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Thread: Backyard Carolina By Andy Wood

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    SirKristoff is a poopiehead Ozzy's Avatar
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    Backyard Carolina By Andy Wood

    I'm currently reading a book called "Backyard Carolina". It's a collection of commentaries written and read on a local public radio station by Andy Wood. This guy is a conservationist. This is a must read book.

    There are a lot of short stories that almost mirror the way I feel about our environment and development. He even talks about cp's. Here is just one story. It's not about Cp's but it pretty much sums it up.


    A Near Miss

    April 2001.

    Last weekend I was given the task of removing a tangle of landscape plants that have overgrown their bounds in my mother-in-law's yard. I made a rather sobering discovery in the process.

    With loppers and hand pruners at the ready, I proceeded to undo years of ignored growth on a particularly large euonymus shrub, an evergreen landscape plant that suffers from molds and mildews and one that shows signs of being somewhat invasive. Straight and lanky from the lowlight conditions, the plant's stem were east to cut near their bases.

    Once underway, i worked at a pretty feverish pace. I cut a branch here, a stem there, and pulled out one after another, reveling in the good work I was accomplishing - and then I saw it. Tucked into the crotch of one of the branches I was on the verge of cutting into a bird's nest. I immediately felt a pang of guilt for what I had done. I quickly realized that the frantic chirps I heard from a nearby cardinal were the worryings of the female I had unknowingly frightened off her nest.

    A search of the ground under and around the nest site revealed no split eggs or young birds. The discovery of the nest however, made me aware how reckless I had been. I'd known that it was bird-nesting season, and that birds, including cardinals, mockingbirds, and Carolina wrens, had each, at one time or another, chosen this particular yard as a site to raise their young. needless to say, I quit my assault upon the euonymus bush, and the female cardinal returned to her nest.

    As I collected the debris from my efforts, the tragedy of what could have happened really sank in. The nest was actively occupied, with parent birds incubating a clutch of eggs that promised to soon become a hungry brood of nestlings. I felt relieved- but only a little- because dumb luck was the only thing that spared these little birds' home. I should have taken care to check the branches for nests before beginning my task.

    Some may feel I'm taking this situation too seriously, especially because the nest remained undamaged. But I belabor it because this experience serves as a stark testimony for what's happening all over our community right now on a much larger scale. Instead of hand hand pruners clipping a branch here and there, there are bulldozers pushing down trees and crushing entire woodlands for the sake of buildings and lots. The wholesale destruction of trees and woods is tragic enough, considering how precious these recourses are in a community rapidly dominated by cement, clay and glass. And when you add in the loss of songbirds, turtles and butterflies, the tragedy becomes monumental.

    By now I suspect some folks are wondering just how out of touch I am with reality. After all, they're just trees: do I expect us to stifle growth and development for some trees, butterflies, and birds? Maybe little. I worry that our children will look back on our current habitat-destroying behavior and scorn us for despoiling their own children's natural heritage. We're now going through this same cycle, wishing our forebears hadn't brought about the extinction of the Carolina parakeet, the ivory-billed woodpecker, and the passenger pigeon.

    I realize there's a difference between the near destruction of a single cardinal nest and the extinction of an entire species. But the thought of extinction never entered the minds of bygone hunters and loggers when passenger pigeons darken the skies in tremendous flocks. These birds just disappeared, along with the aforementioned woodpecker and parakeet, mostly due to habitat loss. Loss of habitat is the greatest threat today's cardinals face. I can try to be mindful of birds' nests when I clip and prune shrubs. I just wish bulldozers could do the same.

    As almost all of you know I'm no writer, even though I try to express what I feel sometimes when I write about things I experience while out looking for plants or animals. I have this thought in my head that I could never figure out a way to express what I wanted to say. The closest I could come to putting my thought into words was to say that the destruction that we are doing now will be viewed by future generations the same that we view the mass killing of the buffalo in the last century.

    When I read the commentary that I posted above, I knew that Andy Wood had said the same thing I was wanting to put into words, and he did a way better job then I ever could.

    There are a lot of great stories in this book. It's well worth reading. I don't know if the book can be bought online. If it can't I'll be glad to buy and mail to book to anybody that wants a copy. I can get it to you for $14.95 plus postage.
    Last edited by Ozzy; 08-08-2007 at 07:30 PM.

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    Lauderdale's Avatar
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    I helped a friend clear brush from her back yard in Rock Hill, NC a few years back. I found a clutch of very small baby rabbits under a bush and cleared everything around it but left it untouched.
    Later that afternoon, we were sitting on the back porch having refreshments when the mother hopped out of the woods to check on her brood. She got about half way to the nest when a large red tail hawk swooped down and carried her off. Her squeals were pitiful. We tried to save the babies but they were too small and they all died a few days later.
    The law of unintended consequences prevailed.

  3. #3
    Moderator Schmoderator Fluorescent fluorite, England PlantAKiss's Avatar
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    Sounds like a great book. I'd like to get that some day when I'm not broke from repair bills and vet bills. I wonder if its on eBay.
    "Fox terriers are born with about four times as much original sin in them as other dogs." - Jerome K. Jerome

  4. #4
    SirKristoff is a poopiehead Ozzy's Avatar
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    I don't know if it's on ebay, but I'll be glad to get you a signed copy for the price stated above.

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