The Tapestry of Ecology

Burrowing Owl and the Great Salt LakeBurrowing Owl and the Great Salt Lake

When I search for information to include in my posts about birds and wildlife I often see this phrase “species in decline due to habitat destruction or fragmentation” or something similar and the frequency of seeing that phrase is most likely to become higher. Seeing the words “species in decline” causes me great concern. But we don’t have just “declining species” to be concerned about we also have climate change, excess use of chemicals in our environment being used to control pests and government agencies that should be looking out for wildlife that aren’t.

I haven’t yet read “Song of the Dodo” by David Quammen but I have read the first paragraph of the first chapter and I wanted to share a brief excerpt that connects to the quote in my Burrowing Owl image.

“Let’s start indoors. Let’s start by imagining a fine Persian carpet and a hunting knife. The carpet is twelve by eighteen, say. That gives us 216 square feet of continuous woven material.

Is the knife razor-sharp? If not, we hone it. We set about cutting the carpet into thirty-six equal pieces, each one a rectangle, two feet by three. Never mind the hardwood floor.

The severing fibers release small squeaky noises, like the muted yelps of outraged Persian weavers. Never mind the weavers.

When we’re finished cutting, we measure the individual pieces, total them up—and find that, lo, there’s still nearly 216 square feet of recognizable carpet-like stuff. But what does it amount to? Have we got thirty-six nice Persian throw rugs? No. All we’re left with is three dozen ragged fragments, each one worthless and commencing to come apart…”

I winced when I read those words because I could visualize the habitats that birds and wildlife need to exist unraveling. I’ve seen it with my own eyes. I read about it on an almost daily basis.

I recently also read the final 2014 State of the Birds Report and it dawned on me that many of the 230 species on the State of the Birds Watch List of birds that are presently endangered or at risk of becoming endangered list have habitat destruction or fragmentation in common.

The same could be said of other animal species whose habitat has been chopped up leaving them with only fragments of their historical ranges to exist in. We have put them at risk.

It is not all doom and gloom though because many organizations are taking up the conservation cause and making progress with some species by bringing attention to them, educating the general public and taking action. I’ll list a few that are species specific:

Sage Grouse Initiative
Burrowing Owl Conservation Network
American Kestrel Partnership

There are many more organizations that are working hard to prevent the extinction of birds and animals. They are often met with resistance but their determination propels them forward.

We can all make a difference. We can work on the tapestry of ecology. We can speak for those who can not speak. We can educate. We can take action. One day, one step at a time.

More to come on this topic soon.





  1. Marilyn Kircus September 29, 2014 at 8:41 pm

    I found out about an interesting book and a great organization, Yellowstone to Yukon or Y2Y. This group is working to build a corridor from Yellowstone to the Yukon so large animals such as bears, and wolves can migrate to new areas, thus providing more genetic diversity for each species, and to have a place where these large animals can adapt to climate change. The book was Walking the Big Wild: From Yellowstone to the Yukon on the Grizzly Bear’s Trail by Karsten Heuer, who tells the story of how he started the Y2Y movement.

    And global warming is already making old habitats unsuitable for many animals. Heatstroke, by Anthony Barnosky, both collects data from other periods of global warming and gives models of what to expect this time around. It also give ideas of how to save species in danger of going extinct from this rapid global warming. It makes for a scary but very interesting read.

    • Utahbooklover September 29, 2014 at 10:01 pm

      Thanks for this info Marilyn. There is more at and a video with wonderful paintings and lots of maps covering this great idea.
      The YouTube link is:

  2. Patty Chadwick September 29, 2014 at 5:45 pm


  3. Utahbooklover September 29, 2014 at 5:12 pm

    Very interesting post. And thanks for including the link to the informative State of the Birds report, the fifth one in the series, which gives me hope:

    The development of the State of the Birds report is a team effort lead by the North American Bird Conservation Initiative U.S. Committee. The NABCI U.S. Committee is a forum of 23 state and federal government agencies, private conservation organizations, and bird initiatives that work together in partnership so that healthy populations of North American birds are enjoyed and valued for generations to come. Beginning in 2009, NABCI has produced four U.S. State of the Birds reports that focus on key issues such as climate change and public and private lands conservation.

  4. Elephant's Child September 29, 2014 at 1:34 pm

    Painfully true.

  5. Montanagirl September 29, 2014 at 8:55 am

    Excellent post, Mia.

  6. Nicky Haller-Wilson September 29, 2014 at 7:51 am

    I love David quammen, he is incredible… Have read all his works, Persian rug description is incredible

  7. Carroll Hemingway September 29, 2014 at 6:34 am

    Hi Mia, Any and all of Quammen”s books are outstanding. While reading The Song of the Dodo, I could hardly put it down. Great read! Carroll

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