Measurable Success for Photo Ark
It was almost too late when I first learned of the Florida grasshopper sparrow’s troubles. Down to just a few hundred in the remnant prairies of central Florida, the bird was in sudden, catastrophic decline, with biologists still unclear why.
One morning in the spring of 2012, I accompanied writer Ted Williams and biologist Paul Miller to Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park. We found a singing male darting about to defend his mating territory. Paul put out a mist net, caught and banded the bird, and then put it in my little photo box for a few minutes. And with that, Ammodramus savannarum floridanus was on board the Photo Ark.
A year later, Audubon Magazine ran the bird on its cover with the words, ‘End of the Line?’ Between that and social media, people started to take notice of this tiny and tenacious bird.
And now, as the last of the males prepare to sing through the spring nesting season on the prairie, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced it will put real money, $1.29 million, towards fighting the birds’ extinction. Intensive study and perhaps even captive breeding can begin in earnest.
The Photo Ark had done its job.
My team and I care deeply about creatures like the Florida grasshopper sparrow, a species that literally is the least among us. We bet you care too.
Please help us spread the word. After all, we will not save what we don’t know exists.
Donate today. Your tax deductible contribution will be put to great use. Help us continue to give a voice to the voiceless.
April 11, 2014