Many species of wading birds, such as egret, ibis and spoonbill, know to never over-fish. They know it instinctively and will leave a lagoon after feeding in it for a certain period of time.

Sometimes the tide works like a stopwatch and closes off the buffet for the waders. The birds will come back after their  food had a chance to recuperate and the floods have receded.

That is why we can observe short-distance migration patterns between areas along the Gulf Coast or even between wetland habitats on Galveston Island.

It is also a reason why it is so important to have a string of habitats along the Gulf Coast and not just a few big sanctuaries.

If an area suffers from pollution, as with the current oil spill, there needs to be other reserves to accommodate a larger number of animals close by. This diminishes the bulk risk of killing off bird colonies with one single incident.

(2) comments

Steve Fouga

Makes sense.

I enjoy visiting the areas -- official sanctuaries or not -- where the birds are plying their trade. They're fascinating, beautiful, even uplifting. I'm grateful to live in a place where they're so abundant and diverse.

I'm also grateful for the industry just up the road, powering the nation's commerce.

For me, both are necessities. Unfortunate spills aside, I'm encouraged by what I see as a decent balance between the needs of the environment and the needs of commerce. Much better than when I was growing up in the Houston-Galveston area 50 years ago.

George Croix

I love wildlife.
I love living and the conveniences of modern life, too.
The two do not have to be mutually exclusive, as long as heads remain outside the body, and minds remain open to the concerns and issues on both sides of the debate, and hyperbole does not trump common sense.

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