The largest birding festival in the U.S. has been discontinued after over twenty successful years of bringing ecotourism to our community. Its leading nonprofit, Brevard Nature Alliance dissolved, stating two reasons for the decision: 1) Lack of participation during the covid pandemic and 2) Lack of birds returning to the refuge during the winter. Many of us have been involved in this fantastic festival and wish to thank the BNA Board and staff for the decades of great fun. It was a great run, folks!
More than a quarter of the North American bird population has been lost since 1970 due to habitat degradation and loss. Migrating birds frequent the same forage places along their route to ensure they have adequate calories to endure the flight. They can not afford to return to sites that are depleted of food will instead alter their migration patterns. Historically, thousands of migrating birds would stop at the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge and throughout the Indian River Lagoon to forage on seagrass and other critters. If there is inadequate forage food, they will not return. Furthermore, climate changes are altering bird migratory patterns such that many birds are not flying as far south as they once did because winters are shorter. For these reasons and others, we are not seeing the numbers of migratory birds visiting the lagoon that we once did, and our ecotourism revenues are suffering as a result. Another demonstration of how ecology and economy in our coastal community are integrally linked.
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