|The Nature Nation E-Newsletter
Canada’s Common Songbird Populations Plummet
On June 15, the National Audubon Society in the United States released a startling report; many of our most recognized birds are experiencing steep population declines. The group released a list of 20 common bird species in decline, based on an unprecedented analysis of forty years of bird population data collected by citizen scientists through Audubon’s annual Breeding Bird Survey and its Christmas Bird Count.
The list includes twenty species that have lost more than half their populations since 1967. Of the birds on this list, the Northern Bobwhite is exhibiting the most precipitous decline, losing 82 percent of its population in the last forty years.
Audubon’s list highlights a grim Canadian reality. Eleven of the 20 species listed are major Boreal breeders and ten rely on the Boreal to support at least 20 percent of their total breeding population. Five of these eleven species have declined by more than seventy percent. Second on the list of 20 species is the Evening Grosbeak. A staggering 78 percent of this Boreal bird’s population has been lost to logging, mining, drilling, acid rain and human development. Other culprits include chemical control of tree pests, which reduces the Evening Grosbeak’s food supply and is responsible for secondary poisoning. See Audubon's list of top 20 common birds in decline.
The fate of the Evening Grosbeak and other Boreal bird species in decline is also linked to global warming. Bird numbers decline in response to global warming, making them excellent indicators of this alarming phenomenon. According to predictions, global warming will cause increases in insect populations and fire frequency. The result will be Boreal drying and deforestation, leading to further losses of common species that call the Boreal forest home.
Wetland-dependent species like the Northern Pintail, Greater Scaup, Common Tern and American Bittern are similarly affected by the destruction of Canada’s Boreal. These four species have experienced an average decline of 71 percent since 1967. Again, this decline can be linked to global warming, which causes dramatic changes to breeding habitat as the permafrost melts earlier, wetlands dry up and temperate predators expand their ranges northward.
The future of the eleven Boreal species on Audubon’s list of common birds in decline, and that of all Boreal breeders, depends on the maintenance of healthy habitat in the Boreal forest.
Nature Canada and a range of organizations in Canada and the United States are working together to save the Boreal forest, fighting inappropriate logging, mining and drilling, and promoting the designation of protected areas.
You can take action too! Join one of our campaigns to protect the Boreal Forest and the wildlife that depend on it.
Stop the Mackenzie Gas Project!
Protect Boreal Birds!
Fight Global Warming!