Monday, September 15, 2014

Fwd: State of the Birds 2014 and New Watch List Released

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Subject: State of the Birds 2014 and New Watch List Released


State of the Birds 2014 Finds Aridland Habitats Rapidly Degrading

Bird science and conservation groups, and federal agencies have come together to publish State of the Birds 2014—the most comprehensive review of long-term trend data for U.S. birds ever conducted. The full report can be found at


State of the Birds assessed population trends in seven key habitats and finds bird populations declining in arid lands (deserts and sagebrush), grasslands, eastern and western forests. Birds in fragile aridland habitats show the steepest population declines in the nation with a 46 percent loss in the population of these birds since 1968. Habitat loss and fragmentation, energy development, hydrological alteration, overgrazing and conversion to agriculture are the largest threats.


These are also significant threats in the nation’s grasslands, where the report notes a decline in breeding birds, like the Eastern Meadowlark and the Bobolink, of nearly 40 percent since 1968. That decline, however, appears to have leveled off since 1990—a result, the authors say, of the significant investments made in grassland bird conservation.


There are some encouraging signs for many species in grasslands, wetlands and several other key habitats that have benefited from targeted conservation efforts. In general, development is squeezing shorebirds and their habitat along the coasts. However, among the 49 coastal species examined, there has been a steady rise in populations of 28 percent since 1968. This may be a reflection of the establishment of 160 national coastal wildlife refuges and nearly 600,000 acres of national seashore in ten states.


New Watch List Identifies Most Endangered Bird Species


Included in the new State of the Birds report is an updated Watch List of Birds of Conservation Concern available at


The 230 species on the U.S. list are currently endangered or at risk of becoming endangered without significant conservation. Forty-two of them are pelagic (open ocean) species. Birds like the Laysan’s Albatross and Black-footed Albatross are facing increasing levels of oil contamination, plastic pollution and greatly reduced amounts of prey fish due to commercial fishing operations. More than half of all U.S. shorebird species are on the Watch List, including the Piping Plover, Long-billed Curlew and Red Knot. Loss of habitat and uncontrolled hunting in the South America and Caribbean are some of their biggest threats. 


One of the more dire groups on the Watch List is made up of the 33 Hawaiian forest species, 23 of which are listed as federally endangered. The report’s authors have deemed Hawai’i the “bird extinction capital of the world”—no place has had more extinctions since human settlement. Another group on the Watch List will require international cooperation: neotropical migrants. These species that breed in North America but migrate south of the U.S. border in winter hold 30 spots on the Watch List.


State of the Birds Outreach


Webinar - The State of the Birds 2014 Report: Science and Conservation Applications


Learn about the key findings in the 2014 report, the science behind those results, and what it all

means for bird conservation. Speakers include Ken Rosenberg, Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Allison Vogt, AFWA

Ø  When: Wednesday, September 17th from 1:00-2:30pm eastern

Ø  To Join: and call 209-255-1000 with passcode 151959#.   If calling from CAN, dial (605) 562-3115 with passcode 151959# and from MEX dial  +52 (01) 899 274 8400 with passcode 151959#

Webinar - Communicating the State of the Birds: Tools and Tactics for Sharing Messages from the 2014 Report


Presented in conjunction with the Bird Education Alliance for Conservation

Learn about the key findings in the 2014 report along with the communications tools available for your use. Ken Rosenberg, Cornell Lab of Ornithology; other speakers TBA

Ø  When: Wednesday, October 1st  from 1:00-2:30pm eastern

Ø  To Join: call 209-255-1000 with passcode 151959#. If calling from CAN, dial (605) 562-3115 with passcode 151959# and from MEX dial  +52 (01) 899 274 8400 with passcode 151959#

BBC News: Growing threat to American birds, says report


Notable Bird Conservation Success Stories

American Oystercatcher is an example of a conservation success:  U.S. coastal populations have increased 6 percent per year since 1974. Recent population increases and range expansion can be attributed to targeted conservation actions to protect breeding and roosting sites along the Atlantic Coast, supported by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and other partners.


Wood Ducks, Gadwall, and Ring-necked Ducks are among the harvested waterfowl that have increased 2-3 percent per year over the past 45 years, as a direct result of wetland habitat management and restoration under the North American Waterfowl Management Plan.


Kirtland’s Warbler—an endangered species that has responded positively to targeted conservation efforts under the Endangered Species Act; its population rebounded from a low of 167 males counted in 1974 to more than 2,000 in 2012, and the range is slowly expanding from its tiny core in Michigan to adjacent areas in Wisconsin and Ontario.


Bald Eagle—recovering at a remarkable rate of 5.5 percent each year since the banning of pesticides such as DDT and the enactment of the Clean Water Act in 1972; they were removed from the U.S. Endangered Species List in 2007. Other fish-eating birds such as osprey, brown pelican, double-crested cormorant, and northern gannet have enjoyed large population increases as well.


Take the Long Way Home: "Green Wave" Explains Bird Migration Routes

By Cornell Lab of Ornithology: Migratory songbirds enjoy the best of both worlds—food-rich summers and balmy winters—but they pay for it with a tough commute. Their twice-a-year migrations span thousands of miles and are the most dangerous, physically demanding parts of their year. 

Surprisingly, for many North American species the best route between summer and winter homes is not a straight line, according to new research published in the
Proceedings of the Royal Society B. In spring, the study shows, birds follow areas of new plant growth—a so-called “green wave” of new leaves and numerous insects. In fall, particularly in the western U.S., they stick to higher elevations and head directly southward, making fewer detours along the way for food. 

"We're discovering that many more birds than anyone ever suspected fly these looped migrations, where their spring and fall routes are not the same," said Frank La Sorte, a research associate at the
Cornell Lab of Ornithology. "And now we're finding out why—they have different seasonal priorities and they're trying to make the best of different ecological conditions."

In a 2013 study, La Sorte and his colleagues discovered that many species of North American birds flew
looping, clockwise migration routes. But they could only partially explain why. For eastern species, it was clear from atmospheric data that the birds were capitalizing on strong southerly tailwinds in spring over the Gulf of Mexico and less severe headwinds in fall. By adding the effect of plant growth, the new study helps explain why western species also fly looped routes.


Birds and Climate Report


A new birds and climate report by National Audubon Society examines the climatic conditions that North American bird species need to survive—and considers how each will fare in a warming world. The report is available at the 588 bird species studied, more than half are likely to be in trouble and models indicate that 314 species will lose more than 50 percent of their current climatic range by 2080.  Of the 314 species at risk from global warming, 126 of them are classified as climate endangered. These birds are projected to lose more than 50 percent of their current range by 2050. The other 188 species are classified as climate threatened and expected to lose more than 50 percent of their current range by 2080 if global warming continues at its current pace.


How Can Individual Citizens Help Protect Birds? 

There are many actions that individuals can take to help birds in their area.  For example: buy Duck Stamps which help fund conservation work; buy Smithsonian Certified Organic Bird Friendly coffee; drink organic half and half in your coffee, as some data are showing very encouraging bird conservation findings associated with organic dairy farms; use fewer pesticides; create more natural habitat in yards; keep cats indoors and don’t let dogs run free; and keep feeders and water sources fresh. 


For more tips, check out these links:

Those interested in more in-depth bird conservation activities might want to consider a host of citizen science opportunities, including:


·        The North American Breeding Bird Survey –

·        The Christmas Bird Count – longest-running citizen science survey in the world

·        Project Puffin partnership –,

·        The citizen science program at Cornell Lab of Ornithology --

·        USA-National Phenology Network: Nature's Notebook –


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Steve Holmer

Senior Policy Advisor

American Bird Conservancy &

Director, Bird Conservation Alliance

202-888-7490,, ABC on Facebook, ABC Videos




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