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The Birds and the Bees …. and the Moose …. and the Bedbugs

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We in Northern Ontario know that the birds and the moose are moving north. In Sudbury I am seeing more cardinals at our bird feeder, and in Thunder Bay all the hunters I know say they have to go north of the city to find a moose – south of the city there only deer now.

As early as 2009 an Audubon Society study found that more than half of 305 birds species in North America were spending the winter about 56 kilometres farther north than they did 40 years ago. The environmental protection agency notes an average move of 68 km for 2015. Birdwatchers are reporting some species over 450 km north of their normal range.

North American moose are dying by the thousands as they struggle with soaring temperatures and health problems linked to disease and parasites that thrive in the heat. In northeast Minnesota alone, moose numbered about 8,000 a decade ago. Today, the population is down to 3,500.

It is climate change, of course. I suppose if the Conservatives really cared about gun-toting Canadians they would have started to fight global warming years ago. But it isn’t just birdwatchers and moose hunters that care.sn-bee

A new report says that some bumblebees have retreated up to 300 kilometers from the southern edge of their historic ranges just since 1974. Bumblebee ranges began shrinking “even before the neonicotinoid pesticides came into play in the 1980s,” says ecologist Alana Pindar of Guelph. It isn’t clear why – some think it is because bumblebees are slow breeders and so there is little population pressure to push them north.

The worry is that bumblebees do a lot of pollinating that ultimately supports people and other animals. It is clearly a problem that we have created and it will probably come back to bite us. I wonder what we can do to reduce the losses?

In any case, it looks like that traditional talk with the kids about the birds and the bees may have to change. Maybe someday parents will sit their kids down and say something like, “Junior, its time we had a little talk about the birds and the bedbugs.” I sure hope not.


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