US Birds in Trouble – Many Reasons Cited – 11/29/2007

  • December 5, 2013 at 10:54 pm #1666

    US Birds in Trouble – Many Reasons Cited

    What is geo-engineering contributing to bird decline? Chemtrails and HAARP do not seem to be on anyone’s radar. — MC

    More than 25% of U.S. birds need help, new report says
    By Sandy Bauers

    Inquirer Staff Writer

    Faced with habitat destruction, the threat of global warming, and the encroachment of invasive species, more than a quarter of the nation’s birds are in urgent need of help, according to a report released yesterday.

    The National Audubon Society and the American Bird Conservancy jointly released a watch list identifying 59 species in the continental United States that are on a “red list” of greatest concern and 119 more that are either seriously declining or rare.

    The list updates a similar one issued in 2002.

    Since then, although species including the peregrine falcon have recovered and been removed, the overall list has grown about 10 percent – to 178 species.

    “Unfortunately, things haven’t gotten better,” said Greg Butcher, Audubon’s bird-conservation director.

    Listed birds in Pennsylvania include the short-eared owl, which used to breed south of Philadelphia International Airport but has not been seen there since some industrial development took place in its habitat, said Keith Russell, Audubon’s outreach coordinator for Fairmount Park.

    New Jersey birds on the list include the piping plover, a beach-nester. Despite conservation efforts, only a little more than 100 breeding pairs remain in the state.

    Butcher said that habitat destruction – including suburban sprawl – had continued, and “our awareness of threats posed by global warming is much sharper now than . . . five years ago.”

    For instance, birds such as wood thrushes, 10 percent of which depend on Pennsylvania’s forests for nesting habitat, could decline as climate change prompts a change in forest-tree species.

    Both groups said the list could be considered a call to action, especially for 50 million U.S. bird enthusiasts, whom American Bird Conservancy president George H. Fenwick dubbed the nation’s “largest untapped constituency.”

    “The clock is ticking,” Audubon president John Flicker said. “Many species will not survive unless we act now to save them.”

    Of the 59 “red list” species in the report, only 20 are considered threatened or endangered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

    Given the success stories of protected species such as the California condor and the bald eagle, “it’s astounding to us that several species on our new red list have not been offered the safety net that the Endangered Species Act provides,” Butcher said.

    He said the service’s list “has gotten out of date” and urged that it be “kept free of political manipulation.”

    Fish and Wildlife spokeswoman Valerie Fellows said that since President Bush took office, one bird species had been listed, but it was not from the continental United States.

    She also said the Audubon and conservancy list did not include about 15 species the Fish and Wildlife Service has listed.

    The ornithologists said their latest watch list showed more clearly than ever that birds’ fates were determined more by human activity than by any other factor.

    Humans can push birds toward the brink or, through conservation efforts such as captive-breeding programs and habitat conservation, bring them back.

    William Y. Brown, president of the Academy of Natural Sciences, said it was no surprise that the two organizations found more birds in trouble.

    However, “the good news in America,” he said, “is that land trusts and the like have many ardent heroes.”

    Indeed, Pennsylvania is a leader in Audubon’s program to designate and protect “important bird areas.” One of the most recent, announced earlier this month, is 42,000 acres in Chester County south of Coatesville that host several species of grassland-nesting birds whose populations are decreasing.

    In addition to the short-eared owl, another Pennsylvania species making the list is the cerulean warbler, which breeds in deciduous forests and used to be found along the Wissahickon in Fairmount Park, along the Delaware River in Bucks County, and at Ridley Creek State Park. No more.

    Despite the warbler’s disappearance locally, people here can still harm the bird, noted Jeffrey Wells, author of the recently published Birders’ Conservation Handbook, which outlines threats and the conservation needs of 100 North American birds.

    If area residents use electricity generated by coal mined from mountaintops in West Virginia – a prime habitat for the warbler – they are hurting the species in the Appalachians, he said.

    Eric Stiles, vice president for conservation and stewardship of New Jersey Audubon, which is not affiliated with the national group, said the piping plover was an example of how many conservation efforts could help both humans and birds.

    Beach-fill projects “that are critical to tourism are also critical to piping plovers,” he said.

    Yet others worry that with rises in sea level, who will get dibs on shrinking beaches – humans or birds?

    The saltmarsh sharp-tailed sparrow, which lives in the salt marshes of places such as the Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge outside Atlantic City, is at risk from rising sea levels.

    The ornithologists said several federal legislative initiatives, including the farm and energy bills being considered by Congress this fall and winter, include measures that would help birds.

    The researchers said individuals could take action ranging from contacting public officials to yanking invasive weeds at parks. They also can plant native species in their yards and limit their contribution to global warming, they said.

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