A fascinating look at the State of the Birds in the United States has just been released by several government, NGO and academic partners, including our BirdLife partner in the U.S., National Audubon Society. The report uses data from three continent-wide bird monitoring programs, as well as species specific survey data, to create bird population indicators for major U.S. habitats.
The results indicate significant conservation challenges. Every U.S. habitat is home to birds of conservation concern. Particularly worrisome is the status of birds in Hawaii and ocean birds. These populations need immediate and concerted conservation effort to safeguard them. However, declines are taking place in other habitats as well: populations in grasslands and aridland habitats show the most rapid decline over the past 40 years, and forest birds are also declining.
The good news? Wetland dependent species, waterfowl, and some wintering coastal birds are increasing, demonstrating the positive effects of decades of conservation action aimed at wetland preservation. And birds that have adapted to urban habitats are thriving, demonstrating the importance of creating and maintaining greenspaces in urban settings to benefit birds.
There are important messages in this report about the status of Canadian bird species as well. Many Arctic nesting species are of significant conservation concern. Some Arctic landbirds and seabirds, and many shorebirds, are declining in this region. Habitat loss in the Arctic from resource extraction and global warming is a major concern. The Ivory Gull, pictured below, which nests in northern Canada and is dependent on sea ice, has undergone a dramatic population decline just in the last decade.
Canada is also home to many of the grassland, forest and shoreline species that are highlighted as conservation concern in the report. The habitat pressures facing declining birds like Eastern Meadowlarks, Bobolinks, Wood Thrushes, Whip-poor-wills, Rusty Blackbirds and Semipalmated Sandpipersare found in Canada too. Because these birds, and many others, cross our border (and often have the majority of their breeding range in Canada) we share conservation responsibility for them.
Visit the State of the Birds website here
, or download the full report
. While you’re on the State of the Birds website, take a bit of time to watch the beautiful and powerful video that talks about the findings of the report.
photo: Ivory Gull by Simon Stirup, BirdLife