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Tue, Nov 17

A safety net for California’s blackbird

Passenger pigeons once flew over American cities in such huge flocks that they darkened the skies. But nobody alive knows how that looked, because over-hunting and habitat loss eventually drove the pigeon to extinction. The last passenger pigeon, Martha, died at the Cincinnati Zoo in 1914, barely 50 years after policymakers pronounced the birds too numerous to disappear.

A century later, history is poised to repeat itself with the impending loss of another North American bird, the tricolored blackbird. Once abundant, the blackbird is now under review to be protected by the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The 60-day public comment period ends at midnight Tuesday. As a biologist who has studied the blackbird, I urge readers to support the blackbird’s protection before it’s too late.

Read more from Duke Science Communication Fellow Irene Liu’s editorial in the Contra Costa Times.