One hundred years have passed since the extinction of the Passenger Pigeon, which was once one of the most plentiful birds on the planet. Flocks were so large that they blocked the sun and darkened the sky, but they were all gone barely a decade after the turn of the 20th century.
It was unsustainable levels of hunting that decimated this species, writes John Fitzpatrick for the New York Times, as they were “[m]ercilessly slaughtered by the tens of millions at breeding colonies in the North and at huge wintertime roosts in the South.” Now a century later, many are pausing to reflect on human-caused extinctions, and what we can do to prevent future tragedies.
Though it was hunting that sealed the fate of the Passenger Pigeon, today habitat destruction is the number one threat to vulnerable species. “The eastern meadowlark and northern bobwhite are fading from rural America,” Fitzpatrick writes, “right along with the family farm and its smaller-scale agricultural practices of pasturing cows and keeping grass buffers.” To protect these and many other bird species, America must continue to invest in conservation areas. For example, “aridland” birds such as the Sage Grouse and Black-throated Sparrow desperately need protection of their “desert, chaparral, and sagebrush” habitats to buffer them against the endless encroachment by residential and commercial development.
TLC recognizes the importance of habitat conservation, and through our Nature Preserves and conservation easements we strive to protect multiple habitat types. In addition to forests and streams, TLC has made a significant effort to protect Piedmont Prairie at both the Horton Grove Nature Preserve and the Temple Flat Rock property for a total of 47 acres. These habitats support native wildflowers and pollinators as well as Indigo Buntings, Summer Tanagers, and Northern Bobwhite Quail.
Check out all of TLC’s commitments to habitat conservation as part of our Annual Report video, “Protecting Wildlife Habitat,” found below. To read more about our efforts, take a look at the Annual Report website!