Together We Can Bring Them Back
In less than a single lifetime, North America has lost more than one in four of its birds, according to a report in the world’s leading scientific journal.
A startling report published in the journal Science yesterday shows that the United States and Canada have lost almost 3 billion birds since 1970, or more than one in four birds. That marks a massive reduction in abundance involving hundreds of species, from beloved backyard songbirds to long-distance migrants.
“Multiple, independent lines of evidence show a massive reduction in the abundance of birds,” said Ken Rosenberg, the study’s lead author and a senior scientist at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and American Bird Conservancy. “We expected to see continuing declines of threatened species. But for the first time, the results also showed pervasive losses among common birds across all habitats, including backyard birds.”
The findings show that of nearly 3 billion birds lost, 90 percent belong to 12 bird families, including sparrows, warblers, finches, and swallows — common, widespread species that play influential roles in food webs and ecosystem functioning, from seed dispersal to pest control.
Among the steep declines noted:
- Grassland birds are especially hard hit, with a 53-percent reduction in population — more than 720 million birds — since 1970.
- Shorebirds, most of which frequent sensitive coastal habitats, were already at dangerously low numbers and have lost more than one-third of their population.
- The volume of spring migration, measured by radar in the night skies, has dropped by 14 percent in just the past decade.
Our friends at 3billionbirds.org are offering some terrific tips on how you can help. We’ll share one here every day for the next week.
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