Writing Competency Test Going To Essay

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Like Audubon, it is easy for us to fall into the attitude that the chicken is simply too ubiquitous, too entrenched in our daily lives to be threatened by our greed. Even if we protect its numbers, however, we have come very close to taking away from the chicken anything resembling its natural life. They are now born and raised in commercial farms, allowed little room to move, and force-fed antibiotics and far too much food in hopes of fattening them. What we are creating is not a chicken, but a cog in the economic wheel and a line in the bank ledger. But there are some people recently who recognize this, and who are bucking the system. In an article in the New Yorker, Susan Orlean describes the burgeoning trend of backyard chicken flocks. After Martha Stewart published a romanticized image of herself tending her home chicken flock, more and more urban and suburban residents have been entranced by the simple, nostalgic pleasures of scattering feed and gathering eggs; Orlean herself even became a chicken owner (27). As one of her mystified neighbors noted, "Chickens are the new hot pet, I guess" (Ibid). Unfortunately, everything hot eventually cools, and the heightened respect and attention that chickens are receiving now could easily be abandoned as the trendiness of it fades.

In the end, the only real way to protect bird populations is to fundamentally change the way we view them. We need to become like John Muir, who saw birds as "God's feathered people" (qtd. In Ecotopia). If we can forge a personal connection to birds that outlasts our Sesame Street dreams and the latest urban trend towards "rural chic," then perhaps we will be able...

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"Flying object identified!" Rev. Of the Grail Bird by Tim Gallagher. The Times Literary Supplement (15 September 2005): 36. Print.
"In Memoriam: The Passenger Pigeon." EcoTopia USA. Web. 8 October 2009.

Orlean, Susan. "The it Bird." The New Yorker Sept. 2009: 26-31. Print.

Writing Test Outline

I. Thesis: Too often, the survival of a bird species rests on whether or not we care to take an interest in them at the right time. Many times this interest comes too late, or not at all.

II. In the case of the Passenger Pigeon, utilitarian attitudes crowded out any concern for the well-being of the birds, driving the country's largest bird population to extinction. (Ecotopia Article)

III. In the case of the ivory-billed woodpecker, we got lucky. The species survived despite our callousness, and is now protected by its legendary status. (Grail Bird Review)

IV. The case of the chicken is an interesting mix. While it has never been on the brink of extinction, utilitarian attitudes nearly relegated the chicken to a cog in the wheel of industry, subjecting them to horrendous conditions. The trendiness of home chicken raising may change this attitude short-term. (Orlean article)

V. Ultimately, bird populations won't be safe from human self-interest until we change the way we see them, learning to view them as creatures worthy of respect and protection BEFORE they become scarce, not afterwards.

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