Various staff members here at the Lab spent February and March pulling all-nighters to get ready for yesterday’s unveiling of the nation’s first comprehensive State of the Birds report (click on the video, above, for an overview). Along with scientists and staff at a dozen other conservation organizations, we’ve pulled together mountains of data on what’s happening to our nation’s bird life.
The world is listening: the report made headlines in the Washington Post, New York Times, the BBC, Guardian UK, Wired magazine, Scientific American, Discover magazine, San Francisco Chronicle, L.A. Times, Boston Globe, Wall Street Journal, Christian Science Monitor, National Public Radio, CNN, and Reuters. And it’s been blogged and retweeted hundreds of times by readers like you.
The news isn’t good, but it is inspiring. Nearly every major ecosystem is under siege from threats including habitat destruction, climate change, pollution, invasive species, and overexploitation. About one in three of our continent’s bird species warrant concern due to declining populations or small numbers. And the fate of the Hawaiian Islands’ unique bird life is bleak: 71 species have gone extinct since humans arrived in Hawaii, and nearly every native forest bird species there is declining.
Yet prominent success stories, including the recovery of birds like the Bald Eagle and Peregrine Falcon after banning of the pesticide DDT, illustrate how much power we hold to change things for the better. These two raptors once hung on the brink of extinction; now we see Bald Eagles buzzing the Redheads at the south end of Cayuga Lake, and people send us pictures of Peregrine Falcons they’ve snapped outside their office windows.
Everyday wonders like these are proof that the future really is something we can change. We need to put the same kind of enthusiasm and resourcefulness that saved these species into restoring our nation’s forests, grasslands, sagebrush rangelands, deserts, and wetlands. By saving birds’ homes, we’ll be helping all the myriad species that live in them.
With a clear understanding of the problems, and a blueprint for how to solve them, we can take what’s bleak and make it bountiful again. Read the State of the Birds report – or listen to the press conference – and let’s get started.