Three weeks after the Interior Department revealed that one in three North American birds is imperiled, a bipartisan bill is being considered in the Senate to spend more money on the Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act.
"This legislation is urgently needed to prevent Americas native birds from disappearing," said Darin Schroeder, American Bird Conservancys Vice President of Conservation Advocacy. "Nearly half of our songbird population is now in decline or facing serious threats; effective conservation projects can help us to start turning that around."
The threats facing birds are complex and diverse: Everything from habitat loss to global warming, and the migratory nature of many species makes conservation an international affair. Take the case of the red knot, a shorebird that migrates all the way from Tiera del Fuego to the Arctic and back each season, stopping along the U.S. mid-Atlantic coast to fatten up for the rest of its flight. They feast on horseshoe crab eggs more than anything, leading to a long-term political squabble as conservationists have tried (with success, recently in Maryland) to limit commercial fishing of horseshoe crabs.
Of the 178 continental bird species included on American Bird Conservancys WatchList of birds of highest conservation concern, over one-third, 71 species, are Neotropical migrants. The populations of an estimated 127 species of migratory birds are in persistent decline, and 60 species have experienced significant population declines greater than 45% over the last 40 years. Several species, the Cerulean Warbler and Olive-sided Flycatcher, have declined as much as 70% since surveys began in the 1960s.
The Bird Conservation Alliance, a coalition of groups, is urging birdwatchers and wildlife enthusiasts to write to their representatives in Congress to urge them to approve the bill. You can learn more at www.abcbirds.org/action.
You can do something closer to home, too. With gardening season upon us (or nearly upon us), it's a good time to take action to help the birds. The National Audubon Society and The Daily Green teamed up to provide 25 bird conservation tips anyone can do, including 15 tips for making your garden friendly to birds and other wildlife.
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