There are several bird feeders dangling between the aspen stands on our property, two of which can easily be seen while washing the dishes. As a result, it is impossible not to follow the comings and goings of not only individual birds, but also the species they represent.
For years, we could tell spring was approaching by evening and black-headed beaks would appear in small flocks of a couple of dozen to fill up on fat black sunflower seeds. Northern warblers were also spring visitors – they stuck around in other seasons too – and finches and chickadees avoided larger birds to get a share of the food. The scrub jay was the signal that fall was here as they descended on the feeders to fill their crops with seeds that they would store for later.
But in 2021, no grosbeaks were seen and the chicks disappeared for weeks. Was their disappearance just a coincidence? This spring, the chicks failed to appear again and the number of chicks also decreased.
Birding has been varied during my visits to the national park this year. Homestead National Historic Park in southeast Nebraska filled me with a cacophony of birdsong and calls, and the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve in Kansas, though the symphony wasn’t quite as big, was full of birdsong. But in parts of Everglades National Park in April, I sometimes had to strain my ears to see birdlife, and in June, the forest surrounding Colter Bay in Grand Teton National Park was relatively quiet.
No doubt my luck or bad luck in seeing or hearing birds depended on the time of day or the particular habitat I lived in. The lush tall grass prairies at Homestead and Tallgrass Prairie are magnets for birds. Wetlands where the Niobrara River flows through the Agate Fossil Beds National Monument in western Nebraska.
But a new report on bird populations in the United States suggests I just wasn’t lucky. On the contrary, it warns of 2022 The condition of the birds According to the report, more than half of the bird species normally found in habitats as diverse as forests, deserts, and oceans in the United States are declining. Waterfowl populations in areas where habitat protection is strongest are an exception to this assessment.
The first comprehensive bird species census report since 2019, which announced the loss of nearly 3 billion birds over a 50-year period dating back to 1970 in the US and Canada, says one in four breeding birds has disappeared from the north. America in the last 50 years, and 70 species said they “have collectively lost two-thirds of their populations in the last 50 years and are on track to lose another 50 percent in the next 50 years.”
Native species in Hawaii are particularly at risk Traveler was recorded in April. Hawaii was once home to more than 50 endemic forest birds, but today fewer than 17 species, some with fewer than 500 individuals, remain, according to the National Park Service.
The Kivikiu, also known as the Maui Parrot, is one of the endangered species and is predicted to disappear from the Earth in just six years. Once abundant between Maui and Moloka’i, today fewer than 200 individuals are thought to be found in less than 8,000 hectares on Maui in Haleakala National Park, Hanawi Natural Area Reserve and the Nature Conservancy’s Waikamoi Reserve.
according to The condition of the birds “Hawaii’s ten most endangered species are represented by a total of fewer than 5,500 individual birds,” the report states.
American Bird Conservancy president Mike Parr said in a statement accompanying the report, “[E]veryone can make a difference in eliminating backlogs. Anyone with a window can use simple solutions to prevent collisions. Everyone can help make their neighborhood greener and avoid using pesticides that harm birds. Anyone living in a neighborhood can use their voice to communicate problems and solutions to their community and take action.”
Reversing the course of Hawaiian bird species decline is not so simple. They are threatened by avian malaria transmitted by mosquitoes. But ABC officials said they are optimistic about the approach being taken in Hawaii, and particularly in Haleakala National Park. Traveler noted — to develop sterile mosquitoes to significantly reduce the presence of the insect. Work is supposed to free a man Culex mosquitoes carrying the natural bacteria, Wolbachiadiffers with Wolbachia females carry the strain and thus increase female reproduction.
“The bacteria kind of took over the mosquitoes’ reproductive system,” Chris Warren, a forest bird biologist at Haleakala, said for our story. “If there is a mosquito that has a species Wolbachia tries to breed with another mosquito of a different species, Wolbachia the second type, none of these generations survive. They lay eggs, but the embryos die.”
According to the biologist, this approach has been used successfully in many parts of the world, although most of these applications have been for the treatment of human diseases transmitted by mosquitoes.
“There is hope and opportunity to use naturally occurring bacteria to reduce mosquito populations, break the disease cycle and allow forest birds to thrive,” said Chris Farmer, ABC’s Hawaii program director, in a press release announcing the State. Birds report.
According to that release, The condition of the birds report was compiled from five data sources, including the North American Breeding Bird Survey and the Christmas Bird Count, to track the health of breeding birds in habitat across the United States.
“We continue to see significant declines in nearly all bird groups and bird habitat types, from grassland birds to seabirds to Hawaiian birds,” said Martha Williams, director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “One group that has seen population growth is wetland-dependent birds, including waterfowl.”
Conservation officers at the National Park Service could not point to any recent trend studies to say whether bird populations in the National Park System are declining, but added that parks “are not immune to these larger national population trends. or seeing populations of certain species increase/decrease in response to regional events.”
Climate change will also affect future birding trends in parks. In 2018, the National Park Service and the National Audubon Society teamed up on a study that predicted bird species turnover in some national parks could average as much as 25 percent by 2050.
But at the same time, the human footprint driving the trends is constantly growing. According to the ABC, it’s important to fight back with conservation projects similar to those that help waterfowl flourish in many areas.[D]father shows that the largest population declines have occurred among shorebirds, with a 33 percent decline since 1970, and a 34 percent decline in grassland birds. To overcome these losses, conservation should be strengthened. Everyone can play a role in saving these species by speaking out in support of legislation that saves birds.”
“Urgent action and resources are needed to halt the loss of biodiversity in the United States,” said ABC’s Director of Conservation Advocacy Jennifer Cipolletti. “Federal funding sources such as the American Wildlife Recovery Act, the Inflation Reduction Act, and the Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act can help fill a large gap in funding for conservation programs run by states, territories, and tribes. Migratory Bird Joint Ventures can play an important role as a link between these organizations and bring together partners to facilitate the effective delivery of these funds for the greatest conservation success.
According to ABC, 200 organizations from seven sectors in Mexico, Canada, the United States and Indigenous Nations are also collaborating on the Central Grasslands Roadmap to protect one of North America’s largest and most vital ecosystems – the grasslands spanning hundreds of millions of acres. .”
“People have changed our grassland landscape, and people are the key to its future,” said Tammy VerCauteren, executive director of the Rockies Bird Conservancy and representative of the Central Grasslands Roadmap partnership. “Collectively, we are working to act to save our rangelands, the people and wildlife that depend on them. Together, we can ensure tribal sovereignty, private property rights, food security, sustainable landscapes and thriving wildlife populations.”
Tell us what you observe during your visits to the park. Have you seen more birds than you expected, fewer birds, different species?