Nearly 180 birds in the continental United States, and 39 in Hawaii have the "dubious distinction" of being on the latest WatchList of "America's most imperiled birds."
That's more than 25% of all birds found in America.
The list, touted as the most scientifically sound of its kind, draws on research about the population size, distribution and threats to 700 bird species. The study was conducted jointly by the Audubon Society and the American Bird Conservancy. The data comes not only from professional scientists, but also citizen scientists who participate in the Christmas Bird Count and other projects.
The report identified threats to the species that are familiar: habitat loss, invasive species and global warming.
We call this a WatchList but it is really a call to action, because the alternative is to watch these species slip ever closer to oblivion, said Audubon Bird Conservation Director and co-author of the new list, Greg Butcher. Agreeing on which species are at the greatest risk is the first step in building the public policies, funding support, innovative conservation initiatives and public commitment needed to save them.
Among the WatchList species are 59 continental birds and all 39 Hawaiian birds that are on a "red list" because they are critically endangered.
Speakers on a press call with reporters emphasized that "human actions caused these problems, and human actions can solve them," as Audubon executive director John Flicker put it. By highlighting the most imperiled species, the groups hope to inspire local and national governments, and individuals who can take action to preserve and improve habitats these birds need to survive. Because this is a joint effort of two well-known birding groups, they hope it will become the "industry standard" for framing strategies to protect birds.
Among the solutions discussed were boosting funding for the Endangered Species Act program, creating tax incentives to encourage landowners to keep and improve habitat and improving efforts to stop the spread of invasive species -- particularly in unique areas of Hawaii that are particularly vulnerable to invasion by new plants and animals that can crowd out or voraciously eat native species.
Unlike the birds on Audubons recent survey of Common Birds in Decline, the species on WatchList are often rare and limited in range. In combination with population declines and new threats, these factors make many of them acutely vulnerable to extinction, according to the advocates.
Click here for profiles of 20 imperiled species that regularly breed in the continental United States.Or, see what you can do to help.
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