Today I woke at dawn, and listened. I live in wild country, and the morning bird symphony is richly layered, complex, thick. I listened and kept listening, with acute focus and attention, not my usual "ah, how wonderful, the birds are singing" sleep-blurred oblivion.

I listened with acute awareness because of a Nature (international weekly journal of science) article that just came out, about the devastation of some bird populations, due to West Nile virus. My favorite bird, the American robin, has been affected, along with the American crow, blue jay, tufted titmouse, house wren, chickadee and Eastern bluebird. Here's the article from Nature, "West Nile virus emergence and large-scale declines of North American bird populations"
and here it is in simpler form, from MSNBC news, "West Nile virus devastates backyard birds":

Well, today the morning birdsong was rich, layered, complex, and yet... not as intricate as usual. A voice was missing: robin song. Oh my gosh, this call I've taken for granted all my life, THE bird song of birdsongs. Not here, not this morning.
Here is the song--
and here it is with all the variances:

I know this isn't really a CR2.0 topic, but investigating and sharing knowledge of what's going on globally with the environment is definitely part of Web 2.0, and you are my colleagues, so I'd ask you, too, to listen to signs and sounds of change...

I'm reminded of one of the most moving portrayals I've ever heard on what's happening ecologically. It came out in 1996, on NPR's Radio Expeditions: Life on the Brink. If you ever get a chance to hear the whole show, it's well worth the time--and really instructional for both adults and children. "How would a symphony sound without some of its musical instruments? The music would play on, but it wouldn't sound the same. Without the woodwinds or the timpani much of what creates beautiful music is lost. Biodiversity represents the same kind of symphony. When species disappear, life goes on. But, the fragile links of life are changed forever. " (from the Radio Expeditions website) Here is a link to that show, but not the whole thing.

In closing, I'll just say, together we can stay informed, notice what's happening, and work together to find ways to make a difference.

Thank you for listening.

Tags: ecology, environment, nature, science

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Went to school later that morning and found that about 6 robin families are thriving on the 20 acre property, singing out the territorial song. That's about normal.
It's a population flux; a significant difference, but not a wipe-out. Our two robin families for this other 5 acres in the area are gone--this year.
Species fluctuation is normal, as is the salience of certain voices in the choir. Just seems important to be aware of the changes. Seems important to notice and appreciate diversity wherever it occurs.
Hopefully, the birds will develop an immunity to the virus, over time.
Hopefully, we'll add to our knowledge of what to do to protect diversity of life--and expression--all over the globe.
Please join the "Global Lean"

blog at

Give the world a voice in a joyful celebration of diversity!

Thanks! Peggy Sheehy
It's great that you practice your science observation skills. Many teachers don't. As a former biologist turned teacher, I have been disappointed in this regard. I spent many early mornings in the woods listening to the night birds finish talking and the morning birds start talking. I was studying owls and their habitat so I was out all night and early morning.
I just want to add there are many other reasons why songbirds are declining: Habitat reduction/modification, diseases, predation, more aggressive birds (such as the cowbird), egg shell thinning, etc.
Hi Ginelle--
Thanks for the comment on this conversation from long ago. It's nice to have things resurface. I'm doing work with my class on nature sounds, and turning birdsong into human music, that sort of thing.
We're also investigating global ecological issues in Problem-based learning. Would love to hear what you're doing, as a biologist-turned-teacher.
Welcome to the teaching profession. How long have you been a teacher?
Maybe you should check out Fireside Learning for some ongoing conversations. Hope to see you there--



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