Rafiki is a cool dad-bird, and a New Jersey legend. He was not named by Readings From The Northside but rather by Todd Pover, the Beach Nesting Bird Director for the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of NJ; the man responsible for saving our beach birds from our own careless destruction. While he’ll deny it up & down, I have it on good authority that Mr. Todd Pover, when not running to Home Depot to furiously erect fences to protect these itty-bitties, mulls over his spreadsheet of birds, surrounded by dictionaries, thesauri, and even the Egyptian Book of The Dead, researching names and filling in the “Name” column.
Speaking of fences, poor Rafiki & family live next to a dog park. Despite the dogs having a huge off-lead park for themselves, surrounded by fences and signs that clearly set the boundaries and explain not to enter the endangered species nesting area (Rafiki’s home), I sadly observed, multiple times, people plowing right over the fences to throw the stick and have their amped-up canines run right through Rafiki’s nest, throwing this family into mortal danger and severe panic.
It is one of the cruelest things I have ever witnessed done to animals… and by dog owners no less, who we should reasonably assume have some level of respect for animal welfare. But there is no excuse. It is pure animal cruelty. There is no way to sugar coated that. It is cruelty rooted in a horrible form of selfishness that says the dog park is not enough for me… I need more! More! And I’m willing to kill anything to get what I want!
The good news is, most of this abject cruelty and selfishness is a result of ignorance. They don’t see the itty-bitties, so they don’t believe the signs. If we can see, maybe we can understand. I hope these pictures help folks see what we’re destroying.
Share the beach. We share the beach with our dogs though the dog parks, through lax laws & enforcement on our public beaches, and through non-nesting season permission-to-play in most areas. Let’s share the beach with the wild animals that lived here long before us, and depend on our beach for survival.
(Editor’s Note: Dangit! I promised myself, NO MORE DOWNER POSTS! But truthfully, I’m full of hope. Full of hope. In the interest of full disclosure, I’m a dog owner and happily walk my dog illegally on the beach all the time. Just not anywhere near fenced off areas where endangered species nest. I’m a jerk, I’m a rebel… but not a complete monster.)