Talking Birds With Jane Alexander
For this Tony-winning actress, avian conservation is a big part of being a birder.
I love shorebirds, I love pelagic species. So I'm very, very happy to be heading up the Arctic campaign, because a lot of it involves these birds that wing along the coast or over the water to breed in the tundra. We talk in the campaign about Big Oil drilling up there, and it would be totally disastrous. Nobody knows how to clean up a spill in the ice, nobody knows how to really clean up those waters properly, and many, many species would perish or their habitat would be ruined in one way or another. We're losing so much habitat as it is, everywhere you go. So I think it's very important to save the great wild places, and Alaska's one of only a handful left.
I also think the partnership between the ABA and National Audubon is great. The ABA doesn't have the same membership in numbers as Audubon--very few organizations do--but they do have a lot of very, very dedicated birders and a lot of real expertise there. So it's sort of exciting to have those people perhaps come and help with conservation efforts of Audubon.
What's your outlook for the fate of our environment?
I think that we're in a critical time on our planet. I'm not sure that a lot of people realize the extent of extinction going on, certainly for many of the great mammals [and] for many of the birds as well. So I think it's important that we really tackle this issue together--not just bird organizations and people who love wild places and wild things, but the general public. We have to get that message out to them--how critical it is, how important it is that this is not just Audubon's issue or ABA's issue, but everybody's issue, because we're talking about quality of life. I like to think that my grandchildren's generation is really going to be the one that will turn it around; I hope it won't be too late. For a lot of species, we just don't have a lot of time.
But the wonderful thing is, just yesterday, a bald eagle flew over my house. I was around when the bald eagle was a threatened species--we really didn't know if we were going to have it for much longer, and the same with the peregrine falcon. And it is such a success story. The great thing is, you give nature half a chance--just half a chance--and it will come back in spades. But it has to be given that chance.