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Lecture: Hope is the Thing with Feathers: Americans and Three Birds

Wednesday, July 23, 2014
12:00 AM
Gates Lecture Hall, UMBS, 9133 Biological Rd., Pellston, MI 49769

This talk looks at three birds, each representing a different outcome at the hands of people. 

With a population in the billions, the passenger pigeon was the most abundant bird in North America, if not the world. Yet within a matter of decades, unrelenting human exploitation drove it to extinction. The Kirtland's warbler has since historical times bred in a very limited range and within that tiny area could only breed in jack pines of a certain height and age. In addition, they are heavily parasitized by brown-headed cowbirds. In 1971, there were less than 200 singing males but today, although it costs a million dollars a year, we now know how to maintain healthy populations. 

The whooping crane was in even more dire straits, having declined to 23 living individuals twice. Extensive conservation work has been devoted to saving this charismatic species, but its fate is still an open question.  What we can learn about these efforts -- and learn about ourselves through these efforts -- is the subject of this talk.

Joel Greenberg has over 25 years' experience working on natural resource related issues in the Midwest. Currently a Research Associate of both the Chicago Academy of Science Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum and the Field Museum, he has authored four books. Greenberg has JD and MA degrees from Washington University.

This lecture is free and open to the public