Bird Laws: Birds and Balloons

Stern looking owl

By The Grand Old Owl (aka "The GOO"), Chief Justice of bird court.

Birds and balloons. It’s a tricky mix. On the one hand balloons can be a welcome sign that a human picnic party is taking place, which usually means an after-party feast of crumbs for us birds. But the trouble starts when humans release balloons into the air. Balloons are made of latex or foil, which can last a long time. They can cause injuries and even death for us (not to mention the sea fish and turtles in our nearby waterways). Just ask Renata Fluffback whose poor little chick ate a piece of balloon after mistaking the colorful fleck of latex for food. The wire or plastic tied to the balloon can also be a problem. We all remember how Frankie Greyfeather lost his left foot as a result of such entanglement. 

This summer, the nearby states of Maine, Maryland, and Virginia joined several other states in passing laws about the Release of Balloons. What these laws say is, if humans let balloons fly away on purpose, they will have to pay some money as a fine. This is good news for us and for our parks. I, for one, am hopeful that more states will recognize the wisdom of such legal action to help keep our birds and wildlife safe. As a beloved human compatriot once said: “Real change, enduring change, happens one step at a time.”

Owl in a black robe and lace collar similar to Ruth Bader Ginsberg's collar
The Grand Old Owl, Cornelia Greytuft (Chief Justice of Bird Court)
Illustrations: © Fiona Carswell, 2021.