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Parrots, Poems, Prayers, and Promises

I've been lately thinking about birds' lifetimes All the things not done and how they've been And I can't help believing in their own mind I know I'm gonna hate to see them end....

And talk of poems and prayers and promises and things that we believe in How sweet it is to love the birds how right it is to care How long it's been since yesterday, what about tomorrow And what about our dreams and all the memories we share..

I have to ask it now, it's been a good life not for all?

(adapted from John Denver's "Poems, Prayers, and Promises."

A little over a month ago I wrote about how counting parrots as part of our population monitoring efforts was like a prayer for me. I asked them to take me with them, wherever they were going as they soared beautifully by.

Well, they may indeed take humans with them. Their disappearing numbers harbor our own as we consider the consequences of climate change and loss of biodiversity. Last week a study was published in the journal Science reporting that in North America, we have lost nearly 3 billion birds, which is one in four.

Now cognitively I have known this, as it is my life's work. But to see it splashed across several headlines and have my suspicions so publicly confirmed, I wept. The birds for whom I prayed when I was a child are vanishing. One commentator says it is "the end of nature."

If this is so, let us mourn together. Through our grief we shall learn what love for all life is, and maybe, just maybe, promise to care for the feathered ones we believe in.

This weekend there is a chance to mourn, love, and promise together. Please join us at Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, NY to admire the soaring and chattering parrots that live there, as well as to hear poems, prayers, and promises.

Click here for more information and to get tickets.

Parrots at Green-Wood Cemetery

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