03 March 2023

U.S. Bird Status

Welcome back. Last October, 33 science and conservation organizations and agencies released the U.S. State of the Birds Report, a 32-page document, formatted either as spreads (preserves artwork) or single pages. A supplemental Excel file contains specifics of population trend analyses for 266 species.

State of the Birds Report cover (www.stateofthebirds.org/2022/).
Be forewarned, most of the nation’s birds aren’t doing very well, and we’re not helping enough.

Key Findings
Three Billion Birds Lost
The U.S. and Canada have lost 3 billion breeding birds since 1970, 1 in 4 birds.

70 Tipping Point Species
These 70 species have collectively lost 2/3 of their populations since 1970; if nothing changes, they're on track to lose another 50% in the next 50 years.

Downward Trends
Birds across the U.S. trend downward in every habitat except wetlands, where comebacks of waterfowl reflect funding and policy investments from hunters, landowners, state and federal agencies, and corporations.

Breeding bird species trends by group or habitat (from www.stateofthebirds.org/2022/state-of-the-birds-at-a-glance/).

Summary Results By Habitat

Shorebirds (29 species): Threats include disturbance and loss of stopover habitat along coastal beaches and estuaries, unregulated hunting in the Caribbean and South America, and continued draining of shallow wetlands. One-third of shorebirds are Tipping Point species with cumulative population losses exceeding 70% since 1980.

Grassland Birds (24 species): Since 1970, suffered the worst bird declines of any terrestrial biome. The eastern Great Plains are a hot spot of population loss due to habitat conversion, tree and shrub encroachment, and pesticide applications. One-quarter of this group are Tipping Point species.

Aridland Birds (32 species): Long-term declines (though slight improvement since 2012) with habitat threats from fire, drought, invasive plants, development, unsustainable grazing and energy extraction. Four Tipping Point species.

Western Forest Birds (46 species): Overall stable, aided by protected habitats, but declined by nearly 20% since 1990s. Five species have lost more than half of their population since 1970, including three Tipping Point species.

Eastern Forest Birds (27 species): Almost a 30% loss
since 1970, but with forest restoration, decline has leveled off since 2009. Three Tipping Point species.

Waterfowl and Waterbirds:
Waterfowl, especially those of the family Anatidae, spend most of their non-flying time on water; waterbirds are any bird that inhabits a freshwater environment. All waterfowl are waterbirds, not all waterbirds are waterfowl.

Dabbling and Diving Ducks (22 species): Decades-long gains, but face pressures from grassland habitat loss, wetland drainage, coastal wetland loss and climate change.

Sea Ducks (10 species): Elevated threats from climate change, including effects on food resources, altered predator communities and rapid changes to breeding habitats.

Geese and Swans (7 species): Goose populations are near historic highs, yet some populations of Arctic and sub-Arctic nesting geese are impacted by climate change and shifting environmental conditions.

Waterbirds (64 species): Some fish-eating waterbirds have increased greatly in recent decades, signaling improved water quality. Yet nearly a third declined, including several species that rely on marshes and ephemeral wetlands. Four Tipping Point species.

Hawaiian Birds: Since western colonization in 1778, almost half of the 73 endemic bird species and subspecies are or are presumed extinct. Another third are protected under the Endangered Species Act. Conservation efforts are staving off threats of climate change and mosquitoes that carry lethal bird diseases and are rescuing the last individuals of some species.

Control of mosquitoes that carry lethal bird diseases is the only hope for many Hawaiian forest songbird species, such as the Maui parrotbill (kiwikiu) (www.stateofthebirds.org/2022/wp-content/uploads/2022/10/state-of-the-birds-2022-pages.pdf).
Seabirds: One study documented a 70% loss since 1950s. Stressors include climate change, fisheries bycatch and overfishing, marine debris and invasive species such as rats on nesting islands. 22% are Tipping Point species.

Wrap Up
The report outlines what’s needed to benefit both birds and people:

Scale up conservation, adopting the approach of wetlands conservation for waterfowl.
Restore habitats
- Climate Resilience: Investing in bird habitats can sequester carbon, improve water security and protect people from climate disasters.
- Environmental Justice: Bird conservation is a multiplier that benefits the health of our communities and addresses environmental inequities.
- Biodiversity: Helping birds improves the outlook for wildlife as well as supporting recreation, economic opportunities and our well-being.
Support proactive, voluntary conservation before a species requires Endangered Species Act protection.

Thanks for stopping by.

State of the Birds Report, U.S. 2022: www.stateofthebirds.org/2022/
Spreads: www.stateofthebirds.org/2022/wp-content/uploads/2022/10/state-of-the-birds-2022-spreads.pdf
Single pages: www.stateofthebirds.org/2022/wp-content/uploads/2022/10/state-of-the-birds-2022-pages.pdf
Supplemental material: www.stateofthebirds.org/2022/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/SOTB-2022-Supplemental-Material-11-1.xlsx
Article on report on EurekAlert! website: www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/967152

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