Search of the Week: “what birds are protected in arizona”

Virtually all of them, and most by federal and state law.

The Migratory Bird Treaty Act was enacted to protect America’s native birds, including the elegant Snowy Egret, from commercial exploitation.

Almost all birds native to the United States, whether migratory or not, are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. This includes songbirds, hummingbirds, woodpeckers, roadrunners, birds of prey, waterfowl, wading birds, shorebirds, seabirds, etc.

State laws can be more restrictive than federal but not less, so the MBTA represents the minimum level of protection for the native birds it covers—and it’s one of the strongest wildlife laws in the world. It was enacted in response to the wholesale slaughter of egrets, herons, and other charismatic birds for the feather trade. (It also put an end to market hunting of native birds, but this came too late to help the Passenger Pigeon.)

The MBTA allows the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to issue permits for managed recreational hunting of most traditional prey species, lethal control of “nuisance” birds, and live capture and possession of raptors for falconry (in states where falconry is legal), but commercial exploitation is strictly prohibited. That means you can buy a state hunting license and federal and state “duck stamps” and legally shoot your limit of waterfowl, but you can’t sell them or any part of thereof (including mounted trophies). With some exceptions for migratory gamebirds (including captive-bred ornamental waterfowl and the aforementioned taxidermy), you also can’t keep protected birds in captivity (even for altruistic reasons) or have their feathers, bones, nests, or eggs in your possession without a scientific,  educational, or religious/cultural permit.

Native “upland/nonmigratory gamebirds” —quail, grouse, Wild Turkey, and (in Texas only) Plain Chachalaca—are under state jurisdiction. States often regulate hunting of introduced game species such as pheasants and partridges, but most nonnative species—House Sparrows, European Starlings, Rock (Domestic/Feral) Pigeons, Eurasian Collared-Doves, Indian (Blue) Peafowl, feral chickensferal parrots, escaped (but non-breeding) domestic* or pet birds, etc.—have little or no legal protection anywhere in the U.S. except whatever might be afforded by county or city ordinances (which may have priority over state ordinances).

Disclaimer: IANAL. This is just a brief summary of common situations where the MBTA applies. It’s up to you to read federal, state, and local laws and understand how they apply to your situation. If in doubt, consult the appropriate government agency for advice.

* Special regulations apply to Mallards and Muscovy Ducks, since they exist in the U.S. as both domesticated (captive and feral) and native wild birds.

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Dispatches from the West preview: September/October 2012

Male Montezuma Quail by Sheri L. Williamson

Male Montezuma Quail by Sheri L. Williamson

Montezuma Quail are the topic for my final “Dispatches from the West” column in the September/October issue of WildBird magazine. Here’s a teaser:

Our hearts pounded as we drank in every detail of his harlequin plumage. The quail stared back, and we could almost hear the gears slowly turning in his head. It finally seemed to dawn on him that he’d been spotted, and he slowly turned and strolled away, watching us over his shoulder.

This is usually where I encourage you to subscribe if you don’t already, but it’s too late. After being informed that WildBird was downsizing and no longer able to publish my column, I was saddened (but not surprised) to learn that the magazine will soon cease publication entirely.

WildBird‘s parent company, Bowtie Incorporated, publishes annual special issues on popular topics, and I hope to contribute to any issues covering wild birds. I’ll also be releasing my past columns and articles, along with other selected writings, in e-book form later this year. Thanks and best wishes to the staff of WildBird for so many years of reading enjoyment, and thanks to the subscribers and newsstand readers for supporting the magazine.

Search of the Week: “when do hummingbirds have babies in arizona”

Image

A female Anna’s Hummingbird on her nest at Boyce Thompson Arboretum in central Arizona. Females of this species normally have extensive red iridescence on the throat but rarely on the crown.

October to September. Seriously. Anna’s Hummingbirds nest as early as mid-October in Tucson, and Violet-crowned and Broad-billed hummingbirds may nest in spring and again during the late summer “monsoon,” fledging young as late as mid-September. No one species nests year round, but Arizona’s 11 breeding species cover 11 months of the year.

Addendum for the rest of the U.S. and Canada: In southern California, where the climate is mild and Anna’s, Allen’s, and Costa’s are year-round residents, active hummingbird nests can be found any month of the year. In coastal central California, with resident Anna’s and migratory Allen’s, the seasonality is similar to Arizona, with a hiatus starting in late summer and lasting until late fall or early winter.

The nesting season shrinks as you go further north, inland, and/or higher in elevation. Anna’s nest from mid-winter to late summer in coastal southwestern British Columbia, but the smaller, migratory Ruby-throated and Rufous hummingbirds don’t even arrive at the northern edges of their ranges until mid to late May, respectively. Exceptionally late northern nests, such as an active Ruby-throated nest in Ontario, Canada in early September (Birds of North America), may represent females taking advantage of abundant late summer resources to get in a third (or even fourth) nesting attempt, while increasingly early arrival and nesting dates are expected in response to climate change.

For more detailed information on hummingbird life cycles, including isochron migration maps for the four most common and widespread species, see A Field Guide to Hummingbirds of North America.

With apologies to Poe

Since Birders On The Border doesn’t get as much traffic as LB&E, I thought I’d give my most recent post over there some additional exposure:

THE CHICKENS

Inspired by actual events.

Once upon a summer swelter, while I weltered in my shelter,
Reading backlogged emails, each more urgent than the one before,
As I toiled, resisting napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of someone gently rapping, rapping at my kitchen door.
“‘Tis the FedEx guy,” I muttered, “tapping at my kitchen door –
Only this, and nothing more.”

The timing was inopportune, for in the midday heat of June
I hide indoors awaiting monsoon storms their cooling rains to pour.
Eagerly I wait and wonder, when will storm clouds roil and thunder,
Lightning tear the sky asunder, bringing coolness I long for,
Bringing long-awaited coolness that we desert rats adore,
And our peace of mind restore?

But the raps were not repeated, so I chose to remain seated
Avoiding summer air so heated by not going to the door,
There were emails to be sending, other business issues pending,
I should really not be spending time on phantoms at the door
Wasting Facebook time on chasing phantoms tapping at my door,
Though my butt grew numb and sore.

Back to my computer turning, my paycheck to resume earning,
Soon again I heard a tapping, lightly on the kitchen door.
“Surely,” said I, “that is someone who has braved the hellish noon sun
A delivery errand to run, and this knock I can’t ignore,
A package or a letter, too important for me to ignore.”
I rose, and strode toward the door.

Turning now the shining brass knob I was greeted by a small mob
Of hot chickens gathered on the porch before the kitchen door:
Joni blond and partridge Pearlie, brainy Grace and Bonnie burly,
Thinking they’d be let in, surely, if their Mom they did implore,
They gazed at me so pitifully, a ploy they hoped I would fall for.
And then they walked right in the door.

Through the kitchen four spoiled hens stroll, past the fridge and to the dog’s bowl,
Checking here and there for crumbs and morsels dropped upon the floor,
No rustic roost was ever finer than a La-Z-Boy designer
Plush and cushiony recliner Dad and Mom worked hard to score,
Soft recliners far more comfortable than carpet or bare floor,
Soon festooned with chickens four.

“Out!” I cried, “Before the pooping starts and I’m reduced to scooping
Guano from the furniture, the carpet and the hardwood floor!
You’re common barnyard fowl” I chided, “and you’re tragically misguided
If you think you’ll be abided as you foul my hardwood floor,
Foul my chairs, my tufted carpets and the oak upon my floor.”
Quoth the chickens, Brahk-ahk borrr?

Then these winsome fowl beguiling my stern visage into smiling
By the charm and innocence of the countenance they wore,
“Though you’ll no doubt make some crappies and you have no chicken nappies,
I do love to see you happy, though your messes I abhor.
I will let you roam a while until you start to soil the floor.”
Then Joni pooped upon the floor.

“Out!” I cried, my patience snapping, “Why such frequent need for crapping?
Oaks long dead don’t need your guano – take your butts back out the door!
You’re not princesses,” I berated, “so you shouldn’t look deflated
When you find you’re reinstated in your coop behind your door,
Safe from my wrath and coyotes, locked behind a sturdy door.
Quoth the chickens, Brahk-ahk borrr?

As I chased them toward the doorway, they began to act like wild prey,
Dodging, ducking hands, the chickens managed to evade me more
‘Round the living room we gyred until I became so tired
And so hot I near expired and flopped down upon the floor,
So tired and hot that I forgot what I was chasing chickens for.
They clucked in triumph, Brahk-ahk borrr!

And the chickens, never flitting, still are sitting, still are sitting
On the arms and backs of chairs I tried to keep them off before,
And their eyes are smug and gleaming as they ponder how their scheming
Did prevail against my screaming as I chased them ’round the floor.
And these fowl from off my chairs and out my house and out my door
Shall be evicted… nevermore.

Birders On The Border: With apologies to Poe

Birds + clay + Arizona = FUN!

I recently connected with a kindred spirit in master polymer clay artist Carol Simmons. Carol also shares my passion for nature in general and birds in particular, so it didn’t take much wheedling and prodding on my part to convince her to team up for a clay + birds workshop in southeastern Arizona next April May!

Carol will share her techniques for creating and using her exquisite intricate cane veneers, and I’ll lead optional low-key, beginner-friendly bird walks and field trips. Casa de San Pedro Bed & Breakfast has been tapped to host the workshop, and early April mid-May birding along the San Pedro River is a colorful and inspiring experience (so are the breakfasts!).

For more information as the workshop develops, please bookmark Carol’s class and workshop schedule.

UPDATE: The workshop is scheduled for May 13-19, 2012 at Casa de San Pedro Bed & Breakfast. Fees and registration information to follow.

Ash Canyon Bed & Breakfast: an endangered hummingbird hot spot

A female Lucifer Hummingbird, one of Ash Canyon B&B's star attractions

Hummingbird enthusiasts and other bird lovers around the world have been following the complex and contentious controversy over access to Ash Canyon Bed & Breakfast in southeastern Arizona.

Resentments that had apparently been festering for years erupted after the Cochise County Planning & Zoning Commission granted owner Mary Jo Ballator a special-use permit to formalize the day-visitation portion of her operation. Owners of several neighboring properties responded by filing an appeal to have the permit revoked.

Yesterday, the county commissioners held a hearing to consider this issue. The neighbors were allowed to air their objections, including irrelevant complaints about trespass by hunters and hikers and transparently self-serving claims that 1) feeding is harmful to birds(!), 2) the Plain-capped Starthroat that summered with Mary Jo in 2002 and 2003 was a random, one-time thing(!!), and 3) Lucifer Hummingbirds can be seen in many locations(!!!).

I wasn’t the only member of the audience flabbergasted when one complainant took the stand with a copy of A Field Guide to Hummingbirds in hand, sticky notes marking passages he hoped would support these claims. When my turn came to testify, I spent most of my precious three minutes refuting disinformation and defending my book’s integrity instead of praising Mary Jo’s exemplary hospitality to both birds and people.

Despite expert testimony and passionate testimonials from many members of the birding community (including over 350 letters of support), the issues of traffic, noise, privacy, trespassing, and easement interpretations remained, and the commissioners voted 2-1 to revoke the permit. There’s still hope that a compromise can be worked out to allow Mary Jo to continue welcoming visitors while reducing their impact on neighbors. Otherwise, the easement issue may end up being decided in court.

For the time being, Mary Jo will continue to welcome her friends in the birding community on a limited basis. She now has only 6 parking spaces and can no longer accommodate RVs or buses. With this change in operations comes a reduction in income, so Mary Jo needs our support more than ever. If you’re lucky enough to visit her yard this spring or summer, please make a generous contribution to the feeder fund.

Though I doubt she’ll ever see this post, I’d like to thank (again) Bisbee’s representative on the Cochise County Board of Supervisors, Vice-Chair Ann English, for casting the sole vote in support of Mary Jo and against the appeal.

“Out the Window” preview: March/April 2011

Here’s a teaser from my “Out the Window” column in the March/April 2011 issue of WildBird magazine:

Cactus Wren. Say’s Phoebe. Cassin’s Kingbird. Western Tanager. Killdeer. Curve-billed Thrasher. American Kestrel. Bullock’s Oriole.

Dawn was barely breaking, and it sounded like someone was playing A Field Guide to Western Bird Songs at top volume outside our bedroom window.

Ordinarily I enjoy birding by ear, but after working on a project into the wee hours of the morning I needed a little more face time with my pillow. Rolling over, I pulled back the curtain and squinted up at the slim form silhouetted atop the mesquite tree…

Not a WildBird subscriber yet? This link to Amazon.com will get you six colorful, information-packed issues (a full year), and your purchase will also benefit the conservation and education programs of the Southeastern Arizona Bird Observatory. Single copies of Wildbird are also available at newsstands and bookstores.

You’ll find WildBird and other birding magazines plus field guides, feeders and accessories, seeds for hummingbird-friendly plants, and more at SABO’s online shop, The Trogon’s Nest, powered by Amazon.com.

“Out the Window” preview

Here’s a snippet from the latest installment of my “Out the Window” column in the November/December 2010 issues of WildBird magazine:

Every year they make their way south. Some are impatient, departing before the first frosty flakes fly. Others seem reluctant to leave, toughing it out until their summer homes are buried in snow. Many return to the same spot every winter, often flocking with their summer neighbors from the same northern communities. A few aren’t so predictable, roaming far and wide wherever winds or whims carry them.

Though they don’t all have feathers, they all qualify as “snowbirds.”

Not a subscriber yet? This link to Amazon.com will get you a full year (six colorful, information-packed issues) for just $12.99, and your purchase will benefit the Southeastern Arizona Bird Observatory. You’ll find this and other birding magazines, field guides, feeders and accessories, seeds for hummingbird-friendly plants, and more at SABO’s online shop, The Trogon’s Nest. Single copies of Wildbird are also available at newsstands and bookstores.

Rufous vs. Allen’s

No, it’s not the fight of the decade—it’s one of the thorniest bird ID problems in North America. Right now little orange and green hummingbirds are sweeping across the continent on their way south. Most are traveling through the Pacific and Intermountain flyways and will end up in Mexico, but a significant minority (hundreds) will stray east of the Rockies to delight and confuse migration watchers and winter hummingbird aficionados.

adult male Rufous with rufous back

An unambiguous adult male Rufous. If the back is less than half green (including entirely rufous), you can safely call it a Rufous without seeing the tail. (Note the green crown, which is normal, and the green gorget, which is an artifact of the angle.)

One of the most commonly repeated myths about hummingbird identification is that an orange hummingbird with a green back is an Allen’s. I was told this by a local birder on my first visit to southeastern Arizona in 1978, and on her authority I put Allen’s Hummingbird on my life list based on the little orange and green female-plumaged birds swarming around her feeders. There it remained until 1988, when I moved here and began to acquaint myself with the true depths of the problem.

Once I realized that in both Rufous and Allen’s all females and juvenile males have green backs, I scrubbed Allen’s from my life list. Over the next few years I learned through banding experience that a small percentage of adult male Rufous have enough green on their backs to be easily confused with Allen’s.

Yes, I know you don’t want to hear this, but take your fingers out of your ears and look at the photo at right (you may click the image to embiggen).

Notice the notched tip of R2 (the next-to-center tail feather)? Diagnostic for Rufous. Sorry.

The only safe, accurate way to distinguish between Rufous and Allen’s in any and every plumage is by the shapes of the tail feathers. You can see these when the birds fan their tails in combat or preen them. In Allen’s, all of the tail feathers are narrower than in Rufous, most noticeably the outer three. In Rufous, R2 has that distinctive notched tip in adult males, expressed as a “pinched” tip in most (but not all) adult females and juvenile males. To clarify, here are silhouettes of the adult male tails:


And here are juvenile males (note the green backs):


You can see how extremely subtle the differences are in juvenile males (adult females are similar)—not something you’re usually going to see in the field. Juvenile females are the most “generic” and can be impossible to identify even in hand. This is why it’s so important to determine the age and sex of the more difficult hummingbirds before you try to assign them to species. If it’s a female or juvenile male Rufous or Allen’s, best to fuggedaboudit unless you can get photos of the fanned tail.

It’s very common for orange-and-green hummingbirds observed east of the Rockies to be called Rufous in the absence of any documentation, based simply on expectation. Sometimes “probable Rufous,” sometimes “Selasphorus species” or “Rufous/Allen’s” (which we’ll get to in a moment), but all too often just “Rufous.” This can give the impression that an identification has been confirmed when it hasn’t, leading to much rarer birds (Allen’s, Broad-tailed, Calliope) being overlooked. A look at the range maps in A Field Guide to Hummingbirds will show you why it pays to know all of the Rufous doppelgangers’ field marks and check them out for yourself (documenting with a camera, where possible).

More conservative birders may go a bit too far the other way, calling any orange-and-green hummingbird “Selasphorus species” even when Broad-tailed (the oft-forgotten member of the genus) is readily ruled out. Once Broad-tailed has been eliminated from consideration, the most accurate label to use is “Rufous/Allen’s.” You’ll find this as an option on eBird and “Allen’s Hummingbird/Rufous Hummingbird” in the Christmas Bird Count historical results. If any orange-and-green hummingbirds occur within your local CBC circle but the compiler doesn’t use “Rufous/Allen’s” on tally sheets or in the final reports, please encourage them to do so.

Addendum 1: I’ve created galleries on Flickr with comments on each photo pointing out the key field marks that identify each bird as Rufous or Allen’s.

Allen’s gallery

Rufous gallery

Addendum 2: Since this post was published, Calliope Hummingbird has been moved to the genus Selasphorus, making “Selasphorus sp.” even less specific than it used to be.

Addendum 3: Though the Sibley Guide illustrations point out an orange “eyebrow” on the side view of the adult female Allen’s but not on the (virtually identical) adult female Rufous, this is a field mark distinguishing Rufous and Allen’s from the gray-faced Broad-tailed and Calliope, not from each other.

* * * * * * * * * *

On a historical note, this time of year—Rufous time—always brings to mind the late Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters. Orange and green were the heraldic colors of these counterculture court jesters. Toward the end of Ken’s life, one of the networks came to his Pleasant Hill, Oregon home for an interview. Ken took them out onto his property to show them the Pranksters’ original bus, “Further” (also spelled “Furthur”). When they reached the bus, Ken noticed a small shape buzzing around inside: a Rufous Hummingbird. Ken gently corralled the terrified creature and carried it to freedom outside Further’s door. I cried.

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Another dangerous Chinese import

Praying mantises (known to entomologists as “mantids”) have been frequent topics on forums and blogs this week. Hummingbird enthusiasts are often alarmed to find a mantis/mantid lurking in their flowers or perched brazenly on their feeders, and rightly so. Big mantises can overpower, kill, and eat small vertebrates such as hummingbirds (grisly photo documentation of a mantis eating a Ruby-throated Hummingbird here).

Normally I’d be tempted to shrug and say, “That’s nature,” but among the twenty-odd mantids in the United States the only widespread species that’s large enough to catch hummingbirds is one that doesn’t belong here: The Chinese Mantid, Tenodera aridifolia sinensis. At an adult length of at least four inches, close to twice the size of most common native species, this is one formidable predator. It’s probably the most widespread species in North America thanks to mail-order sales of egg cases (oothecae) to gardeners and insect enthusiasts.

I’m very fond of mantids, and I remember being deeply disappointed when I first learned that the biggest, most dramatic ones are aliens. A little Web research confirms that Chinese Mantids are the largest of their kind in North America, though estimates of maximum size vary from 85 to 150 mm (3.3-6 inches) [Wikipedia][Enature]. Having seen big females that were at least four inches long, I tend to trust the higher figure. I’m not sure how big one would have to be to catch and hold a hummingbird long enough to kill it, but somewhere we’ve got a slide showing a concerned Black-chinned Hummingbird hovering a discreet distance from a feeder occupied by a Chinese Mantid less than four inches long.

One of the less helpful pages I came across while researching the relative sizes of native and exotic mantids was an information sheet on praying mantids at the University of Arizona’s Center for Insect Science Education Outreach (CISEO). Each of the site’s information sheets has a section on positive and negative impacts on the ecosystem of the critters in question—a great idea in theory. The mantid page mentions under positive impacts that they are indiscriminate predators but lists no known negative impacts on the ecosystem. This is certainly true for our smaller native species, but what about the humongous Chinese Mantid?

In the interests of accuracy and balanced reporting, I shot off a quick email to the webmaster suggesting that the page be revised to mention the Chinese Mantid and its predation on vertebrates. This was his reply:

Interesting that you consider a negative impact only for large species. What about all of the small insects that all species of mantids eat? All species consume a variety of things in order to survive. Plants included. The only species I know of that has a truly negative impact because of what it eats is us. So, if I had written the text I don’t think I would have included the negative impact. Unfortunately the concept of negative impact is almost entirely anthropocentric. I like hummingbirds too, and the fact that some species find them tasty is just a part of the natural world.

The CISEO webmaster is more than entitled to an entomocentric view of the world, but the insinuation that my view is anthropocentric, or even avicentric, is way off base. The issue is not so much size or phylum as how alien species effect natives and their ecosystems. I’d take an equally dim view of a fellow ornithologist championing House Sparrows, European Starlings, Eurasian Collared-Doves, or Ring-necked Pheasants in North America.

The predator-hater implication also misses the mark by miles. Growing up with hunters and ranchers on one side and Disney on the other, I found myself drawn to predators as fascinating underdogs. Hawks and snakes are still among my favorite animals, and I certainly don’t begrudge native predators the occasional meal of a hummingbird or any other species of wildlife, native or exotic.

My concern is not that mantids are eating hummingbirds but that the Chinese Mantid is sufficiently different from our native mantids for its predation to have an unnatural impact on native wildlife and ecosystems. Its far greater size allows it to kill much larger prey than its native counterparts, and the vertebrates it kills have far greater potential longevity and far lower reproduction rates than its invertebrate prey, magnifying the ecological consequences of such depredations. In this broader view of the issues it seems disingenuous and anti-educational for the information sheet to claim no known negative ecological impact and to fail to acknowledge that not all mantids in Arizona actually belong here.

The point that we tend to view the value of wildlife, exotic or otherwise, through an anthropocentric lens is well taken, and the reputation of mantids as beneficial insects, whether native or not, is a sterling example of how this lens can distort your thinking. It brings to mind a call to Ramsey Canyon Preserve from a man in Phoenix who apparently took the “tree-hugger”epithet a bit too literally. He wanted The Nature Conservancy’s help to stop his neighbor from cutting down some eucalyptus trees. I explained that TNC was about protecting native species and ecosystems, and that exotic suburban ornamental trees didn’t qualify. “But I thought you people saved trees!” he protested.

One of the biggest challenges for environmental educators is that most people’s opinions of other species depend on what’s in it for them. Mantids are promoted and sold as “friends” of gardeners and farmers. Shady eucalyptus trees comfort people who haven’t embraced desert life. Voracious aquatic predators are stocked in lakes and streams far and wide to thrill fishermen who enjoy a good fight. Ungulates with ornamental headgear that looks good on a wall are imported and bred on ranches for the shooting pleasure of trophy hunters. Problem is, many of the anthropocentric efforts to promote “desirable” species threaten the integrity of native ecosystems.

Environmental education can help create a better-informed and broader-minded constituency for conservation, but is this really the goal of CISEO? The webmaster’s e-mail address is at the University of Arizona’s College of Agriculture, and the project is funded by grants from the National Institute of Health, so it’s tempting to see a thinly veiled agenda. The mission statement on the home page says:

Our objectives are to develop new integrated education materials that foster the use of live insects as teaching models and to offer teacher training in background information about arthropods and how to use them in the classroom.

Perusing other information pages turns up the positive contributions of mosquitoes to ecosystems as food for fish, birds, bats, and other arthropods, so it’s not all about direct economic and/or health impacts on humans.

One would also hope that the webmaster, a retired entomology professor, might be aware that exotic insects endanger native insects. One prominent victim is the Xerces Blue (Glaucopsyche [lygdamus] xerces), a butterfly whose slide to extinction coincided with the arrival in its California home of the Argentine Ant, Linepithema humile, which displaced the native ant species that cared for the tiny butterfly’s caterpillars. The Xerces Blue may not be significant in terms of agriculture or public health, but the Argentine Ant’s ecological and economic impact has been far reaching.

The Argentine Ant is just one example that refutes the CISEO webmaster’s notion that Homo sapiens is the only species whose feeding habits have negative ecological impacts. We’ve contributed to the decline of many species and extinction of a few in the course of feeding ourselves through hunting, fishing, and agriculture (whose impacts include habitat destruction, pesticides, predator control, water diversion, and diseases introduced by livestock), but alien wildlife can also eat native animals and plants out of existence. Just ask Arizona’s own Santa Cruz (Monkey Spring) Pupfish, Cyprinodon arcuatus…oh, wait, you can’t—they’ve been extinct for decades, gobbled up by exotic Largemouth Bass. Looking for a hummingbird example? How about the critically endangered Juan Fernández Firecrown, found only on the remote islands off the coast of Chile from which it gets its name? One subspecies is already extinct, and the few hundred remaining individuals are threatened by the feeding habits of non-native rats, cats, coatis, and rabbits as well as loss of native vegetation to alien plants and logging (which ironically seems to have benefited its less specialized cousin and competitor, the Green-backed Firecrown).

These are problems of our own making. We may not be able to bring back what we’ve lost, but the very least we can do is have the intellectual honesty to take responsibility in hopes that some of the damage can be reversed and that future ecological meddling can be averted. It’s never too early to encourage responsible stewardship of biological diversity, and I hope CISEO will consider incorporating this subject into its lesson plans.