The North American Bird Conservation Initiative recently released its annual “State of the Birds’ report, which is a comprehensive analysis of North American birds. And as with many other things these days, we’re not doing well.
According to the report, more than one-third of 1,154 North American bird species – 37% to be exact – are at a high risk of extinction, as a result of climate change and other man-made factors. “Urgent conservation action” is needed to save those 37%; 49% were identified as having a moderate risk, while only 14% were marked as low risk.
Researchers say more than half of oceanic and tropical bird species – 57% and 56%, respectively – and 37% of coastal habitat bird species are at a high risk of extinction. Invasive predators, accidental fishing bycatch, overfishing fish stocks, pollution, and climate change are some of the issues hurting marine bird populations. The populations of tropical bird species are being reduced by deforestation and habitat fragmentation, particularly in Mexico’s tropical forests. Birds that reside in coastal habitats are threatened by sea level rise, coastal development, oil spills, and human recreational activities.
There was some good news in the report. Waterfowl populations such as wood ducks and canvasbacks and birds of prey such as osprey and peregrine falcon continue to recover. Scientists credit hunting restrictions, wetland habitat protection, and bans on certain pesticides with helping these species rebound.
Birders can help scientists combat the decline of bird populations by submitting detailed logs of bird numbers, dates, and locations. We need to elect representatives who are committed to protecting bird habitat and promoting sustainable products and services. And we need to buy sustainable food products at the grocery store, with extra emphasis on coffee and fish.
Photo, posted May 3, 2008, courtesy of Ron Knight via Flickr.