Smart conservation relies on innovative, science-based ideas. In an effort to make the best decisions for our bird conservation work, The Nature Conservancy has joined with government wildlife agencies and conservation groups to produce this comprehensive analysis of the state of our nation’s birds.
Scientists used long-term trend data to create bird population indicators for major U.S. habitats, reflecting the health of these habitats and the environmental effects of population decline due to climate change.
The results are sobering: bird populations in many habitats are declining—a warning signal of the failing health of our ecosystems. At the same time, we see heartening evidence that strategic land protection and restoration to make natural systems more resilient and help birds adapt to the impacts of climate change can reverse declines of birds.
For example, many waterfowl have undergone significant increases in the past 40 years, a testament to conservation efforts and eco-system based adaptation resulting in gains in wetlands for the first time in our nation’s history.
So what is going on? Why have these bird populations shifted so dramatically, and what does it mean for our planet’s ecosystems?
Birds make a difference in all of our lives – as a measure of our environment’s health, a sign of things to come, or as a surprise visitor on a midday hike. As evidenced in some habitats, such as wetlands, we can return the favor and make a difference for birds, too.