Habitat-A Reflection

Project Safe Passage

By Fred Charbonneau

Habitat: the native environment of an animal or plant; the kind of place that is natural for the life and growth of an animal or plant (Random House College Dictionary).

Although collisions with windows are responsible for up to a billion avian deaths annually, most of us don’t think of a dark sky as habitat when we think about the loss of so much wildlife. But when we consider the numbers of neo-tropical migrants that leave their winter habitat in spring, their breeding grounds in fall and take to the skies on journeys that may take them thousands of miles over water, desert, forest and urban areas, the sky is their habitat for long periods of time. Just as they need green places to feed and rest during the daytime hours, so do they need clear pathways to reach them, especially on those nights when the stars that guide them cannot be found and the storms confound their navigation systems. At these times our marvelous skyscrapers and wondrous communication systems become deadly obstacles when illuminated.

By planting trees in an urban area, we provide habitat for birds and squirrels and other wild creatures. By turning off the lights at night, we provide an avenue for the safe passage of our night migrants, the birds and the bats that need the darkness to find their way home.