The state of the union’s birds

An eastern meadowlark, one of many threatened grassland species.

An eastern meadowlark, one of many threatened grassland species.

A comprehensive analysis of the current condition of birds in the U.S. was released yesterday by The Nature Conservancy, USGS, the Audubon Society, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and many other non-profit groups. Dubbed The State of the Birds, the document reports that of the nation’s approximately 800 bird species, 67 are federally listed as endangered, 184 are of conservation concern and many others are declining due to dwindling habitat.

The report highlights precipitous declines in Hawaiian birds, where introduced predators have decimated native bird populations. Seabirds and shorebirds are also suffering from pollution, overfishing and warming oceans, according to the report, and lack of management in arid lands and grasslands have led to neglect and decline in birds adapted to these habitats. On the other hand, Wetland birds are shown to be quite resilient to disturbance. The report draws attention to several successful conservation efforts, such as for the bald eagle and peregrine falcon, and emphasizes the need for conservation programs tailored to threatened species.

The report brings together data from three surveys that include biologists and citizen scientists: the North American Breeding Bird Survey, administered by the U.S. Geological Survey and Canadian Wildlife Service; the Christmas Bird Count, conducted by the National Audubon Society; and the Waterfowl Breeding Population and Habitat Survey, from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Canadian Wildlife Service.

Listen to NPR’s All Things Considered story about the report.

Author: Christine Buckley

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