State of the Birds Report-2019

Did you know?

It's true.  A recently released report, the  2019 State of the Birds, reveals some devastating news.  Researchers from seven institutions, including the Cornell lab of ornithology, the American bird Conservancy and the Smithsonian Migratory Bird institute revealed a loss of almost 3 billion birds in just 50 years. This amounts to 29% of our total bird populations, a staggering number. To break down a bit:

Grassland bird populations have declined by more than 50%, with a loss of 700 million birds. These include birds such as the eastern meadowlark, Bobolinks, and short eared owls.  Aerial Insectivores such as the various swallows and fly catchers have lost 160 million birds, and that number is sure to increase as pesticide use increases.  Eastern forest birds-these are a lot of the birds we are familiar with-170 million have been lost with 17% gone.  And our migratory birds such as the beloved Baltimore Oriole? 2.5 billion.  BILLION.  One reason migratory birds have been hit so hard? They are impacted by large-scale logging and agricultural operations in the tropics. When we think of habitat loss-its not just here…birds are facing unsustainable losses in their wintering grounds. Boreal birds have lost 500 million birds-with nine in ten Evening Grosbeaks gone. 

Why? Why these staggering numbers? Habitat loss, window collisions, cat predation and climate change are the major threats, but there are so many human caused threats that if you factor in natural threats such as natural predation, inexperienced parenting, weather events etc, it's no wonder we've lost so many of our birds.  

For more information on these losses, visit 3Billionbirds.org.  

In the meantime, there is so much you can do to help! You may be thinking, "Well, I am just one person. How can my actions possibly matter?". Remember-individual actions add up to a movement and a movement is what affects change! Come on in and talk to us about how you can help birds. Belong to an organization? Book us to present our program "Why Birds Matter, The Threats They Face, How We Can Help". And try these implementing these everyday actions (with links for more information):

1. Drink Bird Friendly certified coffee (it's not a gimmick, we promise!). Shade-grown coffee plantations support significantly higher numbers of bird species than full sun, clear-cut coffee plantations. Forested, shade-grown coffee plantations also benefit other wildlife and the people who live there.

2. Keep your cat indoors (free roaming cats kill up to 2.4 billion birds per year).

3. Prevent window collisions (up to a billion birds are killed each year in window collisions). Use paint, decals or opaque/translucent tape to create a pattern on the outside of the window glass (with vertical stripes spaced 4 inches or less and horizontal stripes 2 inches or less) or put lightweight netting or screen several inches in front of the window.

4. Buy recycled paper products. One-third of our songbirds nest in the Boreal Forest, which is under constant threat of the timber industry. Fluffy toilet tissue purchased by many Americans stocked in virtually all supermarkets requires pulp containing long wood fibers found only in virgin timber (from live trees). When you use premium tissue, you flush down the toilet part of a tree that may have been felled solely for that purpose. Buy  lumber or furniture with the Sustainable Forestry Initiative or Forest Stewardship Council logo, or buy used.

5. Avoid pesticides (pesticides kill bugs. Birds need bugs. But pesticides also kill birds directly, so please don't use it. 

6. Garden for birds by planting natives. Native plants are beneficial to songbirds. These plants support native insects, most of which are specialists rather than generalists and will not feed on non-natives. Insects are a critical food source for a variety of birds and other animals, particularly those raising young. Baby birds depend on a steady diet of insects for survival. In addition, birds depend on the berries, nectar, nuts and seeds of native trees, shrubs, grasses, and flowers.

7. Do not use rat poison. Secondary poisoning kills countless raptors, mammals and even songbirds. 

8. Become engaged in the political process-vote for candidates with strong conservation records or agendas.

9. Get kids excited about birds, talk about how cool they are - their fascinating migratory feats, complex songs and calls, and well developed senses and coordination - and watch how your behavior piques an interest. Remember, today’s children will grow up to be tomorrow’s stewards of our planets! Not a “kid person”? You do not have to focus just on kids, talk up birds and nature to anyone you meet. Let them feel your enthusiasm!

10. Support conservation organizations by becoming a member and making an additional donation.

11. Add some feeders to give your birds an extra edge. In winter, the extra calories will help birds survive bitter weather, and during spring food is still scarce and hard to find. Come summer, it’s just plain adorable to see all the baby birds visiting after they have grown up on their nutritious bug diets. Goldfinches are true vegetarians and feed their young seed, consider supplementing with a goldfinch feeder. Attract hummingbirds with nectar feeders, and put oranges and nectar out for visiting orioles.

12. Put up a nest box in your yard. More than two dozen different bird species including Carolina and house wrens, chickadees and eastern screech owls use nest boxes. As more and more habitat disappears every year, birds have fewer places to nest each spring.

13. Put a birdbath in your yard to provide a year-round clean drinking and bathing water source for birds. Use a heater in winter where appropriate.