State of the Bird




Western Meadowlark. Photo by Donald Metzner, courtesy of Cornell Lab of Ornithology

The news is not good for the avian bunch.

According to The U.S. State of the Birds , a report released today on bird populations, almost a third of the 800 species of birds in the United States are in deep shit.

Said Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar in a news release :

From shorebirds in New England to warblers in Michigan to songbirds in Hawaii, we are seeing disturbing downward population trends that should set off environmental alarm bells.

And yes, it's our fault.

The report especially points to our penchant for slicing off the tops of mountains for coal, clearing land for roads and transmission lines and gas and oil wells, planting windmills and other energy producing endeavors that fragment habitat (or sometimes even chop up birds themselves).

Hawaii, says the release, is ground zero for the disastrous declines. And:

... 39 percent of species dependent on U.S. oceans have declined.

Our marbled murrelet is counted among that sad crowd.

But, whew, the report shows us the way out of the mineshaft:

...the report also reveals convincing evidence that birds can respond quickly and positively to conservation action. The data show dramatic increases in many wetland birds such as pelicans, herons, egrets, osprey, and ducks, a testament to numerous cooperative conservation partnerships that have resulted in protection, enhancement and management of more than 30 million wetland acres.


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