WASHINGTON – Scientists believe human activities may be contributing to the Baltimore oriole’s decline.
Here’s what area residents can do to help save the songbird, said Doug Gross, a biologist for a Pennsylvania-based environmental consulting firm:
* “Stop demanding big fat yellow bananas,” he said. “We all have to be cognizant of the effects [of] the little things we do, like demanding perfect fruit.”
Gross said farmers tell him they are forced to use heavy amounts of chemicals on produce because consumers demand blemish- less fruits and vegetables. “We can point the finger at Mexico and Central America [for using large amounts of farm chemicals], but they are only responding to consumer pressure,” he said.
* Avoid spraying pesticides to rid yards of gypsy moths. The natural role of songbirds such as the Baltimore oriole is to devour leaf-eating pests.
“Baltimore orioles are consummate caterpillar eaters. That long beak was made for getting those hairy caterpillars and ripping into the skin,” Gross said. * Insist on treed yards when buying homes. Subdivisions in general make an unfavorable habitat for the Baltimore oriole, because they invite predation by cats and raccoons. Treeless subdivisions are worse, because there are no leaf canopies for nesting. -30-