With the latest Audubon Watchlist released, the troubling truth about how many of our birds are declining can be a definite downer. The list is huge and has some of our favorite birds (particularly some great prairie birds). [View the complete list]
The list includes 178 species of birds in the continental U.S. and another 39 in Hawaii. More than a quarter of the birds found in the U.S. are on this list. Disheartening to say the least.
Most birders are aware of the gross declines so instead of focusing on how many birds are declining, here are some of the ways we can help birds now:
- Participate in Citizen Science: Much of the data for the declining birds comes from Christmas Bird Counts. CBCs are the best data source for bird populations (besides Breeding Bird Surveys) and are also lots of fun to do. If you already participate in a count, consider adding another.
- Support Local Conservation: The saying “Think global, act local.” is a great motto. Local conservation is not only the easiest but is one of the most effective. You can eliminate much of the red tape and often times people are much more willing to conserve land they actively use.
- Promote Farmer-Conservationists: Programs under the Farm Bill have the potential to provide incentives for farmers to be stout conservationists. But many individual farmers are already making money through conservation. By supporting bison products, bison farmers could very well conserve large plots of land, bringing back the old days of vast prairies and the host of wonderful birds found in them.
- Buy a Duck Stamp: We’ve covered this a lot already but with 98% of the sale price going directly to land conservation, Duck Stamps are a cheap and effective way to help birds.
- Become an Audubon and American Bird Conservancy Member: [Join Audubon] [Join American Bird Conservancy] Already a member, consider giving a subscription as a gift!
- Spread the Word!: Some people will never care about how many Henslow’s Sparrows there are but most people do care about clean air and water and quiet places to have a picnic.
Share your insights about conservation to anyone you associate with. Just remember, doom and gloom turns people away faster than a positive attitude about the difference they can make to improve the environment.