What It’s Like To Have A Front Row Seat Watching Us Go Extinct
I manage a wildlife preserve and I can predict your extinction by watching wild turkeys. Like chickens, turkeys take about 12 days to build up a grouping of eggs (about 10–12 eggs, called a “clutch” of eggs) and during that time the temperature and humidity needs to stay roughly what most people think of as “room” temperature to keep the eggs from beginning to incubate. Once a clutch is collected the turkey hen will sit on the eggs for about 4 weeks. If all goes as planned all the eggs will hatch more or less on the same day and mama turkey will lead her chicks to safety. In nature some eggs will not hatch and some young chicks will be caught by predators and therefore a turkey hen, with luck, will have about 4–6 babies to show in early summer. They cutely follow with other hens and male turkeys herding and care taking. To me it is miraculous.
My preserve is in north central Texas. We have had so much erratic weather it’s been 3 years since we’ve had any chicks. The spring weather bounces wildly hot-cold and dry-wet. Turkeys are grounded birds, they can’t fly to a different latitude or longitude. The eggs hatch at odd intervals if at all and during the extended hatching the few that are hatched are caught in cold rain. Weather is not climate change, but climate change does make weather changes. Climate changes everything, farming and economies and societies come unraveled. In the meantime I nurse along my dwindling turkey flocks along. I am considering occasionally gathering a clutch and incubating indoors using a machine. Pack your bags, you’re not that different than a turkey. We’re such a young, recent species. It’s sad we existed for such a short time.
“With so many trees in the city, you could see the spring coming each day until a night of warm wind would bring it suddenly in one morning. Sometimes the heavy cold rains would beat it back so that it would seem that it would never come and that you were losing a season out of your life. This was the only truly sad time in Paris because it was unnatural. You expected to be sad in the fall. Part of you died each year when the leaves fell from the trees and their branches were bare against the wind and the cold, wintry light. But you knew there would always be the spring, as you knew the river would flow again after it was frozen. When the cold rains kept on and killed the spring, it was as though a young person had died for no reason.
In those days, though, the spring always came finally but it was frightening that it had nearly failed.”
― Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast