One in six Americans is a bird lover, and yet the political clout that would be marshaled by other constituencies of that size has not had as big an influence, the heads of the nation's biggest birding groups told reporters as they discussed the 2007 WatchList of imperiled U.S. birds.
"There are more birders than Baptists. There are more birders than there are members in the AARP," said George Fenwick, president of the American Bird Conservancy.
The Audubon Society, particularly, is active politically. And there are signs that there is bipartisan federal support for bird conservation, despite the constituency being relatively unorganized. That has resulted in federal bird conservation programs remaining stable during the Bush Administration, when several other environmental programs saw dramatic cuts.
For those bird lovers who want to take action, the experts had some advice:
Contact your representatives and tell them you want the farm and energy bills to include conservation programs, action on global warming. Particularly, the farm bill includes a provision that could protect habitat on 50 million acres in private hands.
"In more general way, most important thing people can do right now is speak up about the importance of global warming - and demand action," said John Flicker, president of the Audubon Society. "That is now the most important threat to birds, wildlife and people."
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