Protecting The Birds Of The Great Plains - KATV - Breaking News, Weather and Razorback Sports

Protecting The Birds Of The Great Plains

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Oklahoma's prairie land, is one of the key things makes this state special.

But we can't take the land, or the birds that live there, for granted.

Both are being threatened by development and the changing environment.

Near Bartlesville, the Sutton Avian Research Center is fighting the battle for conservation.

They've had notable successes like the restoration of the Southern Bald Eagle.

Lena Larson is a Population Geneticist at the Center, who says their work is very rewarding.

The restoration project has taken Oklahoma, from zero nesting pairs, to around 120 in the 2010 survey.

She says the center also works to preserve the environment that's needed, for prairie birds like the Lesser Prairie Chicken.

That's a species that's threatened in the western part of the state.

There's concern because the prairie land is being developed and fragmented.

Another concern, is the spread of the Eastern Red Cedar tree that changes the open land to forest.

She says we need to be sensitive, to keeping pressure off the delicate ecosystem.

Another function of the center is to educate people about prairie birds.

They're a clear indicator of how our state and our world are doing.

So paying attention to them is crucial.

Ryan VanZant is the Lead Bird Trainer, for the center's education programs.

They perform flight demonstrations, at school, to raise the awareness of students.

He says we need to pay attention to Oklahoma's birds because they truly are indicators of the quality of our environment.

VanZant says they have faster metabolisms, so they respond more quickly to the changes in the world around us.

He adds, "it's not just that they're flying around and beautiful to look at, they actually play a very important role in a lot of ways for us".