For the Birds

Eastern Yellow Robin

You may already have heard about this staggering conclusion of a recent study — over the last half century, some 25 percent of birds in North America have vanished. Those hardest hit have been birds that depend on grasslands — they’ve suffered a 50-percent decline during this time, primarily due to the loss of their habitat to development or conversion to farmland.

At Scenic Hudson, we not only protect grasslands at places like Poets’ Walk Park, Harrier Hill Park and Scenic Hudson’s Long View Park, but we also manage them to maximize their benefits to birds and other wildlife. This includes periodic mowing to prevent the growth of trees and shrubs, and removing invasive species that crowd out native plants that birds depend on for food and shelter.

There is good news in this study — bald eagles, peregrine falcons and ducks have actually increased in numbers, thanks to conservation efforts (including international treaties) to halt their demise. But what can be done to reverse the alarming downturn in songbirds and other species?

“One of our key messages is that it’s time for the 40 to 50 million of birdwatchers in the U.S. alone to raise our voices,” says Cornell University conservation scientist Dr. Ken Rosenberg, who led the international team behind the study. “We need to see public outcry lead to a second wave of conservation.”

Interplanetary Living


AI SpaceFactory, a self-described “multi-planetary architectural and technology design agency,” received funding from NASA to develop a prototype residence for life on Mars. Now they’ve set their sights closer to home. Relying on the same technology and concern for sustainability that led to their proposed Martian creation, they’ll actually produce a house on Earth — one located in the Hudson Valley.

Like its Mars counterpart, the structure here, called TERA, will be built via 3-D technology using materials that come from the planet and are compostable and renewable yet twice as durable as steel and concrete.

The many-windowed home, which resembles an upside-down wasp nest, will feature a downstairs living-dining area and quarters for sleeping and relaxing up a flight of curving wooden stairs. The team’s goal is to have robots “print” the building on-site, causing as little disturbance to the land as possible. Once the house is completed at an as-yet-undisclosed site in the valley, it will be available for rent for a short time before it is disassembled and the land can return to its former, pristine state.   

AI SpaceFactory hopes lessons learned from building and having people actually live in the house will lead to bigger things. “While we were designing for sustainable life on a new planet, we realized our materials and technology had the potential to be leaps and bounds more sustainable than traditional construction,” they say. “It could transform the way we build on Earth — maybe even save our planet.”