This week on Friday, April 22nd, we celebrate the 46th annual Earth Day. Started by local Camas resident Denis Hayes back in 1972, it has become an international movement that has raised our collective environmental consciousness. Coincidentally, while sitting here starting this post, I kept hearing a sweet chirping coming from a nearby meadow. We are surrounded by song birds this time of year, and often can identify different birds based on their sound, but I couldn’t quite place this one:
Turns out, it is a Wilson’s Warbler, a bright yellow migratory bird that flies over 2,500 miles annually to winter in Central America. As they start to return every spring, it would be easy to mistake this little guy for another bright yellow bird, the American Goldfinch, state bird of Washington. But a closer look (if you can get that) shows the difference. Wilson’s Warbler has light green wings, while the goldfinch has black and white striped wings. I couldn’t actually spot the warbler, but it was nice to hear his song.
Which brought me back to my original theme, Earth Day, but led me to another topic – Gratitude. Starting way back with Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring” – about pesticides killing off songbirds – there have been people sounding the alarm about what we need to do to protect our environment. When Denis Hayes started Earth Day awareness, we were focusing on air and water pollution, and how it affected our health. Through their efforts, we have become more aware of actions we can take to help preserve the environment – from simple recycling to lobbying for legislation.
Sometimes small gestures can lead to big changes, and for this I am grateful. Because through our environmental-friendly habits, the effects add up to help all creatures on this planet. Even the small Wilson’s Warbler that happened to greet my morning with its cheerful song. I am grateful you’re still coming back every year.