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NEWLY-RELEASED STUDY DOCUMENTS MAJOR DECLINES IN MANY BIRD SPECIES

In less than a single lifetime, North America has lost more than one in four of its birds, according to a report in the world’s leading scientific journal.

Published in Science by researchers at seven institutions, the findings show that 2.9 billion breeding adult birds have been lost since 1970, including birds in every ecosystem.

The losses include iconic songsters such as Eastern and Western Meadowlarks (down by 139 million) and favorite birds at feeders, such as Dark-eyed Juncos (down by 168 million) and sweet-singing White-throated Sparrows (down by 93 million).

The disappearance of even common species indicates a general shift in our ecosystems’ ability to support basic birdlife, the scientists conclude.

Learn more >>>
WHY ARE WE LOSING SO MANY BIRDS?
Leading causes include habitat loss and degradation; outdoor cats; collisions with windows, vehicles, and industrial structures like power lines, communication towers, and wind turbines; pesticides and associated loss of insect populations; and climate change. Learn more >>>
Even once common, beloved species like the Baltimore Oriole have undergone staggering losses.
HOW WISCONSIN'S BIRDS ARE FARING
Wisconsin DNR conservation biologist, Ryan Brady, recently appeared on Wisconsin Public Radio's Central Time to summarize the study and discuss how results compare across Wisconsin. Learn more and listen here >>>
A CALL TO ACTION
Birds are strong indicators of environmental health, making these massive declines a major wake-up call that change is needed now from our highest political leaders to backyards like yours and ours.

"What we need most is a societal shift in the values we place on living side-by-side with healthy and functioning natural systems. Natural habitat must not be viewed as an expendable luxury but as a crucial system that fosters human health and supports all life on the planet. The loss of nearly three billion birds signals a looming crisis that we have the power to stop. We call on all our lawmakers, political candidates and voters across the continent to place renewed value on protecting our common home — the great tapestry of natural systems we share with other species and must protect for future generations."  Read more in this great piece from the New York Times >>>
 

HELP BIRDS AT HOME
There are many easy ways to help birds at home, from reducing lawn and using native plants to keeping cats indoors and making windows safer. Learn more >>>
 

REASON FOR HOPE
We know conservation works when we invest in it. This same study showed increases in populations of raptors thanks to the banning of DDT and endangered species legislation for species like bald eagles and peregrine falcons. Waterfowl populations are up by 35 million, or 56%, as a result of billions of dollars of private and government funding for wetland protection and restoration. Conservation success stories are equally evident at smaller scales, as so well exemplified in the recent 2019 State of the Birds Report. However, we need new policies and increased funding to achieve recoveries and stem widespread declines of common species. Recovering America's Wildlife Act could also help significantly but needs the support of you and your legislators. 
MOVING FORWARD IN WISCONSIN
Wisconsin has a rich history of wildlife conservation. WBCI and its partners adopted a new strategic plan in 2018 and is set to embark on phase two of its Important Bird Area program. The Natural Resource Foundation of Wisconsin's Bird Protection Fund just surpassed the $1 million mark in fundraising for priority bird conservation projects here. Field work for Wisconsin Breeding Bird Atlas II is now complete, results of this landmark survey effort coming in just a few short years. Bird City Wisconsin has grown to more than 110 recognized communities, and the Western Great Lakes Bird & Bat Observatory has become a regional leader in bird education and monitoring. There's a lot to be excited about yet much work to do. We can all make a difference, and the time to act is now!
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