All about birds

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By Special to the Monitor

For countless centuries the continent has experienced an extraordinary phenomenon. It happens throughout natural places.

It happens in national parks. It happens in back yards. And it happens every year. A group of vertebrates with a direct lineage back to the dinosaurs play out this event.

The vertebrates are birds and the phenomenon is called migration.

Every autumn hundreds of thousands of birds of all shapes and sizes migrate toward the south in a struggle for survival and a search for places with abundant food. Because birds don’t know political borders, these feathered travelers traverse prairies, forests, deserts, coastlines, and open water to reach other countries, traveling astonishing distances to find a place to spend the winter.

These birds constitute a most important part of many ecosystems, providing unpaid services that benefit humanity, such as the transport of seeds, the control of insect populations and pollination of plants.

Because of the details of their biology, the health of the planet and its ecosystems is directly reflected in the health of bird populations.

Therefore the study and conservation of birds gives people an opportunity to understand this changing world.

A panorama of diverse organizations is worried about the conservation and survival of birds. Diverse programs are working to unite forces to protect the areas of importance for the migratory birds.

One such program is the National Park Service’s Park Flight Migratory Program.

A main objective of this program is to document the importance of national parks to birds and the importance of birds to the national parks. Annually, the program recruits 15 to 20 biologists of Latin American origin with enough experience to collaborate with national parks in the United States.

Meet one of the biologists who participated in this program at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Pajarito Environmental Education Center. Daniel Ruz Rosado will give a free slideshow presentation about birds and the culture of Mexico.

Ruz Rosado is from the city of Veracruz in eastern Mexico. He has been working with Bandelier National Monument to study migratory birds since late July.

In mid-October he will return to Mexico with first-hand experiences of the autumn bird migration as seen in New Mexico.