18 The aly N-w Frdy. Fbuy 1, 18 Environment
Birds more important than you know
About three weeks ago, the
Nature Conservancy office ma St
Thoma called me to see If t ould
schedule a hike in thb Ciad
rain foiest area on.S. Cro9i wc
David Ewert. director of science
and stewardship and a member of
the Michiga chapter of the Naeu
David Ewert is a weU known
bird expert who'has published many
His scientific papers include
"mpact of Hurricane Hugo on Bird
populations on St. John. U.S. Vir-
gin Islands." "locking Behavior of
MigratoryWarbler in Winer in the
Virgin Islands" and "Abundance of
Wintering Migrants in Fragmented
and Continuous Forests in the U.S.
So one early Friday morning last
monh. Mr.. Ewer picked me up to
go birdwatching in the Caledonia
rain forest. during the birdwaching
hike with Mr. Ewert. I learned so
much about how you can identify
birds by their sounds without
evening seeing them. Believe.me.
this man is good.
Mr. Ewer.wroe in a letter to me
that "It was a privilege to be in the
field with you; your knowledge and
commitment to proction of natural
areas of St Croix are impressive. It
was great fun to walk up the Cae-
donia Valley with you and be able
to have such an excellent tour."
Then. dhe other day I was lecmur-
ing to my natural science class at
the University of the Virgin Islands
about genetics in evolution.
We discussed animal migration
and how important it is to protect
habitats if animals will continue to
survive as a species on this earth.
Laer on. we discussed how birds
migrate fro North America- nd
stop in the Caribbean before bome
of them continue their journey to
Then I asked my class, "Who
ever went birdwatchbng
Someone asked. What good are
Belive me, eves in this day of
environmental awareness, there are
those who ask such questions. Of
course, they are biologically illiter-
ate. In exasperation. I can only
reply that birds are more important
to man than he ever will realize.
Do you know birds planted
forests by dropping seeds, by polli-
nating trees and by keeping inse::
populations down. Birds also have
saved people's lives, fed prophets
- the lis goes on.
In Europe. pigeon were used as
messengers in the war. It was the
dove hat let Noah know ofdry land
after he flood. "And he dove came
in to him in the evening: and. lo. In
her mouth was an olive leaf plucked
off: so Noah knew that the waters
were abated from off the earth."
In the book of 1 Kings 17:4. 6.
the Lard said to Elijah the prophet
". .I have commanded the
ravens to feed thee there. And the
ravens brought him bread and flesh
in the morning, and bead and flesh
in the evening . .
Today, the study of birds is
especially relevant to environmental
concerns. Birds serve as an excel-
lent indicator of the quality of our
In these islands, boobies are our
fishermen indicators. When large
swarms of boobies fly over the
water. fishermen know that fish are
As a people, we emst understand
that whatever God created. it was
for our own good. Yes, even crea-
atres such as birds influenced cul-
aues before us. Ancient Egyptians'
paintings show some species of
birds no longer found in Egypt.
In ancient China birds decorated
objects and played roles in legends.
The Mayan and Aztec civilizations
of South and Cenral America wore
shiped certain species of birds.
Around the 13th cennry, the natu-
al world was revived by many peo-
ple studying birds and their rela-
tionship to agriculture, cooking.
hunting, traveling, literature and
How many of our children know
that the yellow breast or the sugar
bird Is on the Virgin Islands flag?
You see, when we think about it
birds are a big part of the human
In many pats of the world, birds
contribute to the economy as a
tourist attraction. These places
include the Florida Everglades.
Kenya (flamingos) and Quebec
(herons and egrets). Even as a
source of meat. birds are important
Olasee Davis. who holds a mas-
ter of science degree In range man-
agement and forestry ecology, is a
SI. Croix ecologist. activist and