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2016 State of the Birds Calls for Continent-wide Commitment to Bird Conservation

The American Birding Association is proud to be a member of the North American Bird Conservation Initiative (NABCI) Committee, which today published The State of North America’s Birds 2016, a comprehensive report that, for the first time, assesses the conservation status of all bird species that occur in three nations, Canada, the continental United States and Mexico. The report was released by NABCI partners at the Museum of Nature in Ottawa, Canada, on behalf of all three countries, with a simultaneous event at the Canadian Embassy in Washington, DC.

Screen Shot 2016-05-18 at 9.41.24 AM

It should come as no surprise that this report shows that more than one third of all North American bird species need urgent conservation action and calls for a renewed, continent-wide commitment to saving our shared birds and their habitats.  It’s important to emphasize that healthy environments for birds also provide benefits to other wildlife and people, such as clean air and water, flood and erosion control, and coastal resilience. When bird populations struggle, our natural resources are stressed. It is a truth that birders know all too well because we experience it every day in the field.

Birds in ocean and tropical forest habitats are in crisis.  More than half of the bird species in these ecosystems are at risk of extinction without significant action.  Steep population declines also threaten birds in coastal, aridland, and grassland habitats, such as the ABA’s 2016 Bird of the Year, Chestnut-collared Longspur.  In particular, long-distance migratory shorebirds and species that migrate from the Great Plains of Canada and the U.S. to Mexico’s Chihuahua grasslands have lost, on average, almost 70 per cent of their continental populations since 1970.

Male Chestnut-collared Longspur.

Chestnut-collared Longspur, ABA’s 2016 Bird of the Year, is among the species of grassland birds that have seen significant population declines in recent decades.

,But it is also clear that conservation efforts do work. Waterfowl and other waterbirds are doing well, thanks in part to effective investment in conservation of wetlands through programs like the Duck Stamp, which allows hunters and other wildlife enthusiasts to contribute funding to purchase and protect wetland habitat, and the North American Waterfowl Management Plan, a tri-country initiative to coordinate waterfowl protection efforts. Birders are an increasing contributor to the Duck Stamp program, and the ABA has encouraged birders to purchase their stamps through the ABA, or through other bird organizations, so that those numbers can be more accurately determined.

The report evaluates the conservation status of all native North American bird species across all major habitats —nine key ecosystems.  It is based on the first-ever conservation vulnerability assessment for all 1,154 native bird species that occur in Canada, the continental U.S., and Mexico, and reflects a collaboration between experts from all three countries.

This report, released in the Centennial year of the ground-breaking Migratory Bird Treaty, reflects a groundbreaking collaboration to evaluate bird populations across the continent. It calls for a renewed commitment to continental bird conservation agreements to keep our shared birds safe and healthy for the next 100 years.  That agreement between the United States and Canada promised collaborative conservation to protect the migratory birds of North America.  In 1936, twenty years after the signing of the Migratory Bird Treaty, Mexico and the U.S. committed to a similar treaty, connecting all of North America in its efforts to protect our shared species.  There are great threats to migratory birds in our three nations and, indeed, throughout the America. But together, great things are possible for migratory birds and those of us who care passionately about them.

For more information and to read the full report, visit www.stateofthebirds.org

Learn more about the Migratory Bird Treaty Centennial celebration at www.fws.gov/birds/MBTreaty100.

For more ideas about how you can support bird conservation, visit www.stateofthebirds.org/change .

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Nate Swick

Nate Swick

Editor, Social Media Manager at American Birding Association
Nate Swick is the editor of the American Birding Association Blog, social media manager for the ABA, and the host of the American Birding Podcast. He lives in Greensboro, North Carolina, with his wife, Danielle, and two young children. He is the author of Birding for the Curious and The ABA Field Guide to Birds of the Carolinas.
Nate Swick

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