The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has just released its first-ever “State of the Birds” report, a comprehensive study of the country’s 800 bird species, and the news is not good.
Almost one third of species are either endangered, threatened or in significant decline due to the likes of pollution, habitat loss and invasive species. The bobwhite is one such species the report highlights.
Says U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar:
“Just as they were when Rachel Carson published Silent Spring nearly 50 years ago, birds today are a bellwether of the health of land, water and ecosystems. 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. We must work together now to ensure we never hear the deafening silence in our forests, fields and backyards that Rachel Carson warned us about.”
There is some hope, however: the report also reveals that several waterfowl species are on the rebound thanks to habitat restoration and conservation.
The major study incorporated surveys conducted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Geological Survey, including the annual Breeding Bird Survey. This was then combined with data gathered through volunteer citizen science programs, such as the National Audubon Society’s Christmas Bird Count.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service coordinated creation of the report as part of the U.S. North American Bird Conservation Initiative; partners include the American Bird Conservancy, the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Klamath Bird Observatory, National Audubon Society, The Nature Conservancy and the U.S. Geological Survey.