geschrieben. Then they speculate on the answer themselves. It has nothing to do with magic or freedom. It has nothing to do with the miracle of flight. It has nothing to do with birds being beautiful, or cute, or impressive or fierce. It has nothing to do with birds at all, really. It has everything to do with the natural world being too damn big.

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Growing up in Maine, nature was everywhere. We lived near the coast, and I spent summer days searching for crabs on the beach and cracking open mussels to find pearls. This was back when nature channels actually showed nature programs, and my living room was filled with Marty Stouffer showing me the wilds of America, or David Attenborough teaching me about life everywhere else. It was an interest that, as I matured, became unsustainable. Nature seemed monolithic and impatient — there was so much to learn and see and find that maintaining an interest felt like an all-or-nothing proposition.

Discovering birding changed all that.