If one were to google “…what is the impact of climate change on bird migration,” one of the first links that comes up is a page by World Migratory Bird Day 2007. It seems this organization formed in 2007 to bring light to the issue of climate change on bird migration, had their day then dissolved. However, they created a fact page with 5 immediate changes to migratory birds as a result of climate change. One of the first things they identify is this…
“One of the major effects of climate change is the loss of habitats. The habitats migratory birds depend on are in danger to change and to disappear due to increasing temperatures, flooding or desertification. Coastal wetland areas that migrating birds use for nesting and foraging are an example. During their migration, birds rely on these areas to provide food and resting places. There they can refuel and repose before continuing their long journeys. Rising sea levels due to climate change cause the flooding of these habitats and they are lost for birds and other animals. Without these stop-over places, the birds have insufficient reserves to continue and have difficulties completing their journeys.”
This past winter I was invited by 516 Arts in Albuquerque to collaborate with an experimental dance troupe. Our setting for this collaboration would be the only urban bird sanctuary in the southwest, Valle de Oro in Albuquerque. I was invited to do an installation on the front of an old milk barn where part of a dance performance would be held.
Upon seeing the old milk storage tank I got excited about installing there as well. I met with the dancers twice – once in April and later in June to photograph them. I’d wanted my focus for the piece that I created to be climate change related but I wasn’t sure in what way. Choosing from hundreds of frames of the dancers I was struck by a series of movements performed as a duet. For me, the three images I chose from the duet are a visual metaphor of our relationship with nature.
In the first panel one questions whether the humans are defending themselves from the birds, shielding their eyes from the too bright sun in the intense heat to better see what’s overhead. The relationship between humans and nature is uncertain and to some degree unsettling.
Panel 2 suggests that with time and observation a dialog may form. Communication may occur.
And in panel 3 there’s resolution and synchronicity. Although it’s a simplistic view of our dynamic relationship with nature it suggests that through observation over time we develop a better understanding of our connection to nature and the need to preserve it by addressing the root causes of climate change.
Shout out to Brian Gonnella, my assistant from Pittsburgh, PA for 6 weeks. He’s seen above capturing one of Albuquerque’s magical sunsets.