Ornithologists who study migratory patterns say that tens of millions of birds wintering in the southern hemisphere appear hesitant to fly north to summer breeding grounds due to President Donald Trump’s proposed travel ban.
“The last weeks of February into early March is when we typically see migratory bird species bulking up on fatty seeds and grubs in preparation for the seasonal movement northward,” said Dr. Rubin Lotanden, Director of Migratory Bird Studies at the National Audubon Society. “This year the birds seem in no rush to begin the long flight to breeding sites in the United States. We suspect the president’s travel ban is making them think twice.”
Dr. Lotanden said that professional bird surveyors throughout Central and South America are concerned that the large number of bird species chillaxing in their countries, rather than migrating north, could put enormous stress on food sources for their indigenous flocks.
“If these migratory birds don’t start moving north soon, we could see a die-off of native species in the southern hemisphere,” added Dr. Lotanden. “With that could also come a 50% reduction in soothing birdsong.”
Ornithologists on several continents have written to President Trump appealing to him to abandon the travel ban.
“The president proposed this ban as a way to stop illegal human immigration,” said Dr. Alicia DeArmas, Research Director of the Avian Protection Institute (API) in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico. “But what he doesn’t realize is that it is having a major impact on perfectly legal, genetically-programmed bird migration, too.”
Dr. DeArmas said that the API included an unusual request in its letter to the president. “We asked him to stick his head out of a White House window to let migrating species know that there is still plenty of nesting material available in the United States. The sight of dried straw and silky yellow grasses can trigger an instinctual impulse in migrating birds to initiate flight. We’re hoping that the president’s nest-like hairpiece might have the same effect.”
Drs. Lotanden and DeArmas say that if threats of a travel ban are not lifted by the American government soon “it could upset literally thousands of years of genetic programming in migratory bird species.”
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