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New Year’s Thoughts About Redbirds


January 16, 2011 by wcobserver

By Joe Neal

I receive regular mailings from private organizations and government agencies with lists of rare birds, rare mammals, rare butterflies, rare snails, etc. They are long, fine print columns with common names, Latin binomials, places where the few remaining creatures are still found. These lists contain hundreds and sometimes thousands of names of wild creatures who did nothing to deserve their fate.

Since we are at the start of a new year, let me share an example: the prized redbirds in your yard. As rare and endangered, it could appear on a future list as

Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis); small local population remains in West Fork, Washington County, Arkansas.

If you are of a Christian mind, you operate on the assumption that God put redbirds on the earth for good cause – even if we can’t always discern the reason – and that we still have redbirds because Noah saw fit to bring them two-by-two into his ark, prior to the great flood. On the other hand, if you are more of a scientific turn of mind with or without religion, you might assume that as creatures on the earth evolved one of them, our prized redbird, took on very bright colors to attract mates and a very strong bill so that it could crack open hard seeds.

I couldn’t care less myself how anyone chooses to believe the origins of redbirds. What does matter is that they are here and we enjoy them in our yard. Grandma in her wheelchair gets a LOT of pleasure out of seeing her redbirds at the feeder. And unless you are too busy to pay attention, there is no song in the world lovelier than that of a redbird in spring and summer. It defines what it means to live in Arkansas.

Is it even remotely possible that our redbirds could become rare? The same question could have been asked about the now extinct Passenger Pigeon, when in 1800 they existed in the United States of America in the multiple billions. Now there are none. They survived Noah’s flood but they did not survive rapacious, stupid, blind persecution by another species with the collective miasma that they have a “right” to use and destroy anything.

So, rare redbirds? Someone, somewhere may discover ground up redbirds cure male pattern baldness, remove wrinkles in middle-aged women; redbirds well ground up and mixed with mushrooms bring back from the dead, Lazarus-like, cherished relatives; turn gray hair black? You don’t think our nation would be filled, coast to coast, with a hue and cry about the “right” to kill all cardinals for the sake of effortlessly erasing that big male paunch, restoring lost youth?

I hope you are laughing now, because that’s the best way to greet this dawn of this new year. Laughing, and also thinking. Happy New Year.



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