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Science as Leisure

Liz Marchio

I am a trained ichthyologist interested in what gets people interested in natural history, biological sciences, and science careers. My passion is to find out what fuels curiosity for the natural world.

Biology-related serious leisure activities can impact people's interest in ecology, biology, and natural history. Do these activities promote biological understanding? If so, how does that progress and to what level does it progress to? 

If you're interested in a starting a dialogue, please feel free to contact me. If you're curious about how I got here, my story can be found on the About Me page.

 

Don't Mess with ... Birders! The Vikings' new stadium is not for the birds.

"Birders"

people who spend their leisure time looking for and usually documenting the birds they see. 

These birders are looking for waterfowl species in 42F temperatures and 40mph winds. Photo taken by Kirby Adams. 

These birders are looking for waterfowl species in 42F temperatures and 40mph winds. Photo taken by Kirby Adams. 

To some birders, "birding" is a challenge to see as many species as possible; to others it's an excuse to get outdoors and connect with nature. To almost all, it's a passion and a life choice to be a "birder". 

The absolutely most amazing thing about birders is that there are no groups of amateur scientists that can rival birders in passion, conservation attitudes and behaviors, and even biological education. As novice birders become seasoned veterans, this passion grows until it bursts forth.

If you mess with birds, you mess with birders!  

When birds are in peril, the people who appreciate them most will speak up until their voices are heard. These passionate bursts are evident in a few recent stories from around the nation, including this one from the Midwest:


Washington, D.C., January 29, 2014: According to www.abcbirds.org, one of several wind turbine projects planned for the shores of Lake Erie, in one of the greatest bird migration corridors in the Western Hemisphere, has been halted following submission of a letter of intent to sue from American Bird Conservancy (ABC) and Black Swamp Bird Observatory (BSBO). The two groups had vigorously opposed the project due to its exceptionally high risk to federally protected wildlife.


The ABC and BSBO are run by citizens who are passionate about birds. Because of passionate individuals, like yourselves out there in internet-land, something poorly planned can actually be halted. No one had to chain themselves to trees to make a point - they used social media, wrote letters, and basically made a big 'ol stink. If you really care about something, you are not helpless! 


The most recent story about birds and a poorly-planned project is the proposed, and currently under construction, Minnesota Vikings stadium. This American football team is rebuilding their stadium on the banks of the Mississippi River, which in of itself isn't ideal for the environment as a whole (just ask any New Orleanean who deals with the dirty Mississippi delta...) and consequently the location of the stadium is within one of the largest bird migration corridors IN THE COUNTRY.

This isn't just birders talking out their collective cloaca, this corridor or "flyway" is a cold, hard fact of life. 

Maybe the Vikings really hate the Philadelphia Eagles, Arizona Cardinals, Atlanta Falcons, Baltimore Ravens, and Seattle Seahawks...?

Maybe the Vikings really hate the Philadelphia Eagles, Arizona Cardinals, Atlanta Falcons, Baltimore Ravens, and Seattle Seahawks...?

If you're not a birder you can just chalk this issue up to "progress", right?

"Us or them"?

Ooooo.... but look at that purdy building! Local materials are being used "whenever possible" so, I mean, that evens out the bird deaths, right?

Ooooo.... but look at that purdy building! Local materials are being used "whenever possible" so, I mean, that evens out the bird deaths, right?

Well, the real problem with the new stadium isn't its existence. It's the glass they are using in the construction. Birds hit it. HARD.

And die.

Glass that reduces what birders call glass "strikes" is available and absolutely supported by the birding community (and birds, for that matter). So, what's the problem? For one, an estimated 988 million birds die annually when they inadvertently fly into buildings and windows, according to the American Audubon Society. Furthermore, the Vikings simply didn't budget for 1.1 million more dollars for "special bird glass". but ya know what they did budget for? 

According to http://www.newminnesotastadium.com/faq, the new Vikings stadium will provide several unique features compared to all other NFL stadiums, including:

  1. The largest transparent ethylene-tetraflouroethylene (ETFE) roof in the nation.
  2. Five 95-foot high pivoting glass doors that will open to a nearly three-acre plaza and the Minneapolis downtown skyline.
  3. Fans will experience an outdoor feel in a climate-controlled environment.    [wait.... seriously....???]
  4. Two of the largest and highest-quality HD video boards in the NFL will be located in both the east and west end zones, and over 2,000 HD flat screen televisions will be distributed throughout the stadium.

 

Well. In that case...

bird.jpg

More information can be found:

http://www.newminnesotastadium.com/faq/

http://m.startribune.com/?id=268319662

http://mag.audubon.org/articles/birds/why-should-birders-be-worried-about-new-vikings-stadium

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