Citizen scientists contribute to report on state of U.S. birds

People living in the U.S. might have noticed more or less birds from their experience outside, but now scientists working with citizens have gotten enough good data to put together a first-ever comprehensive report on bird populations in the United States.

The bad news is, as you might suspect, that many U.S. bird species are in trouble. Nearly a third of the over 800 known bird species are “endangered, threatened or in significant decline”  because of loss of habitat, invasive species, and other threats.  One danger cited to birds is from climate change, which along with overfishing has taken a toll on food for seabirds.  “Declining seabirds may be our most visible indication of an ocean ecosystem under stress,” said the report.

A bright spot in the report is that wetland conservation has helped waterfowl populations rise by 11 percent since 2007 to reach 37.3 million breeding ducks, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which led in the creation of the report.

Citizen scientists, ordinary folks like you and me, contributed in counting birds through bird surveys including the The North American Breeding Bird Survey and the National Audubon Society’s Christmas Bird Count.  These numbers were combined with the Waterfowl Breeding Population and Habitat Survey by trained pilots and wildlife biologists.

For a pdf of the whole report, The State of the Birds, United States of America, 2009, see this link at The State of the Birds website.

March 19, 2009

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