Endangered Species

State of the Birds

Nearly a third of the United States’ 800 bird species are endangered, threatened or in significant decline, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and several leading conservation organizations.

horned grebeThe organizations recently released a report (The State of the Birds: 2010 Report on Climate Change) showing that climate changes will increasingly disrupt bird species in all habitats.  The report, as with many like it, was the outcome of inter-organization collaboration – which in science and in conservation is so often one key to success.

Hundreds of species of birds, already in trouble from habitat loss, invasive species and other environmental concerns, now are finding their habitat and food supply threatened.  Oceanic and Hawaiian birds are likely to suffer the most.  Migratory birds are also likely to be negatively impacted.  Can you imagine driving or bussing home from work tomorrow and finding your street has been significantly flooded or destroyed?

Grasshopper Sparrow (Ammodramus savannarum)Just as Rachel Carson forecast in her classic book Silent Spring, birds are excellent indicators of the health of our environment, and right now they are giving us an alarming message about the health of our planet.

The report goes beyond the problem and offers a few solutions. One key, as usual, is that organizations and individuals can positively influence this situation by working together. When lands are managed in such a way that it’s good for the wildlife, including birds, it can help ease the pressures that climate change is causing. One example of this is establishing incentives to preserve forests and wetlands, which both reduces carbon emissions and provides good habitat for animals.

albatrossAlso, the U.S. Department of the Interior is planning to open eight regional Climate Science Centers that will help scientists learn more about the effects and implications of global warming. Land, natural, and cultural resource managers will examine impacts and design adaptation strategies, and deliver public education. The first Climate Science Center is being established in Anchorage, linked to the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

To access the report on line and for more information visit www.stateofthebirds.org.

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Alison Wheatley

Alison Wheatley

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