Birds

Nasty stuff

I’m a bird lover. In fact, I’m just about to go for a daily lunch-time break in Derbyshire’s Goyt Valley to look for some birds. But the campaigning against the oil sands of Canada on the grounds that the toxic tailings lakes are killing birds is getting silly. There are plenty of serious threats to birds: vicious, murdering predators (aka “domestic cats”) are one. So are skyscrapers, windmills, cars and — above all — the destruction of habitats and the spread of pesticides.

Two major incidents in the oil sands in the past two years have killed about 2,000 birds. The industry says the oil sands kill 65 birds a year. Some people say — probably with good reason — that the figure could be much higher, around 2,000 a year.

But consider:

  • In the UK alone 55 million birds are killed by cats each year.*
  • Buildings murder more than half a billion birds in the US each year.
  • Cars and pesticides kill 80 million and 67 million birds in the US each year, according to Treehugger.
  • And windmills annihilate about 30,000. (The last three stats come from the same link as above.)

There are plenty of reasons to complain about the oil sands. And any unnatural bird death should be lamented. But let’s get some perspective.

*LEND A HAND ON THE LAND! Please join me in my daily battle to keep cats out of bird habitats, such as my back garden.

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